‘I won’t have the time or the energy to cook after the surgery. The last patient is booked for quarter to six. You know what that means.’ Emma could have been talking to Philip. ‘Get some food on the way this evening.’
‘ On the way to where?’ Simon was simply being obtuse. His heart had skipped a beat when Lynn Cooper buzzed through and told him his sister- in-law was on the line.
‘Pancakes, I think.’ Emma ignored him as he deserved. ‘There’s that little bakery cum coffee shop just behind the corner from your Station. Know the one I mean?’ She didn’t wait for an answer. ‘I want asparagus and cheese filling for the savoury, and apple and cinnamon for afters. A couple of each should be plenty. Choose what you want for yourself.’
‘That’s big of you. Thank you.’
‘And it’s best of you make it a little after eight. Phil will have phoned me from Glasgow by that time. Don’t want you being there when he phones.’
Simon never did find out if Philip had phoned that Tuesday night or not. There were no phone calls while he was at the Willows. Between eight in the evening and six o’clock the following morning.
‘You are not going to think yourself pregnant in five minutes, are you?’ They were still joined, still breathless. He kissed the dampness above her upper lip.
‘I can’t have children. How many times do I have to tell you?’ She grinned under his mouth and licked his lips.
‘So what were all those imaginary pregnancies all about? Don’t you doctors use pregnancy tests?’
She took a long time kissing the corner of his mouth, sucking at it, probing it with the tip of her tongue. ‘And what if I am? If I do get pregnant this time? Would you mind?’
His arms brought her even closer to him of their own accord. ‘Of course I wouldn’t mind. But, I wouldn’t want you to go about it the way you have done twice already.’
‘I was mistaken. Anyone can make a mistake.’
Simon laughed. ‘I suppose so. If one wants something badly enough.’ He looked into her eyes, but they were too close, too dark, and told him nothing. ‘Or if one’s afraid it may happen?’ He looked for an answer again and still it wasn’t there. He lifted himself gently to move away.
‘Don’t go,’ Emma whispered. ‘Stay.’ Her knees pressed into his hips.
They held each other in silence. The questions that had been welling up in him for months seemed unimportant. The resentments petty and churlish. She had been telling the truth all along. The simple, unembellished truth. She couldn’t have children. She’d come to terms with that. Philip was the one who’d been refusing to believe it. Her phantom pregnancies were the pathetic product of Philip’s need. She’d been pretending for her husband’s sake. Going through the pain of the truth over and over again. Philip’s pain became her pain.
It was so easy to understand when he was with her. Everything made sense when they were together. It was the distance and people, other people’s words and meanings that always caused confusion. Bitterness. Suspicion. Like why had she been sleeping with him whenever she could but was staying with Philip and not even wanted to talk about it?
‘Not now. Not yet,’ she’d say and he’d wait, wait for the next time, for the right time.