Luca knew Gavin was right, but that didn’t mean he had to like it. Instead, he’d scheduled an appointment and that’s where he found himself. Putting his phone away, he stood and followed the nurse down the corridor.
First, Luca was taken to a private room to produce a specimen for testing. When he was finished, he left the cup in the window and was led to an examination room to wait for the doctor.
It was an agonizing wait. He watched every minute tick by, the sense of anxiety growing with each second. At last, a soft knock came at the door and the doctor stepped inside with his file. It was the moment he’d dreaded and avoided since he’d finished his radiation treatments. Now he would know for certain if he was really the damaged man he’d always believed himself to be.
The doctor shook his hand and sat down on the tiny rolling stool. “Mr. Moretti,” he began, flipping through the pages. “We have done a quick preliminary test of your sample. We’re going to send it out to the lab for more detailed analysis, but I’m comfortable at this point with telling you that you are, in fact, able to have children.”
Luca froze in disbelief. This was not what he’d expected at all. “Are you sure?”
“I’m not saying it will be as easy to impregnate a woman as it is for men without your medical history. Your sperm counts are lower than they would’ve been before your treatments, but you do still have motile, well-formed spermatozoa. With the right mix of circumstances, you can absolutely have children.”
Luca wasn’t sure what to say. He sat dumbfounded on the examination table as the doctor’s words ran though his brain again and again.
“If you find you’re having difficulty conceiving with your partner, a fertility clinic could be of some assistance.”
Luca chuckled low and shook his head. “I’m through with fertility clinics, but thanks for the suggestion.”
The doctor narrowed his gaze at Luca. “I’m not sure what that’s about, but do you mind if I ask why you were tested today if not to start a family?”
Luca looked down at his hands. “Apparently I’ve already started a family. I didn’t think it was a possibility, but it seems the right mix of circumstances happened.”
The doctor’s white eyebrows drew together in concern. “I’d say congratulations, but you don’t seem very excited about the prospect of fatherhood.”
“It’s not fatherhood that bothers me,” Luca admitted. “I’m thrilled by the idea of it, even though I still run the risk of my cancer returning someday. I’ll face that if it happens. It’s just that I’m going to have a lot of apologizing to do to the baby’s mother.”
“Ahh,” the doctor said, closing his file and setting it aside. “Well, if you want to know for certain, a blood test for paternity can be conducted even early on in the pregnancy.”
Luca shook his head vehemently. Edmund would probably want that, but after everything he’d said to Claire, he couldn’t ask her for that. He had no real reason to believe she was lying about the baby aside from the fact that he’d thought it to be impossible. They’d hardly left each other’s side for weeks; she hadn’t had the opportunity to meet and seduce another man. Now that he knew otherwise, there was no doubt.
Claire was pregnant with his child. And he was an ass.
“Okay, then I think we’re done here unless you have any other questions. Good luck with your situation.” The doctor stood and shook Luca’s hand again. Just as quickly as he’d arrived, the doctor slipped out the door, leaving Luca alone with his thoughts.
He could have children. The old-fashioned way.
The idea had never really occurred to him. The oncologists had been so doom and gloom about his prospects that he’d presumed the worst. Then he’d presumed the worst about Claire.
Claire. The woman who had been so mistreated by her husband that she had been loath to trust him or anyone else. The woman who had accepted him as he was. The woman who hadn’t pushed him to talk about his past even as she struggled with her husband’s dishonesty. The mother of his child. His children.
He’d treated her terribly. Luca never thought he could be so cruel to someone he cared about, and yet the harsh words had rolled off his tongue. Hopefully, the apology would come just as easily.
Luca sleepwalked through the motions of checking out of the doctor’s office and making his way toward his apartment. Truthfully, he should’ve been calling for a car to take him back to the office, but he needed a little time to process all of this. That meant time away from his family. None of them knew where he’d gone or what had happened with Claire after they left Martha’s Vineyard, but they would know something was wrong if they saw him right now. He was certain that shock and heartache were etched all over his face.