There was a sharp knock at the door. Tina was a little early. That was fine by her. If she could catch the earlier bus, it would give her enough time to get some good stretches in before class.
“Hey, Tina—” she said, whipping open the door and momentarily freezing when her petite, middle-aged neighbor was not standing in the hallway.
No. No, no, no. She wasn’t ready to deal with this. Not yet. Not tonight.
Sabine clutched desperately at the door frame, needing its support to keep her upright as the world started tilting sharply on its axis. Her chest tightened; her stomach churned and threatened to return her dinner. At the same time, other long-ignored parts of her body immediately sparked back to life. Gavin had always been a master of her body, and the years hadn’t dulled the memory of his touch.
Fear. Desire. Panic. Need. It all swirled inside her like a building maelstrom that would leave nothing but destruction in its path. She took a deep breath to clamp it all down. She couldn’t let Gavin know she was freaking out. She certainly couldn’t let him know she still responded to him, either. That would give him the upper hand. She plastered a wide smile across her face and choked down her emotions.
“Hello, Sabine,” he said with the deep, familiar voice she remembered.
It was hard to believe the handsome and rich blast from her past was standing in front of her after all this time. His flawlessly tailored gray suit and shiny, sky-blue tie made him look every inch the powerful CEO of the BXS shipping empire. His dark eyes were trained on her, his gaze traveling down the line of his nose. He looked a little older than she remembered, with concern lining his eyes and furrowing his brow. Or maybe it was the tense, angry expression that aged him.
“Gavin!” she said with feigned surprise. “I certainly didn’t expect to see you here. I thought you were my neighbor Tina. How have you—”
“Where is my son?” he demanded, interrupting her nervous twitter. His square jaw was rock hard, his sensual lips pressed into a hard line of disapproval. There had been a flash of that same expression when she’d left him all those years ago, but he’d quickly grown indifferent to it. Now he cared. But not about her. Only about their child.
Apparently news traveled fast. It had been fewer than two hours since she’d run into Clay.
“Your son?” she repeated, hoping to stall long enough to think of a plan. She’d had years to prepare for this moment and yet, when it arrived, she was thrown completely off guard. Moving quickly, Sabine rushed into the hallway and pulled the apartment door nearly closed behind her. She left just the slightest crack open so she could peek through and make sure Jared was okay. She pressed her back against the door frame and found it calmed her nerves just a little to have that barrier between Gavin and Jared. He’d have to go through her to get inside.
“Yes, Sabine,” Gavin said, taking a step closer to her. “Where is the baby you’ve hidden from me for the last three years?”
Damn, she was still as beautiful as he remembered. A little older, a little curvier, but still the fresh, funky artist that had turned his head in that art gallery. And tonight, she was wearing some skimpy workout clothes that clung to every newly rounded curve and reminded him of what he’d been missing since she’d walked out on him.
People tended not to stay in Gavin’s life very long. There had been a parade of nannies, tutors, friends and lovers his whole life as his parents hired and fired and then moved him from one private school to the next. The dark-haired beauty with the nose piercing had been no exception. She had walked out of his life without a second thought.
She’d said they weren’t compatible in the long term because they had different priorities and different lives. Admittedly, they fell on opposite ends of the spectrum in most every category, but that was one of the things he’d been drawn to in Sabine. One of the reasons he thought she, of all people, might stay. She wasn’t just another rich girl looking to marry well and shop often. What they had really seemed to matter. To mean something.
He’d let her go—he’d learned early that there was no sense in chasing after someone who didn’t want to be there—but she’d stayed on his mind. She’d starred in his dreams, both erotic and otherwise. She’d crept into his thoughts during the quiet moments when he had time to regret the past. More than once, Gavin had wondered what Sabine was up to and what she had done with her life.
Never in his wildest dreams did he expect the answer to be “raising his child.”