“I wasn’t,” she assured gently, lifting her hand to cup his jaw. “I’ll be fine, but I promise to call you if I feel ill.” He stepped away from her soft hand, leaving it hovering in midair. He continued to look down at her for a few long moments.
“I’ll tell Cal to meet you in the garage. Let him do the driving,” he said bossily before swivelling on his heel and leaving the room. Bronwyn sighed despondently and stared after him for one long, wistful moment before straightening her shoulders and leaving too.
Alice met her at the restaurant entrance with a warm hug and a smile. Her mischievously sparkling eyes traveled past Bronwyn’s shoulder to where Cal stood hovering in the background, before tossing a conspiratorial glance back over her own narrow shoulder. When Bronwyn saw a large man, similarly dressed in black suit and dark glasses standing a little off to the side, desperately striving to look “unobtrusive” behind Alice, she laughed in genuine amusement.
“All the cool kids have one these days,” Alice wisecracked cheerfully, her expression so comical that it set Bronwyn off again.
“Where’s Tristan?” Bronwyn asked Alice after their initial warm greetings.
“I told Pierre that this was a ladies’ afternoon and as such he had to take Tristan to the office with him.” She grinned. “He was a bit reluctant. He loves having the baby around, but Tristan has this nasty habit of chewing important documents. Pierre still shudders every time he thinks of a certain document that got gummed just minutes before he had to hand it back to the legal department. The way he tells it, he had no option but to give it back as is. He made no comment about the drool and as such none of the legal team had the courage to say anything either. They merely retyped everything before sending it off.” She laughed conspiratorially.
“According to Pierre it was ‘damned embarrassing.’” She imitated her husband’s voice and accent perfectly, and Bronwyn’s grin widened appreciatively. “Apparently he has an important meeting today, but I hardly ever get time to myself, so while he may grumble, he doesn’t really mind. In fact, he’ll never admit it but he gets a total thrill out of having his son to himself for part of the day.”
“Well, I still feel a bit guilty about leaving Bryce with Kayla,” Bronwyn admitted. “He’s been remarkable with her, but I feel like he’s been doing all the work.”
“So?” Alice interrupted coldly. “You have been doing all the work for the last two years, and you’ve paid for it with your health. It’s time for Bryce to put in some hours.”
“But . . .”
“And you can’t tell me he’s not enjoying this time with her. He’s getting to know his daughter, and from what I could see last night, he’s totally in love with her.”
Bronwyn nodded with slight smile.
“So no more guilt; just enjoy yourself. As far as I can tell, you haven’t had too much fun over the last two years.”
Bronwyn’s smile faded, and Alice shrugged, the gesture so Gallic, it could only have rubbed off on her from her husband.
“I know nothing about your situation, Bronwyn,” she said quietly. “But Pierre’s version of events, definitely gleaned from his friend, was so one-sided that I’d always vowed to reserve judgment until I met you. And there seems to be a whole lot that Bryce left out when he told Pierre his story. I mean, he had certainly never told Pierre that you were pregnant. I can’t tell you how shocked Pierre was when he learned that you were back in Bryce’s life and with a child!”
Bronwyn blinked stupidly at that. Pierre hadn’t known about her pregnancy? She had a sudden vivid flashback of Rick in her room at the hospital. It hadn’t really sunk in at the time; she had been frightened, panicky, and floating on a medicated cloud, but her brother-in-law had looked startled at Bryce’s first mention of a child. How could Bryce not have told Rick or Pierre about their baby? Had he told his “crack” team of private investigators? It was a bizarre detail to leave out. If he really wanted to find her, why wouldn’t he have told anybody about her pregnancy? Surely it would have made his search easier. Granted, some instinct had urged her to use her maternal grandmother’s maiden name over the last two years, just in case Bryce decided that he wanted her baby and not her. It had been bothersome because she’d had to keep changing doctors and clinics; nobody would have believed her “forgotten ID” story twice.
“Bronwyn?” Alice’s voice seemed to come from a great distance away, and Bronwyn had a hard time focusing on Alice again. “Are you okay?”
“Why wouldn’t he have told Pierre or Rick about the baby?” she mused aloud, and Alice frowned
“That’s a good question,” Alice murmured. “But one that only Bryce can provide the answer to.” Bronwyn nodded absently but found it hard to focus on anything else for the rest of the afternoon. She enrolled in the sign language classes after lunch. The clinic offered afternoon and evening classes, and Bronwyn opted to attend a day class once a week. She and Alice also arranged a standing lunch date on the day that she would attend the class.
“So every Tuesday? Same time and place?” the other woman double-checked as they said their good-byes a couple of hours later. “And next time, let’s keep the husbands out of the conversation!”
“I’m sorry if I seemed a little distracted,” Bron apologized quietly. “It’s just . . .”
“Forget it, you and Bryce obviously still have a great deal to work out.”