‘I haven’t had the chance to tell him you’re here yet.’ I explain, almost apologetically. ‘As soon as he woke, the doctors were on him and now a friend is in there.’
‘Can you do that?’ Beatrice breaks away from Amalie and retrieves a tissue from under the cuff of her cardigan. ‘Can you tell him we’re here?’
‘Of course, but…’
Amalie cuts me off. ‘We don’t want him upset, so don’t push it.’
‘You’ll try, though.’ Beatrice clasps my hands pleadingly. ‘Please, try hard for me, Ava.’
‘I will.’ I feel the pressure, but I also feel the desperation that’s seeping from every pore of this lady. I’m the key to her re-connecting with her son. She knows it, Amalie knows it, and I know it.
We all turn when the door to Jesse’s room opens and Sarah steps out. She’s been crying, and as she lifts her hand to wipe her eyes, the sleeve of her jacket rides up and I see a bandage around her wrist. But I’m distracted from this when I feel the hackles on Jesse’s mother rise.
Sarah’s tear drenched eyes widen in shock. ‘Beatrice?’ she splutters, shutting the door.
‘What the hell are you doing here, you vindictive bitch!’ Jesse’s mother snipes coldly. It doesn’t take any more words to confirm that Beatrice knows about Sarah and Jesse’s encounter and the events that followed—the events that took her granddaughter.
‘Mother!’ Amalie yells, shocked.
I’m shocked. Sarah is definitely shocked, and then the door to Jesse’s room swings open and he’s standing there, shocked. I gasp and rush over to him, noting he’s wrapped in a thin sheet at the waist and has practically dragged his drip and catheter frame with him. ‘Jesse, for God’s sake!’
‘Mum?’ he looks so confused and a little unsteady.
Jesse’s mother’s screwed up face of hatred softens immediately at the sight of her son looking so pale. ‘Oh Jesse, you stupid man. Get back in bed now!’
I’m even more shocked now. I look up and find nothing but puzzlement on his bearded, dazed face, and then I turn, seeing Beatrice clearly fighting her motherly instinct to put him back in bed herself. I’m not sure what to make of it. Is she even entitled to demand such a thing?
This is an incredibly bizarre situation, but as I watch Sarah skulk off quietly and see Amalie and Beatrice scanning Jesse’s tall frame worriedly, I quickly snap back into action. ‘Give me five minutes, Beatrice.’ I say, pushing Jesse back into the room and shutting the door behind me. ‘What do you think you’re playing at? Get in bed!’
His mouth falls open to yell at me, but soon snaps shut again when he starts to sway.
‘Oh shit!’ I’ll never catch him. ‘Shit, shit, shit!’ I drop my bag and frantically guide him back to the bed, but I can do nothing more than let him collapse in a heap of hard muscle. ‘You’re an idiot, Ward.’ I’m so mad with him. ‘Why can’t you do what you’re bloody told?’ I sort his drip and catheter out before heaving his heavy legs into place and re-covering him with the sheet.
‘I feel pissed.’ he slurs, lifting his arm and draping his it across his head.
‘You got up too quickly.’
‘What are they doing here, Ava?’ he asks quietly. ‘I don’t want to see them.’
My shoulders droop spectacularly, but I quickly check his dressing before sitting on his bed and pulling his arm away from his hiding face. He looks at me with beseeching eyes. It kills me, but I’m going to try anyway.
‘You have me, and I’m all you need, I know that; but this is a chance to put everything in your life right. Just give them a few minutes. I’m here forever, no matter what, but I can’t let you pass up an opportunity to find peace in this element of your life, Jesse.’
‘I don’t want anything to ruin what I have.’ he grates the words through his clenched teeth, squeezing his eyes shut.
‘Listen to me.’ I grab his cheek and wiggle it, prompting him to open his eyes. ‘After everything we have been through, do you really think there is anything else that could possibly fracture what we have?’ If that is his only concern, then I’m more determined to repair this. ‘It’ll be done on your terms. We’ll take it slow, and they will accept it.’
‘I only need you.’ he murmurs bitterly, slipping his hand under his t-shirt and finding my tummy. ‘Just you and our babies.’
I sigh, placing my hand over his. ‘You don’t have to want something to need it, Jesse. We’re having twins. I know we have each other, but we’ll need our families, too. And I’d like our children to have two sets of grandparents. We’re not normal, but we should make our children’s lives as normal as possible. It won’t change us or what we have together.’
I can see him grasping my logic, his pale face mulling over my statement until he nods lightly and gingerly pulls me down, engulfing me with his arms. I relax into him, thankful that he will at least attempt to do this. I won’t hold my breath for an instant remedy or reunion, but it’s a start. ‘Tell me you love me.’ he says into my hair.
‘I love you.’
‘Tell me you need me.’
‘I need you.’
‘Okay.’ He releases me. ‘Plump my pillow, wife. I need to be comfy for this.’
I ignore his insolence and make him comfy. ‘I’m going to give you some privacy.’ I tell him, standing and making my way to the door.
‘You’re not staying?’ he blurts, his green eyes bulging in panic.
‘No. I don’t need to. You’ll be fine.’ It takes every effort not to sit and hold his hand through this, but he needs to do this for himself. I might have played the babies card, but my reasons are far deeper than the need to have more family around us. Jesse needs to heal physically and mentally. Forgiving his parents will play a massive role in that.
I open the door and smile at Beatrice and Amalie, who have since been joined by Henry. I say nothing. I leave the door open for them and lose myself for a time while I let a lost family find themselves again.
I’m in Paradise.
After Jesse got the all clear from the doctors a full week after he woke, we left the hospital, me leading him. He refused the wheelchair that was delivered to his room, which I wasn’t surprised about at all. My big, strapping man had been laid up for three weeks, dependant on others to care for him, so I couldn’t deny him the dignity of walking out of the hospital, even if it took us an hour. We returned to Lusso, where Cathy fussed and flapped around like a mother hen, ensuring cupboards were full, washing was done and the whole place looked like it did on the launch night before it had been lived in. Then I gave her a few weeks off. We needed privacy in our home. I needed to look after Jesse. I needed to nurse him back to the man who I know and love.
The first week was a washout. Streams of constant visitors plagued the penthouse, including Jesse’s parents. It’s still odd and a little strained, but I can see a light in my husband’s eyes that I never have before. It’s different to the sparkle of lust or the deepening in anger. This is peace.
The police paid numerous visits during that first week. It was probably too soon, but Jesse insisted on getting the chore out of the way so we could resume our normal. Patrick stopped by with my work colleagues, expressing his sincere apologies for putting me in such an awful situation, but he wasn’t to know, and neither was poor Sal. She’s well and truly back to dreary, plaid skirt wearing Sal, but she seemed happy enough. Mikael withdrew from the deal to buy Rococo Union and Patrick offered me my job back, but I politely declined and Jesse didn’t try to convince me otherwise. I can’t return to work, and I really don’t want to.
For the following three weeks after that first hectic one, there was constant contact, just how he likes it. We bathed every morning and indulged in hours of tub-talk. I re-dressed his wound, he rubbed Bio Oil into my tummy. I cooked breakfast, he fed it to us, both naked. He read his pregnancy manual out loud, I listened intently. He chose to skim past the parts that would put his ridiculous worries to rest, and I chose to snatch the book from his hand and read those parts aloud to him. He would scowl, I would grin. He wanted lots of sex, but I didn’t want to hurt him, which is ironic after the constant battle we’ve had in this aspect of our relationship since I’ve been pregnant. It’s been hard. My raging hormones are not improving.
Now, four weeks later, I’m spread eagled on the bed in the main bedroom of Paradise, I’m naked and I’m basking at the highest level of Central Jesse Cloud Nine.
My head lifts so my eyes can locate the whereabouts of my Lord, finding him standing in the doorway of the bathroom, naked, just how I like him. ‘No, because you are not in here with me.’ I pat the mattress, and he blasts me with his smile—my smile. He doesn’t lie next to me, though. He spreads my legs and crawls up between my thighs, resting his freshly shaved chin on my growing tummy and looking up at me with those glorious greens.
‘Good morning, my beautiful girl.’
‘Good morning.’ My fingers seek out his wet hair, and I sink further into the bed on a contented sigh. ‘What are we doing today?’
‘I have it all planned out.’ he declares, nibbling on my midriff. ‘You will do what you’re told.’
‘Does it involve cards?’ I enquire casually, but far too hopefully. I’ll ensure that I lose this time, so there will be no need for the transfer of power.
I’m disappointed. ‘Does it involve twilight sleepy sex?’
I feel him grin around the flesh that he’s nibbling on. ‘Maybe later.’
‘Then I’ll do whatever you want.’ I advise him, my thighs clenching at the thought of another dreamy session in the sand, and my mind wishing the day away so later gets here faster.
‘Your day starts right now, Mrs Ward.’ He plants a set a loud kisses around my bellybutton before sitting up and straddling me. He reaches over to the bedside cabinet and retrieves an envelope. ‘Here.’
‘What’s this?’ I ask on a frown, gingerly taking it from him. I don’t like surprises from this man.
‘Just open it.’ he pushes impatiently, then commences nibbling that lip. My nerves increase when I see cogs starting to fly, too.
I’m not sure that I want to open it, but curiosity is drowning my apprehension, so I slowly pull it open, flicking eyes back and forth between Jesse and the envelope. Slowly pulling out the piece of paper, I unfold and read the first line.
Haskett and Sandler property management.
That means nothing to me. I read on, but I can’t make head nor tail of the legal lingo. I can make sense of the obscene amount of numbers that follow the pound sign halfway down the page, though.
‘You’ve bought another house?’ I blurt, looking over the paper at him. I say house but judging by the figure, which I now notice has the words ‘For the sum of’ written next to it, it could be a palace… or maybe even a castle.
‘No, I’ve sold The Manor.’ The lip biting has just sprung into the realms of cannibalism. He’s chomping furiously as he gages my reaction to that statement.
‘You’ve what?’ I’m trying to sit up, thinking maybe being upright might lessen the shock, but I won’t find out because I’m being pushed back down to the bed.
‘I’ve sold The Manor.’ He lays down over me and clasps the sides of my face in his bag palms.
‘I heard you. Why?’ I don’t understand. I planted the seed, I know, but I never expected him to take a bit of notice.
He smiles down at me and lowers his lips to mine, teasingly. I’m desperate to know what has instigated this, but I’m also desperate, as always, for his magic mouth. I drop the document and fall straight into the rhythm he’s set, finding his big shoulders and feeling my way up to his jaw. I’m distracted for now, but he won’t get away without an explanation on this. The Manor is all he knows, even if he’s not utilising the facilities anymore.