Jane's heart was pounding and she felt an uncomfortable pressure in her stomach as she rapped lightly on the door to Rafael's apartment. Mateo was facing the other way as he looked around in the street in the dimming light, his gaze never settling on one thing for more than a few seconds.
She let out a small breath and tapped her foot against the floor. It has been 3 days since she last saw Rafael, and even then it was only a glimpse. She had opened the door to her abuela's home about 20 minutes after Mateo's school finished up for the day to see the small boy standing on her own. When she asked him where daddy was, she caught a glimpse of a car revving as it quickly pulled out from the sidewalk and sped away.
They both knew the risks of breaking up when they first decided to be a couple, but she never imagined that the breakup would lead to dark looks from across the Marbella as they crossed paths, or not even being able to exchange civil words as their son was passed from one parent to the other. Something had to change, and Jane was determined that that day was going to be today. She didn't want Mateo growing up with two parents that couldn't stand to be around one another.
The door opened faster than she expected, and her heart fluttered for a brief second when she saw him dressed in his casual house clothes.
"Buddy! I've missed you!" Rafael beamed as he dropped into a crouch and spread his arms wide. "Did you miss me?"
"Daddy, me and abuelo went to his work and ate donuts and angel cake and we got to play space pirates!" Mateo spoke so quickly that his words almost blurred into one. "Can we play space pirates tomorrow? Can we?"
Rafael let out a strained laugh. "Alright buddy, get your jammies on and we'll talk space pirates while we pick out your bedtime story for tonight."
He ruffled the boy's hair as he stood up. Mateo darted inside towards his bedroom with his backpack bumping up and down as he ran, both parents watching following him with their gaze. Once he was out of sight, Rafael turned to Jane with an indifferent look that resurfaced the dull ache in Jane's chest.
"I'll drop him off with Alba on Sunday."
With that, he began to shut the door. Jane stared in shock for a moment – as it has every time that Rafael has been cold with her since Michael came back – before she pushed against the door to stop it from closing. "Wait!"
Rafael sighed and opened it enough to look at her properly. "I have nothing to say to you Jane. I don't want to hear it anymore."
"You don't even know what I was going to say," Jane exclaimed incredulously. "Just hear me out. br /Please."
"What?" Rafael let out a short, sharp laugh as he raised an eyebrow. "Are you going to say sorry for still being in love with Michael?"
"I'm not in love with him," Jane said firmly, though her resolve to keep her emotions out of it was wavering. "Your husband coming back from the dead is enough to make anyone feel confused. This was not like a breakup, Rafael. I didn't have closure."
"I'm not confused. I don't trust you anymore and I'm done chasing you," he said coldly. "We're co-parents for Mateo and that's it. I hope that's enough closure for you in this circumstance for you to be able to respect my wishes and leave me the hell alone."
Jane's breath caught in her throat as he gave her one brief look and went to slam the door. Despite being half caught in a daze, her arm instinctively jolted forward and she tried to grab the side of the door to stop it from closing. She didn't give it quite enough force so it ended up crushing her hand between the doorframe.
She cried out and crumpled down to a crouch as she immediately began cradling her hand in her lap. Her tears of heartbreak quickly turned into tears of pain as she felt every throb pulsing through her hand that also seemed to be throbbing up to her wrist. She tried flexing her fingers tentatively to assess the damage but found them strangely numb and as they twitched forward.
"Jane!" She bit her lip and looked up as Rafael dropped to kneel beside her, his hand on her back as tried to get a better look. "Jane, I'm so sorry. I had no idea that you stuck your hand out like that."
"It's okay," she said hoarsely, smiling up at him. "It doesn't hurt that bad."
"Mommy?" The timid voice immediately sobered the pair as they looked up and saw Mateo in his pyjamas clutching his favourite bedtime story. Once he saw Jane crying on the floor, he immediately ran up to her in a panic. "Mommy, are you okay?"
He crashed into her as he threw his arms around her neck, jostling the injured hand still on her lap. The wave of pain brought on a fresh set of tears to stream down her face, but she gritted her teeth and smiled as she hugged him with her good arm.
"Mateo, mommy's just hurt her hand." She pulled back gently and stroked his hair. "It hurts a little right now but I'm going to get it fixed up now."
"Yeah, buddy," Rafael said as he pulled her gently away from Jane. "How about you pick two stories for us to read tonight and we'll be in with you in a minute."
After some more convincing and promise of a triple scoop of ice cream after dinner tomorrow, Mateo finally relented and headed back to his room. Rafael then helped Jane up and sat her down in the kitchen, digging out two bags of frozen veg from the freezer and wrapping them in a towels.
He walked over to Jane and put one of the bags on the table, then gingerly picked up her hand and rested it on top. When he saw her wince, he slowed his movements and took extra care when resting the other bag on the other side of her hand. She sucked in air through her teeth as she felt the cold seeping into her hand to start the process of reducing the swelling.
"You'll have to get that checked out by a doctor," Rafael mumbled as he grabbed his keys from the noticeboard. "I slammed that door pretty hard."
"Rafael, stop." Her bluntness made him pause as he went to grab his jacket. "It's not an emergency, I can go first thing in the morning."
"Don't worry, Raf." She spoke calmly but firmly. "Abuela is resting up for her interview with Jorge so I'll get an uber home and let you know what the doctor says tomorrow."
"You're not getting an uber home," he scolded. He continued looking at her for a moment before his face softened slightly. "You can stay here, I'll drive you there on the way to Mateo's karate lesson and come back for you once I've dropped him off-" he held up his hand when Jane tried to interrupt "- no buts. I want to make sure you're okay."
She was almost speechless as she looked at him with her mouth slightly agape. Her heartbeat quickened and for the first time in weeks, she felt a glimmer of hope. He wasn't staring at her with an intense amount of hatred and seemed very unlikely to slam the door in her face again.
She mumbled a quick thanks and turned her head away to look at the frozen goods on her hand. Rafael excused himself as he went to read Mateo his bedtime stories, and Jane had a moment to catch her breath and think of how they were going to address the elephant in the room upon his return.
The next 20 minutes went quickly. Jane sent a slow, one-handed text to her abuela explaining the situation for her to see in the morning so that she wouldn't worry when she woke up to Jane's empty bed. She went through a few of her emails – she had been putting off reading them in anticipation of seeing Rafael today – and jotted down a few buzz words and ideas that she could use in her novel. Soon enough, Rafael returned with some pillows and blankets.
"I'll sleep on the sofa tonight," he said coolly. "I've left a shirt and some pants on the bed that you can sleep in. You toothbrush is where you left it."
Jane tensed at the last sentence. "Raf, we need to talk."
"No we don't, Jane." He sighed and started making up his bed. "I feel incredibly guilty about hurting you, but it doesn't change how I feel about things."
"I know I hurt you." Jane stood up and started walking towards him, supressing the tears that she could already feel building. She was definitely a crier. "I love you more than I ever thought it possible for one person to love another, and I would do anything in my power to make it not hurt, but I can't."
He paused and stood silently, diverting his gaze to the window. She walked up to him and placed her good hand on top of the one he had resting on the back of the sofa. To her surprise, he didn't pull back.
Taking it as a positive sign, she continued: "As much as I want us to be together, I want us to be good co-parents to Mateo more. That means communicating and not trying to amputate my hand without my consent."
Rafael let out a brief chuckle and looked down at their hands. Jane basked in the moment of peace between them, almost feeling that comradery they felt when Jane married Michael and they were healthily raising a new baby together between the three of them.
"I shouldn't have shut you completely," he murmured. "We'll start communicating properly. For Mateo."
Jane smiled and squeezed his hand. "That's all I wanted."
She was about to pull back when Rafael grabbed onto her hand and held on. She looked up at him in surprise, but he was still looking down. She could see a pained look flash across his face, seemingly conflicted. Her heart was leaping out of her chest, but she stayed quiet. Then he brought her hand up to his lips and kissed her fingers softly.
"I love you, Jane," he whispered. "But I need time to figure out how I can trust you again."
"I know." Jane nodded and finally allowed a few tears to begin creeping down her face. "Just know that I love you too, so much."
Rafael smiled sadly and brought her in for hug. He wrapped his arms around her and as her head rested against his chest, she felt complete. Even though it was only temporary, she allowed herself to get lost in the fantasy that she and Rafael weren't arguing, that they were going to go to their bedroom together and that she wasn't going to go home to Abuela's again tomorrow. She allowed herself to love him for a brief moment without guilt.
As he pulled away, she opened her mouth to speak. Except she didn't get to speak, and suddenly Rafael's lips where on hers and he was kissing her. She allowed herself to sink into his embrace, feeling a warm tingling spread throughout her entire body.
Except the feeling ended almost as soon as it began, and suddenly they were apart. He looked at her intensely and she could see the conflict in his eyes. It wasn't often that she saw this fragile part of him, but she could see that he was scared – and it broke her heart.
"Goodnight, Raf," she murmured. Summoning all of the willpower she had left, she touched her hand against his face and kissed his cheek gently. "We'll talk about how we're going to co-parent in the morning."
With that, she turned and walked towards his bedroom.
He doesn't completely hate her. That's a start, right?