I’d just gotten some tea and curled up on my couch with a pen and paper trying to sort out everything I’d need to decide and do over the next few months when there was a knock on my door.
I was still in my robe and slippers but wasn’t worried about impressing anyone so I answered the door.
“Blake.” The very person I didn’t want to see.
“Bella.” He smiled. “I’m sorry to drop in unexpectedly, but I need to talk to you. It’s important.”
“Yeah, sure.” I opened the door to let him in. As he passed me, my heart cried out in pain that he couldn’t love me, and I cursed him for bringing this pain into my apartment. How would I ever get over him if I had to keep seeing him?
He stopped just inside the entryway and waited for me.
“Do you want tea? I can make coffee.”
He shook his head. “No, thank you.”
I stood in the middle of the living room and waited for him to say whatever he came to say.
“How are you feeling?”
Ugh. Please, no small talk. “Fine. A little tired, but otherwise good.”
“Good.” He stood there looking as awkward as I felt.
“Is something wrong? I meant it, Blake, when I said I’d deal with this on my own.” In fact, I really did want to. It was excruciating to be around him and not being able to love him.
His eyes flashed with annoyance. “Why are you trying to keep me away from the baby?”
“I know you don’t want us.”
“That’s not true, Bella.” He stepped toward me, but I didn’t want him near me, fogging up my senses. I sat on the couch, not having the strength to argue while standing up. He responded with annoyance. “If I didn’t want you, I wouldn’t be here.”
“Why are you here?”
“Because I love you.” He said it simply and straightforward. My heart leaped with joy, but my head cautioned it.
“I know I said I couldn’t love you. That I couldn’t give you more than an affair, but I can. I do, Bella.”
“Is this a ploy to get me to marry you so your child is legitimate?”
He jerked back as if I’d hit him. “No. Jesus. Do you think I’d lie about something like that? That I’d use love to manipulate you?”
No. Blake took love very seriously. But I was too afraid to believe him.
“I didn’t think it was possible to love again after Joanna. I wasn’t looking for love and yet you brought joy and happiness into my life, and I fell in love with you. It took me a long time to recognize it, but it’s there, Bella.” He sighed. “I love you.”
Tears filled my eyes, and my heart longed for me to rush to him and tell him I loved him too. But I stayed on the couch like the coward I was. “What about Joanna?”
“I’ll always love her. But that doesn’t mean I can’t love you. I didn’t know I could love again until you. Actually, I think I was incapable, except with you. You’ve stolen my heart. Won’t you give me a chance to prove it to you?”
“Would you have come to this epiphany without a baby?”
He was quiet for a moment, which to my mind was the answer. This was still about the baby and not me.
“I may not have realized it yet, but eventually I would have.”
I shook my head with skepticism.
“I tried to resist you, Bella. But in the end, I couldn’t.”
“That’s just sex.”
“No.” He swore under his breath. “I know the difference between love and lust. I may have been slow to acknowledge it, but it’s there. I’m in love with you.”
I so wanted to believe him, and at the same time, I was afraid to. I turned my head away, not wanting to see the earnestness in his eyes.
He was quiet for a bit before saying, “I guess you don’t love me.”
My gaze jerked to his, ready to deny it.
This time he was the one looking away. When he turned back to me, his face was etched with pain and disappointment, and yet there was resolve in it. As if he accepted that I didn’t feel the same. That wasn’t true, and yet, I didn’t trust his declaration of love. I wasn’t sure I could be the second love of his life. And so I said nothing.
“I still want to be a part of the baby’s life. I’ve told Patsy and Jim about you and the baby, and I plan to let Lily know soon.” He inhaled a deep breath. “If you need anything, let me know.” With a final wan smile, he turned and left my apartment.
My heart screamed for me to stop him. The man just told you he loved you, it said. It was what I’d longed to hear so why was I letting him go?