‘I am happy...’ Margo said quietly.
Sophie arched an eyebrow. ‘Why do you sound so uncertain, then?’
‘Because happiness can be so fleeting.’ She took a deep breath. ‘And Leo hasn’t actually told me he loves me.’
‘Have you told him?’
When Margo had first been pregnant Sophie had heard the full story of Leo’s proposal and Margo’s rejection.
‘Can you really blame him for not going first?’ she asked, and Margo sighed.
‘So why haven’t you told him you love him?’
‘Because I’m afraid that’s not what he wants to hear. Because we’re both holding back.’
‘Then stop,’ Sophie suggested with a smile.
‘It’s not that simple,’ Margo said. ‘It’s...’ She hesitated, thoughts and fears swirling around in her mind. ‘I feel like if I try for too much—if I do anything to jeopardise what we have—it will all topple like a child’s tower of bricks because it’s not strong enough to stand...’
‘Stand what?’ Sophie asked gently.
‘Anything. Anything bad.’ Margo swallowed. ‘I know I’m afraid, and that I’m letting my fear control my actions. I understand that, Sophie, trust me.’
‘But it’s keeping you from doing something about it.’
‘I think I’d rather just hold on to what we have and be happy with it than try for more and lose,’ Margo confessed quietly. ‘If that makes me a coward, so be it.’
Sophie eyed her sceptically. ‘As long as you are happy,’ she said after a moment.
Margo didn’t answer.
Sophie’s words still pinged around in her head as she headed back to her apartment. Was she happy? Could this be enough?
Maybe Sophie was right, and Leo was holding back simply because she was. Maybe if she made the first move and told him she loved him he would tell her back.
They were going out to dinner tonight. Leo had made the arrangements, although he hadn’t told Margo where. But they’d be alone, and it might even be romantic, and it would be a perfect opportunity for Margo to tell Leo the truth.
To tell him she loved him.
* * *
She spent a long time getting ready that evening. First she had a long soak in the tub, and then she did her nails, hair and make-up before donning a new maternity dress of soft black jersey.
It had a daring V-neck that made the most of her pregnancy-enhanced assets and draped lovingly over her bump before swirling about her knees. She’d put her hair up for the simple pleasure of being able to take it down again in Leo’s presence later that night, and had slipped her feet into her favourite pair of black suede stiletto heels.
And now she waited—because Leo still wasn’t home.
He’d been due back at seven to collect Margo for their date, but as the minutes ticked by Margo’s unease grew. It figured that the one night she’d decided to tell Leo how she felt he’d be AWOL. It almost seemed like a sign, a portent of things to come. Or rather not to come.
At seven forty-five she texted Leo. At eight she took off her heels and her earrings—both had been starting to hurt—and curled up on her bed.
Her phone rang at eight-fifteen.
‘Margo, I’m so sorry—’
‘What happened?’ Her voice was quiet and yet filled with hurt.
‘I had a meeting with Adair Hotels. It’s an important deal and the meeting ran long. I didn’t even realise the time...’
‘It’s okay,’ she said. And it was okay. At least it should have been okay. It would have been okay if she hadn’t built this evening up in her own mind.
Maybe she’d built everything up in her own mind.
In that moment she felt as if she couldn’t trust anything or anyone, least of all herself. It was nothing more than a missed dinner, and yet it was so much more. It was everything.
‘When will you be back?’ she asked, and Leo sighed.
‘I don’t know. Late. Talks are still ongoing, and we’ll most likely go out for drinks afterwards.’ He hesitated and then said, ‘Don’t wait up.’
And somehow that stung too.
She was being ridiculous, over-emotional, overreacting. She knew that. And yet she still hung up on Leo without replying.
* * *
Leo stared at the phone, the beep of Margo disconnecting the call still echoing through his ear. Had she actually just hung up on him? Simply because he’d missed dinner?
He let out a long sigh and tossed his phone on the desk. He felt as if something big had happened, something momentous, and damned if he knew what it was.
But then he hadn’t known what was going on for a while. For the last month he and Margo had been existing in an emotional stasis which he suspected suited them both fine. Neither of them had been ready to take their relationship up to that next level. To say they loved each other...to bare the truth of their hearts.