Lucy wasn’t quite sure what to think. She’d hardly recovered from the shock of her call with Phillip. “Hello.” That was a start.
She took a step back to let him into the apartment. She was curious about what he had to say, but wouldn’t allow herself to mentally leap ahead. Just because he was here didn’t mean he was begging for her back. She didn’t know what he wanted, or if she was even willing to give it to him if he did. She loved him, but she loved herself and her babies, too, and she knew she had to be smart about this. He’d been unnecessarily cruel to her and it would take more than a “sorry” and some flowers for her to forget the things he’d said.
“These are for you,” he said, holding out the flowers and smiling sheepishly at her. “I picked out the pink and blue flowers for the baby.”
“Thank you.” Lucy accepted the flowers and turned her back on Oliver to put them in water. She needed a moment without his soulful eyes staring into her own.
When she returned from the kitchen, he was still standing in the same spot in the gallery, only now he was looking at the painting he’d bought her. She’d finally hung it on the wall.
“Thank you for the painting,” she said, stopping alongside him to admire the piece. “You didn’t have to do that.”
“I know I didn’t. That was the point of the gift.”
Lucy set the vase of flowers onto the table in the entryway and turned to him. “You also didn’t have to drop your contest of Alice’s will. We could’ve seen it through to the judge and let him rule on it.”
Oliver turned to her and shook his head. “No, we couldn’t. I couldn’t risk the judge’s ruling. I dropped the suit because I changed my mind.”
Lucy crossed her arms defensively over her chest. Standing this close to Oliver again after these horrible few days, she felt like she needed the buffer to protect herself. From herself.
“You changed your mind about what?” she snapped. “That I was a seasoned con artist that manipulated your elderly, agoraphobic aunt into leaving me all her money? Or that I deliberately got pregnant to trap you into financially supporting me and your child for life?”
Oliver swallowed hard, the muscles in his throat moving with strain and difficulty. She’d never seen him so tense. Not in the lawyer’s office that first day, not even in the restaurant when she saw him last. He appeared outwardly calm, but she was keenly aware of how tightly strung he seemed.
“I’m sorry, Lucy,” he said at last. “I’m sorry for all of that. I never should’ve given a voice to the doubts in my head, because that’s all they were—my own demons twisting reality. You never did anything to deserve the way I treated you. You’re nothing like my stepmother and I knew that, I was just afraid because I had feelings for you that I didn’t know how to handle. I was scared to make a mistake like my father and instead, I made an even bigger mess by ruining the best thing I had in my life. I can only hope that one day you can see it in your heart to forgive me for that. I intend to try every day for the next fifty years until you do.”
Lucy stood quietly listening to his words. They seemed painfully sincere, making her heart ache in her chest for him. But he wasn’t the only one who was scared. She was scared of trusting him again too soon and having her heart trampled on. “Thank you,” she said. “I know it wasn’t easy for you to say all of that.”
“I’ll admit when I’m wrong, Lucy, and I have been in the wrong since the day we met. I wish we could start all over again, but I can’t change what I’ve done. Can you forgive me, Lucy?” he pressed with hopeful eyes gazing into hers.
She could feel the pain and regret in every word he spoke. She’d never heard a sincerer apology. “I do forgive you for the things you said and did.” She sensed that wasn’t quite enough for him, but she wasn’t betraying her heart too quickly.
Oliver reached out and wrapped his fingers around her hand. “Thank you. I’m so happy to hear you say that because to be honest, I’m head over heels in love with you and I thought I might never get the chance to tell you.” He stopped, looking at her with an obvious question on his mind. “Do you think you might be able to love me someday?”
The warmth of his skin against hers made it hard for her to focus on his words. She could feel her body start to betray her. It longed to lean in and press against the hard muscle of his chest. She wanted to breathe in the warm scent of his cologne at his throat and feel his arms wrapped around her. She fought the urge, knowing this conversation was too important. It needed to happen and it couldn’t if she started rubbing against him like a contented kitten.