‘That’s quite a workload.’ CJ finished her tea and placed her cup on the table, her thoughts racing. ‘No wonder your health has suffered but I’m also glad you’re heeding the warnings, that you’re not ignoring them.’ She continued to think, voicing her thoughts out loud. ‘So when you moved to the city, that was from the suburbs?’
‘From the house I described? The one with the nice furniture and big garage?’
‘You moved from that to a small city apartment?’ Her brow was puckered in a frown as she tried to add two and two, but wasn’t coming up with four as the answer. ‘You said the commute was too much?’
‘I’d taken up the directorship. I needed to put in longer hours.’
‘But why take the directorship in the first place if you knew it would take you longer to comm—’ She stopped, the frown disappearing, only to be replaced by a dawning realisation. ‘You were in a relationship.’
‘Yes. I was married.’
‘The marriage ended, you moved from the suburbs, took up the directorship and lived a block away from the hospital. You threw yourself into your work, almost literally.’
‘Yes.’ Ethan stood and picked up both their cups, taking them to the sink.
‘I understand marriage break-ups. Mine was no picnic and if Quinten hadn’t passed away, we would most definitely be discussing our separation and divorce right now.’
He turned from the sink, shoving his hands into the pockets of his robe. ‘My marriage didn’t break up because my wife and I got divorced, CJ. My wife, Abigail—that was her name… Abigail…’ He clenched his jaw and looked down at the floor before raising his gaze to meet hers. ‘Abby died.’
Time seemed to stand still, the sound of the clock’s second hand becoming duller as she stared at him with a mixture of compassion and pain. ‘That’s the reason I left the suburbs and threw myself into my work. To forget the pain, to forget the anguish, to just…forget.’
With that, he turned on his heel and headed to the door that led to his part of the house. A moment later, he was gone, only the sound of the ticking clock filling the silence as CJ sat there, absorbing everything he’d told her.
He was a widower who was still very much in love with the memory of his wife.
WHY THIS SHOULD matter so much, she wasn’t sure. As CJ shuffled back to her room, brushing her teeth and emptying her bladder in the hope of getting a few decent hours of sleep, she thought back to those moments of awareness she’d experienced since Ethan Janeway had entered her life. Even tonight, holding his hand and feeling the strong, protective reassurance he exuded, had left a residual warmth deep down inside.
He’d stared at her yesterday, when they’d arrived at Whitecorn Hospital, as though he’d wanted to press his lips to hers. She’d been too busy reeling from the fact that she’d actually wanted him to follow through with that urge to even contemplate why he’d looked at her in such a way.
Why had he?’ It made no sense. Was he simply looking for female companionship? If that was the case, why on earth would he consider a heavily pregnant woman? She was uncomfortable all the time and slept in a bed with a plethora of pillows. None of her sexy lingerie fitted her and probably wouldn’t for some time, and soon she would be even more exhausted as the sole parent to a helpless baby. What on earth was attractive about any of that?
* * *
When Ethan woke the next morning, he was surprised he’d actually managed to sleep—again. ‘This might actually become a habit,’ he mumbled after he’d dressed for his first day on the job. Heading into the kitchen, he was pleased to have it to himself. While he ate breakfast, he kept glancing at the door through which CJ might walk through at any moment. Indeed, any little sound had him tensing with anticipation.
He still couldn’t believe he’d not only told her about his heart attack but also about Abigail. Normally, he was a closed book—even with his family. It had taken Melody quite a while to get through to him and he knew his tenacious sister had only kept badgering him because she’d been incredibly worried about him…worries that had been proved correct.
He glanced once more towards CJ’s door. Would she want to ask him more questions or would she respect his privacy? ‘Probably the latter,’ he murmured to himself. Both of them had been through marriages that, from what she’d said about her husband, hadn’t been the happiest, and both of them had lost the opportunity to change the outcome. If Abigail had survived, he’d vowed to himself to be a better husband, to be more attentive, to help her, to listen to her more. Ethan sighed heavily. But she hadn’t survived. She’d been taken from him and so had—