The chase was over, Leila decided as she lay there staring at the ceiling. She had given up her job, had moved in with him and she had admitted her love.
He knew that he had her heart now.
As the obstetrician lifted Leila’s gown James saw the swell of her stomach and a small flash of pubic hair as she tucked in a towel and James shifted his gaze and looked to the wall.
But then he heard it—the sound of their baby’s heartbeat—and he looked to the screen. He’d expected to see little but there it was, their baby, with one arm lifting and moving its tiny hand to its face. Hands, feet and there was that perfect nose. James wanted to go over; he wanted to sit at Leila’s head and kiss her. He wanted to touch her stomach and the baby within, but instead he stood there.
‘Did you want to know what you are having,’ Catherine asked.
‘Whatever Leila wants,’ James said.
‘I’d like to know,’ Leila said, and she looked from the screen to James, and watched his eyes close as they were told they were expecting a girl.
He’d accepted responsibility the second he had found out, but faced with the reality that he was going to be a father to a daughter had James reeling as he recalled the many mistakes he had made.
His head was spinning.
Everything he had done, he had seemingly done wrong. From the gaudy over-the-top engagement to the passionate kiss the other night.
Leila was right—why the hell would he apologise for the best night of their lives?
He looked at the dark shadows under Leila’s eyes as she lay on the examination table—it was her mother who had put them there, not he.
James was sure of that, just not quite sure enough.
He could almost feel himself being smacked upside the head for thinking he might have got something right as Leila walked out to the street with him.
‘Are you disappointed that it is a girl?’ Leila asked as they stepped outside.
‘Disappointed?’ James said. ‘No, of course I’m not. I’m thrilled that we’re having a girl.’
‘Because if you wanted a boy...’
‘Leila.’ He picked up her hand and he watched her fingers close around his and he listened to his heart. He was sick of all the schools of thought and words of wisdom as to the unsuitability of them.
He was going to go back now and tell Manu thanks very much but he’d got this now.
‘I have to go, Leila,’ James said. ‘Go home and have your rest. I won’t be gone long and when I’m back we’ll have a proper talk.’
‘Us,’ James said. He gave her his smile but he did not take her into his arms. He would discuss what was appropriate with Leila later, but he squeezed her hand. ‘Leila, I’m thrilled that it’s a girl. I’m stunned. I never thought we’d get to see her as clearly as we did.’
James saw her into the car and Leila sat there. She turned her head and watched him walk briskly off.
As his driver headed towards his home, Leila’s head too was spinning. Her mother had got into her head again and simply would not leave. Those seeds of doubt that James had had when he had dined at his parents that night were in Leila’s head now. They hadn’t just been given a decent soaking though—noxious weeds were flourishing and Leila would not wait till the master returned to find out what it was that he cared to discuss with her.
Instead it was time to be brave.
She did what she hadn’t had the courage to on the first night she had arrived in New York.
When the car pulled up at James’s home, instead of getting out she remained seated and spoke to the driver.
‘Take me to The Chatsfield.’
MANU WAS THERE when James returned. She was waiting for him in reception, and speaking with some of the staff that she knew.
‘I’m just waiting on a call from the Dubai hotel,’ Manu said, and James nodded.
Spencer was passing through and came over and asked James if he’d made any plans for the wedding.
‘I’ll let you know,’ James said, while privately deciding he’d perhaps tell his family well after the event.
Once Manu was ready they took the elevator in silence up to the suite. James had no issue with letting her go but, given how he might want to keep her onside, he was working out how best to tell her that her services were, for now, not required.