Gavin turned to face her, placing his hands reassuringly on her shoulders. It gave her no real choice but to look at him. “Sabine, what can I possibly say to convince you that this isn’t a bad thing?”
Her pale green eyes grew glassy with tears she was too stubborn to shed in front of him. “There’s nothing you can say, Gavin. Actions speak louder than words.”
Fair enough. “How about this,” he offered. “I’ll get Edmund to start the paperwork and put together a custody proposal for you to look over. When you’re happy with it, we’ll share a nice dinner, just the two of us, to celebrate that the sky didn’t fall and things will be fine.”
Her gaze dropped to his collar and she nodded so slightly, he could barely tell she’d agreed. “Okay,” she whispered.
“Clear your schedule for Friday night,” he said with confidence. “I have a feeling we’re going to be sharing a lovely candlelit dinner together before the weekend arrives.”
Sabine curled up on the couch and watched Gavin and Jared play on the living room floor. They were stacking Duplo blocks. Gavin was trying to build a plane, but Jared was determined to make a truck and kept stealing pieces off the clunky blue-and-red jet. It was amazing to see them together, the father and his tiny toddler clone.
It made her smile, even when she wasn’t sure she should be smiling.
Gavin had done his best to reassure her that things would be fine. His lawyer had presented a very reasonable custody agreement. Her relief at reading the briefing was palpable. They were both giving a little and taking a little, which surprised her. Gavin got Jared on alternate weekends, rotating holidays and two weeks in the summer, but he would continue to reside primarily with Sabine. Her concession was to agree to move to Manhattan to make the arrangement easier on everyone.
They’d built in flexibility in the agreement to accommodate special requests, like birthdays. Unless Gavin pushed her, she intended to let him see Jared as often as he liked. How could she turn away a scene like the one playing out on her floor?
Tonight, they were telling Jared that Gavin was his father. It was a big moment for them. The DNA test had made it certain, but telling Jared made it real.
“Hey, big guy?” Gavin said.
Jared dropped a block and looked up. “Yep?”
“Do you know what a daddy is?”
Sabine leaned forward in her seat, resting her elbows on her knees. She agreed to let Gavin be the one to tell him, but she wasn’t certain how much Jared would understand. He was still so young.
“Yeah,” he said cheerfully, before launching into another of his long-winded and unintelligible speeches. Jared was a quiet child, slow to speak, although it seemed more that he didn’t have a lot he wanted to say. Only in the past few months had he started rattling on in his own toddler-speak. From what pieces she could pick out, he was talking about his friend at school whose daddy picked him up every day. Then he pointed at Sabine. “Mommy.”
“Right.” Gavin smiled. “And I am your daddy.”
Jared cocked his head to the side and wrinkled his nose. He turned to Sabine for confirmation. “Daddy?”
She let out the breath she’d been holding to nod. “Yeah, buddy. He’s your daddy.”
A peculiar grin crossed Jared’s face. It was the same expression he made when she “stole” his nose and he wasn’t quite sure he believed her. “Daddy?” He pointed at Gavin.
Gavin nodded, having only a moment to brace himself before his son launched into his arms.
“Daddy!” he proclaimed.
Sabine watched Gavin hold his son as fiercely as if someone were going to snatch him away. She understood how he felt. And then she saw the glassy tears in the eyes of her powerful CEO, and her chest tightened with the rush of confusing emotions. It hadn’t taken long, but Gavin was completely in love with his son.
She couldn’t help but feel a pang of jealousy.
“Damn you for always being right.”
Gavin stood on Sabine’s doorstep holding a bouquet of purple dahlias. She had opened the door and greeted him that way, stealing his “hello” from his lips. Fortunately she was smiling, so he did the same.
He held out the bundle of flowers with the nearly black centers that faded to bright purple tips. “These are for you. They reminded me of your hair.”
Sabine brought the flowers up to her nose and delicately inhaled their scent. “They’re beautiful, thank you.”
“So are you,” he added. And he meant it. She looked lovely tonight. She was wearing a fitted white dress with brightly colored flowers that looked like one of her watercolor paintings. It was sleeveless and clung to every curve of her body.