Marrying gorgeous Caleb Conner was the happiest day of Addison's life. But in the following years, no matter how much she yearned for her husband, the driven tycoon felt increasingly out of reach…
Work might have taken over his time, but Caleb hasn't stopped loving Addison. Now he hopes a holiday in paradise will show his wife he remembers the magic they share. Only, their marriage has another surprise on the horizon: Addison's baby secret!
A Baby to Save Their Marriage
Addison was pacing. She couldn’t help it. It was three o’clock and Caleb still wasn’t home. They had to leave for the airport in an hour and he hadn’t even packed.
The doorbell rang and she hurried to answer. Lara, her son Tristan’s nanny, stood on the doorstep, rain dripping from her hair and nose.
“Lara? What on earth, come in, come in.”
Lara stumbled over the doorstep dragging a large suitcase behind her. “I’m so sorry, Addison. I know you’re just about to leave for your holiday. But I had nowhere else to go.”
“What’s wrong?” Addison was trying not to panic. Lara was the perfect nanny. Her son Tristan adored her. It didn’t matter they were about to go on a month long holiday, she wanted to be sure Lara wasn’t in any kind of trouble.
Lara sniffed. “I got the earlier tube home and Josh,” her voice wobbled, “he was in bed with the next door neighbour.” Her shoulders started to shake.
“What? He what?” Addison was enraged. “That lazy, good for nothing ratbag. You’ve paid the rent for how long? He doesn’t even contribute and he treats you like that?” She’d never liked Lara’s boyfriend and now she knew exactly why.
She put her arm around Lara’s shoulders and guided her into the kitchen, pressing a few buttons on her coffee machine.
“Here, let me get you something.” The machine only took a few minutes, then she sat down across from Lara. “What are you going to do?”
Lara bit her lip. “I’m sorry, I panicked. I just stuffed a case and left. I didn’t have anywhere else to go and I know this is the last thing you need right now.”
Addison silently sucked in a breath. Lara was perceptive. Addison had never said a word to her but she’d obviously picked up on the stress in the household.
“What do you need?”
Lara seemed nervous. “I was wondering…I’ll need to find somewhere else to stay. Is there any chance I could stay here while you’re away?”
Something simple. “Absolutely. No problem at all.” She stood up, “And Lara? Don’t give up your holiday. You saved long and hard for that. Don’t let him spoil it for you. Go, and enjoy every second without him.” She reached over and gave Lara’s shoulder a squeeze. “Now, will you be okay? Caleb and I will be out of your hair within the hour. I need to finish packing.”
Lara gave a nod and grateful smile. “Thanks Addison. I owe you, big time.”
Addison met her gaze. “You deserve someone who loves and respects you, just remember that.”
She walked out of the kitchen and into the large hallway just as the door opened again. Caleb. Also soaked to the skin and still on his phone.
She felt herself prickle. “Caleb? Do you know-“
He gestured to her to stop talking as he continued his conversation. “Frank, I know exactly how important this is. I will deal with it. I promise you. The price of the stock won’t fall. I’ve been working on these negotiations for months. I’m not about to let anything get in the way.”
He looked tired. His shirt and trousers were wrinkled and she knew that he’d worked through the night. He was doing that more and more now as the business had just exploded.
With Caleb, she would never need to worry about another woman. He didn’t have enough hours in the day for her and Tristan, let alone another woman. For the last three years his work had been everything. They’d drifted further and further apart. The man she used to love cuddling up to barely came to bed anymore. If he wasn’t working at his office in the city, he was working in his office in the house.
Her work had exploded too. She’d started as a naïve young student who’d lost her sister to ovarian cancer, setting up a website and trying to get information out to others. Then, a famous celebrity had been diagnosed with the same cancer – and credited the information she’d read on Addison’s site as being the catalyst for her challenging her doctor’s diagnosis. After that, things just went crazy.
The last ten years had been a whirlwind. She’d met Caleb at a charity auction and fell head over heels in love. They’d got married, had Tristan and life had seemed perfect. She’d hired some people to help her with the charity and Caleb’s business had started to take off.
To the outside world they were the perfect couple – the perfect family. She couldn’t deny her husband was handsome, even with the deep furrows in his brow and tired lines around his eyes he could still make her heart flutter. Tristan, their son, was like a mini-me version of his father. They lived in one of the best areas in London.
But a few weeks ago she’d got a wake up call. Something she hadn’t even had a chance to sit down and talk to her husband about.
That was when she realised just how far they’d slipped from one another. That was when she’d booked this holiday and told Caleb to arrange the time off. She had some major decisions to make. And they desperately needed some time away together as a family. She needed to be able to talk to her husband without fear of a phone ringing or an email pinging into his inbox to distract him.
He was still talking into his mobile. He’d barely even acknowledged her. Her stomach gave a little twist. She couldn’t keep living like this. This wasn’t living. It was existing.
This was the man who’d made her laugh, cry and scream with excitement when they’d first met. This was the man who’d spent every single night taking her in his arms and talking until the early hours of the morning. Then, he’d get up early and surprise her with breakfast in bed. When they’d got married he’d surprised her by flying in her friends from all over the world – all expenses covered. When she’d shown him the pregnancy test one morning he’d whooped with joy and by the time she’d reached her office that morning it was filled with pink and blue helium balloons.
A million special memories of a relationship that seemed to have died.
A few weeks ago she’d tried to arrange something special. Lara had watched Tristan and she’d spent hours preparing his favourite meal, setting the table and lighting candles on their rarely used dining table. She’d changed into a dark pink dress that he’d bought her a few years earlier and sat and waited for him to appear. And waited….and waited…and waited.
The silver dome covering the second pregnancy test had never been lifted.
The candles had finally burned down and extinguished. The dinner had been ruined and her dress tossed back into the wardrobe. He hadn’t gotten in until just after two am – that was when she finally felt the sag of the bed as he’d sat down.
She’d never mentioned a thing to him. A tiny little part of her was worried. They’d disagreed two years earlier about expanding their family. She’d been keen – but Caleb hadn’t.
She’d been hoping and praying that he’d be delighted they were unexpectedly pregnant – just as he’d been the last time. And that tiny little seed of doubt had allowed itself to take root and grow over the last few weeks because it just felt as if he were slipping further and further away from her.
The phone rang and she picked it up. Caleb was still talking on his mobile – still not even looking at her.
“Hello, can I speak to Addison Connor please?”
She vaguely recognised the voice. “This is Mrs Connor.”
“Ah, Addison. It’s Dr Mackay.”
It was like a cool breeze dancing over her skin. Her obstetrician. She’d seen him last week to have her pregnancy confirmed and her first scan and tests.
Her eyes went automatically to Caleb. She was conscious he would be able to hear her words but he was far too engrossed in his own phone call to notice her.
“What can I do for you?”
The doctor hesitated. “I wonder if you would be able to come along to the clinic later today, or tomorrow?”
The cool breeze turned into an artic chill. “Why?”
“We need to have a chat.”
“I’m leaving in an hour’s time. I’ll be out of the country for a month. I can’t come to the clinic. If you need to discuss something with me then do it now.”
She was being curt. But she couldn’t help it. This didn’t sound like good news. Everything had seemed fine the other day. Her ultrasound had appeared fine and her pregnancy seemed to be progressing as normal.
She heard him draw in a deep breath. “This isn’t ideal. I’d prefer to do this face to face.”
“I’m sorry, that just isn’t possible. What do you need to tell me?”
He gave a sigh. “We need to talk about your test results from your NT test.”
She straightened up. “The measurement at the back of neck? I saw that being done. The…,” she glanced towards Caleb. She’d almost said sonographer. But he’d turned his back and was facing into their front room. “The technician never said there was a problem.” She paid attention. She could remember the sonographer taking a few minutes to take the tiny measurement needed.
“I realise that. But you’ll know that we calculate risk based on a number of things. We use the nuchal translucency measurement, along with the blood test and mother’s age to calculate risk. Our tests at this stage show you could be at higher risk of having a baby affected by Down syndrome.”
Her heart skipped a beat. “How high?”
All other noise just faded into the background. The only thing she could focus on right now was what the doctor was saying.
He spoke clearly. “The screening test gives us a range. We would normally expect the measurement of a nuchal translucency test to be under 3.5mm, yours was slightly above that at 3.7mm. A woman 30 would normally have a risk of around 1 in a 1000. Along with your age and your blood test results it means that your risk of having a baby affected by Down syndrome is around 1 in 140.”
There was a roaring sound in her ears. This wasn’t happening. This couldn’t be happening. Everything had looked fine. She’d had this test before when she was pregnant with Tristan. No one had phoned her then. She’d just received a letter in the post a week later saying she was low risk.
“I thought you were more at risk if you were in your forties. I’ve just turned 30.” Her brain was trying to make sense of what she’d just been told.
“Age can be a factor, but that’s not always the case. If you’d like we can consider some other tests. You’ve just passed the first trimester of pregnancy so we’re too late for a CVS test.”
She had no idea what he was talking about.
“But we could arrange an amniocentesis at 15 weeks. Along with other detailed scans.”
“That has risks, doesn’t it?”
“There is a small risk of miscarriage associated with amniocentesis.”
“Then, no. In fact, no to other tests. I don’t want any. It won’t change my mind about anything.”
There was a few seconds silence. From the other side of the room Caleb caught her eye momentarily. A few years ago he’d been her rock – her everything. But as she was hearing this news today she’d never felt so alone.
“Mrs Connor, I’ll support you in any decision. You would be offered a detailed scan routinely at 20 weeks. I’d really like you to still attend. If your child is affected by Down syndrome there is a chance of cardiac defects. It’s something we could pick up on the scan and plan for prior to your delivery. It’s really in the best interests of your child.”
She tried to be rational. She took a deep breath and took a few seconds to think. She could remember having the detailed scan with Tristan. That’s when they’d found out they were having a little boy. They’d been so excited as soon as they’d left the scan room they’d headed to the nearest baby shop to look for baby boy clothes.
She squeezed her eyes closed for a few seconds. Now, she felt as if she couldn’t even rely on Caleb to make time in his diary for their baby scan. In her head she could already see herself attending alone.
The background noise that had muted before became crystal clear.
Caleb was still on the phone. “I can do that tonight. No problem. Just give me a bit of time.” He glanced over towards Addison and jerked when he saw her watching him. “There’s something I need to sort out at home.”
Anger sparked through her. Was he talking about her? Had he forgotten they were supposed to be leaving for the airport in less than an hour?
Her stomach turned over. Oh no. He wouldn’t dare? Would he?
She turned her attention back to the phone. “Of course I’ll attend. I leave today and will be gone for a month. Can I make an appointment to see you when I come back?”
“Of course, Mrs Connor. My secretary will arrange that and get both appointments to you shortly. In the meantime, if you need to contact me, please feel free.”
Addison put down the phone and turned to face Caleb.
He took a step towards her. “Addison – honey,”
When was the last time he’d called her that? Was it when he’d missed Tristan singing Christmas carols at nursery? Or was it when he’d promised to bath Tristan and put him to bed but got delayed at work once again. Tristan had finally fallen asleep clutching the book he’d wanted Caleb to read to him.
She held up her hand. “Get packed, Caleb. Taxi will be here in forty minutes.”
He held up his phone. “Things have gone crazy at work. This merger is just huge. It’s taking up every hour of every day. Timing is crucial. I just can’t go away right now. As for four weeks? It’s just far too long. There’s no way I can make that work. I have to be here.”
All the pent up rage, frustration and disappointment that had been bubbling under the surface for the last three years erupted to the surface.
“Everything takes up every hour of the day for you, Caleb – or haven’t you noticed? You don’t even seem to realise you have a family anymore. You’re never here and when you are here, you might as well not be.”
He flinched. But she wasn’t sorry. She’d had too many let downs over the last year and too many dinners for one to care anymore.
He shook his head. “That’s not fair, Addison.”
“That’s not fair? That’s not fair?” She couldn’t help it. She was shouting now. “Let me tell you what’s not fair. Your son, spending the whole time at nursery with his eyes fixed on the door when he was singing his Christmas carols and waiting for you to appear. I know you said there was an emergency at work – something that couldn’t wait – but try explaining that to a five year old.” She pointed to herself. “It’s not you that has to see his face, Caleb. It’s me.”
She could see the pure frustration on his face. He dropped his case and ran his fingers through his still damp hair. He could barely meet her gaze. And that just made her worse.
She was shaking now. This had been building for a while. They’d needed to sit down and talk for a long time. But they just hadn’t got around to it – probably because Caleb was never there.
It was a miracle she was pregnant at all. But twelve weeks ago had been the last time they’d made love after Caleb had fallen into bed late one night. She’d had the faintest glimmer of hope that maybe he’d start noticing her again, maybe he’d start talking. It had been their anniversary and she’d thought that he’d forgotten. For their first few anniversaries they’d always made a fuss of each other and gone away to a hotel overnight. He’d finally come home clutching a beautiful bunch of flowers, a hastily written card and a thin gold bracelet that came from a jewellers based inside a popular London hotel – it was probably the only place that was open late at night. The effort had brought tears to her eyes and ignited a spark of passion that had been missing between them for a while. She’d hoped that it would be a turning point for them both. But the next day had been no different to all the others.
“This deal is crucial. I’ve been working on it for months. The next couple of weeks will be the most vital. I need to be here.”
“You need to be with your family.”
He held up his hands. “Maybe I could come out in a few weeks, once things have quietened down and spend some time with you and Tristan then?”
“But things never quieten down. You and I both know that, Caleb.” She took a deep breath and straightened her shoulders. She’d had enough. She’d been pushed as far as she could go and tolerated as much as she could.
This was the point of no return.
“In thirty minutes time, Tristan and I are leaving for the airport. If you’re not on that plane with us, when we come back in a month, we won’t be coming back here.”
“What?” His eyes widened.
“I’m done, Caleb. I’m done with Tristan and I playing second best to everything else in your life. Let me make this easy for you. Make a decision. You have thirty minutes.”
Caleb Connor’s life seemed to be falling apart around him. He’d never seen his beautiful wife look so angry. But there was more than that – she looked cold – something he’d never associated with Addison.
He’d come home, hoping to placate her and send her and Tristan on the holiday she’d insisted on booking. Things had been strained recently and he knew it was partly his fault.
She was right. He was never here. Work just seemed to have taken over his whole life. He’d won an award a few years ago as Business person of the year and since then everything had skyrocketed.
And things just kept slipping. The nursery carol service, putting Tristan to bed, and he was sure he’d missed a few things he was supposed to be doing with Addison. But she’d never said anything. He’d just got the frosty reception when he’d come home at night. Most times he hadn’t even noticed the frosty reception because he’d been so late Addison was already sleeping.
It was a mistake. And he knew it. But right now was a vital time. He, and his partner, were building their business. Making sure they had a good foundation and reputation on which to base other business. This was a temporary situation. He’d never expected Addison to react like this. He’d never seen her act like this before.
But that wasn’t all. She looked pale. She looked worried. And that was before she told him her and Tristan might not come back.
“Addison, be reasonable.”
Her voice chilled him. “I’ve spent the last three years being reasonable and making excuses for you never being around. I’m done. I’m done doing that. I manage to get a work life balance and so should you. If your family isn’t your priority, then you don’t deserve a family.”
The words stung. But the truth was he couldn’t be completely surprised. Things had been strained for so long. What had happened to the relaxed happy people they both used to be? Last year they’d finally employed a nanny when Addison had felt her work commitments had increased. Lara had been a blessing. But Addison still made time for Tristan. She never missed any of his doctor’s appointments or nursery performances.
Not like him.
A wave of guilt washed over him.
“Maybe we could wait, maybe we could go somewhere later in the year?”
Addison picked up the notepad she’d been writing on next to the phone.
She sighed. “Then it will be another deal, another business. I’m tired of this. Decide what your priorities are. Because I’ve had enough.”
“You’re giving me an ultimatum?”
He couldn’t believe it. It felt like a bolt out of the blue. And he couldn’t believe Addison was actually behaving like this.
She walked over to him and looked up at him with her clear green eyes. He’d never seen them look so sincere. There was no hesitation. None at all. “Yes, I am.” She turned and walked up the stairs.
He sagged against the wall as his phone rang again. He pulled it out his pocket. Harry. His partner. He’d need to talk to him later.
He shrugged off his damp coat. What on earth was he going to do? He had a million different things still to sort out for this deal. He’d assumed he would come home, placate Addison, give both her and Tristan a kiss, send them on their way and get back to work.
“Daddy!” Tristan ran down the stairs towards him. “Come and see what I’ve packed.”
His heart melted as he scooped the little guy up into his arms. Tristan kept talking. “We’re going on a big plane. And then on a little plane. Can you buy a plane, Daddy?”
He walked up the stairs towards Tristan’s room. “Daddy, you’re all wet. What have you been doing?”
He smiled. “I’ve been out in the rain.”
He set Tristan down at the entrance to his room and Tristan dive-bombed on top of his neatly packed case. “Whee! Look Daddy, I’ve snuck in some extra toys.” He looked over his shoulder. “Sshh..don’t tell mummy.”
Caleb sat down on the bed and glanced in the case. Sure enough, tucked in between socks and sun cream were a whole array of wrestlers and a tiny army of cars. He let out a laugh. Tristan always did this. Addison would tell him he was allowed to bring two wrestlers, or two cars, depending on where they were going and Tristan would find a way to sneak another few into his pockets, Addison’s bag or, on occasion, Caleb’s briefcase.
He felt a little pang. When was the last time Tristan had done that?
And more importantly, why would it be his briefcase? It felt as if it were permanently attached to his hand – and that must be the way it seemed to his son.
He leaned forward as he watched Tristan play. A full blown wrestling match had started above the clothes. When was the last time he’d watch Tristan play?
Everything Addison had just said to him was firing off sparks in his brain. In most instances, he was searching desperately for memories of the last time he’d done something with his wife and son. And the more he searched, the guiltier he felt.
She’d meant it. She’d looked into his eyes and meant it when she said they wouldn’t come home.
He’d thought Addison and him would be together forever. At least, that’s what it used to feel like. He’d already decided a few days ago that there was no way he could go on this holiday. He just actually hadn’t taken the time to sit down and talk to his wife about it.
More fool him.
Something was wrong. Something was very wrong and he hadn’t paid attention until around ten minutes ago.
He knew exactly what had happened to Addison.
He pulled his phone out of his pocket as he watched Tristan. He was still in charge of the wrestling match. He was so happy and good natured. He couldn’t ask for a better son.
Tristan glanced at him and thrust a wrestler towards him. “Here daddy, you can have this one. He’s getting old, like you.”
There was such an innocence in his words. Tristan thought he was old? But of course he did. He’d spent the last three years looking tired and that would be all the memories that Tristan had of him.
He looked around the room. It was still decorated in baby blues. Underneath the bed was a pile of fresh wallpaper, bedding and stickers all covered in planets. He’d promised to decorate around eight months ago. The pile had been there ever since.
But there was more. Addison had brought up the subject of having another baby around a year ago.
He’d always imagined they’d have a big family. He’d always wanted to have a big family.
But her words had gripped him a way he hadn’t expected.
They’d never really sat down and discussed it. But Addison had paled into a shadow of herself in the months after giving birth to Tristan. He’d helped as much as he could. He’d frequently get up and do the night feeds. He made excuses for not being at work. He’d stayed around as frequently as he could, at first, to try and give her a break, and then, to try and get them to spend time together as a family. For the first few months her face had been almost blank when she’d looked at Tristan. It had felt as if she were slipping away a little more each day.
He’d spoken to the GP. He’d spoken to the health visitor – asking what else he could do. They’d reassured him he was doing everything he could and just to be patient. Finally, he’d seen little glimpses of his wife again. A smile when she saw Tristan smile. A willingness to take part. The dark circles had eventually dimmed beneath her eyes and the spark of life that always surrounded her had finally emerged again.
He couldn’t let that happen to her again. He wouldn’t do that to his wife again.
As he stared around Tristan’s room it was like everything came crashing down on him all at once.
He’d thought he might lose his family once before.
There was no way he could let this happen. There was no way he was letting his family slip through his fingers. The thought of coming home at night to an empty house filled him with horror.
He had to sort this. He had to. He didn’t want to imagine his world without them in it.
He pressed the redial button on his phone. “Harry, there’s been a change of plan.”
His phone buzzed as he kept talking. He walked through to the bedroom. Addison wasn’t there. A large suitcase was sitting open on the bed, completely empty. It must be for him.
As Harry kept talking Caleb reached into his large wardrobe and picked up a whole stack of t-shirts, dropping them into the suitcase exactly the way they were. He had to lean further back to find a pile of shorts. He sent a silent prayer above that they might actually still fit as he threw them and some swimming shorts into the case. Underwear was easy. He pulled out one entire drawer and tipped it up into the case.
Feet. What would he wear on his feet?
He looked down. His feet were damp from his earlier walk through the soaked London streets. He kicked off his shoes and dropped his trousers to the floor. His shirt was pulled over his head and abandoned with the rest of his things of the floor.
What to travel in? He grabbed a pair of three-quarter length trousers and a polo shirt, sticking his feet into a pair of baseball boots and throwing some others in the case.
Tristan appeared at the door and smiled at his father’s packing efforts. He tucked a few wrestlers into the case along with a London bus, New York taxi cab and space shuttle. “I had a few spares. I’ll give you a little loan.”
Caleb laughed. By the time Tristan was finished the entire contents of his room would be hidden between the three cases.
Caleb looked around. Was he done? His briefcase sat in the corner of the room. The charging cables for his phone and laptop were in there. He’d be able to work wherever they were. Internet was everywhere these days and as for international calls? He’d just need to swallow the costs.
A quick check of the ensuite gave him some deodorant, his toothbrush and his shaving gear. At the last second he reached over to grab some aftershave and then stopped, put it back, and grabbed another one from under the sink. Harry had finally finished talking.
“I’ll be at the airport in an hour. I’ll send you that report from the lounge.” He rang off. The buzz had been a text message.
His best friend Reuben Tyler. He was on his way back from LA. Reuben’s roof had been undergoing repairs and the roofers had discovered asbestos. He couldn’t stay there. He knew Caleb was going on holiday, could he stay at his?
Caleb dashed off a reply telling him where the key was and how to turn off the alarm. Best not mention it to Addison. Reuben wasn’t exactly her favourite of Caleb’s friends.
He glanced at the case. Done. What else could he need? Why did some people spend days packing?
He zipped it up and picked it off the bed.
As he walked down the stairs he heard the taxi beep outside.
“Come on , Tristan!” shouted Addison. “It’s time to go.”
She hadn’t noticed him yet. Was she really just going to walk out the front door without talking to him again?
The taxi driver appeared at the door and picked up the two waiting cases.
Tristan bolted down the stairs ahead of him carrying two wrestlers. Addison smiled and shook her head. “No way, you’ve already got ten in your back pack. That’s the limit.” She held out his small red baseball jacket and waited for him to slide his arms inside.
She’d changed. She was wearing cream casual trousers and a pink top
Caleb cleared his throat.
Addison did a double take. She was shocked. She was stunned that he’d actually packed and changed. Did she really think that little of him? Did she really think that he’d just let his wife and child leave without a fight?
He stepped forward and sat his case down. “I’ve packed.” He looked her straight in the eye.
She blinked and picked up the passport she’d left sitting on the side table and slid it into her bag.
The taxi driver stuck his head inside and picked up the case. “Last one?”
“And where we headed?”
Caleb cringed inwardly. He couldn’t even remember where they were going. He knew it was hot. It might be the Caribbean, or the Seychelles – somewhere like that. He remembered her mentioning it was a long flight, first stop LA and after that….
Nope. He just couldn’t remember. It hadn’t registered in his brain.
Like so many other things.
He turned back to pick up his briefcase. Addison frowned and he tried not to be annoyed.
He was coming on holiday. He would be spending time with them. But he also needed to do some work. Surely she could understand that?
She took Tristan’s hand firmly in hers. “Let’s go honey, we need to get on the big plane.”
“Come on daddy!” yelled Tristan over his shoulder.
Caleb glanced at the abandoned wrestlers on the side table. He picked them up and tucked them in his briefcase. Anything to keep the little guy happy.
Addison was strapping Tristan into the back of the cab.
She straightened up and stretched her back. “Okay?” he asked as he walked up behind her.
She didn’t even answer the question. Her mind seemed to be away in a world of its own.
He paused before he climbed in the cab. “Addison, everything will be fine.”
He didn’t want to acknowledge what had just happened between them. He didn’t want to acknowledge the fact his wife had just issued him with an ultimatum. He didn’t want to give brain space to the fact she’d just threatened to leave.
Her clear green eyes met his. “Will it?” she asked before she climbed in the cab and slammed the door, staring straight ahead.
Caleb swallowed. Addison seemed anything but fine.
Where did they go from here?
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