A wave of despair rushed through me, and I started to cry. Oh God, what was I going to do now?
The nurse looked at me with pity. “Do you want me to get a social worker? She can help you sort through your feelings. And there are options. Adoption for example.”
I shook my head. “No. I don’t need options.” What I needed was a plan. And strength. There was nothing like a positive pregnancy test to bring focus to what I wanted and what I was willing and not willing to settle for. “I would like to see my boss.”
What the hell was taking so long? I paced in the emergency room waiting area, wondering what was wrong with Bella. The image of her swaying, then her eyes rolling back as she fell played on repeat in my head. Luckily, I was close enough to her to catch her before she hit the ground. The few minutes she was unconscious were some of the longest in my life. I couldn’t stop my thoughts from turning to Joanna and when we’d learned her cancer was back and terminal. Jesus, did Bella have cancer or something else seriously wrong with her? What the hell sort of God would put two women in my life just to have me lose them?
“Sir? You’re here with Ms. Hanson?”
I whirled around at the voice of a nurse. “Yes, is she okay?”
“Yes, she’s fine. She’s asking for you. I’ll show you in to her.”
I followed the nurse through double doors to a triage area. The nurse pulled back a set of curtains and I could see Bella sitting in bed, still pale but awake. But I could tell something was wrong. Her eyes were red and puffy. In my experience, that meant she’d been crying. Shit. Was she sick after all?
“Bella, are you all right?” I rushed to her side, taking her hand as the nurse closed the curtain around us again.
She swallowed as she nodded. “I’m not sick.”
That was good. So why the tears? “You look upset.”
She stared at me, her lips quivering as if she was afraid to tell me.
“Bella, please. I’m dying here. What’s wrong?” I squeezed her hand.
My heart stopped. And then it thundered a million miles a minute in my chest. I dropped her hand and stepped back. “What?”
She tilted her head to the side and her expression said, ‘you heard me.’
Holy fuck. I felt the weight of the world crash down on me. If I thought I was cliché before, I was now the king of clichés. A forty-year-old businessman knocking up his twenty-three-year-old assistant. What was the board going to think? Our investors? Would this hurt the company’s reputation?
And Joanna… God. Yes she was dead and no one would blame me for being with another woman after all this time, but I could see the disappointment in her face as if she were standing here now. I knew better than to sleep with my assistant. I knew better than to have unprotected sex. Except I didn’t.
What was I going to tell Patsy and Jim? And Lily?
“It’s okay, Blake.” Tears filled Bella’s eyes, but I saw a strength behind them as well. “I know this isn’t what you want. Not what you signed up for. I’ll take care of the baby by myself.”
Oh fuck. I was a total asshole. I was having a crisis and yet she was the one who was pregnant. I’d done a piss-poor job of hiding my horror at the news.
“I’m sorry, Bella. You don’t have to do this alone.” I took her hand again, wanting to offer comfort.
“I’m sorry Blake. I… it’s my fault—”
“Hey, no it’s not. It’s… well, I suppose it’s both our faults.” The one time I fucked up and didn’t use a condom and this happens. Well no, because I’d done something similar with Joanna, but she hadn’t gotten pregnant. I supposed that was why I thought I’d dodged a bullet. “But it will be all right, I promise.”
She gave me a sad smile. She knew it wasn’t going to be all right, just like I did. My life had just changed and there were ramifications I couldn’t even anticipate. The best course of action was to accept the situation and make a plan.
I kissed her hand to reassure her. “I’ll take care of you and the baby. We’ll get married and… well, it will be great. Lily will love to have a brother or sister.” I said it because I knew I needed to step up, but the words felt like ash in my mouth. Joanna had been the one who wanted to give Lily a sibling.
“No… you don’t have to do that.”
“I do have to, Bella. I helped make this problem, and I’ll help solve it.”
She jerked her hand from mine, her cheeks streaming with tears. “I’m not a problem… the baby isn’t a problem to be solved. Yes, this wasn’t planned, but we’re not just fulfilling an obligation.”