The city was awash in lights. Strings of brilliant white festooned store fronts, casting glittering reflections on the falling snow. Decorated shop windows pulled in holiday revelers with Christmas scenes of pine trees draped in tinsel and garland, and children, faces filled with awe and wonder, eagerly opening Santa’s presents.
Audry recognized Landon’s profile as he stood admiring Macy’s window. When he pointed to a toy train that wended through the scene, she realized he wasn’t alone. A petit woman was hidden from sight behind his open overcoat. Stepping behind her, he pointed over her shoulder at another train that circled the base of the Christmas tree.
As the other woman stepped closer to the window, Audry’s breath caught in her throat. She was at least eight months pregnant. The woman lifted her left hand, covering her mouth as she laughed. A diamond on her second finger glinted in the holidays lights.
The flash pierced Audry’s heart as surely as if Landon stabbed her with a dagger. He was obviously married, and they were having a baby. A baby he told Audry he never wanted.
Reaching back, the woman kissed Landon’s cheek, while also rubbing her hands over her bulging stomach. Landon slid a hand down to stroke his wife’s stomach too, grinning widely when he felt the baby stirring.
Audry hadn’t moved from her spot, mesmerized by the familial scene playing out before her. Landon and his wife turned toward her, recognition instant on his face. She stood, frozen, as the pair came closer. Landon whispered in his woman’s ear, then waited a few steps away from Audry. The woman strode past her into the bakery next door, unaware of the turmoil she was causing.
Once the other woman was inside, Landon approached Audry.
“I should have told you,” he kept his face averted, avoiding looking her.
“Told me what?” Audry tried to sound nonplussed. “That you moved on? That you weren’t sitting home alone, pining for me?”
Sighing heavily, Landon finally looked up. “No, that I got married and that we are expecting.”
Fumbling with the buttons on her coat, Audry seethed inside, wanting to slap him.
“Expecting what?” She couldn’t keep her voice from raising an octave with poorly suppressed emotion.
“Still as bitchy as ever, and you wonder why I didn’t want to have children with you.” Adding extra emphasis to “you,” Landon dropped the pretense of regret.
“Yeah, about that.” Audry had dreamed of this moment. “I went off birth control for months before our break up. Even had fertility tests done when I didn’t get pregnant right away. Guess what, lover? There was no reason I shouldn’t’ve pissed a blue stripe. Except… maybe you were shooting blanks.”
She watched the muscle in Landon’s jaw twitch while he chewed on his retort. Going in for the kill, she twisted the knife in his insecurity a little more.
“How sure are you of little Miss Thang?” She smiled seeing her words hit their target. “Still going out of town a lot on business? She’s cute. I bet she doesn’t like being left alone for weeks at a time.”
“You shut your whore mouth!” Landon took a step forward, his arms straight by his side, hands balled into fists.
“Just a little something to think about.” Audry moved around Landon, leaving him alone on the sidewalk. Looking back once, she saw his wife had joined him again with two steaming cups. He stood a little back from her, looking pointedly at her stomach.
Turning the corner, Audry leaned against the brick wall. Breathing deeply, she tried to still her pounding heart. Closing her eyes, she made a mental note to call her doctor the next morning to schedule an exam. Wouldn’t it be ironic if it really was her problem and not Landon’s?