His Expectant Ex(4)

By: Catherine Mann

If only they could communicate half as perfectly on anything as well as they connected during sex. Even that bond became strained because of the looming “after” time, a free-fall into sadness because there was nothing else left between them.

Sweat slicked his chest, her arms, their kisses turning slightly salty in her mouth. Pleasure built and clawed inside her, the need to finish almost painful. His hands twisted in her hair, his jaw tight in a way she recognized as Sebastian waiting for her, holding back until even his arms shook. Her moans mixed with his, urgent, faster. Exploding through her in a release that satisfied even as it destroyed another corner of her weary soul.

Pleasure rippled over the pain in a bittersweet farewell mix. Wave after wave surged and receded until she sagged against him, his arms still banded around her as his body rocked with aftershocks.

The confines of the Beemer echoed with only their panting breaths and the tapping rain. Marianna knew they had nothing left to talk about. It was over between them. They just had one last meeting before a judge in a few weeks.

It wasn’t like they even needed to discuss their lack of birth control. Her miscarriage nine years ago had left her infertile. Not that they hadn’t continued to try—and fail.

Then hope had briefly returned. Sebastian had been a hundred percent on board with adoption, and for four blessed months Marianna had been a mother. Little Sophie’s face stayed as firmly planted in her memory as in her heart. She and Sebastian had put aside their marital problems bubbling to the surface and poured themselves into parenthood.

Only to have Sophie’s birth mother change her mind.

Lying against Sebastian’s chest this last time, Marianna ached to cry, for herself, for him, for their daughter. But when a person dried up inside, tears were tough to find. Six months ago, Sophie had been plucked from her arms, their home, their lives.

Marianna’s heart broke. Sebastian went to work. And their marriage finally fell apart.


Hilton Head Island, South Carolina—

Present day:

M arianna winced as the judge raised his gavel and—whap—cemented everything she and Sebastian had spelled out with their lawyers in the divorce paperwork.

In the span of one day, she’d become both a divorcée and an unwed mother. A baby. She gripped the edge of her chair to keep from flattening her hands to her stomach.After so many failed attempts at conception, miraculously one of Sebastian’s swimmers had managed to circumnavigate all her cysts and scar tissue. She’d only found out this morning—an axis-tilting moment that still left her reeling.

A tiny flutter of hope stirred like the life she looked forward to feeling move inside her. Just maybe this time…

She had considered telling Sebastian before court—for all of five nauseating seconds. This didn’t change anything about them as a couple. Custody paperwork would be a separate matter altogether. Besides, she wanted to be a hundred percent certain with a doctor’s visit. She wasn’t going on the voucher of one pink plus sign, not after nine years of disappointments, after the past months of hell from losing Sophie.

And how would Sebastian feel about the news?

He loomed a few feet away—how could the man loom even when he sat?—thumbing closed the locks on his briefcase. Scowling. At least something was normal in this upside-down day.

She gathered her resolve and crossed the aisle. “Sebastian, I would like to set up a time for us to talk. Perhaps someday next week?”

After she’d visited an ob-gyn. She’d missed the signs at first because of her heavy workload decorating two major Hilton Head homes, then assumed the stress of the impending divorce had thrown off her cycle—even when one missed period became two…. It had been two months since she’d ditched her panties in the backseat with Sebastian.

Standing, he smoothed his silk tie and refastened a button on his suit jacket. “We can talk now. Let’s wrap everything up at once.”

“I can’t today.” She had an urgent appointment with a pack of crackers and a flat surface.

“Something more pressing to do?”

“You’re the one who’s married to his BlackBerry.” Bile burned the back of her throat. “I wanted to give you enough notice to wedge three minutes with me in between appointments, court and catching up on your e-mail.”

“Nice.” His tight smile didn’t even come close to reaching his eyes.

But true. And sad. “I’m sorry. I didn’t intend to rehash old ground.” She pressed her palm to her forehead to ease the swimming dots of frustration swirling in front of her eyes. “This isn’t a good time to discuss anything, which is why I want to meet with you next week. I’ll call your secretary and set up an appointment.”