He looked amused. ‘If you feel like doing some designing, some doodles even, I’d be very appreciative.’
Maggie blinked, but she allowed the matter to drop.
For some reason, she’d recently begun to feel as if she’d walked into a brick wall and nothing was of more than passing interest to her.
Or rather, one reason for it was loud and clear. Added to her memories, added to her growing desire to drop all her defences and say simply to Jack, Marry me, please, I need you and I can’t do this on my own, was her growing curiosity about other women in his life. It haunted her. There were times when it made her hate him and be prickly and uncommunicative with him. It sapped her energy. It was entirely unreasonable, she tried to tell herself.
You wouldn’t marry him when the offer was open. Perhaps the best thing for you is to hate him…
On the other hand, when she wasn’t being cross and out of sorts with him, she had to admit that his presence in her life was a bit like a rock she was coming to rely on.
What a mess you are, Maggie, she thought frequently.
She was five and a half months pregnant when he called in one chilly evening after dinner time.
They talked about nothing very much for a while, then he fell silent as his grey gaze flickered over her. She wore a loose ivory wool sweater over dark green tartan stretch pants. The sleeves of the sweater were a fraction too long for her and sometimes she folded them back, but they always unrolled.
Was it that, he wondered, that gave her a waif-like air? The exposure of her fragile wrists? Her loose hair tucked behind her ears? Her cream flat shoes that reminded him of ballet shoes?
Or her secretive eyes?
Grave and secretive now, when they’d been like windows of her soul only a few months ago. Capable of teasing him, querying him or laughing at him in a swift green glance, expressing honest desire. Expressing joy or, of course, sparkling with anger. But that had been longer ago, the anger, and what crazy voice in him told him he’d prefer that to this secretiveness?
‘How are you feeling?’ he asked abruptly.
‘Fine,’ she replied automatically.
‘No, tell me.’ He’d come straight from a business dinner and hadn’t discarded his jacket, although he’d loosened his tie.
Maggie pushed a cushion behind the small of her back. ‘Apart from a bit of backache I do feel fine. The morning—afternoon sickness has gone and I’m told this middle trimester, before you get too heavy and slow, is when you should really glow.’ She grimaced.
‘But you’re not glowing, are you?’ he said quietly.
She shrugged and stood up suddenly. ‘According to my doctor every pregnancy can be different. Would you like a cup of tea? Or a drink? I’m dying for a cuppa.’
‘Thanks, I’ll have one too.’
She turned away, but not before he noted some differences in her figure. Her wrists might look fragile, but those high, firm little gymnast’s breasts were ripening and her waist was no longer reed-slim…
When she brought the tea tray back, he studied it rather than her figure.
He knew she liked Earl Grey tea so he wasn’t surprised at the subtle fragrance of citrus oil of Bergamot that rose above the lovely china cups as she poured boiling water into them.
He knew she drank hers black and sugarless, but she hadn’t forgotten that he took milk. He knew she always deposited the tea bags into an antique silver dish decorated with griffins rampant.
‘All the same, why is that, do you think?’ he queried as he accepted his cup and took a shortbread biscuit from the salver she offered.
‘Why is what?’
‘Is it the strain of being a single mother? Is that why you’re not glowing, since there aren’t any other problems?’ he said deliberately.
She sat down and tucked her legs up. ‘You’d be the last person I’d confess that to—if it were true.’
‘In case I repeated my offer of marriage? I’m not.’
She pushed her sleeves back and wrapped her hands around her cup. ‘No, it wouldn’t make any difference. It’s still no one’s fault but my own that I find myself a bit daunted at times, but especially not yours, that’s why I wouldn’t admit it to you.’ She hesitated. ‘It’s probably only because it’s such new territory and many a new mum might feel a bit daunted anyway.’