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His Lover's Little Secret Andrea Laurence 2022/8/3 13:54:33

At least until she heard the low rumble of a man’s voice in her ear. “It looks like an expensive mistake to me.”

She’d turned in surprise and nearly choked on a sip of champagne when she saw him. He wasn’t at all the kind of man she was used to. He wore an expensive suit and a watch that cost more money than she’d made in the past year. Men like Gavin typically turned their nose up at Sabine. But he’d looked at her with dark eyes that twinkled with amusement and desire.

Her pulse had shot up, her knees melted to butter beneath her, and she’d found herself without a witty response. Just that quickly, she was lost.

The weeks that followed were some of the greatest of her life. But not once in that time had he ever looked at her with anything more than lust. So as much as she’d like to think Adrienne was right, she knew better. He’d either been using their attraction to his advantage or using their situation to get laid.

One of the ladies tried on a blouse and then bought it, along with a scarf. Sabine rang her up and they left the store. The chime of the door signaled that her conversation with Adrienne could resume.

“So where are you guys going on your playdate today?” Adrienne called from the stockroom.

“We’re going to the Central Park Zoo.”

“That should be fun,” Adrienne said, returning to the front with her arms full of one of her newest dress designs. “Was that his idea?”

“No,” Sabine chuckled. She reached out to take several of the outfits from her. “He didn’t have a clue of what to do with a two-year-old. I suggested the zoo because I wanted us to do something that didn’t involve a lot of money.”

Adrienne wrinkled her delicate nose. “What do you mean?”

They carried the dresses over to the empty rack and organized them by size. “I don’t want Gavin buying Jared anything yet. At least not big, expensive things. He used to tell me that his father only ever took him shopping. I can’t keep him from buying things forever, but that’s not how I want to start off.”

“Money isn’t a bad thing, Sabine. I never had it until I married Will, and trust me, it takes some adjusting to get used to having a lot of it. But it can be used for good, too, not just for evil.”

“It’s also not a substitute for love or attention. I want Gavin to really try. Right now, Jared is still young, but before too long, he’s going to be in the ‘gimme’ stage. I don’t want Gavin buying affection with expensive gifts.”

“Try to keep an open mind,” Adrienne suggested. “Just because he buys Jared something doesn’t mean he isn’t trying. If getting him a balloon makes Jared smile, don’t read too much into it. Just enjoy your afternoon.” Adrienne stopped and crinkled her nose, making a funny face at Sabine.

“I don’t know. My stomach is a little upset all of a sudden. I think my smoothie is turning on me. Either that, or I’m nauseated by all your drama.”

Sabine laughed. “I’m sorry my crazy life is making you ill. I’ve got some antacids in my purse if you need them.”

“I’ll be fine,” Adrienne insisted. She looked down at her watch. “You’d better get going if you’re going to meet him on time. Worry about having fun instead.”

Sabine nodded. “Okay,” she said. “We will have a good time, I promise.”

She hoped she was right.

As Gavin stepped out of his apartment building onto Central Park South and crossed the street, he realized just how long it had been since he’d actually set foot in Central Park. He looked out at it every day but never paid any attention to the looming green hulk that sprawled out in front of him.

His first clue was that he was a little overdressed for a summer afternoon at the zoo. He’d left the tie at home, but he probably could’ve forgone the suit coat, too. A pair of jeans or khakis and a polo shirt would’ve suited just fine. He considered running his jacket back upstairs, but he didn’t want to be late.

When he was younger, he’d enjoyed jogging along the paths or hanging out and playing Frisbee with friends in the Sheep Meadow. The more involved he got in the management of BXS, the less important trees and sunshine seemed in his agenda. He and Sabine had taken a horse-drawn carriage through the park one evening when they were dating, but the closest he had gotten to it since then was a gala at the Met last year.

By the time he reached the front entrance to the zoo, he could feel the sweat forming along his spine. He slipped out of the jacket and threw it over his arm after rolling up his sleeves. It helped, but not much. He was supposed to meet Sabine and Gavin just outside the brick archways that marked the entrance, but he didn’t see them anywhere.