Taming Natasha Page 50

How grudgingly he’d let her into his apartment, Natasha remembered. How difficult it had been for her to continue to smile when she’d seen his table set for two, the candles lighted, the wine chilling—as he’d so often prepared the stage when he’d loved her. Now he’d set that stage for someone else. But she’d persuaded herself that it didn’t matter. Once she’d told him, everything would change.

Everything had.

“What the hell are you talking about?” She remembered the fury in his eyes as he’d stared at her.

“I went to the doctor this afternoon. I’m pregnant, almost two months.” She reached out for him. “Anthony—”

“That’s an old game, Tash.” He’d said it casually, but perhaps he’d been shaken. He’d stalked to the table to pour a glass of wine.

“It’s not a game.”

“No? Then how could you be so stupid?” He’d grabbed her arm and given her a quick shake, his magnificent mane of hair flying. “If you’ve gotten yourself in trouble, don’t expect to come running to me to fix it.”

Dazed, she’d lifted a hand to rub her arm where his fingers had bit in. It was only that he didn’t understand, she’d told herself. “I’m having a child. Your child. The doctor says the baby will come in July.”

“Maybe you’re pregnant.” He’d shrugged as he’d downed the wine. “It doesn’t concern me.”

“It must.”

He’d looked at her then, his glass held aloft, his eyes cool. “How do I know it’s mine?”

At that she’d paled. As she’d stood there, she’d remembered how it had felt when she’d almost stepped in front of a bus on her first trip to New York City. “You know. You have to know.”

“I don’t have to know anything. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m expecting someone.”

In desperation she’d reached out for him. “Anthony, don’t you understand? I’m carrying our baby.”

“Your baby,” he corrected. “Your problem. If you want some advice, get rid of it.”

“Get—” She hadn’t been so young or so naive that she hadn’t understood his meaning. “You can’t mean it.”

“You want to dance, Tash? Try picking classes back up after taking off nine months to give birth to some brat you’re going to end up giving away in any case. Grow up.”

“I have grown up.” She’d laid a hand on her stomach, in protection and defense. “And I will have this child.”

“Your choice.” He’d gestured with his wineglass. “Don’t expect to pull me into it. I’ve got a career to think of. You’re probably better off,” he decided. “Talk some loser into marrying you and set up housekeeping. You’d never be any better than mediocre at dance anyway.”

So she had had the child and loved it—for a brief, brief time. Now there was another. She couldn’t bear to love it, couldn’t bear to want it. Not when she knew what it was like to lose.

Frantic, she threw the vial across the room and began pulling clothes out of her closet. She had to get away. She had to think. She would get away, Natasha promised herself, then pressed her fingers against her eyes until she calmed. But she had to tell him.

This time she drove to his house, struggling for calm as the car brought her closer. Because it was Saturday, children were playing in yards and on the sidewalk. Some called out to her as she passed, and she managed to lift a hand in a wave. She spotted Freddie wrestling with her kittens on the grass.

“Tash! Tash!” Lucy and Desi darted for cover, but Freddie raced to the car. “Did you come to play?”

“Not today.” Summoning a smile, Natasha kissed her cheeks. “Is your daddy home?”

“He’s playing music. He plays music a lot since we came here. I drew a picture. I’m going to send it to Papa and Nana.”

Natasha struggled to keep the smile in place at Freddie’s names for her parents. “They will like that very much.”

“Come on, I’ll show you.”

“In a little while. I need to speak to your father first. By myself.”

Freddie’s bottom lip threatened. “Are you mad at him?”

“No.” She pressed a finger to Freddie’s nose. “Go find your kittens. I’ll talk to you before I go.”

“Okay.” Reassured, Freddie raced off, sending out whoops that would have the kittens cowering in the bushes, Natasha reflected.

It was better to keep her mind a blank, she decided as she knocked on the front door. Then she would take it slowly, logically, like an adult.

“Miss.” Vera opened the door, her expression less remote than usual. Freddie’s description of the Thanksgiving holiday in Brooklyn had done a great deal to win her over.

“I’d like to see Dr. Kimball if he’s not busy.”

“Come in.” She found herself frowning a bit as she studied Natasha. “Are you all right, miss? You’re very pale.”

“Yes, I’m fine. Thank you.”

“Would you like tea?”

“No—no, I can’t stay long.”

Though Vera privately thought Natasha looked like a cornered rabbit, she nodded. “You’ll find him in the music room. He’s been up half the night working.”

“Thank you.” Clutching her bag, Natasha started down the hall. She could hear the music he was playing, something weepy. Or perhaps it was her own mood, she thought; she blinked back tears.

When she saw him, she remembered the first time she had walked into that room. Perhaps she had started to fall in love with him that day, when he had sat there with a child on his lap, surrounded by sunlight.

She pulled off her gloves, running them through her nervous hands as she watched him. He was lost in it, both captor and captive of the music. Now she would change his life. He hadn’t asked for this, and they both knew that loving wasn’t always enough.

“Spence.” She murmured his name when the music stopped, but he didn’t hear. She could see the intensity was still on him as he scribbled on staff paper. He hadn’t shaved. It made her want to smile, but instead her eyes filled. His shirt was rumpled and open at the collar. His hair was tousled. As she watched, he ran a hand through it. “Spence,” she repeated.

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