I stiffened. Hadn’t I offered her that?
“She could be my new mommy.”
Lily’s eyes widened at my sharp tone.
I reined my anger in. “You have a mommy, sweetheart. I know she’s not here, but nothing will change that she’s your mommy and loved you so very much.”
Lily scooted away from me and toward the door of the car.
“I’m sorry, sweetie. I didn’t mean to sound mad. It just makes me sad that you don’t remember your mom.” I reached for her, needing her forgiveness. She let me pull her into my lap where I held her close.
“Bella doesn’t have a mommy either.”
“I know.” Perhaps that’s why Bella was so good with Lily. She knew what it was like to not have a mother. There clearly was something about Bella that had drawn Lily to her. I hadn’t ever seen Lily take to anyone outside the family the way she had to Bella. Of course, Bella had that same pull on me.
In that instant, I wanted Bella with us too. I hated that she was alone in her apartment. That she was going to try to have this baby with minimal help from me.
I could understand her need for time to adjust. I was reeling from the news too. And pissed off that Bella had so easily dismissed me. Whether she liked it or not, we were having a baby, and we needed to prepare.
I’d have to tell the company board, and hope to hell they didn’t try to oust me for sleeping with my assistant. I could already picture their faces etched with worry about some sort of sexual harassment lawsuit, especially since she was pregnant. Or maybe they’d worry my knocking up Bella would hurt the company’s image since the business was my late wife’s idea. But, Jesus, wasn’t I allowed happiness? My wife was dead and I missed her every damn day, but did I have to live the rest of my life like a monk?
The more difficult task would be in telling Patsy and Jim. Would they see my affair with Bella as a slap in the face for the same reasons? It could hurt the company Joanna and I worked so hard to build. Plus, it suggested I wasn’t devoted to Joanna anymore, which wasn’t true. But I was tired of alternating between being numb or sad. With Bella, I experienced joy, emotionally as well as physically. She was the sunshine in a life that had become one long cloudy day. Perhaps that’s how it was for Lily too.
When I got home, I heated up the dinner Mrs. Douglas had left us and after eating it, Lily and I played until bedtime. Then I called Patsy and Jim and told them I wanted to meet with them soon. They agreed to come over the following night and asked if they could take Lily to the Hamptons over the weekend. I agreed, thinking it would give me time to figure out a plan for how to deal with Bella.
The next day at work, I went through my day as normal, including how I interacted with Bella. I didn’t bring up the baby or anything personal. Our interactions were strictly work-related, and if I wasn’t mistaken, she seemed relieved by that, which only irritated me.
That evening, Patsy and Jim came over for dinner. After dinner, when Lily went to her room to play, I shored up my strength to tell them about Bella.
“I need to talk to you,” I said as they sat on the couch. I looked back toward Lily’s room to make sure she wasn’t able to hear me.
“Is everything okay?”
I noted Patsy’s worried tone. The last time I had a serious talk with them, I was with Joanna and we were sharing the news of her terminal cancer.
“No one is sick,” I assured her.
Relief showed on both of their faces.
I sat in the chair across from the couch. “I was seeing someone.”
Patsy and Jim looked at each other and then me, but I couldn’t decipher their thoughts about it.
“It’s over, but… well… she’s pregnant.”
Patsy arched a brow.
“There are ways to prevent that, you know,” Jim said, disappointment clear on his face.
I felt like a sixteen-year-old and not the forty-year-old who should have known better. “The point is…” I actually didn’t know that point. I had to let them know about the baby, but beyond that, I hadn’t thought things through. “I’m going to be involved.”
“Are you getting married?” Jim asked.
“He said they’re not together anymore,” Patsy reminded Jim.
“I offered to marry her, but she turned me down.” I rubbed my hand over my chest where underneath my heart burned.
Patsy pursed her lips, clearly disapproving of me. “Gee, how nice of you, Blake.”
Jim looked at her. “Why are you talking to him like that? He’s trying to do the right thing.”