Falling for the Pregnant GP - Page 37

He jerked his hand back and this time she let go. ‘Why do you ask?’

CJ shrugged one shoulder. ‘You mentioned you’d had experience with foetal alcohol syndrome and that it wasn’t via a patient. Then, when you were talking to Margaret, I just had a…feeling. You just seemed overly concerned for her—which is good, I want you to be overly concerned with the patients—but I just sensed there might be more to it than you’re letting on. And with me,’ she continued, before he could get a word in edgeways, ‘you’re very concerned about me, that I don’t overdo things, that I take it easy, that I rest and relax and do what’s right for the baby. I don’t mind. Everyone else in the district fusses over me and the baby but with you it seems…deeper. As though you’re almost desperate to ensure both the baby and I are OK.’

‘I thought that was the role of the GP, to ensure their patients have the right treatment.’

‘I’m not your patient,’ she pointed out.

‘No. You’re my new friend, and as I’ve been a confirmed workaholic for years and rarely have the time to make new friends, is it any wonder I’m concerned about your health?’ He stood and walked to the kitchen bench, his back to her for a long moment before he turned to face her, his arms crossed, his expression closed.

‘You’re avoiding answering the question, Ethan, and I think I might have guessed why. I think I know how your wife died and I think it was due to complications with a pregnancy. That’s why you’re so worried about me. You’re determined to make sure the same thing doesn’t happen to me.’

As CJ spoke the words, she watched the blood drain from Ethan’s face, and she knew she was right.

CHAPTER EIGHT

‘YOUR WIFE DIED in childbirth?’ She went to stand but he quickly held up a hand to stop her.

‘You need to rest. You need to be off your feet. You need to ensure you don’t…’ He stopped, closing his eyes before saying with choked emotion, ‘That you don’t get pre-eclampsia.’

‘Oh, Ethan.’ CJ didn’t care whether she was on her feet or not, she wanted to be near him, to comfort him, to be there for him as he’d been there for her the whole time he’d been in town, but he clearly didn’t want that comfort, not at the moment. ‘What happened?’

Ethan leaned against the bench, needing to keep the distance between them. He shouldn’t be surprised that she’d figured it out. CJ Nicholls was a smart woman. However, the only reason she’d been able to figure it out was because he’d let down his guard—something he’d sworn to himself he would never do. He hadn’t planned to let anyone inside the wall he’d built around his heart and somehow, without him fully realising it, mortar had broken down and bricks had crumbled, releasing light into the cavern…a light in the guise of the woman before him.

He knew she was waiting for him to speak but first he had to deal with that nagging voice from deep within, telling him to just walk out the door, to leave, to snub her. The more he looked at her, seeing the genuine concern in her eyes, hearing the compassion in her tone, he knew if he was ever going to open up to anyone about his past, it would be this woman. She’d been through so much herself, she’d been honest with him from the very beginning and he instinctively knew that whatever he told her, it would be held in the strictest confidence.

‘Abigail was always so organised, so in control. I was working day and night at the hospital and she resented that. At some point we stopped talking and I couldn’t get through to her, so when I wasn’t at the hospital, I was out in the garage with the car.’ He shook his head sadly. ‘She’d always tell me off for spending more time with the car than with her but…’ He swallowed and chose his words carefully. There was no point in hiding from the truth any longer. ‘Restoring the car relaxed me. She didn’t.’ Ethan spread his arms wide, then let them fall back to his sides. ‘I was a bad husband. A bad father to my unborn child.’

‘I doubt you neglected her completely, Ethan.’ CJ’s tone was reassuring.

‘Of course not. I loved her. I loved the thought of her having our child, our little girl. I couldn’t wait to be a dad, to have a family. That’s why I wanted to get the car all done and sorted out so that when the baby came, I would have more free time to spend with both of them.’

‘Tell me more about Abigail.’

His smile was natural. ‘Abigail, as I said, was very self-sufficient, very directed. When we met at university, we became friends for a few years and then…things progressed into more than friends. Abby went into organisation mode. She had everything planned. How long it would take for us to save up and get our first house, where we should get married, when we would start having children. It was all in her clearly thought-out plan—sometimes even with colour-coded charts.’

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