Bella’s brows rose. ‘What do you mean?’

‘Nothing. Forget it. Right, I’d better get back. Thanks again for the loan of your car.’


He started to go back inside but Bella knew that she couldn’t let him leave without explaining that cryptic comment. She caught hold of his arm, feeling a flutter of awareness run through her as she felt the warmth of his skin seep through her fingertips. It was all she could do not to release him immediately, but she needed to know what he had meant.

‘I want to know what you meant,’ she said firmly, determined that she was going to put a lid on all these crazy feelings. All she was doing was touching his arm, for heaven’s sake, not making mad, passionate love with him! The thought wasn’t the best she could have come up with, but she stood her ground. For some reason it seemed vitally important that she found out what he was talking about. ‘Well?’

‘Tim told me that you’d refused to have a baby.’ His eyes met hers and she felt chilled to the core when she saw the condemnation they held. ‘It was obvious how upset he was and I don’t blame him. Having a child could have been exactly what he needed to keep him on track.’

‘Is that what Tim told you? Or is that your expert opinion?’ Bella laughed harshly, more hurt than she could say. Once again Mac was blaming her for what had happened and it was even more hurtful after last night. She’d thought that he was starting to accept that she wasn’t solely at fault for the demise of her marriage but she’d been wrong. All of a sudden the need to set him straight overcame everything else.

‘Don’t bother answering that—it really doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is why I refused to have a baby. I don’t suppose Tim explained that, did he?’ She didn’t give him a chance to answer. ‘I refused because there was no way that I was bringing a child into the world who wasn’t really wanted. Oh, maybe Tim claimed that he wanted a baby but he only wanted one after I told him I was leaving him. He’d always refused to start a family before that, told me that he had no intention of having children when they would only tie him down. However, once I asked him for a divorce, he changed his mind.’

She stared back at him, wondering if he would believe her. Maybe he would and maybe he wouldn’t, but she intended to tell him the truth. What he made of it was up to him. ‘I refused point-blank and I don’t give a damn if you think I was wrong to do so. There was no way that I was prepared to have a baby just to try and save our marriage. That was well and truly over, believe me!’

She swung round, ignoring Mac’s demands for her to stop. Walking over to her car, she got in and drove out of the car park without a backward glance. She wasn’t sure how she felt, if she was honest, whether she was more angry than hurt by his continued refusal to believe that she wasn’t solely to blame. However, what she did know was that she wouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that he was on her side ever again. Maybe it had appeared that way last night but it wasn’t true. Mac’s loyalties didn’t lie with her but with Tim. It just proved how little he really cared about her, despite his claims to the contrary.

* * *

Mac felt absolutely dreadful for the rest of the day. He couldn’t rid himself of the memory of how hurt Bella had looked as she had driven away. By the time his shift ended, he knew that he couldn’t leave things the way they were. He had to see her and clear the air. If he could.

He collected his motorbike and headed into the town centre. He had got Bella’s address from the staff files and knew that she lived in one of the new apartments that had been built on the site of the old brewery. He’d heard that the cost of renting an apartment there was extremely steep, not that it would worry Bella, of course. She was in the fortunate position of having a private income and it was yet another reminder of why he needed to quash any fanciful thoughts he might be harbouring. Although he earned a decent salary, he wasn’t in Bella’s league!

Mac parked the motorbike and walked to the entrance. There was an intercom system so he pressed the bell, steeling himself when he heard her voice coming through the speaker. He wouldn’t blame her if she refused to see him, but he really and truly needed to sort this out.

‘Bella, it’s me—Mac. I need a word with you.’

‘I’m afraid now isn’t a good time,’ she began, but he didn’t let her finish. He had a nasty feeling that if he didn’t resolve this issue tonight, he might never be able to do so. If Tim had lied to him then he needed to know.

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