Second Chance with the Single Mom(5)

By: Annie Claydon

Suddenly he realised that Raina had been speaking...

‘Sorry...what was that?’ It was tempting to just smile and nod when he didn’t hear something, and ninety per cent of the time that worked well. But the other ten per cent of the time it wasn’t what people were looking for in an answer.

‘I just said...that I want to thank you. For talking to me about Anya.’

‘You’re welcome.’ He went back to flipping through the papers. He’d learned that most people responded well when he told them about his deafness, but something stopped him this time. Maybe Raina’s attitude, so positive despite all she’d been through. His own problems didn’t matter.

He went to look up at her and jumped suddenly as he heard the sound of rushing water coming from the road behind him. Before he knew what he was doing he stretched out his hand to shield Raina.

Then he realised that the sound was coming from the river. Staring at it, trying to marry the sound with what he saw, he jumped again as he felt Raina touch his arm lightly.

‘Are you okay?’

‘Yeah... I should be getting back to the office, though.’ He didn’t have that much to do there, and a small voice at the back of his head was telling him that this wasn’t the first time he’d retreated into his work to avoid a difficult conversation with Raina. Alistair dismissed it, taking one last swig from his coffee cup.

‘As I’m heading up the project, there’s a clear conflict of interest here, and I want to make sure that everything’s entirely above board. So I’m going to give your application to my co-director Gabriel DeMarco for assessment. He’ll be getting back to you within a week.’

‘Thank you, Alistair. You’ve been very kind.’

He wanted to tell Raina that he once would have done anything for her, and in the last half-hour he’d realised that nothing had changed. But that was beyond inappropriate. He trusted Gabriel to do the right thing, and that he’d handle Raina’s application fairly. He had to step back now.


ALISTAIR HAD GIVEN her a better reception than she deserved. But he seemed so remote, hardly hearing what she said at times.

What had Raina expected? That the divorce and all that had led up to it would just melt away? A person could forget a lot in five years. Not that much, though.

‘What’s going on? Over there...?’ He didn’t react to her question but when Raina pointed towards a group of people that was forming by the stone parapet at the side of the pavement, he turned to look.

‘We should go and see. Perhaps someone’s hurt.’ Raina got to her feet, looping her bag over her shoulder.

When they’d first been married, it would have taken just an exchange of glances. Young doctors who wanted to save the world, and who would rush towards any potential emergency, believing that together they were indestructible. It wasn’t like Alistair to hesitate.

Raina wasn’t going to wait for him to sum the situation up, though. She ran over to the knot of people that had formed.

‘I’m a doctor. Is anyone hurt?’ No one turned and the wall of backs prevented her from seeing what had happened. Then she felt an arm around her shoulder. Alistair the rock. Pushing through the crowd and taking her with him.

‘What’s the matter?’ A woman was holding a child of about two years old, gesturing frantically towards the deep granite parapet between the pavement and the river. She took no notice of Alistair’s question, but a man replied.

‘A kid’s climbed over the barrier...’

Quite how he’d managed to do that wasn’t clear, but when Raina leaned over she could see a boy of around six clinging to the other side. He began to slip, his feet scrabbling for a hold, and the woman screamed.

‘Hold on, sweetheart... Please...someone help him.’

Raina felt, rather than saw, Alistair thrust the envelope with her grant application back into her hands. Climbing across the deep coping stones on the top of the parapet, he slid carefully down the other side, making his way across to the boy.

‘Give me a leg up, will you?’ Raina turned to the man standing next to her and suddenly Alistair seemed to remember that she existed, and looked up.

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