Her Pregnancy SecretBy: Ann Major
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He smiled. “For once you see reason. So, pack your bag, and we’ll get the hell out of here.”
She stared at the single drawer where she kept her things. “I...I can’t.”
“What is it now?”
“My stuff is still at my old apartment,” she confessed.
When one black brow arched quizzically, she had to think fast.
“We...we got married so fast, Will was still in the process of moving things out to clear space for me.” Flushing, she looked away.
The trouble with lies was that if you told one, you had to keep stacking more on top of the first. How long would it be before he discovered her secret and her house of cards came tumbling down?
“Okay, then,” he said. “What do you say we do breakfast, and then we go to your place? We have to feed the baby, don’t we?”
She couldn’t believe she was nodding and almost smiling, or that she was agreeing so easily to move in with him, when he’d behaved so terribly last night, and would probably do so again. She should be furious. If only she could hold on to her anger and stay on her guard around him.
“Can we eat at Chez Z, so I can see how Bijou is holding up?” she asked.
He nodded much too agreeably. How would she stand a whole week with this man? She didn’t trust herself to be around him when his every nice gesture made her want to trust him again.
What if he caught her in a weak moment? What if she stupidly confided her secret? What would he force her to do then?
No sooner had Bree led Michael through the doors of Chez Z than she regretted it. Not that anything particularly worrisome was going on in the intimate dining room jammed with yellow chairs and tables, and paintings of sunflowers cheerfully aflame on fire-engine red walls. It was simply that being here with Michael brought back that night—the one that had changed her life so irrevocably and compelled her to marry Will.
Marcie looked up from setting the tables, smiled and then went back to her work as if having her battered boss show up on the arm of a devastatingly handsome man the morning after she’d survived a fatal car wreck was nothing unusual.
Bijou rushed over to ask how Bree was feeling. After giving her a concerned once-over, her mother must have felt reassured because she thanked Michael for looking after her. Then Bijou left to check the online reservations for the day, the availability of staff and the status of a delivery that was late.
Bree didn’t want to think about the first night Michael had come to Chez Z, but with his strong hand gripping her wrist, it was impossible not to. His mere touch made the bright walls squeeze closer and her breath come faster.
Again she saw him striding through the doors alone on that warm summer evening, his black eyes purposeful as he looked for her. She knew now his sole intent had been to seduce her so he could neutralize her importance to Will. But that night, fool that she’d been, she’d felt flattered that he’d sought her out and had rushed up to him with pleasure.
Will had warned her about Michael, of course, saying that he was a real bastard when it came to business and could be rude and overbearing in his dealings with family and his lovers.
“He’s a coldhearted genius who ruthlessly annihilates our foes. He’ll do or say anything to win. Dad said he’s what our family needs in this competitive world—so he put him in charge. Even though he’s adopted, we all have to answer to him. Believe me, Michael interferes in everything. He says it’s because he cares, and it is. But he can be rough and difficult.”
“And you don’t mind?”
“I mind, but he grew up hard. He once told me he was raised by wolves, so I sort of understand. He thinks he’s protecting me. He really does, and he’ll destroy anybody he sees as a threat to me. He worries about any woman I get close to, so stay away from him.”
“But that’s ridiculous. We’re just friends.”
“Believe me—he won’t see it that way.”
Had she listened?
Despite Will’s warning, when his darkly handsome brother had flirted with her at the fund-raiser, she’d fallen fast and hard, maybe because he’d exuded way too much masculine power, confidence and charm for an innocent like her to resist.
And, oh, how foolishly she’d exulted when he’d walked into Chez Z looking for her. For her, when he could have had a gorgeous supermodel.
Tall and fit in his perfectly cut gray silk suit, his brilliant gaze and quick smile had dazzled her.
Mark, the maître d’, had bowed and stepped aside when she’d rushed up to Michael, saying she’d lead him to his table.
“Hello again,” he’d whispered against her ear as she picked up a menu and a wine list for him. “I wasn’t sure you’d remember me.”
As if any woman could forget...least of all her, who had zero experience with men like him.
“Will’s brother? Even if you weren’t my dearest friend’s brother, how could I possibly forget you?” Realizing how eager she must have sounded, she’d blushed. “I—I didn’t mean,” she’d stammered. But she had. He was gorgeous. “Welcome to Chez Z.”
His hard, sensual mouth had curved in amusement as if he considered her blushes and stammering his due. “I want a table in your section.”
“I’m afraid I’m off tonight. I was just about to leave.” She felt a pang of acute disappointment at this admission. “I’m going to see a movie with a friend.”
“Too bad,” he said with such genuine regret her tummy flipped. “Perhaps I can tempt you into joining me for a glass of champagne.” He grinned down at her gently. “If I promise to select a very good year, maybe you’ll decide to go to a later show.”
Bree knew she was in over her head and that she should say no and leave to meet her friend, but when he looked at her in that intimate way, she wanted to be with him too badly to deny herself. Never in her whole life had she felt so excited. Cathy would have to understand.
“I guess I could stay for one glass...if it’s a very good year.”
He took her hand and squeezed it. As his thumb casually stroked the inside of her palm, thrilling warmth flooded her. He laughed at her blushes. Heads turned to regard them. The feminine gazes lingered on him before resting quizzically on her.
When she called Cathy, her friend suggested they postpone the outing until later in the week, which suited Bree even better.
She’d never been with anyone like Michael. Truthfully, she hadn’t dated much at all. Oh, she’d loved a boy in college, but he’d broken her heart when he’d fallen for her best friend. Others had been interested in her, but she would have been settling if she’d let any of them make love to her. So, here she was, a virgin in her twenties, flirting with a man she should have run from.
Champagne, coupled with the aromas of garlic, duck and foie gras, had heightened her senses until she’d become giddy with conceit at finding herself the companion of such a virile and attractive man.
The heady pleasure of his company, of eating and drinking with him, had quickly proved too much. Food was like an aphrodisiac to her, and she wasn’t much of a drinker. One glass of champagne had led to another because she hadn’t wanted him to think her an ingenue.
She couldn’t get enough of the cool pale liquid that tasted so bubbly and sweet. She’d basked in Michael’s teasing and flirting. Suddenly there had been only him filling the dining room. The murmur of the other diners’ voices and the clatter of their plates and silverware had soon died to nothing.
Soon she’d forgotten her shyness and her amazement that such a stunning man was interested in her. With such chemistry between them, of course he was interested, she’d told herself, as she’d allowed him to draw her out.
When he leaned across the table, questioning her as if he found her fascinating, she’d told him all about her brother, Z, and about the strong-minded Bijou, who had adored Z more than anyone or anything in the world. Next Bree told him about the rest of her colorful family who had supported Z in his efforts to garner fame and respect with his cooking skills.