Well, he wasn’t about to let history repeat itself. He’d managed to verbally reassure CJ but actions often spoke louder than words. ‘Well, then, friend, why don’t I organise an ultrasound for you? It’ll help put your mind at ease. You’ll be able to see that the baby is OK and I’m sure Donna can arrange a urine test if that will also help alleviate any concerns you might have.’
‘Yeah. OK.’ Another bout of tears leaked from her eyes and he couldn’t help but smile at her overactive emotions. ‘I hate being at the mercy of my crazy pregnancy emotions. I cried at a commercial on television last week but it was a commercial for soup!’ She blew her nose again and looked at him imploringly. ‘You don’t think I’m overreacting, do you?’
‘Not at all.’
‘Thank you, Ethan. Thank you for not making me feel silly and for being so supportive and calming me down.’ It was her turn to reach out and take his hand in hers, holding it tightly, worry and fear still lurking at the back of her mind.
‘That’s my job. Er…not as your doctor,’ he added quickly, ‘but as your friend.’ He was doing his best to ignore her touch, to ignore the way it was creating havoc with his senses. He ignored the tightening in his gut, and at the way his heart was thawing a little more every time she touched him, or stared into his eyes, or mesmerised him with her scent or her laugh or—
‘Aw. How sweet. Thank you for being my friend.’ Fresh tears sprang to her eyes and she gave his hand another squeeze before letting it go so she could blow her nose again. Ethan chuckled at her crazy emotions, then shifted back in his chair and sipped his tea. CJ had already broken through several of his defences and now he was the one feeling vulnerable.
He was pleased he’d been able to allay her fears, to help her out. Helping people. It was one of the things that had driven him, especially these past six years since Abigail’s death. He hadn’t been able to help his own wife so he’d developed the insane notion that it was his job to help everyone else. Help them—but still keep his emotional distance. Detached. That was the word his sister had used to describe him.
‘You do good, Ethan, but you’re so detached from reality, from real emotions and situations that you can’t see how badly it’s affecting you. It’s not healthy to go through this life all alone, not connecting with other people.’ His sister’s words echoed in his mind. Melody had been right. He took another sip of his tea, belatedly becoming aware that CJ was watching him—concern in her eyes.
‘Ethan, are you OK?’ she asked softly.
‘What makes you ask?’
‘Well, you’ve alleviated my concerns, I’ve released some emotions and now my brain can function again, and what I can’t figure out is why you’re awake at this time in the morning?’
‘I told you, I’m…not used to my surroundings.’
‘But I’ll bet that when you were an intern, you would have been able to sleep anywhere. All interns do because the hours and work are so long and hard.’
‘And I was considerably younger and less set in my ways.’ He smiled, hoping the attempt would stop her from asking more questions. Whilst he’d had the urge to share things with CJ, it didn’t mean he actually had to do it. He reminded himself that he liked his life segregated, that work and friendship didn’t mix.
‘So, what’s your place like?’
‘My place?’ He frowned.
‘Where you usually live in Sydney.’ She held out a hand before he could speak. ‘Wait. Let me guess. You have a lovely four-or five-bedroom house located in an inner-city suburb so the commute to the hospital doesn’t take too long. There’ll be enough garage space for not only your play car, which is presently parked in my garage, but also a more sensible, probably dual-fuel car for driving around town.’ Her eyes were alive with merriment as she continued to guess where he lived. ‘Also, the furnishings inside your house would be stylish yet practical and the art hanging on the walls would consist of carefully chosen pieces, some prints by Impressionist painters, and some by local artists because their work really captures your moods.’ CJ nodded. ‘I’m right, aren’t I?’
Ethan sipped his tea, astonished she was actually quite close, describing the house where he’d lived with his wife. Sadly, he shook his head. ‘Not any more. I actually live in a two-bedroom, inner-city apartment located one block from the hospital. I have the bare minimum of furniture and no pictures on the walls.’