I staggered onto the street, the chill of the late autumn air creeping into my bones. The yellow glow of speeding vehicles blurred into a long never-ending light.
“I’ll never let you go.”
I rubbed my thumb against the ring on my finger. Today was the day. The day he would have been born. The day our baby …
And then I saw her.
Red hair curling down her back.
A white dress, billowing in the breeze.
She was about ten feet ahead in a group of three. Two other women I didn’t know.
My chest tightened. My throat constricted.
I grabbed at the wall of the building next to me, but my hand couldn’t make purchase. It slammed against the ground, my body weight behind it, but I didn’t feel the sting, didn’t feel the pain.
“Wait!” I pushed to my feet, darting between shadows of people, my eyes on the red hair moving so far in front. “Please!”
I ran, my breath coming shorter. Too much whiskey. Too much love—both were the culprits and I didn’t give a damn. Because I didn’t know how, and I didn’t know why, but she was here. My Bea. She’d come back.
My feet pounded against the pavement, my soles slapping on the concrete. People turned to look, but for once, I didn’t care. Let them look. I wanted to laugh, a crazy, maniacal laugh. Let them look all they want.
It was her.
I was sure of it.
It was her—
And then she turned around.
And for one glorious second, it was her. The woman I loved.
The woman I saw every time I closed my eyes, and sometimes when they were open, too.
The woman who’d own my heart forever.
“Hey,” she said.
But her voice—it wasn’t right.
I shook my head. No.
“Hey.” She tried again, but her smile was big. Too big.
Bea never smiled like that.
Nausea churned in my gut.
“Aren’t you that guy from the—”
Bile raced up my throat. I doubled over, clutching at my waist, and emptied the contents of my stomach into the gutter. Acid burnt the back of my tongue, and I coughed and spluttered, wiping at my mouth.
It wasn’t Bea.
No matter how many times I thought I’d seen her during the last six months, it was never Bea.
And as I stared at my own vomit, wanting her to be there, needing her to be there, I wished that just once I could pretend she was. That for one night, I could hold her in my arms again, stroke her long, red hair, and tell her everything would be all right.
“You guys go ahead,” the redhead told her friends. She placed a cool hand on my back, bending to my level. “Are you okay?”
“No,” I croaked. “I was s’posed to be a father. Today.” My baby. I would have met my baby today. Our baby.
She gave a smaller smile this time, and damn, she looked like her. “My name’s Giselle.”
“I’m Cam.” I straightened, the world sliding as I overbalanced, then corrected myself. “I have to go …”
“No.” She linked her hand in mine. “Let me take care of you.”
And I shouldn’t have. But I was so tired of fighting, of blocking out the past, that I let her lead me to her hotel room, let her pour me another drink, let her take off my clothes.
“We’re so incredibly lucky, babe.” I pressed a kiss to the soft skin of Bea’s neck.
“The luckiest.” She smiled up at me, tossing her hair out of her eyes. “The luckiest people in the world.”
Only, it turned out that we weren’t.
Because seven weeks after that positive pregnancy test, Bea died.
And I’d never let her go after that.