It looked like nothing human to Cleo, and much as she squinted and twisted her head this way and that, the picture made no sense to her.
“Looks like an alien.” Cal shrugged, unimpressed.
“Are those arms and legs?” He Who Should Have Remained Silent asked.
“Yes.” Julia pointed to a couple of white blobs on the monitor, and suddenly the image took shape and made sense to Cleo. She gasped and her hands flew to her mouth as she really saw her baby for the first time.
“Oh my God.” The shaky exhalation came from Dante, who was staring at the monitor as an expression that could only be described as absolute wonder lit up his handsome features. His eyes drifted to Cleo’s and held them. He seemed to be telling her something, and in the midst of all the joy and awe, a distinct chill settled in Cleo’s chest. He looked determined. As if seeing the baby’s image had served to strengthen an unknown resolve. And for the first time, Cleo knew that if Dante decided he wanted this child, no force in heaven or hell would stop him. All her precautions and cleverly worded legal documents meant nothing to a man with his resources.
She felt like a complete fool for allowing him back into her life again.
“She’s moving,” Dante was saying, his voice trembling slightly. “Jesus, look at her wriggle. I never imagined her moving around in there.”
“Hey, look at the ribs! Are those ribs?” Cal asked, sounding a little more enthused now that he could see more.
“Cristo,” Dante swore shakily. “It’s so much clearer than I’d imagined.”
He had moved a lot closer and was standing right next to the bed, his eyes glued to the monitor and his face rapt.
“Can you determine the gender from this scan?” Really, for someone who should have stood silently in the corner, he was starting to take over the appointment a little, and the only reason Cleo didn’t warn him to back off was because she was interested in the answer.
“Sometimes we can tell at this age,” Julia said. “But with this one it’s a little hard to tell for certain.”
“And everything’s okay?” he asked, his attention still riveted to the monitor. He barely bothered to glance at Julia while asking the questions.
“Perfectly fine, from what I can tell. That right there is a beautiful, healthy, thirteen-and-a-half-week-old fetus.”
“Thirteen and a half? Not fourteen?” he asked, and Julia nodded.
Which meant that the baby had likely been conceived on their last or next-to-last night in Japan. He glanced up at Cleo, who caught his eye and shrugged.
“So maybe she hasn’t been practicing her frowns yet. But she has all of next week to work on those.” His lips tilted upward at her words.
“I’m thinking if it’s a girl, you may want to consider naming her Daisy,” he said, his eyes sparking with mischief, and she went fiery red as she recalled those damned Daisy Duck boy shorts he’d been so taken with that last night.
“No comment,” she replied, and his lips quirked at the corners as he looked back up at the monitor. Cleo’s eyes lingered on his profile for a few moments longer, charmed—despite herself—at how very entranced he was by the wriggling image on that screen.
They spent another ten minutes exclaiming and marveling over the various features and body parts they could identity, while Julia took down the fetus’s vital statistics and answered the myriad questions Dante seemed to have for her. He asked questions that would never even have occurred to Cleo.
Julia had gotten over that first fluttery reaction pretty quickly and now treated him the way she probably did most expectant fathers, giving each question a measured and intelligent response and never once showing the slightest sign of impatience.
All three of them were a little woebegone when she finally switched the monitor off and the baby’s image disappeared.
“I know it’s tough to say good-bye,” Julia sympathized. “But I’ll have a DVD and stills made for you. Well, your baby seems to be happy and healthy, Miss Knight. You can arrange next month’s appointment with Dr. Klein at the reception desk. How many copies of the DVD would you like?”
“Two,” Dante replied before Cleo could respond, and Julia nodded and happily made arrangements with Dante for the delivery of the DVDs. Cleo couldn’t help but feel a bit sidelined. She might be carrying the baby, but her pregnancy was rapidly becoming a Dante Damaso Production, and she was petrified that if she wasn’t careful, he would find a way to marginalize her completely.
“I have to pee,” she whispered to Cal after she’d made her next appointment at the reception desk. “I’ll meet you at the car.” She handed him her car keys so that he wouldn’t have to wait in the rain, and turned to Dante, who’d watched the whispered exchanged in interest.
“I’ll call you later,” she told him. “We have to make arrangements to meet with our attorneys present about modifying our previous agreement.”
She turned away to rush to the closest ladies’ room, not waiting for him to acknowledge her words.
She half expected him to still be waiting for her when she finished five minutes later, and she was relieved to see no sign of him in the reception area upon her return. She waved to Viv, the receptionist, as she dragged on her lightweight denim jacket on her way out the door. She was so preoccupied with fixing one of her jacket sleeves that it took her a while to notice her car was missing. She glanced up and stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, still absently trying to force her arm into the jacket sleeve while she stared blankly at the spot where her car should have been. She frowned in confusion before glancing up and down the road. Maybe she was mistaken about where she’d left it. There was no sign of the nondescript, faded-blue hatchback. Maybe Cal had moved it. But why would he? The spot had been ideal.