From One Night to Wife(10)

By: Rachael Thomas

 ‘How can I trust you not to abandon my child to your sister after what you said?’

 His voice was an angry growl, and he fought hard against the rage of emotions that forged through him. All his life he’d carried the hurt of total rejection by the one woman who should have loved him unconditionally.

 ‘I’m not abandoning my child to anyone—not even to you.’

 For a moment he thought he saw pain flash in her eyes, thought he saw the agony of it on her face, but it was gone in an instant. Hard lines of determination replaced it.

 ‘Telling me we can’t raise this child together after saying your sister is desperate for a baby sounds very much like you are planning just that.’

 He moved back from her, not trusting the rage that had become like the rush of a river in flood. All the childhood doubts he’d successfully locked away were now out and running riot.

 ‘How can you even think of doing such a thing?’

 ‘How can you even think that?’ She gasped out the pained words. ‘I want this child. I want to give it everything I possibly can.’

 The conviction in her voice struck a raw nerve. ‘As do I.’

 ‘Can you really give our child all it needs when you admit you don’t want to be a father?’

 She moved towards him, her hand momentarily reaching out to him, but he flinched from her touch, his raw emotions making coherent thought difficult.

 How could she doubt he would give his child all it needed? The idea of being a father was one that he had always savagely dismissed because it would entail marriage—something he’d proved he’d be unable to commit to—but now he was presented with the reality he knew exactly what he wanted.

 ‘A child needs love.’

 Vehemently the words rushed from him, and he was annoyed at her ability to take away his composure, his control. He knew more than most that a child needed love. It was all he’d craved as a young boy. But could he be a father? Could he love his child? His father hadn’t been able to and his mother never had. She’d admitted that as she’d left. How could he be any different from them?

 Serena laughed—a soft, nervous laugh, but a laugh nonetheless. He bit down hard, clenching his teeth, trying to stop harsh words rushing out.

 ‘Can you really do that, Nikos?’

 His silence seemed to answer her question and she ploughed on with her own arguments for being a single parent.

 ‘Can you love a child you don’t want?’

 ‘Do not question my ability to be a father,’ he growled, hardly able to contain his anger.

 ‘A child needs stability, a loving home. It doesn’t matter if it’s with one parent or two, so long as it has all it needs.’

 Strength sounded in her voice and her face was full of determination as she looked into his eyes, challenging him with everything she had.

 ‘I’ve already made it clear that is not a problem.’ He knew his voice had turned to a low growl, full of anger, but her constant referral to his inability to provide for his child was more than he could take.

 ‘It’s your deceit, Nikos, that has made me think you can’t.’ Her face was stern as she looked at him. ‘Your lies haven’t changed anything just as your real identity hasn’t. I will not allow my baby to become a possession to be bargained over. Least of all by you.’

 ‘After your scheme to get pregnant you are not in a position to make demands on me.’

 He felt the reins of control slipping, felt her gaining the moral high ground—especially now haunting images from his childhood were being rapidly unleashed.

 ‘That is so far from the truth,’ she retaliated hotly, then moved towards him, her voice softening. ‘This wasn’t planned, at all, and I cannot even consider giving away my baby.’

 Suddenly he was a young boy again, standing on this very beach, looking out to sea, hoping the next boat that came in would have his mother on board, that she would change her mind and come home. He’d watched and waited for many years, before finally dismissing her from his mind, his thoughts and his heart. She was a cold and heartless woman and he’d accepted the fact that he’d never see her again.

 ‘But you want money?’

 ‘Nikos, this isn’t about money. I believed you couldn’t afford to raise a child—just as I can’t. It doesn’t mean I’m not going to try, though. I hadn’t planned on having a child, but I am certainly going to be there for him or her—all the time.’