Heart of the Raven(9)

By: Susan Crosby


He shoved away from his desk. He couldn’t work.

After Kyle died Heath had thrown himself into work, resting only when he fell asleep at the computer. Mary Ann had left him the day of the funeral. It should have been the least creative, least productive time of his career. Instead he’d overflowed with ideas. He’d designed buildings that would never be built, futuristic-looking skyscrapers beyond man’s ability to engineer. But he’d also produced winning, workable designs—buildings he’d never seen except in video, whether already constructed or under construction now.

A psychologist would undoubtedly tell him it was avoidance, that he was only delaying his grief by immersing himself in work. And to a psychologist, that might be the easy truth. Heath knew it was much more complicated.

When Eva told him she was pregnant he was stunned at first, then in denial. But he’d come to believe that the child would be his chance to do it over, and do it right.

The doorbell rang. He dragged himself out of his office, grabbing his wallet as he went. He’d ordered dinner from Villa Romano.

It wasn’t the delivery boy at the door, however.

“Am I interrupting you?” Cassie asked.

Except for the fact she was wearing a blue shirt instead of white, she was dressed as she had been yesterday. Her uniform, he decided. Damn but it looked good on her. He tried to read her expression. Do you have good news for me or bad?

He fought the urge to take her in his arms. His need for human touch—her touch—came from out of the blue.

“I’m sorry,” she said, angling as if to leave. “I should’ve called.”

He’d stared at her in silence for too long. She didn’t know he was fighting a rush of feeling for her—the last thing he needed right then. Especially since he couldn’t define what that feeling was.

“No. Cassie, I’m glad to see you.”

A refurbished postal Jeep left dust in its wake as it sped up the driveway and came to a quick stop.

“Dinner,” Heath told Cassie.

“Hey,” said a kid with sixteen or so piercings and tattoos down his arms. He hopped onto the porch. “How’s it goin’?”

Heath traded the boy money for the take-out containers. “Thanks.”

He jogged off with a backward wave.

Heath moved aside to let Cassie in.

“I was presumptuous,” she said.

“Not at all.” He waited for her to say something about Eva. Anything.

“I don’t have any news to speak of,” she said, following him into the kitchen. “I made a lot of calls to obstetricians’ offices, without results.”

He wondered how many more blows he would have to take. Damn you, Eva. “Would you like a beer or something?”

“No, thanks.” She leaned against the counter. “I went to her previous apartment, but I didn’t find anyone at home who remembered her. I’ll go back tomorrow when I might catch a few more tenants. Of course people are often out running errands on Saturday, but it’s worth a shot.”

“Okay.”

“I contacted her business school, but they’re on a two-week break before the next semester. They wouldn’t tell me if she was registered. Then I went to the two maternity-wear consignment shops. One of the clerks recognized her photo but said she hadn’t been in for a couple of months. Which makes sense. At some point, you’ve got enough maternity clothes. Anyway, I left her my card and asked her to call if Eva came back.”

“You were busy.”

“Yeah. And just before I came here, I met Darcy. Eva left the apartment a month ago, no notice. Darcy doesn’t know where she went, and she’s pretty ticked off that she’s been left with the full rent to pay.”

“Too ticked off to give you any information?”

“I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know anything, but I’ll try her again, too. She may know more than she thinks.”

He opened a bottle of beer for himself. If Darcy didn’t have any information, what chance did they have? Eva could be anywhere. With anyone. He may never see his baby. Ever.

What the hell had he done to deserve this? Hadn’t he paid a big enough price already? He took a long swig of beer then plunked the bottle on the counter.

Cassie rested her hand on his. “We’ll find them. We will.”

He didn’t pull his hand away, but he tried to figure her out. “You could’ve called and told me this, Cassie.”

She straightened, probably because he’d sounded accusatory. “I could have.”

Why didn’t you? “I’ve got enough ravioli for two,” he said by way of invitation, testing the waters.

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