I shifted nervously in my seat, jumping every time the bell of the door to the café chimed, signalling that someone had walked in. I looked up at every chime, half hoping, half dreading to see his face as he walked through the door.
You have to do this, Ruby. You can't keep it from him. You have to tell him about the baby.
I sighed and glanced at my Dad's old watch, which I still wore on my right wrist. He wasn't even late yet, I just got here unnaturally early because I was so nervous. I couldn't stop myself from running my hand through my hair, my tell-tale sign that I was nervous as hell.
The bell chimed again and my head snapped up, but it wasn't him. It was a young mother, walking in whilst bending down to hold her little son's hand. He couldn't have been more than three, and he gazed around at the other people in the café, whilst his Mum ordered something from the counter. His big brown eyes landed on me and I smiled at him. He stared at me in awe and then giggled, before his Mum led him away to a nearby table.
I cast my gaze out of the window, watching people walk past. But then suddenly a wave of nausea washed over me. I looked up and saw that a waitress was walking past me with a full English breakfast. The smell wafted over to me and I had to shut my eyes and grip the table to stop myself from throwing up. The morning sickness just wasn't going away.
I managed to take a sip of water when the bell chimed again and I looked up. This time I knew who had walked through the door. He scanned the café for a minute before his bright blue eyes fell on me. He smiled warmly and walked over to my table, sitting down opposite me.
"Hey," Ben said.
"Hi," I replied.
"I'm really glad you called."
"I'm just sorry it took so long," I replied. It had been about six weeks since I had last seen Ben at my Father's funeral, and I was truly sorry for not having called him sooner, but after my Father's death and the fact that only two weeks after his funeral I had discovered I was pregnant (I did four tests. Yes FOUR!), I needed some time to myself. I had purposefully kept myself busy, and Sandy had accused me of avoiding what had to be done.
"It doesn't matter. But I was on the verge of calling you myself," Ben admitted.
I reached out and took his hand. "Thank you for giving me time. You've been so good to me. Heaven knows I don't deserve it."
"Don't talk yourself down, Ruby. You've been through a lot and giving you time was the least I could do."
I smiled at him, although inside I felt so guilty. He didn't know the half of what I had been through these past few weeks. But he was about to. I took a deep breath. This is it.
"Actually, Ben, I called because I wanted to tell you something," I began.
Ben held up his hand to prevent me from continuing.
"What?" I asked.
"I've got something to tell you to, and I was hoping I could go first."
I stared at him, and had the funny feeling that the look on my face closely resembled that of a gold fish.
Ben laughed at my expression, but then quickly sobered and looked down at the table. "I've been so nervous about seeing you, which is crazy I know…and I practiced what I was going to say the whole way here…if…if I don't go first I don't think I'll ever get this out."
"You're making me nervous," I said, trying to sound light-hearted. It didn't work but Ben looked up at me with an appreciative look.
"Okay, go ahead," I said.
Ben splayed his hands on the table, took a deep breath and looked up at me. "I've got a new job," he blurted out.
Whatever crazy things had been whirling around in my head that could have made Ben so nervous, a new job was not one of them.
"Oh!" I replied, failing to keep the surprise out of my voice. "What is it?"
"Deputy head," Ben replied.
I beamed. Ben's ambition had always been to work his way up to becoming a head teacher, and a deputy head was a big step up for him, the next rung on the ladder before his dream job.
"Wow, Ben that's…well that's brilliant! Congratulations!" I told him.
"Why were you nervous about telling me that?"
"Well…the job isn't around here. It's in Liverpool."
"Liverpool?" I checked.
"Yeah. It's one of those inner city schools that needs to be sorted out. They've just brought in a new head and he's looking for new teachers to come in and sort the school out. The head of my school put me forward for an interview, and I got it!"
"Wow, Ben I'm really happy for you," I said.
"Ruby, come with me to Liverpool," Ben suggested.
I stared at him. "Come with you?"
"That's what I was so nervous about. I know we've been through some difficulties, but I truly believe that we can get past what happened in July."
"You mean when I slept with another man?" I said bluntly. The other man being Alec, the person I had had a crush on in school, and whom I seemed to be falling for. Again.
Ben floundered a bit, opening and closing his mouth several times, but then he recovered. "Yes. Look you know how I feel about you Ruby. I don't want to let what we had go because of a stupid mistake."
I looked away from Ben uncertainly; an uncomfortable feeling was rising in my stomach, because I knew that I what I had to tell him would completely crush him.
"Ruby a fresh start will do us both good. We can start again."
I opened my mouth to tell him about the baby. I was just going to have to blurt out that I was pregnant, but then I saw the excitement and the hope in his eyes, and I just knew I couldn't hurt him even more than I had done already, by telling him that I was pregnant with Alec's baby.
"But…work?" I said lamely.
"You can get a transfer can't you?"
When I didn't answer Ben took a deep breath.
"Okay, I'll stay if that's what you want."
My eyes widened. "What? Ben -"
"Ruby I'll do whatever it takes to get you back and I honestly don't mind if you'd rather stay here and work things out."
I sat up straight. "Ben listen to me. I think it's great that you have got a new job. It's a great opportunity and I would never ask you to give that up for me."
I took a deep breath and looked into his eyes.
"You should go to Liverpool. That school is going to be ten times better with you working there because you are an amazing teacher. But I can't go with you."
Ben's eyes darkened and he looked away from me.
Ben looked up again. "It's okay."
"No, it's not. I hurt you really badly, and I feel terrible. Which is why I'm telling you to go to Liverpool and make a life for yourself. Meet someone who'll treat you properly, and make those school kids enjoy learning history!"
Ben snorted and I laughed a little too.
"In the back of my mind, I knew you'd say no. But I had to ask, I couldn't give up hope that there might still be a chance for us." Ben reached over and brushed a hand against my cheek. "You're an amazing person Ruby, and I don't regret a second of our relationship."
I smiled, tears filling my eyes.
"You stay and make a difference. I feel sorry for those criminals who think they can mess with Ruby Miller!"
I laughed a little, looking down at my lap and sniffing, then looking back up at Ben. He took his hand away and stood up, walking round the table to bend down and give me a kiss on the cheek.
"Be happy, Ruby."
He gave me one last smile before he turned and left the café.
I grabbed the serviettes that were lying on the table, to dab my watery eyes. As I did so I felt my phone vibrate and once I'd fished it out of my pocket, I saw that I had a text from Sandy:
I'm outside, you ready?