“Let’s start with the basics, shall we?” he suggested, not at all surprised when Aidan’s phone started ringing a few seconds later.
“Shit,” Aidan sighed, pulling his phone out. “I’ve gotta take this.”
Darrin gestured for his brother to answer it, knowing that it might be a patient or another doctor trying to reach him urgently, but something told him that wasn’t the case.
“Is that my wife?” Darrin asked when Aidan groaned.
Aidan started to shake his head when he abruptly stilled and looked up at him. “Your wife?”
“Mmmhmm,” Darrin murmured, plucking the cellphone out of his brother’s fingers. “Didn’t Marybeth tell you?”
“No, she didn’t…,” Aidan began to say only give his head a hard shake and repeat, “Your wife?”
“Going on three weeks,” he said as he sent Marybeth’s call to voicemail and shifted his attention back to his stunned brother. “Which brings me to my first question,” he said, narrowing his eyes on his brother, “you’re not in love with my wife, are you?”
The horrified expression on Aidan’s face said it all. “Are you out of your fucking mind?” his brother asked just in case there were any lingering doubts in his mind added, “She’s like a sister to me!”
“Good, good,” he murmured, pleased that he wouldn’t have to beat the shit out of his brother, which allowed him to ask his next question, “Are you treating her for the endometriosis?”
Ramming his fingers through his short black hair, Aidan sighed heavily. “You know that I can’t answer that.”
Since he’d expected that answer, he moved on. “How about a few hypothetical questions then?” he suggested so that he wouldn’t have to put his brother in an uncomfortable position that could jeopardize his medical license.
Eyes narrowing as he reached over and took his cellphone back, Aidan asked, “What kind of questions?”
“About endometriosis and fertility,” Darrin said, shrugging it off like it was no big deal when all he wanted to do was to beg his brother to tell him that there was a cure and Marybeth was going to be okay and they’d be able to have children one day, but somehow he managed to stay in control.
Sighing heavily, Aidan placed his phone back in his pocket and leaned back against the wall. “Ask away,” he said with a careless gesture.
“Is it possible for a woman with endometriosis stage four to have children,” he asked, trying to word it just right.
The pitying look that crossed Aidan’s features told him everything that he needed to know.
“W-what about a surrogate mother?” he asked, forcing himself to look away as he struggled not to lose it.
“That would be the ideal situation for someone with endometriosis,” Aidan explained softly as Darrin turned around, giving him his back as he closed his eyes and took a steadying breath as relief surged through him, because they still had a chance.
“A woman with endometriosis could have her eggs fertilized and placed in a surrogate, but the cost would be steep,” Aidan explained, regret heavily lacing his words, destroying him.
“How steep?” he forced himself to ask.
“For an untried surrogate?” Aidan said, sighing softly before he answered his own question. “Twenty-five grand at the very least and that doesn’t cover traveling, health insurance and all the extra costs that aren’t covered in the contract. A tried surrogate, which is what I would suggest, would start around thirty-five grand. When everything was said and done, you’d probably be looking at forty-five thousand, minimum. Even then there are no guarantees, Darrin.”
Jaw clenched shut tightly, Darrin nodded even as his breaths came a little faster and he couldn’t quite get enough air. His brother might as well have told him that he’d need a million dollars, because forty-five grand on his salary would take him years to save.
“You could always adopt,” Aidan said softly. “It takes a few years, but at least you’d have a child.”
He nodded jerkily as he tried to turn around, needing to get away, to get some space and fresh air, when his legs started to give out on him.
“Oh, God,” he gasped as his knees hit the floor.
“I’m sorry, Darrin,” Aidan said, instantly by his side.
Numbly, he shook his head. He didn’t want apologies, what he wanted was for his brother to lie to him and promise him that there was still a chance for them.
“I’m sorry,” Aidan said one last time, destroying every last shred of hope that he’d ever had that he’d one day have a child of his own. “I don’t know what happened between you and Marybeth, but I do know that she never wanted this for you.”
He shook his head, chuckling weakly as he admitted to himself, “All I’ve ever wanted was her.”
“They’ve overbooked the hotel,” Darrin announced as he reached down and picked up her bag, speaking to her for the first time in three weeks and making her even more curious about what had happened in that bathroom.
When he’d finally emerged from the bathroom an hour after he’d dragged Aidan off, he’d looked exhausted and sick. Aidan hadn’t looked much better. Darrin hadn’t said a single word to anyone since then. He’d simply waited until it was time for them to board the plane, sat down next to her and for the next four hours he’d stared out the window while she’d tried to figure out what was wrong.
Several times she’d found herself reaching over to take his hand in hers, needing to comfort him, but for the first time since they were kids, she had absolutely no idea how to act around him anymore. They’d had arguments before, but never like this. They’d never gone a day before one of them caved and apologized, but this time they’d gone three weeks without a word.
She’d hated every last minute of it.
She hated that he’d forced her hand in this, hated that he’d done something so foolish as to trap himself with a woman who couldn’t give him what he needed, hated the fact that he would never be a father thanks to her, hated the fact that she felt like she’d taken something so precious away from him, but most of all, she hated the fact that she couldn’t wrap her arms around him and tell him how sorry she was that she’d done this to him.
“I found a hotel with a few extra rooms,” he explained with his jaw clenched tightly, not looking particularly happy or comfortable with this conversation.