“I just have Oliver and Harper,” Danny said. “I’ve heard people say that’s because my mom learned her lesson with me. I was a lot of work and I ruined her body, she said. She got her shoes tied after I was born.”
“Do you mean she got her tubes tied?” Lucy asked, stifling a chuckle at the seven-year-old’s interpretation of the story he’d heard.
“That’s it. I think.” Danny sat thoughtfully for a minute, gazing down at the IV in his hand. “I’m sorry about your dad, Lucy. I guess my mom could be a lot worse. At least she sends nice gifts. She can afford to though, since she’s married to a super-rich guy in California. I heard the housekeeper say that the guy invented a thing that’s in every smartphone in the world. She wasted all of Daddy’s money in just a few years, but I think it will take her a lot longer to spend all of the new guy’s money.”
Oliver was surprised to listen to how much his brother knew about Candace. He was young, but perhaps he wasn’t as sheltered as Oliver thought. It sounded as though the grown-ups around him had the habit of talking about Candace as though Danny were too young to understand what they were saying. The knowledge seemed to steal a touch of his innocence too soon, but perhaps the truth wouldn’t be as crushing as if he’d learned it all later. He was a smart, savvy little boy. Much more than Oliver gave him credit for.
He was also amazed at how deftly Lucy handled Danny. She was such a caring person, so unlike Candace. In a moment, she’d shifted the discussion away from bad parents and had Danny chatting animatedly about his favorite video game. Any bad emotions roused by their talk faded away as he prattled on about trolls and secret passages. Danny loved playing on any kind of gadget and would happily sit and get lost in a game for hours on end. Considering his family owned one of the largest computer companies in the world, it was probably in his blood.
Dad had actually forced Danny to take the riding lessons to get him out of the house. That had backfired a little, considering it had landed him in the hospital, but at least it had given him something to do that didn’t entail cheat codes and warlocks. The next week of his recovery would be spent playing his game the moment he could hold up his own controller.
Lucy listened to him speak as though it were the most interesting conversation she’d ever had. She had that ability, that way of making you feel like you were the only person in the room. The most important thing in her life. No wonder Alice had been so taken with her. And Harper. And now, Danny, too. She was like a planet swirling around in space and pulling everyone else into her orbit.
He realized he was tired of fighting to escape her pull. The conversation they’d had in the late hours the night before had been enlightening for him. Danny’s accident had occupied his mind for most of the day, but when he had a quiet moment, his thoughts always returned to Lucy. He had judged her unfairly. If he set all his prejudgments aside, he had no reason not to let himself fall head over heels for this woman. It was a leap he’d never risked taking before and he wasn’t sure he was ready to do it yet.
But he could feel it coming. Before too long, the solid ground beneath him would crumble and he would have no choice but to fall hard for Lucy Campbell.
Oliver was startled from his thoughts by the drip of the popsicle onto his hand through a hole in the wrapper. He couldn’t stand out in the hallway forever. Instead, he rounded the corner as though he’d just returned and presented the prize to the grinning little boy waiting for it.
* * *
After closing out the weekend at the hospital, the following workweek seemed to fly by. Lucy spent almost every evening with Oliver, returning to the apartment on Fifth Avenue when he left for work in the morning. During the day, she looked at apartments near Yale online and plotted out an itinerary for the trip she and Harper were taking up there the following weekend.
In all the time Oliver and Lucy spent together, they existed in a protective bubble—neither of them mentioning the fact that Alice’s will was still pending a decision from the judge. They simply didn’t talk about it, like an elephant in the room that they kept their backs to.
At this point, Lucy thought for sure that he should trust her enough to know she had nothing to do with the change in the will. And yet she didn’t ask him to withdraw the protest and he didn’t offer. They just carried on with their relationship as though the explosive events that brought them together initially never happened.
It lingered in the back of Lucy’s mind, but at the same time, she was happy to ignore that aspect of their association. Things were so much better without that topic creeping into their conversations. She also tended to ignore the fact that she was planning on leaving Manhattan after the New Year to finish school regardless of what the judge decided. She hadn’t mentioned that to Oliver either, and she didn’t know why. Perhaps it seemed too early in the relationship to worry about the future.