Devon was still ill, desperately ill. He couldn't harangue her while she was so weak. But could he even mention his daughter's name without anger and hurt taking control?
He hardly heard the whispered words, but they released his own thoughts. "You're sorry?" The words burst from him.
He knew from her shudder she'd misunderstood the emotion behind them. He leaned forward, controlling his voice, gentling it. "Devon, why didn't you tell me? I would never have let you have a baby alone, I would have helped. Why?"
"You do believe she's yours?"
Rick sat bolt upright in his chair. Denial had never entered his head. All the anger and guilt rolling around inside him had never allowed one moment of doubt. "Of course I do. You wouldn't lie."
"I might have changed." She spoke in a weak and quavering whisper. "It's been a long time."
"No-one could change that much."
Had her eyes brightened at his certainty? They seemed less dull and lacklustre than they had been a moment before.
"Thank you for believing me," Devon whispered. "She's wonderful, isn't she?"
Whatever Rick imagined as his first lucid conversation with Devon, it hadn't been anything like this. He'd been prepared for defensiveness, anger, accusations, recriminations, if not downright hatred. He'd dreaded his own anger and hurt raging out of control and swamping any intelligent outcome. But it appeared none of those things were going to happen.
Not today, anyway. For now--his eyes flicked around the room before settling on the woman in the bed--it appeared they were discussing how wonderful their daughter was. Until Devon was stronger, perhaps it was just as well. This way, it was unlikely his anger would get the better of him.
"I might have to take your word for that," he tried to keep his voice steady as he closely examined a monitor sitting alongside her bed.