“More boy stuff?” Bess asked, appearing suddenly beside me as I closed the door.

“God!” My heart raced. What had she heard? Did my guilt show on my face? “Pardon me, Bess,” I said, hoping I sounded casual, “I have somewhere to be.”

She walked with me, right at my heels, her swollen belly swaying with each step. I walked faster, but she easily kept pace.

“Ira? Is everything all right?”

“Now that Jack’s returned, it should be,” I said, hoping my bright tone would disguise my deliberate redirection. I put my hand on the doorknob. She covered it with her own.

“I meant with my husband.”

“Er….”

I glanced around for an excuse to avoid this conversation, but the children had cleared off some time ago to their vocational lessons, and Jack was still downstairs. While I wibbled, she took my elbow and led me into the empty classroom.

“May I confide in you?” she asked.

“Er….”

“I’m worried.” She began with her usual confidence and directness. But in her voice was a vulnerability I’d never heard before. Letting go my arm, she sighed and looked away. “It sounds so crazy I can hardly bring myself to say the words. But the more I think about it, the more I think that there can’t possibly be any other explanation. Ira,” she said, turning and meeting my eyes with her deep, intelligent brown ones, “Is Tim seeing someone? Is there another woman?”

Panic squeezed my chest. Yes, I’d stopped things before they’d gone very far, but I’d enjoyed those things far too much. And most likely I hadn’t been as quiet, or as discreet as I should have been. My cheeks felt hot, and I hoped to hell my guilt wasn’t written across my face. I could smell Lazarus’s cologne on my shirt. I could still feel his muscular arse beneath my hands.

 “No,” I choked.

She narrowed her piercing gaze and impaled me with it. “Is there anyone who…is not a woman?”

 

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