An eye for eye only ends up making the whole world blind.
Seven months later.
Sleep. At this point, that was all his tired brain coveted, all his fatigued body could stand. It was a mantra, burning its way across his throbbing forehead, thumping its path through his sluggish blood. Sleep, sleep, sleep. A wish floating on an exhaled breath that would hopefully reach the ear of someone who cared.
He had worked countless hours on projects and such, pushing himself until he thought he might not be able to move the next morning, but this feeling of utter and complete drainage was unprecedented. He supposed it was like Austin Powers losing his mojo, and someone had surreptitiously come up to him in an occupied moment and sucked the energy out of him with a massive syringe. To Henry William Dalgliesh Cavill, taking care of a newborn was an uncharted territory that simply laid him out flat.
Lauren Christina Alexis Cavill, even at six weeks old, was as much a handful as she was a joy. Even now, as he brushed the downy head of his daughter with a weary fingertip, Henry could not imagine life before her and would not accept life without her. Now. If only he could get up and crawl into bed…
Moments passed, but he had no idea how many until he felt a soft hand on his cheek. He cracked his eyes open, and he beheld with blurry vision a tawny-haired woman in a man’s dress shirt. Actually, come to think of it, that was his shirt…
“You’re going to spoil her,” Eleanor Barton said softly as she moved with careful, skillful hands to extract little Lauren and place her in the crib nearby.
“Funny thing about spoiling her, love,” Henry began, shifting a bit, “is that I’m her father and I get to do that.”
“One of the perks I suppose.” Eleanor held her gently and cradled her while she settled back into the throes of sleep. She swayed soothingly and patted the child’s small back, finding an excuse to take in her scent of baby powder and Johnson’s baby soap. Now satisfied with Lauren’s quality of sleep, Eleanor carefully placed her in the crib. She watched for a second to make sure Lauren was settled, then straightened and stepped away from the crib.
“We ought to go to bed,” Eleanor told him. “I know you have to leave soon for L.A., and I don’t want you all tired when you do.”
Henry managed some energy, rose to his feet, and embraced the woman he would be spending the rest of his life with. “I appreciate your concern for me, but what about you? You’ve been taking care of Lauren as much as I have, maybe more. And you’re balancing it with your work.”
At the mention of her music—her “work,” Eleanor disentangled herself from Henry and drifted away. He followed her to their bedroom where she sat down at the foot of the bed, looking distressed.
“Eleanor,” Henry started.
Eleanor waved a hand. “No. Please don’t say what I think you’re going to say. I…” She lifted her head, and in the bluish light that the moon bequeathed upon them, her green eyes were vivid with anguish. “I think that it’s better that I not think of it seriously. I can never do what I used to again. The time has passed, Henry.”
Henry shook his head as he sat down beside her on the bed. “The time has not passed. You are young, and you are very talented. You have a gift, Eleanor. Why don’t you share it with the world again?” As Eleanor looked down again, Henry couldn’t help feeling a bit of frustration. “Is this how it’s going to be? Are you going to let that sonofabitch win again? Are you going to let him run you into a corner and make you hide?”
“He did not win,” Eleanor insisted, raising her chin. “If there is one thing I can assure you of, darling, it is that. The child—our child—sleeping in the next room is living proof that he did not win.”
“Then why are you here?” Henry pressed. “Why are you hiding yourself from them? And him?”
Under the pressure, Eleanor broke. “I needed a break. I needed a break from all of it…everything. I…”
Henry grabbed her hands. “Eleanor. Stop. No excuses.” His blue eyes searched hers as she hesitantly gazed at him. “You got a break. You’ve been hiding for almost a year. Don’t you think that’s long enough?”
Henry couldn’t hide his exasperation. “Darling…”
Eleanor sighed and didn’t respond. It was true that she had been hiding a bit from…things. She hadn’t wanted to deal with the stigma that had come with the drama she had dealt with in the past, and she didn’t want to be associated with the man who had broken her heart anymore. But who had it helped? Had it helped her? Suddenly, Eleanor, even with her good intentions, felt as if she had been making the wrong choices, making the wrong moves.
“You need to come to the light, love,” Henry said softly. “Not for me, nor for Lauren—for nobody but you.”
Eleanor considered this for a long moment then nodded faintly. Feeling a sudden wave of fatigue, she raised her hand and brushed Henry’s cheek.
“I seriously think we should go to bed.”
Henry grasped her hand with his. “I agree,” he responded. But then a slight impish twinkle appeared in his eye. “And there, I can show you something you haven’t seen in nearly four months.”
Eleanor dubiously raised an eyebrow. “You couldn’t possibly be thinking about…”
“What?” Henry said innocently. “I could just be talking about your favorite Tinkerbell pillow.”
Eleanor merely gazed at him until she couldn’t help but smile a little. Seeing that she was softening some, and also moving mentally away from their previous topic of discussion, Henry scooped her up into his arms and laid them both down on the bed. She sighed as she felt his weight upon her, a sensation she had not felt for a long time. He placed his lips on her closed eyelids, soothing her little hurts. It would take more for the bigger ones, but this was fine for the moment.
“We’d better be careful or Lauren will have a little brother or sister,” Eleanor murmured.
“I’m just kissing you, love. That’s not illegal.”
“It could turn into something that is.”
Henry couldn’t help but laugh at Eleanor’s tone. “Oh darling. Why don’t you just come out and tell me that you want me and get it over with so we can have sex.”
Eleanor’s eyes widened at his bluntness. “Henry William Dalgliesh Cavill…!”
“Ah,” Henry said. “So you do want me.”
To shut her up, Henry kissed her right on her twitching mouth. Eleanor squirmed under him for a few moments, heightening his arousal, then, realizing it was futile to fight, she fell headlong into the kiss. As Henry’s skillful fingers rediscovered the softness of her inner thigh, she sighed against his smiling mouth. She realized that she missed this, their being intimate. And she was thankful that she found a passion for Henry that she thought she’d only feel for…
No, she thought to herself. You will not think of him. Right now, you are with a man who loves you more than life itself and would do anything for you. Not like…him.
With this in mind, Eleanor reached for the hem of Henry’s shirt and pulled it up, eyes darkening with desire.
“Oh yes,” Henry remarked, smirking. “You definitely want me, love.”
“I would want you more if you stopped talking so much.”
So Henry, being the astute man he was, shut his mouth and let his body do all the talking.