Jared responded with a flow of gibberish he couldn’t understand. Gavin hadn’t been around many small children, and he wasn’t equipped to translate. He could pick out a few words—school, train and something close to spaghetti. The rest was lost on him, but Jared didn’t seem to mind. Pausing in his tale, he picked up his favorite truck and held it out to Gavin. “My truck!” he declared.
He took the small toy from his son. “It’s very nice. Thank you.”
A soft knock sounded at the front door. Sabine frowned and stood up. “That’s the babysitter. I’ve got to go.”
Gavin swallowed his irritation. He’d had a whole two minutes with his son and she was trying to push him out the door. They hadn’t even gotten around to discussing her actions and what they were going to do about this situation. He watched her walk to the door and let in a middle-aged woman in a sweater with cats on it.
“Hey, Tina. Come on in. He’s had his dinner and he’s just watching television.”
“I’ll get him in the bath and in bed by eight-thirty.”
“Thanks, Tina. I should be home around the usual time.”
Gavin handed the truck back to Jared and reluctantly stood. He wasn’t going to hang around while the neighbor lady was here. He turned in time to see Sabine slip into a hoodie and tug a sling with a rolled-up exercise mat over her shoulder.
“Gavin, I’ve got to go. I’m teaching a class tonight.”
He nodded and gave a quick look back at Jared. He’d returned to watching his show, doing a little monkey dance along with the other children and totally unaware of what was really going on around him. Gavin wanted to reach out to him again, to say goodbye or hug him, but he refrained. There would be time for all that later. For the first time in his life, he had someone who would be legally bound to him for the next sixteen years and wouldn’t breeze in and out of his life like so many others. They would have more time together.
Right now, he needed to deal with the mother of his child.
“I don’t need you to drive me to class.”
Gavin stood holding open the passenger door of his Aston Martin with a frown lining his face. Sabine knew she didn’t want to get in the car with him. Getting in would mean a private tongue-lashing she wasn’t ready for yet. She’d happily take the bus to avoid this.
“Just get in the car, Sabine. The longer we argue, the later you’ll be.”
Sabine watched the bus blow by the stop up the street and swore under her breath. She’d never make it to class in time unless she gave in and let him drive her there. Sighing in defeat, she climbed inside. Gavin closed the door and got in on his side. “Go up the block and turn right at the light,” she instructed. If she could focus on directions, perhaps they’d have less time to talk about what she’d done.
She already had a miserably guilty conscience. It wasn’t like she could look at Jared without thinking of Gavin. Lying to him was never something she intended to do, but the moment she found out she was pregnant, she was overcome with a fierce territorial and protective urge. She and Gavin were from different planets. He never really cared for her the way she did for him. The same would hold true for their son. Jared would be acquired just like any other asset of the Brooks Empire. He deserved better than that. Better than what Gavin had been given.
She did what she thought she had to do to protect her child, and she wouldn’t apologize for it. “At the second light, turn left.”
Gavin remained silent as they drove, unnerving her more with every minute that ticked by. She was keenly aware of the way his hands tightly gripped the leather steering wheel. The tension was evident in every muscle of his body, straining the threads of his designer suit. His smooth, square jaw was flexed as though it took everything he had to keep his emotions in check and his eyes on the road.
It was a practiced skill of Gavin’s. When they were together, he always kept his feelings tamped down. The night she told him they were over, there had barely been a flicker of emotion in his eyes. Not anger. Not sadness. Not even a “don’t let the door hit you on the way out.” Just a solemnly resigned nod and she was dismissed from his life. He obviously never really cared for Sabine. But this might be the situation that caused him to finally blow.
When his car pulled to a stop outside the community center where she taught, he shifted into Neutral, pulled the parking brake and killed the engine. He glanced down at his Rolex. “You’re early.”
She was. She didn’t have to be inside for another fifteen minutes. He’d driven a great deal faster than the bus and hadn’t stopped every block to pick up people. It was pointless to get out of the car and stand in front of the building to wait for the previous class to end. That meant time in the car alone with Gavin. Just perfect.