“You wanted me to stay?”
There was such astonishment in her voice that made him feel even worse. She thought he didn’t care. All this time. A part of her probably still did. He hadn’t asked for more than her body. Perhaps that’s all she thought he wanted. It was all he thought he wanted, until this moment.
“Of course I wanted you to stay. I was just so caught off guard. I had let myself believe that you were different, that you wouldn’t leave because you cared about me. When you broke it off, my world started to crumble. I just didn’t know how to ask you to stay. You know that I’m not good with that kind of thing. Feelings...” His voice drifted off as he shook his head. He sucked at the emotional stuff.
“It’s easier than you think.”
Gavin planted a kiss against the crown of her head. “It is?”
“Yes.” She propped up onto one elbow and looked him in the eyes. “All you had to say is ‘stay.’ Just that one word is enough.”
“If I had said it the day you left...” He hated to ask, but he had to know.
“I would have stayed.”
Gavin swallowed hard and nodded. So many people had come and gone from his life. How many of them might still be around if he’d had the nerve to ask them to stay? Some things were out of his control, but at least he could’ve salvaged the past few years with Sabine.
It was hard to face the fact that one little word could’ve changed their entire lives. But sometimes that was all it took. He looked down at the beautiful woman in his arms, the mother of his child, and he vowed he would never let something that insignificant get in the way again.
Sabine stretched out on the lounge chair and sighed. Gavin was snoozing in the chair beside her as they both soaked in the warm sunshine and light breeze. She was really enjoying this little vacation. They had eaten too much, drank too much, slept late and made love more times than she could count. Gavin had even taken her to the Bermuda Botanical Gardens and the art museum there. She’d lost herself in room after room of paintings and sculptures, lighting the fires of her long-cold creative flames.
It was all too perfect.
She couldn’t believe how wrong she’d been. About everything. From the day she took that first pregnancy test, she worried that Gavin would take over her life, steal her son and leave her powerless to stop him. So far, he’d wanted to help, wanted to have his time with his son, but had respected her boundaries. Things would change, but they would compromise on the decisions. There would be no boarding schools, no nannies taking the place of loving parents...
She’d thought Gavin didn’t want her, only to find out he’d been devastated when she left. He hadn’t told her that he loved her, but she could tell he had feelings for her. They might not be as strong as what she felt for him, but it was more than she ever expected to have.
She thought that she would never fit into Gavin’s world or be the woman he wanted her to be. Now, she realized he didn’t want her to fit in. He wanted her to be herself. There would always be people with something rude to say, but if his family welcomed her with open arms, she didn’t really care what anyone else thought.
Things were going amazingly well.
A soft chirp distracted Sabine from her thoughts. It was Gavin’s cell phone. It had been remarkably quiet since they’d arrived. He’d done well in focusing on their vacation, too. She watched him reach for it and frown at the screen before answering.
“Hi, Dad,” he said. “Is everything okay?”
Immediately, Sabine’s stomach sank. They had called yesterday to check in and everything was fine. He’d told her that his parents would only call if there was a problem. She tried to will herself to relax as she listened to half of the conversation.
“What?” Gavin’s tone was sharp and alarmed. He shot up on the lounge chair, his worried gaze searching the ocean for answers he wouldn’t find there. “Are you sure? Did you look in all the closets and under the beds? He likes to play hide-and-seek.”
Sabine sat up in her chair, swinging her legs over the side to turn toward him. “What is it? Is Jared okay?”
Gavin wouldn’t look at her. He was totally focused on the call. “How did they get in the apartment?”
They? Her heart was racing.
“Did you call the police?”
“Gavin!” Sabine cried, unable to stand not knowing what was going on any longer. If Jared fell and skinned his knee, the police wouldn’t be involved. This was something far worse than she could imagine.
“No, that was the right thing to do. We’ll be home in three hours.” Gavin turned off his phone and finally looked at her. He had the shimmer of glassy tears in his eyes as he spoke. “Jared is gone.”