“You and Cass have already discussed it?” Zephyr asked, taking his turn at being taken aback.
“We’ve discussed many options for the future. Cassandra wants to experience other parts of the world and I want her to have every opportunity for maximum happiness,” Neo said with a shrug.
Now, that did not surprise him. With more trepidation than he had felt since leaving Greece for the unknown, Zephyr shifted his gaze to Piper to see how she was taking this discussion.
Her azure eyes were fixed on him with steady intensity. “You’re going to pull out all the stops if that test comes back positive, aren’t you?”
“Would you expect anything different?” He was ruthless, but not dishonest.
“I guess not. I was trying very hard not to think about it at all, though.” Her voice was tinged with rueful inevitability.
He did not know if that was good, or bad. “I am sorry.”
“For showing your hand early?”
“For making you think about it.”
“What exactly is it we’re thinking about?” Neo asked in a voice others had learned not to ignore.
Luckily for Zephyr, he wasn’t other people and he had no trouble ignoring his best friend and business partner’s demand.
Piper closed her eyes with every evidence of counting to ten and he thought she’d probably succeed in ignoring Neo, too.
But then Cass elbowed her nosy fiancé. “Leave them alone, Neo.” Then she sighed. “Besides, it’s obvious and not something Piper should be forced to discuss before she’s certain one way, or the other.”
“One way, or the other, what?” Neo actually sounded plaintive.
Zephyr could not remember the last time he had heard that particular tone from Neo, but it had been at least a decade, probably longer. He had no idea how Piper would react to it. He thanked God and the angels besides when she laughed.
“So, what’s for dinner?” she asked.
Even Neo knew enough to allow the subject change to pass without incident.
The rest of the evening went well, considering. Cass kept Neo in line and Piper did her best to ignore any and all leading comments and questions.
But she didn’t turn toward his door when they left Neo’s penthouse. Instead, she headed for the elevator.
He put his hand on her shoulder as she pressed the button. “Where are you going?”
“Home.” She sighed and looked back at him. “I need some time to myself, Zephyr.”
Unexpectedly, the request hit him in that place permanently wounded when his mother left him in the orphanage and never took him home with her again.
Even so, he asked, “Are you sure? You seem to sleep well in my arms.”
“I’m not sure I’m going to sleep at all.” Unfortunately, she looked like the thing she needed most right then was a good night’s rest.
In his bed, snuggled against him, damn it.
But clearly, she did not agree. She did not want or need him right then. Maybe not at all.
“An even better reason for you not to be alone.”
She shook her head, a sad look passing over her face. “I’m sorry.”
Pleading not to be left behind when someone was intent on leaving you did no good. That was a lesson he had learned even better than how to make money and at a much younger age. But it still took an inordinate amount of inner fortitude to drop his hand from her shoulder.
He stepped back. “You will call me when you get word?” He did not like asking. It reminded him of asking for his mother’s consideration and getting excuses for why things could not be different.
“Yes, of course.”
But she did not.
Zephyr forced himself to wait until after lunch to try calling her. Surely, the doctor would have contacted her by now. His call went straight to voice mail, though. He did not bother to leave a message.
An hour later, he called her home, but got her voice mail again. At the office, her assistant answered the phone. However, she informed him that Piper was not in and not expected today.
Neo walked into Zephyr’s office later that afternoon, after Zephyr had called Piper yet again, only to get the too professional message on her voice mail box.
“You look like hell. What’s going on?” Neo demanded.
Without having to consider it, Zephyr told him. Everything.
“You should have brought her to meet Cassandra and I before last night,” was Neo’s first reaction.
“Why?” Neo had never been particularly interested in socializing with Zephyr’s other friends, unless it advanced their company’s interest.
“You have been in a sexual relationship with Piper for months and friends for over two years. How did I not know this?” Neo asked, rather than answering.