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A Baby for the Boss(3)

By:Maureen Child

“Yeah, but—”

“You take care of yours and I’ll take care of mine. No worries, I’ll go look around in a few months, before we start the design stage.” Sean stood up and looked down at Mike. “Right now, though, I’m dealing with the big Game Con in Chicago next month. And I’ve got the art on ‘Banshee Screams’ to oversee. I’ll get to Wyoming,” he said. “But it can wait until summer...” Shaking his head, he laughed and headed for the door. “A surfer. In the snow. Yeah. That’ll work.”

Mike frowned after him. Brady was happy as hell, working and living in Ireland with his wife and new baby son. Sean was busy making plans to be a happy, surfing megalomaniac. So, it was only Mike staring at nothing but trouble. It would take at least six months to refit the Nevada hotel. And since he couldn’t find a way to get her off the project, that meant a hell of a lot of time spent with Jenny Marshall.

A woman who had already lied to him once.

Yeah. This was gonna be great.

Jenny Marshall poured herself a glass of white wine and sat down in an overstuffed chair, ordering herself to relax. But she didn’t take orders well, not even from herself. Curling her feet up under her, Jenny looked out the window at the neighbor kids playing basketball in the driveway across the street.

The duplex she rented was old and small. Built in the 1940s, it sat on a narrow street a few blocks from the beach. The rent was too high, but the place itself was cozy, close to work and less generic than some cramped apartment. Here, she could garden and go to block parties and buy Girl Scout cookies and football pizzas from the kids who lived on the street. Here, Jenny felt that she was...connected. A part of things. And for a woman alone, that feeling was priceless.

She took a sip of her wine and shifted her gaze to the front yard, where bare trees clattered in the wind. Twilight fell over the neighborhood in a soft lavender glow and lamplight began blooming in her neighbors’ windows. Relaxation still eluded her, but with everything she had on her mind that really wasn’t a surprise.

Between her work on the upcoming game from Celtic Knot and the designs she was working on for the River Haunt hotel, there was plenty to think about. She did love her job and was grateful for it. Especially since one of her bosses would like nothing better than to fire her—or to see her drop into a black hole and simply disappear.

She frowned into her glass and tried to ignore the pain of regret that clutched at her heart. It hadn’t been easy, working with Mike Ryan for the past several months. Every time they were in the same room together, she felt hostility coming off him in waves so thick it nearly choked her. The man was hard-hearted, stubborn, unreasonable and...still the one man who made her insides quiver.

She lifted her glass of wine in a toast to her own stupidity.

Seriously, hadn’t she learned her lesson more than a year ago? When they met that night in Phoenix, it had been magic, pure and simple. And, like any good fairy tale, the magic had lasted exactly one night. Then Prince Charming had turned into an ogre and Jenny’s proverbial glass slippers were flip-flops again.

It had all started out so well, too. The night before a big gaming convention in Phoenix, Jenny had met a tall, gorgeous man with a wicked smile and eyes as blue as a summer sky. They had a drink together in the bar, then had dinner, then took a walk and finally had ended up in her room at the convention hotel. She’d never done that before—gone to bed with a man she barely knew. But that night, everything had been...different. From the moment she met Mike, she’d felt as if she had somehow only been waiting for him to walk into her life. Which, she could admit now, was absolutely ridiculous. But that night... Jenny had allowed her heart to rule her head. She’d given in to the rush of attraction, that zing of something special that she’d only ever felt for him. And by morning, Jenny knew she’d made a huge mistake.

Sighing, she laid her head against the back of the chair, closed her eyes and drifted back to the moment when the floor had opened up beneath her feet. The morning after the best night of her life.

Mike pulled her close and Jenny laid her head on his chest, listening to the steady beat of his heart. Her body was loose and languid from a long night of loving. Dawn streaked the morning sky with pale rose and gold and she was nowhere near wanting to get out of bed.

This was so unlike her, she thought, smiling to herself. She didn’t do one-night stands and never with a veritable stranger. But she couldn’t regret any of it. From the moment she’d met Mike, she’d felt as if she’d known him forever. She didn’t even know his last name, yet she felt closer to him at that moment than she had to anyone else.