“I think there’s a good possibility that you are.” Rachel ran a gentle hand over Alex’s hair. “Alex, just breathe. In and out. Good girl.”
Alex sucked in air, using every bit of self-control she had to push away the breath-stealing panic that threatened to engulf her. Still on her haunches, she placed her hand on the floor to steady herself. This couldn’t be happening to her. Why was this happening to her? She’d had a hot, passionate fling with a man she’d always been attracted to. They’d used protection... She wasn’t supposed to end up pregnant! This wasn’t how her life was supposed to go.
And in a couple of hours, she had to go onstage, act charming and auction off the father of the baby that might be growing in her womb. Noooo...
Rachel pulled her up to standing position and cupped her face, her eyes radiating support and sympathy. “Alex, there’s nothing you can do about it now. In the morning, we’ll go and buy you a pregnancy test and I’ll hold your hand while you do it. For now, try to set it aside. We have a function to host, an evening to orchestrate.”
Alex heard a couple of unladylike curses leave her lips. “I won’t be able to concentrate until I know, Rach.”
“You won’t be able to concentrate if you do,” Rachel pointed out.
“No, it’ll be better if I know. I far prefer to deal with reality than what-ifs.” Alex sucked her bottom lip between her teeth and felt the sting of tears. “I have to know, Rach.”
Rachel wrinkled her nose. “We need you here, Alex.”
Alex pushed her shoulders back and blinked away her tears. “And I will be, Rachel. I promise you, I won’t let you down. I’ll run to the superstore just out of town and I’ll use the facilities there to do the test. I’ll be back in thirty minutes, forty at max.”
Too many people had let her down, pregnant or not, so she wouldn’t do that to her best friend. She’d made a commitment to this evening and she’d honor it, baby or not. But she had to know. It was a burning compulsion, a primal need.
Rachel shrugged. “Okay.”
Alex gave her a brief hug, pulling away before she completely lost it and started to ugly cry. She handed Rachel the clipboard, and then she all but ran to the door, yanked it open and slammed into a hard wall.
Another set of hands held her biceps; this time they were far bigger and rougher than Rachel’s but oh-so familiar. Alex inhaled Daniel’s distinctive scent and lifted her eyes to his chiseled face, sweeping them over his sensual lips and meeting his dark, brooding eyes.
Then, to her mortification, she heard a suppressed sob escape and felt the trickle of tears down her cheeks. Daniel’s grip tightened on her biceps as she rested her forehead against his chest. God, she couldn’t do this, she couldn’t be pregnant.
“Lex, what’s wrong?” For a moment, she wished she could lay her fears on him, allow him to enfold her into his strong arms, trust him to hold her up, have her back. But that was foolishness—she couldn’t trust anyone. There was only one person she could rely on and that was herself. After all, she couldn’t lose herself.
“I... It’s nothing for you to worry about.”
He remained silent as he lifted one hand to gently stroke her hair,
And, man, even though she knew she should pull away, she couldn’t bring herself to. Not yet. Just once, it would be nice not to have to stand alone and be strong, to allow someone else to carry some of her burden.
But that wasn’t the way she operated.
Even so, Alex relished the feel of Daniel’s hand on the back of her head, his lips against her temple. “Lex, I need to know what’s upsetting you.”
He almost sounded like he cared. But that was a lie. He loved her body, loved making love to her, but he didn’t care enough. Not to stick by her when things got tough, when she asked him to choose her. She’d made the mistake of relying on him when she was a teenager, and she knew not to do that again.
Alex shoved away from Daniel, swiped annoyed fingers across her eyes to wipe away the tears blurring her vision and sent him a hard smile. “I’ve got to go.”
“Wait! What’s wrong with you?” Daniel demanded. “Why are you crying? Dammit, Alexis, talk to me!”