chapter 29

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Harry's Range Rover pulled to a smooth stop in the driveway of his childhood home in Holmes Chapel, the tyres crunching crisply over the soft layer of crackling snow that had coated the ground overnight - a welcome surprise to most on the day before Christmas Eve. I stretched, feeling uncomfortably stiff and cramped in the small space of the front seat, my bump practically pressed against the dashboard, I'd grown so round. I soothed my palm over my stomach softly, comforting my wriggling boy as he nudged lightly inside me. He'd been so restless these days, and it made me uneasy. He seemed agitated rather than simply active. It made me sick with fear the thought of something being wrong with him. The thought of my little one being sick or unhealthy.

"You ready, honey?" Harry asked calmly from the driver's seat, his eyes shifting twitchily over my expression. "Just ignore the girls in the driveway, I'll ask them to leave."

"You don't have to," I shrugged, peering out cautiously through my window to observe the squealing, beaming and often crying fans that littered the pavement just beyond the lawn of the Styles household; Anne had put up a fence a few years back to stop them from pressing their noses up to the front windows.

"I want to," he assured me with a gentle smile, "You need your peace."

I beamed warmly back at the boy in the front seat, stroking my thumb back and forth across my swollen belly just above my belly button, trying to comfort his troubled kicks. Harry'd had his hair cut. His springy curls, untamed by stylists and going just a little bit wild today, curled around the backs of his ears and his fringe now only just a framing slick of hair that brushed his forehead. It didn't hang in his eyes now, didn't flop across his face quite like it used to. I liked it; it made him look younger, and yet his features had matured so that he looked nothing less than...beautiful. His nearly blue eyes twinkled at me from below that chestnut coloured tuck of his hair. His lips parted slightly, and I wanted to kiss him. I probably would when we got inside - his kisses were much more plentiful very recently.

He'd snapped back a little lately. He was more like the warm, loving Harry I used to know making me tea out of the blue, kissing me with surging passion that he tamed slightly into warm tenderness, his safe, strong arms holding me close in the night. We were speaking again, making chitchat, even laughing with each other, and he was home much more frequently. He stayed in nights and cooked pasta, and we'd sit on our white upholstery with the TV as background noise while he kissed my bump and whispered to my baby that daddy loved him. Sometimes lately when he told me he loved me, I started to believe it. Sometimes it really, really sounded like he meant it, and my heart flushed with hope for the future like it had a few months before.

But it wasn't quite as simple as that. Love never is, and my heart couldn't allow him to step back into his old shoes again and expect nothing to have changed. He'd hurt me, and he'd cut deep when he did. I'd spent months feeling entirely alone, unloved, and I'd learned to resent him for it. None of that could be wiped clean with a few well timed soft smiles that caressed my cold heart and squeezed life back into my bones, no matter how totally and completely he'd turned himself around.

I couldn't trust Harry quite the same, and if I was honest, I spent every minute of every day waiting for the old him to rear its head; for him to dismiss me like I was nothing more than a cloud of dust billowing in the air and choking him to death.

"I'll go ahead of you if you want," he offered, "Get all the bags inside and you can just take your time. I'll get rid of them before we go in if you want-,"

"It's fine, Harry," I insisted, "Really. They don't bother me."

"But them screaming at you can't be good for your stress levels," he reasoned with a concerned furrow of his dark, unkempt brows. He hadn't been to see Lou in a while and they, like his hair, were becoming a little bit wild. "Stress is bad for the baby."

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