Heart of the Raven(10)

By: Susan Crosby


She hesitated. They seemed to do that a lot with each other.

“I appreciate the offer,” she said, “but I need to get going.”

He’d read her wrong. It only served to frustrate him more. “Just thought I’d ask.”

“Thanks.” She walked out of the kitchen.

He followed. His mood, not good to start with, got blacker. Just yesterday he’d been glad she was the investigator on his case. Now he wasn’t sure.

“I don’t know how much I can do until Monday and the doctors’ offices are open again. I contacted every local hospital and will continue to do so,” she said.

She’d been as efficient as he’d expected. But he still didn’t know why she’d come instead of called, especially since she wouldn’t even share dinner with him.

She waited, apparently giving him the opportunity to say something. When he didn’t, she opened the door and stepped outside. It was a beautiful evening, warm and breezy, a good night for driving the silver convertible parked in his garage. The one he hadn’t driven in three years. The one that undoubtedly wouldn’t start. He should take care of that.

“I’m sorry,” Cassie said, then walked away.

“For what?”

“For disturbing your evening.”

He didn’t tell her she was wrong, because she had disturbed his evening—and he liked the disturbance. But it was better that she leave.

He watched her walk away, her pace even quicker than usual. He’d never been drawn to a woman this fast before. He’d known Mary Ann for months before they dated. Eva hadn’t been any temptation at all until almost a year of seeing her once a week and then only because of her overt come-on. But Cassie—

She was gone. He returned to the house to wait for the phone to ring. He ate dinner because he knew he needed fuel, then he retreated to his office. Midnight came. One o’clock. Two. He fought sleep. Until recently every time he slept he heard Kyle call for him. Daddy. Dad-dy! He woke up sweating and trying to catch his breath. Recently he’d been hearing a baby cry.

He jerked up, hitting his head on his work lamp. The baby was crying again—

No. It was his doorbell. He blinked to clear his eyes and looked at the clock. Four thirty-five. He’d fallen asleep at his worktable.

The bell rang again. He shook his head and hurried out of the room, down the stairs. He glanced out the glass panel next to the door.

Eva. Holding a baby.





Four




Heath yanked open the door. His gaze went to the bundle in Eva’s arms then to her face. Her eyes were blank, her hair straggly, her freckles prominent.

“Come in,” he urged her, picking up the diaper bag she’d set on the ground beside her. He looked over her shoulder and spotted her car. He hadn’t heard her drive up, he’d been so soundly asleep.

He guided her toward the living room. She sat down gingerly. He took a seat beside her and waited, knowing he couldn’t push her for information but wanting to yell at her, Where have you been? Why did you worry me like that?

“It’s a boy,” she said.

A tornado of emotion spun through him, fast and furious, destroying the walls of resistance built months ago, obliterating uncertainty in one gigantic whirl. A boy. A son.

“Do you want to hold him?” Eva asked solemnly.

“Yes.” He rubbed his hands on his thighs then reached for the baby. The blanket fell away from his face and Heath looked at his son for the first time. He wriggled, pursed his lips and arched his back but didn’t open his eyes. He had dark hair, a sweet pink face. Heath’s eyes blurred as he dragged a finger lightly down his son’s face. “He’s perfect.” He reached to take Eva’s hand. “Thank you.”

She stared at him for a long time, then she lifted her chin. “Do you want him?”

“Of course I want him. I’ve told you so all along.”

“I mean—” she pulled her hand free “—do you want to keep him yourself? Forever?”

His heart slammed against his sternum. “What?”

“If you do, I’ll leave him here with you.”

“Why?”

“Do you or don’t you?”

Heath tried to make sense of what she was doing. Why would she offer such a thing? Postpartum depression? If so, undoubtedly she would be back to claim her child.

But in the meantime, no one else would have his son. “I do,” he said simply.

“How much is he worth to you?”

Shock ripped through Heath. She was selling him? He didn’t know her at all. He realized he never knew her.

My son is worth everything. How could he place a dollar value on his own child? “I can write you a check for ten thousand right now. If you want more, you’ll have to wait until the bank opens on Monday.”

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