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His Lover's Little Secret Andrea Laurence 2022/8/3 13:54:31

The restaurant was already a little busy, but they were able to order and get their food before their toddler started to revolt. Sabine tried to keep her focus on Jared, making sure he was eating small bites and not getting ketchup everywhere. It was easier than looking at Gavin and trying to guess what he was thinking.

Things were still very up in the air between them. He was being nice to her. More polite than she expected, under the circumstances. But once the test results came back, Sabine was certain that things would start to change. Gavin had sworn he wasn’t about to snatch her baby from her arms, but she was more concerned about it happening slowly. A new apartment in the city. A new school for Jared. New clothes. New toys. Even if he gave up the idea of marrying for their child’s sake, things would change for her, too. He’d insist she stop working. He’d give her spending money. Suggest they just move in with him.

And when the time came that she decided to move out, she was certain he’d see to it that Jared stayed behind in the stable home they’d created for him there. She’d be unemployed and homeless with no money of her own to fight him for custody.

These were the thoughts that had kept her quiet throughout her pregnancy. The same fears that made her hide Jared from his father. And yet, she found herself smiling as she watched Jared and Gavin color on the kid’s menu together. There was a hamburger with legs dancing on one side. Jared was scribbling green across the bun. Gavin was more cautious, making the meat brown and the cheese orange as he stayed between the lines.

That was Gavin for you. No matter what he did, he always stayed between the lines. He never got dirty. Or screwed up anything.

Opposites attracted, but they were polar to the point of near incompatibility. A lot of Sabine’s clothes had paint splattered on them from her art. She embraced that life was messy. You had to eat a little dirt before you died. Gavin was polished. Tailored. You couldn’t find a speck of dirt beneath his fingernails.

How had she ever thought that dating Gavin was a good idea?

Her eyes drifted over his sharp features and thick, dark hair. His broad shoulders and strong jaw. In truth, that was why she’d let herself indulge. Gavin was a handsome, commanding specimen of a man. Every inch of him, from his large hands attempting to clutch a tiny crayon, to his muscular but trim frame, radiated health and power. He was interesting and thoughtful. Honorable and loyal to a fault.

If she’d had to get pregnant, her instincts had sought out a superior male to help her propagate the species.

Somehow, even that most scientific of thoughts spoke straight to her core. Her appraisal of Gavin had shot up her pulse. She felt a flush rise to her cheeks and chest. The heat spread throughout her body, focusing low in her belly. She closed her eyes, hoping to take a private moment to wish away her desire and regain control.

“Do you need to do anything else in the city before I take you back to your place?”

No such luck. Sabine’s eyes flew open to see Gavin looking at her with a curious gaze. “You don’t have to take us back,” she snapped. She wasn’t certain she could take being so close to him in the car. At least not at the moment. “We’ll take the subway.”

“No, I insist.” Gavin paid the check and handed his crayon over to Jared.

“Gavin, you have a two-passenger roadster with no car seat. You can’t drive us home.”

He smiled and fished into his pocket, pulling out the ticket for the garage attendant. “Not today. Today I have a four-door Mercedes sedan...”

Sabine opened her mouth to reiterate the lack of car seat when Gavin continued, “...with a newly installed combination car seat that Jared can use until he’s eighty-five pounds.”

Her mouth snapped shut. He was determined to undermine any arguments she might make. Sure, it was harmless when it came to rides home from dinner, but what about when the decisions were important? Would Gavin find a way to make sure he got his way then, too? He’d always seemed to win when they were dating, so she wouldn’t be surprised.

Tonight, Sabine didn’t feel like arguing. She waited with Jared while Gavin had the attendant retrieve his car. Admittedly, it was nice to just sit in the soft leather seats and let Gavin worry about the stressful exodus of traffic into Brooklyn. No running down stairs to the train platforms...no crowded, B.O.-smelling subway cars...

And when he pulled up right in front of her building and parked, trimming several blocks from her walk, she said, “Thank you.”

Gavin frowned slightly at her. “Of course I would drive you home. There’s no need to thank me for that.”