The Soul Mate Page 5

Why was he stopping?

Was something wrong?

With me or with my possible baby?

He exhaled a ragged breath that spoke volumes. Something was definitely off here. I opened my mouth to speak, but nothing came out. White-hot panic seemed to have frozen my tongue.

A prickle of realization laced with dread stole up my spine and landed on the top of my skull.

“Bren?” he murmured softly.

My rapid breathing slowed to a stop as the tension in the room ratcheted up to Defcon Five.

“Yeah?” How did he know to call me by my middle name? Something about his voice sounded vaguely familiar. I racked my brain and slowly pulled the arm from over my face. If I could just get a good look at his expression, I might be able to gauge how devastating this situation had become in the space of a couple of seconds.

“Is everything o—”

My gaze met his, and the room spun. A wild, tragic swirl of vibrant colors took the place of regular vision. I struggled to sit up but fell back down on my back with a whooshing thump and a crinkle of paper.

No. Fucking. Way.

This can’t be happening. It can’t. God, what did I ever do to deserve this? The humiliation? The mortification. The…

“The form said your name was Ashley,” he said as a dose of adrenaline hit my system, causing my pulse to hammer wildly.

Shit. It was him.

And his fingers were still inside me.

Another wave of nausea flowed over me, and I shut my eyes against the light of the fluorescent overheads, begging my stomach to stay calm. If I could just control my breathing, I could get the hell out of here without totally losing it.

“Can you please remove your hand?” I managed.

“Right. Sorry.” The doctor slid his thick fingers from my lady parts and rose to his feet.

After at least a minute of ragged inhales and prayers directed at my stomach to not shame me any further, I managed to moan out, “My name is Ashley.” I scuttled back on the table and covered my legs. He may have seen it all before, but in the cold light of the exam room, I felt more exposed than I’d ever been. “I go by my middle name.”

Snapping off his gloves, he tossed them into the trash can. “Right. Uh, Jean?” He turned to face the confused nurse who looked like she’d entered an alternate universe and didn’t understand her role there. “Would you mind giving us a moment? I’d like to speak to Miss Matthews alone.”

“Sure, I’ll just…” Jean cleared her throat and opened the door, but as she backed out of the room, I didn’t hear the distinct click of the metal door closing behind her.

Pinching his nose between his fingers, he dragged himself from the edge of the exam table and snapped the door shut himself before turning to look at me again. I didn’t think I could withstand the implications of that look.

Shit. What did it mean?

I’d already taken my feet from the stirrups and sat perched on the end of the exam table, the white paper crinkling beneath me as I shifted restlessly. I stared at a spot on the pristine tile floor, focusing my attention there.

God, I wished that he’d just get out of this room so I could put my clothes back on and erect some type of fabric barrier between us. He had the upper hand, and he knew it.

“Listen, I should probably go. I had no idea—” I started, but he cut in.

“Why did you just disappear on me like that?”

I should have known he wouldn’t be a gentleman and let me escape with at least a shred of my tattered pride intact. My cheeks flushed with color under the blame lacing his words, and I could feel it creep from my neck upward. I swallowed hard but kept my lips clamped together. How dare he ask that question right now?

“I had a great time with you,” he admitted after a strained moment. “I…” He blew out a breath and raked all ten fingers through his hair.

Nothing mattered more to me right now than getting out of this exam room. It felt like all the oxygen had been vacuumed out. I couldn’t draw a normal breath.


“Did you not feel the same way? Because I thought—”

“No, no.” I shook my head, and my long hair fell over my face before I pushed it behind one ear. Considering leaving it hanging over my eyes like a veil, my hand trembled under the effort of the simple motion of securing it back so I could see him. “I had an amazing time too. I just…” I shook my head, trying to find words that made sense. “You were—are—more than I’m looking for. Right now, I mean.”

“What does that mean?”

“I’m just…” I took a deep breath, not finding the appropriate words to explain how I felt about our night together. How did one explain to a medical doctor while naked on the exam table that they weren’t looking for a father for the unborn baby they might be carrying? Especially, when that father was him. “You’re…that night…everything was so intense, and I’m just not interested in anything serious.”

“Based on one night, you decided it would have to be something serious?”

Why couldn’t he be like every other man led around by his dick and just get over it already? I felt embroiled in some kind of strange role reversal. We didn’t need to be having this awkward conversation. He could have just remained professional, finished my exam and never seen me again. No harm, no foul. I didn’t care that he’d given me the best sex of my life. I didn’t. I really didn’t. Now, here he was doing his version of damage control, trying to keep me under his thumb and seeking a compromise I didn’t need or want.

I tilted my head to the side. “I was just looking to unwind and have some fun. It’s not something I do often, but to be honest, I’m surprised you even wanted to see me again.”

“So, which is it? I’m too serious, or I’m such a player you thought it wouldn’t matter if you just disappeared?”

“Why can’t it be both?” I countered.

He clenched his jaw and narrowed his eyes into slits, clearly unwilling to accept my pretzel logic. “Because it doesn’t make any sense.”

“I had to blow off some steam and so did you. We both had fun. We don’t need to make it into something more, do we?” I shrugged but glancing down, I could see the tremble in my hands that gave me away. Hear the lie in my own voice.

He stared at me, as if seeing me for the first time. Was I the same woman that had been so soft and pliant in his arms weeks before? No. The reason I was here, naked and vulnerable and exposed to his gaze made me night and day different from that woman. I might be pregnant. My future might depend on some positive sign in some sterile lab. I had to make him think that I felt as if he were nothing. Nothing more than a whim—a quick, easy fuck, something that could be tossed aside in the morning and forgotten.

But in my heart, I knew the truth. I’d felt it. That hot, coursing electricity at every move and touch. My heart practically exploded when we’d come, hard and needy and deep, together. That look in his eyes while he was inside me…that hadn’t been in my head. It couldn’t have been.

It wasn’t.

“Okay, so, if it was just a one-night stand—” he started, but I cut in before he could finish. I couldn’t let him say something we’d both regret.

“It was.”

At my careless words, disappointment lined his chiseled features. I almost felt bad for deliberately hurting him. But not enough to make it right by spilling the truth. Doing that would leave me open to heartache. And mine had bricks around it that even a battering ram couldn’t break through.

He took a steadying breath, and after a few measured moments, a mask of cool indifference came over his face. “Right. Okay. It was just a one-night stand. So we should probably just continue with the annual exam. It’ll be super quick, and then a nurse will call you in a few days with your Pap results, all right?”

“Uh.” I swallowed hard and then speared him with a glare. Was he dense? Now, I had a whole other can of worms to open up.

“Look, I know you’re probably a little uncomfortable, but I can be a professional. You are here for the annual exam, correct?” He glanced down at the chart again. Maybe I wouldn’t have to spell it out. If he forced the issue, I didn’t know if I could tell him the reason for my visit without breaking down. As he scanned the document, everything appeared fine until he got to the bottom. If I hadn’t been about to throw up and pass out, I might have enjoyed the tragic look on his face.

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