‘Remember those croissants we used to buy from the supermarket?’ he said reminiscently. ‘We used to heat them in the microwave so they were always slightly soggy yet we still ate them.’
* * *
‘Yes, I remember,’ Molly said quietly, wishing that he hadn’t brought up the subject. It had become a sort of ritual for them—if their days off had coincided then Sean would make coffee for them while she warmed up the croissants and then they would take everything back to bed. More often than not the coffee would grow cold because once they were under the covers the inevitable would happen...
‘We didn’t always get to eat them, though, did we, Molly?’
His tone was brooding and she knew that he was remembering what had happened, how their desire for each other had overruled everything else. Sean had wanted her just as much as she had wanted him, which made his subsequent actions all the more difficult to understand. All of a sudden, Molly realised that she needed to know what had gone wrong, why he had ended their affair so abruptly and with so little warning.
‘What happened, Sean? What went wrong?’
A frown furrowed his brow as he looked at her and Molly almost weakened. After all, what was the point of asking questions like that now? It wouldn’t change what had happened—nothing would. And yet there was still this need to know why he had behaved the way he had. Even allowing for the fact that Sean had made it clear that he didn’t do commitment, it was strange.
‘Something must have happened to make you end our relationship so suddenly, so what was it? Was it something I did?’
‘You didn’t do anything. I just felt that it was the best thing to do,’ he said flatly.
‘Best for who?’ She gave a brittle little laugh. ‘Were you tired of me, Sean—was that it? Did you want someone more exciting in your life?’
‘No. It wasn’t that.’ He reached across the table and touched her hand. ‘I was never, ever bored when we were together, Molly. That’s the truth. I swear.’
He withdrew his hand and she had a feeling that he was trying to decide what to say. She held her breath, wondering what he was going to tell her, but in the end he merely picked up his cup and drank some of his coffee.
Molly sipped her own coffee, wondering why she felt so deflated. There was no reason to believe that Sean had some secret he was hiding, yet she couldn’t shake off the idea that something in his past had had a huge bearing on his actions. She sighed as she reached for another pastry. It was merely wishful thinking; she was looking for a complicated reason to explain why he had ended their affair when the truth was far simpler. He had tired of her and had wanted a change.
SEAN COULDN’T BELIEVE how tempted he’d been to tell Molly all about Claire and the vow he had made. After all, what would it have achieved? It wouldn’t have changed anything. On the contrary, it could have made matters worse. Molly might have thought he was aiming for the sympathy vote and he really couldn’t bear that.
He reached for a second croissant then stopped when the café door was flung open and a woman came rushing in. Sean immediately leapt to his feet when he saw the panic on her face. He was already heading towards her even before she managed to speak.
‘It’s my husband! He’s collapsed. Can someone help me? Please!’
‘Where is he?’ Sean took hold of her arm when she swayed. ‘I’m a doctor so show me where he is and I’ll see what I can do to help.’
‘He’s over there, by the Christmas tree. We were listening to the carol singers when he suddenly started acting really strange,’ the woman explained as she led the way to where a crowd was starting to gather.
‘In what way was he acting strange?’ Sean asked, pushing his way through the onlookers. Someone had placed the man in the recovery position, so he knelt down beside him and checked his pulse then made sure he was breathing.
‘I don’t know...he couldn’t seem to speak properly ’cos his mouth was drooping at one side and he couldn’t move his left arm either.’ The middle-aged woman bit back a sob. ‘I tried to get him to tell me what was wrong but it was as though he couldn’t hear me and then all of a sudden he just fell down onto the ground and didn’t move.’
‘I see,’ Sean said quietly. It sounded very much like a stroke to him and the sooner the man was moved to hospital the better his chances would be. He looked up when Molly came to join them, nodding when she told him that she had phoned for an ambulance. ‘Thanks. Can you get back onto Ambulance Control and tell them it looks like a stroke? That way, everyone will be prepared when he arrives at A&E.’