She shivered again and felt her chest tighten with an emotion she identified as loneliness. How crazy. She wasn’t alone—she had Jas. A sigh hissed from her lips.
‘Are you cold?’
‘I’m fine,’ she said, her voice muffled against his shoulders. He threw his arm across her and it lay big and heavy and reassuring across her shoulders. She liked the feel of his hair-roughened thigh against her smooth leg.
Don’t get to like it too much, Angel, the voice in her head advised. Turning a deaf ear to that voice, she focused on the fingers that were moving in slow, lazy, circular movements across her belly.
Then the hand stilled and she sensed the tension in his body. ‘What is that?’
She shivered, this time with pleasure as the heel of his hand rested on the sensitive mound of her pubic bone, though he ran his thumb along the thin white line not quite obscured by the soft fuzz of curls at the apex of her long legs.
‘Complications during labour. I had an emergency C-section.’
He felt as if a hand had reached into his chest. So much had happened to her that he was responsible for and he’d been totally oblivious.
‘You could have died?’ Guilt rose like bile in his throat. What had he been doing at the time? Driving a fast car? Signing off on a deal and congratulating himself? Enjoying technically perfect sex with a beautiful woman...?
There had been nothing technical about last night. Raw, explosive, elemental—yes; as addictive as a narcotic—definitely! He knew now why he had gone to such lengths to bring her back into his life. He’d been trying to recapture this feeling, this emotional connection that only a single one-night stand had given him.
‘If I’d been living in a Third World country possibly, but I wasn’t. It was all routine.’ And scary as hell.
He didn’t believe a word of it. He had taken her innocence and got her pregnant. A prince among men, that’s you, Alex told himself.
‘You were alone?’
She shook her head.
‘Your mother was with you?’
The suggestion drew a chortle of laughter from Angel.
‘I thought maybe having a baby would have brought you together.’
Her hands curled over his. Drawing his fingers to her lips, she kissed them, then his mouth. Some breathless moment later she admitted with a laugh, ‘Being old enough to be a grandmother is a crime my mother has still not forgiven me for. I’m not even sure what country she was in when I gave birth. She bores easily.’
He said a word that sounded vicious.
‘Will you teach me to swear in Russian? That sounds really satisfying.’
‘If you teach me to make love in Italian, cara.’
‘It works for me.’
‘Tell me you weren’t alone when you gave birth.’
‘I wasn’t,’ she said, hearing the guilt in his request. ‘My friend, Clara.’ Who despite her very good intentions had spent the first few hours of Angel’s forty-eight-hour labour flirting with a young doctor, and when things had started happening had fainted away gracefully. While the labour had gone disastrously wrong, Clara was being diagnosed with concussion and even got admitted overnight. Angel had been her maid of honour when her friend had married the handsome young obstetrician six months later.
‘And my brother flew back from Dubai as soon as he got the news I was in labour. Jas arrived a month early, so he was there to hold her before I came around.’ According to the midwives he had worn a trench in the floor walking up and down, waiting for her to recover from the anaesthetic.
That should have been me. The thought surfaced, the strength of it taking him by surprise. He should have held his baby, and now he never would. His loss, not hers. It was obvious that Angel put her child above all else.
She omitted a few details from her potted history, such as that she’d come around in a high-dependency unit, or that her first recollection when she had surfaced from the anaesthetic had been hearing her forceful sibling who had no doubt bullied the information out of the doctor asking him if he was sure she would never be able to have children in the future.
‘Is there no hope? IVF...?’
‘Not impossible but extremely unlikely,’ had been the medic’s response. ‘Would you like me to tell the father...? Or will you...?’
‘If I ever find the scum who did this to her I’ll do better than that! I’ll make sure he doesn’t do this to any other woman! Is she awake yet?’
Angel, who had closed her eyes and pretended to be unconscious, had almost immediately drifted back into a drug-induced slumber.