The texas renegade reurns(9)

By: Charlene Sands

 Right now, she hadn’t a clue. His touch still did things to her. He wasn’t a man she could easily forget. She sent a quick glance heavenward. “Thank you,” she remarked to the love gods. Alex hadn’t tried to kiss her tonight.

 “Darn him,” she mumbled. Had she secretly wanted him to kiss her?

 She exited the living room and strode down the hallway that led to her bedroom. As she passed her workout room, she shook her head. “Nuh-uh.” Her limbs felt like Jell-O. She didn’t have the energy for her regular stair-climb program. She continued down the hall, passing the guest bathroom, certain now that her tummy was beginning to settle and she wouldn’t be making a quick trip to the toilet to purge her meal.

 She reached her bedroom and wiggled off her heels, slipped out of her blazer, blouse and then unzipped her skirt and shimmied out of it. She pulled on a comfy gray sweat suit she’d lived in since her college days at USC, then barefooted her way to the kitchen. She hadn’t had much to eat today. Period. What to Expect When You’re Expecting didn’t have to tell her the baby needed nourishment.

 She knew she needed to eat, but the problem of her Alex-or-baby-induced queasiness was the issue.

 She clicked on the light and blinked against the brightness. White cabinets and stainless-steel appliances wowed her. Her state-of-the-art kitchen kicked culinary butt and put a glow into her heart. She’d had the place overhauled to fit her lifestyle. Her four-bedroom cottage on the hills of her father’s land at Windsor Farms had gone from country to contemporary after an extensive overhaul.

 She loved walking in here. Almost as much as she loved comfort food, but sweet-potato fries, mac and cheese or double-nut chocolate ice cream weren’t on her agenda today. She was in baby mode and didn’t mind the sacrifice.

 Opening her fridge, she pulled out a bowl of fresh-cut berries. She dumped them into her Cuisinart along with a banana, added two dollops of plain yogurt and a few ice cubes, then pushed the puree button. She got an earful of grinding noise and then the machine purred while whipping it all together. Voilà, the perfect smoothie was born. She poured herself a tall glass and took a big swallow. Icy chills raced straight up to her brain. “Oh.”

 Once her brain thawed, she took another sip and actually tasted it this time. Delicious! And just what the doctor ordered. There was no rebellion from her tummy, no nausea. A quiet hum coursed through her body. She’d done a good job of mothering tonight. Baby came first. She could get used to smoothies for dinner.

 She brought the smoothie with her as she walked into the living room and plopped down on the sofa. Under her, cushions of chocolate leather creaked with newness. Aside from the updated kitchen, the living room was her second-favorite place in the cottage. She closed her eyes and guzzled down the rest of her smoothie.

 Briiiing, briiing. She had the only cell phone in the world that rang with an ordinary ring. She didn’t want to think about what that said about her. Reaching into her purse, she grabbed her phone and answered on the second ring. “Hello.”

 “Hi, Cara. It’s me, Gabriella. I hope you don’t mind me calling this late.”

 “Hi, Gabriella. I don’t mind at all. I’m up.” Cara stared blankly at the remnants of her fruit smoothie riding up the sides of the glass sitting on the cocktail table.

 “That’s good. Are...are you alone?”

 There was so much hope in her voice, Cara hated shooting Alex’s sister down. “Yes. I’m alone.”

 “Oh,” she said. Then there was silence on the other end.

 Had Alex told Gabriella about his plans to hijack her from the office today? “Alex still doesn’t know about the baby. I didn’t tell him.”

 “I, uh, I understand. Alex said he had something special planned for you tonight, but that’s all I could get out of him.”

 “I’m sorry, Gabriella. I know he’s your brother and that you’re concerned about him, but I can’t tell him about the baby right now.”

 “Cara, I—I want you to know I’m not pressuring you. I’m very excited about my niece or nephew and, well, I’m so happy now. More than I ever thought possible. I’m so deeply in love with Chance that I want to see everyone happy, especially you and my brother.”

 “Oh, Gabriella, I wish things were different, but the facts will never change. You know how complicated it is between Alex and me. What he did to me, the way he betrayed me...”

 Gabriella’s voice lowered to a whisper. “It’s unforgivable. Sí, I know. If it wasn’t for the innocent child you carry, I would understand if you never forgave him. But he’s my brother. And you’re my friend. With the baby on the should be a happy time for both of you.”

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