“I don’t know how brave, just determined. I wasn’t going to let the bastard get me. Of course, my dream of giving birth to the next Einstein is over.”
“Was that a goal of yours?”
She shrugged, looking away. He saw a tear in her eyes. “I wanted children. First I couldn’t find the right man, then I thought I’d found him, but the time was never right. He left me as soon as I found out I was sick.”
“What an asshole.”
“No, a coward. He couldn’t handle the pain. My pain, and he couldn’t handle it.”
“Not a coward, a pussy. Margo was in more pain than I’ve ever had to cope with, but we fought it together. It wasn’t easy—watching her die.” He gulped, finding it hard to swallow.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bring back bad memories.”
“Not bad, not really. Because I know I did everything I could to help her. I’ve been through the blame, anger, sorrow…. I’m learning to cope now. The hardest thing has been learning to sleep alone.”
She grinned, the tears still twinkling in her eyes. “I know what you mean. Bob may have been a jerk in a lot of ways, but he made me feel safe.”
“You don’t have to give up your dream of having a child. Find another guy….”
“Unfortunately, when you have uterine cancer, it doesn’t matter what your dreams may be. When they take out the parts, it’s over.”
“It doesn’t make you less of a woman, Emily.”
“Maybe not, but sometimes I feel that way.”
“Hey, the band is back. Feel up to round two?”
“Sure.” Her smile flickered and warmed. “I’d love to dance some more.”
It was late before he walked her back to her cabin. She wasn’t far from them, just a few doors down on the same deck. Kyle felt drawn to the quietly flamboyant woman. She was so like Margo in her steely determination, but so different in other ways. He liked the similarities, but relished the differences too. He’d never thought he could be so attracted to a woman after knowing her so short a time. Perhaps it was her vulnerability. He’d always been protective, something Margo loved and hated simultaneously about him.
“I had a wonderful time tonight, Kyle. For the first time in ages, I feel so alive. Thank you for taking pity on a bald woman.”
“I don’t even notice,” he told her honestly.
Without planning to, his lips found hers, surprising them both. After a moment, the shock wore off and Emily returned his kiss enthusiastically. They spent several minutes like that, until someone else came down the corridor. Blushing a deep red, Emily ducked quickly into her cabin.
“I’ll see you at breakfast,” she said quietly. “Goodnight.”
He waited as she shut the door, leaning against the wall in stunned silence.
“Did I really do that? Did I really kiss a woman I hardly know?” The answer came back at him, “You sure as hell did.”
Grinning happily, he whistled as he walked to his cabin. With a lurch, he realized he should have been back hours ago to kiss his children goodnight. Carmelita was going to fuss. Randy was in bed when he got into their cabin. The door adjoining the two suites was open and Carmelita sat in a chair reading a magazine. The magazine fell on the floor as she rose. He was shocked to see she wasn’t angry, she was practically jumping up and down with excitement.
“Did you have fun? What did you do? Where did you go?”
“I had a great time. We went dancing.”
“Lita, I just met the woman.”
“So, she’s recovering from her treatments. She’s in remission.” He chuckled, dancing happily with Carmelita. “I kissed her, though.”
“You didn’t? You wicked man! Good for you! Was it nice?”
“Yeah. It was nice. Very nice.”
“She thought so too, right?”
He stopped mid-dip. “God, I hope so. I was so shocked I actually did it, I didn’t think about it.”