Author’s Note: So… I don’t know that it’s much of a twist, but it’s something, I suppose.
“How is she?” Robert knew he had no right to demand the answer from her doctor, but he could not help it. The moment that the other man had emerged from her room, he had descended upon the man, determined to have an answer. He had to know just how much damage his father had done.
The doctor stopped to adjust his vest. “I can only recommend that she remain in bed for the rest of her pregnancy. Her body cannot handle further strain.”
Robert frowned. That sounded as though she might die if she left the bed, and the man had to be exaggerating that. How would she stand it? She needed to be out in that garden of hers. She needed the flowers and her freedom. “She seemed to be coping rather well before today. Did my father’s behavior do that much harm?”
The doctor fixed his eyes upon him. His glare would have made Robert uncomfortable if he had not grown up with RJ Winston for a father. The doctor did not intimidate him. “It was against my advice that she saw you.”
He swallowed. He knew that he’d upset her a few times, and he’d hated it. Still, he hadn’t thought it was that bad. If he had done this, if his questions and presence had been so upsetting, so much of a strain—and he had seen some of the strain, he’d been leaving to spare her more—then he should never have come. He could only blame himself.
At the sound of her voice, he pushed past the doctor and into Violet’s room. He stopped in the doorway, aware of his improper actions. He should not be here, and yet, he could not make himself go. He stepped forward, somehow crossing all the way to the bed. “I am so sorry—I hope your aunt had my father thrown out—”
“Here,” she said, taking his hand and moving it to her stomach, almost forcing him to sit on her bed. “You can see for yourself that the child is still well. Agitated, yes, but alive.”
He smiled as he felt the baby moving under his hand. She was right. The child seemed rather well, though he would not blame it for being angry. “I am so—”
“Your father will say I am lying, but he… That is…” She took a deep breath, her eyes darting toward the door. She bit her lip, covering his hand with hers. “I do not want to say this because it is upsetting and almost impossible to believe, but I do not know if we will have another chance to talk if the doctor and my family—they will not want you to return or me to get out of bed.”
“You would not let them stop you from leaving your bed, even if you had to sneak out at night,” he said. He did not doubt that she would find a way should it be necessary. He hoped that it would not be. He did not want to see her hurt.
“Perhaps, but in case I am unable to see you again, I must tell you… Your father looks much like picture that Winston showed me of his father. I know it has been some time, but I swear they are the same man. Robbie, he not only stole your stories, he stole a photograph as well. That man… Winston must be insane and convinced that he is you.”
He closed his eyes. “That… I don’t understand. It is not that I do not believe you. I do. I just don’t understand why anyone would do that. Why me? I had… My life is not that good, and you could even say that it is rather terrible in some respects. The war, my arm…”
“I do not know why he would do something like that,” she said, and he opened his eyes again, guilty. He was still too concerned with his problems, not giving enough attention to hers, but he could hear the pain in her voice. “It makes so little sense.”
“My father was wrong. I cannot apologize enough for his behavior. He had no right to say anything to you, but what he did say—you are not a liar and—even if you were desperate, do not dignify his behavior by accepting his offer. Not that I thought you would, but he… I am so ashamed of him, of the way he treated you, and I am sorry that we caused you so much distress.”
She shook her head. “The moment I have a twinge, everyone shuffles me off to bed again. They can’t do anything for me except tell me to rest, and unfortunately, they are rather insistent upon it.”
“I should let you rest, then. That, and I should see to my father. I have to make him leave.”
She frowned. “Are you going with him?”
“If it proves necessary, yes. I rather think it would be better if you did not have to suffer either of our company while you recover.”
“Will… Will you at least write, then, and tell me what you learned, if anything? I do not want anything else from you or your family, but if you find Winston—”
“I assure you, I will tell you. I will not hold back any information from you. That is a promise.”
“Thank you, Robbie. I am… very grateful to you for all you have done.”
“It is nothing.”
“No, it is not. Trust me, it is not.”