Claimed: The Pregnant Heiress(6)

By: Day Leclaire



The conversation was brief. But then, when it came to her father that was often the case. “Where are you?” he asked without preamble.

“With Chase Larson.” She spared him a brief glance. “He offered to give me a ride home.”

“Thought you were going with Kathleen.”

“I changed my mind.”

“Fine. Saw her here and I didn’t see you, so I wondered.”

She smiled, softening. “Thanks for worrying, Dad.”

“Of course I worry,” he retorted brusquely. “You’re my little girl, even if you are all grown up. Good night, sweetheart. Don’t stay out too late.”

“’Night, Dad.” She disconnected the call and dropped the BlackBerry on the table beside her tea and toast. She caught Chase’s undisguised amusement and lifted an eyebrow. “What?”

He reached in his pocket and pulled out his BlackBerry. It was identical to her own. “I use the same ringtone, too,” he said. “Great minds.”

“I guess we’ll have to be careful not to get them mixed up.” She buried her nose in the delicate cup, inhaling the mild aroma. Then she forced herself to look at Chase. “Why are you doing this? I mean, why am I here? Why are you feeding me tea and toast instead of taking me home?”

He allowed his expression to say it all. “You know why.”

She shook her head. “There’s no point, Chase. You might be here long enough to put Rafe’s deal together, but then that’ll be the end of it. We live on opposite sides of the country. We want different things in life.”

“How do you know that?”

She sighed and reached for a square of toast, nibbling on it. “Because I’ve met men like you before.”

His eyes narrowed, the grayish-blue as turbulent as a stormy sea. “Men like me,” he repeated softly, a disturbing tension rippling through his voice. “Would you care to explain what you mean by that?”

She took her time, finishing the slice of toast and washing it down with a sip of tea. She wanted to moan in pleasure, but didn’t dare. Not when the gaze he turned on her still contained a whisper of desire mingled with a hint of intimidation. “Driven men. Men who put business ahead of everything else in their life. Men who live large and take whatever they want.”

Amusement replaced his tension and, to her alarm, the whisper of desire became a shout. “What’s wrong with taking what I want, especially if it gives you as much pleasure as it gives me?”

“Nothing. It makes—made—for an incredible night. But that’s over now. I’ve returned to my life. You’ve returned to yours.”

“And yet, here we are together again.” He joined her on the couch, sitting far too close. “As long as I’m here, why not enjoy another incredible night or two?”

How did she answer that, explain the conflict over wanting a man so closely connected to Rafe Cameron? How did she explain she didn’t want another incredible night? That getting over the first incredible night had been next to impossible? That if they spent another night together she might lose the final vestige of protection standing between her heart and her common sense?

She couldn’t afford to fall for a man like Chase. She’d watched what living with a man like him—her father, to be exact—had done to her mother. It had destroyed her. Emma had taken the lesson to heart. What she and Chase experienced in November had been a lit match. Taking the next step might turn the affair into a dangerous wildfire, one that could consume and destroy instead of pleasure and warm.

She smiled, fighting to keep the moment light and easygoing. “Thanks so much for taking care of me, but it’s time for me to go home. It’s long past my bedtime.”

“No problem.”

Before she could guess his intention, he stood and swung her into his arms. “What are you doing?” she demanded in alarm.

“Since it’s long past your bedtime, I’ll see to it you turn in. Now.” He carried her down a hallway and into a huge bedroom with views as spectacular as the living area. He released her so she dropped the few feet to the mattress. She bounced once before falling backward into the welcome embrace of the down-filled comforter. “And I’m turning in with you.”





Two




She lay on the silk duvet in glorious disarray, outrage flashing across her gorgeous, Sleeping Beauty face. Between the breeze from the drive and her tumble onto his bed, her hair had escaped its intricate knot and long, loose curls fanned out around her head. Her eyes in the dimness of the room were hard to read. Her expression was not.

Color bloomed in her too-pale cheeks while indignation animated her face. “Have you lost your mind?”

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