Pregnant On The Upper East Side?(7)

By: Emilie Rose

“Thank you again, Alex. I don’t know what to say.”

Her scent lingered in his nostrils. “Say yes to dinner.”

She gasped, and her cheeks pinked.

“We never did get around to discussing the party,” he reminded her.

She nibbled her bottom lip and then nodded. “Yes. To dinner.”

Her measured tone said, “And only dinner.” He fully intended to change her mind. But not tonight.

Success would take patience. And strategy. Luckily, he excelled at both.

Amanda couldn’t believe she was nervous. But her damp palms were a dead giveaway. She pressed them to her flannel trousers.

Did Alex consider this a date? He’d certainly steered the dinner conversation away from planning his event, and he’d done so with such skill she hadn’t even realized it until the taxi ride back. Each time she’d tried to stay on task he’d eased the conversation from the topic to people or places they both knew—people who would be at his party. Tricky.

Would he try to kiss her good-night?

Would she stop him this time?

He’d shown her a side of himself today that was different from what she’d seen before. She’d always considered him more ruthless shark than noble rescuer. Now she wasn’t so sure she’d read him correctly.

Oh, please. Are you twenty-eight or eighteen?

As usual, Alex invaded her personal space the moment he entered her apartment. He stood with his hands in his coat pockets but close enough that she could see each blade of dark beard stubble and the fine lines in his lips. She yanked her gaze away from his mouth and tamped down the anticipation vibrating along her nerve endings. Her hands trembled as she unwound her scarf and hung it up along with her coat.

“Dinner was nice. Thank you.”

The hole-in-the-wall Italian restaurant was new to her but apparently not to Alex, who had been welcomed by name and immediately shown to a table despite the line of customers waiting to be seated. He couldn’t have made a reservation because he couldn’t have known she’d accept his invitation. She hadn’t even known until the words had tumbled from her lips. And he couldn’t have called ahead because he hadn’t been out of her sight between her acceptance and their arrival at the family-run place.

“You’re welcome. It’s nice to share a meal with a woman who eats.”

She flushed. She’d definitely done an embarrassing amount of that by packing away a salad, veal parmesan, crusty bread, her chocolate gelato and then some of Alex’s pistachio.

“May I take your coat?”

“I’m not staying. Make the calls tomorrow morning and meet me for lunch to tell me what you’ve set up.”

She scrambled to claw through her surprise or dismay or whatever it was and recall her calendar. Her Monday was lamentably open. She had a couple of small events in the works, but nothing more urgent than Alex’s. “I could confirm by phone.”

“No.” Flat. Nonnegotiable. Bossy.

Her hackles rose, but she ignored them. “Where, then? My office?”

“Mine.” He pulled out his BlackBerry and punched a few buttons, then slid it back into his pocket. “I should be finished by twelve-thirty.”

His hand curved over her shoulder, strong and sure. The heat from his palm permeated her sweater. A shower of tingles rained down from the point of contact. He leaned closer. She caught her breath and swallowed the sudden rush of moisture to her mouth.

“You did a good job, Amanda. Your ideas thus far are top-notch. I’ll see you tomorrow.” His fingers tightened briefly and then he released her. She stood as still as a statue as he let himself out of the apartment.

No kiss? She stared at the closed door. She wasn’t disappointed he hadn’t attempted to kiss her good-night.

She wasn’t.

This was business. Only business. And that was a good thing. Exactly what she wanted. She didn’t have room for complicated relationships in her life at the moment, especially not with a finance attorney who probably thought she was a complete idiot for getting herself into her current predicament. She’d bet the trust fund she wouldn’t come into until she turned thirty that Alexander Harper never made stupid mistakes with his money.

Tension poured from her muscles like sand through a broken hourglass. She headed for her bedroom, shed her clothes and took a long, hot shower. She conditioned her hair and shaved everything that needed shaving. She’d had to give up waxing to save the salon costs and because she was too much of a wimp to wax herself at home. She had a half-used waxing kit in the vanity cabinet as proof of her cowardice.

But the antsy feeling wouldn’t leave her alone. Wrapped in a lavender towel, she padded into the bedroom, snatched up the phone and dialed Julia’s new number. Her friend answered before the second ring.

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