"Once again I have to tell you when you hurt Kelly."
He winced and pulled a high-back chair into the dark and sat. "You should have helped me out of that, Laura. You know I didn't want to hurt her." His sigh filtered across the room to her, and she felt it coat her with his pain. "God, I can't seem to get anything right lately."
"That's because you still aren't used to anyone intruding in your sanctuary."
"But that didn't stop me from hurting my little girl."
"It wasn't intentional, I know. But I want you to see this for what it is."
"I'm sure you'll tell me, so do go on."
"This routine isn't working and we have to think of something else. Kelly will forgive you, Richard, she already has."
"But a mirror, Laura. For heaven's sake."
Laura blinked. "Oh, God, Richard, I didn't even think of that."
There were mirrors in her bedroom and the bathrooms but nowhere else. Nowhere. "It was just a project for her to do. It was her idea to give it to you."
"I know, I know," he said, regret in his voice. "I have to make it up to her somehow."
"You will." Though she didn't know how. "I read about the accident." She gestured to the clippings.
He tensed. "I don't think I like you nosing in my affairs."
"I could have found it on the Internet easily, you know."
He agreed, but that still didn't make him happy about her looking through his past.
"It was a very gallant and unselfish thing you did."
"I could have gotten us both killed," he growled back.
"On the contrary, your quick thinking under pressure saved lives. One human being hadn't even drawn his first breath. And you gave him that chance and to have his mother."
"He was born a few hours after the accident, I learned."
"Have you seen Mrs. Argyle and her child since?"
He shook his head. "The doctors said she came by the hospital, but Andrea didn't let her in. She wrote to me later. She named the child after me." The baby must be just a few months older than Kelly by now, he realized suddenly.
"Andrea didn't let her in to say thank you?"
"I wasn't in the mood to be very accepting."
"Is that you talking or Andrea?"
His defensive tone was like a red flag. "How did you feel after you woke up from the accident?"
"Glad that I was alive, glad they were alive. I was so doped up with painkillers I don't remember much of the first few weeks."
Moments passed, Laura sipping her wine, Richard sitting in the dark. She could see the outline of the chair, and the lamp on the desk near her offered a pale view of him from the waist down, of dark silk slacks and a robe. His feet were bare and crossed at the ankle. Flawless feet, she thought with a smile.
"How did Andrea feel?"
"She didn't say much."
"I'll just bet she didn't."
"What do you expect? Her husband was mauled by a train for the sake of another woman."
"That's her talking. Don't defend her, Richard. The woman wasn't your mistress, for Pete's sake. You'd have done the same for a man in trouble. You knew what you were doing, it was instinct. Andrea was mad because you'd risked your life and even madder when she saw the results."
A long pause and then he said, "You're right, dammit." The words came on a deep exhale. "I remember her asking how I could do this to her, to us." He scoffed. "It made me see her for what she really was. Then when she brought the best reconstructive surgeons in the country, asking for opinion after opinion when she didn't get the answer she wanted."
"And what was that?"
"…can you return his face to what it was."
Oh, Lord. There was a wealth of Andrea's selfishness in that one sentence, she thought, her heart breaking for him. "Did she leave then?"
"No." He sighed heavily in disgust. "She stuck around for a little while. She slept in the guest room, though, insisting she didn't want to bump into my injuries."
Andrea was probably already showing with her pregnancy by then and wanted to hide it, Laura thought.
"She wouldn't let you touch her, would she?"
He was quiet, tensely quiet, and she could almost feel his shoulders bunching, the wave of humiliation sweeping through him. "No, but I couldn't blame her. Not after I saw my reflection."
"If she truly loved you, it wouldn't have mattered."
"I wasn't exactly Mr. Congeniality then."
"You aren't now, so what's the big deal?"
He chuckled under his breath. "There's that rapier wit I love."
That last word made her heart stumble.