This Man Confessed (Page 75)

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He picks me up and carries me into the kitchen. ‘I was going to ask why you’re not naked.’

‘Don’t bother,’ I grumble. ‘I’ll throw up on you.’

He laughs and sits me on the worktop, brushing my wild mane from my pasty face. ‘You look beautiful.’

‘Don’t lie to me, Ward. I look like s**t.’

‘Ava,’ he scorns me gently. I don’t apologise, mainly because I can barely muster up the energy to speak. ‘You need to eat.’

I retch at the very thought of trying to get food into my stomach and shake my head pleadingly. I know that I’m fighting a losing battle. He won’t leave me alone until I’ve had some breakfast.

I hear the front door open and close, and then the chirpy sounds of Cathy singing. All I have on is Jesse’s shirt, but I can’t even find the strength to be concerned by that, so I remain exactly where I am, unconcerned, unbothered and very unwell.

‘Morning!’ she sings at us as she places her huge carpet bag on the worktop. ‘Oh dear. Whatever is the matter?’

Jesse answers for me, which is a good job because I’m incapable of speech. ‘Ava’s not feeling too good.’

I scoff at his understatement and direct my forehead straight to his chest. I feel positively dull—dead, even.

‘Oh, the dreaded morning sickness? It’ll pass.’ Cathy declares, like I don’t look like I’m ready to keel over. She knows, too, then.

‘Will it?’ I garble into Jesse’s chest. ‘When?’ I feel his hand stroking my back and his mouth in my hair, kissing me dotingly, but he remains silent. It’s a good indication that he would love to know the answer, too.

‘It depends. Boy, girl, mum, dad.’ she says, and I hear her flick the kettle on. ‘Some women have a few weeks of it, some struggle throughout the whole of their pregnancy.’

‘Oh God.’ I howl. ‘Don’t say that.’

‘Shhh,’ Jesse hushes me and increases the rubs of my back. I’m not even being a baby. It really is that bad.

‘Ginger!’

That one random word drags my splattered face from Jesse’s wet torso. ‘What?’

‘Ginger!’ she repeats, rootling through her bag. I look at Jesse, but he looks as equally confused. ‘You need ginger, dear.’ She pulls out a pack of ginger biscuits. ‘I came prepared.’ She pushes Jesse from in front of me and opens the packet, presenting me with a biscuit. ‘Have one every morning when you wake up. Works wonders! Eat.’

I wisely note that with Jesse hovering in the background and with Cathy behaving all motherly, there’s little point in refusing, so I take the biscuit and have a little nibble.

‘It’ll settle your stomach.’ She gives me one of her warm smiles and cups my cheek with her hand. ‘I’m so excited.’

I can’t match her enthusiasm, not when I’m feeling like this, so I smile weakly and let Jesse place me gently on a barstool.

‘The new boy gave me these,’ She hands Jesse a pile of post. ‘Cute little bugger, isn’t he?’

That makes me laugh, especially when Jesse lets out a disgusted snort and snatches the envelopes from her wrinkles fingers. ‘He’s very sweet.’ I confirm, suddenly finding the energy to form a whole sentence. ‘But won’t you miss Clive, Cathy?’

‘Oh, not at all,’ She gets the bagels out and holds them up, Jesse and I both nodding our acceptance. ‘He’s taking me out this evening.’

I nudge Jesse with my elbow as I nibble away at the edges of my biscuit, but I’m ignored. Instead of indulging my curious mind, he starts opening his post. ‘That’ll be nice.’ I chirp.

‘It will.’ she agrees, loading the toaster and fetching the eggs.

I’m happily chatting away to Cathy, eating my breakfast, listening to where Clive is taking her and filling her in on my recent bouts of sickness, when it strikes me that Jesse has been silent for an eternity. He also hasn’t moved. And his bagel is sitting untouched in front of him. I push his plate towards him. ‘Eat your breakfast.’

He doesn’t move, nor does he acknowledge me.

‘Jesse?’ He looks like he’s in a trance. ‘Jesse, are you okay?’

He flips an envelope over and runs his eyes across it. So do I.

Jesse Ward.

Private and Confidential

‘What is that?’ I ask.

He turns his eyes to mine. They are glazed and wary. I don’t like it. ‘Go upstairs.’

I frown. ‘Why?’

‘Don’t make me ask you again, Ava.’

I withdraw and try to assess him, but the only thing that I can determine is he’s not happy with me. Despite that, though, I know I need to get my arse upstairs before he asks me again. This is one of those times when I know not to argue. He’s starting to shake and though I have no idea what about, I’m certain it’s not for Cathy’s ears. I drop myself from the stool and excuse myself, leaving the kitchen and walking quietly up the stairs to the master suite, all of the time wondering what on earth is wrong with him. I don’t get long to ponder it. It strides into the room, still holding the paper and envelope.

He’s bubbling with anger. I can see it in the slight shaking of his hands and in the flash of black in his eyes. He pins me in place with an incensed stare. ‘What the f**k is this?’

My eyes fall naturally to the paper that he’s holding up, but I have no idea what it is. ‘What is it?’ I ask nervously.

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