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His Lover's Little Secret Andrea Laurence 2022/8/3 13:54:30

She had briefly met some of Gavin’s family, and it had scared the hell out of her. They hadn’t been dating very long when they ran into his parents at a restaurant. It was an awkward encounter that came too early in the relationship, but the impact on Sabine had been huge. His mother was a flawless, polished accessory of his father’s arm. Sabine was fairly certain that even if she wanted to be, she would be neither flawless nor polished. She didn’t want to fade into the background of her own life.

It didn’t matter how much she loved Gavin. And she did. But she loved herself more. And she loved Jared more.

But breathing the same air as Gavin again made her resolve weaken. She had neglected her physical needs for too long and made herself vulnerable. “So what do we do now?” Sabine asked at last.

As if he’d read her thoughts, Gavin reached over to her and took her hand in his. The warmth of him enveloped her, a tingle of awareness prickling at the nape of her neck. It traveled like a gentle waterfall down her back, lighting every nerve. Her whole body seemed to be awakening from a long sleep like a princess in a fairy tale. And all it had taken was his touch. She couldn’t imagine what would happen if the dashing prince actually kissed her.

Kissed her? Was she insane? He was no dashing prince, and she had run from this relationship for a good reason. He may have tracked her down and she might be obligated to allow him to have a place in Jared’s life, but that didn’t mean they had to pick up where they left off. Quite the contrary. She needed to keep her distance from Gavin if she knew what was good for her. He’d let her go once, proving just how much she didn’t matter to him. Anything he said or did now to the contrary was because of Jared. Not her.

His thumb gently stroked the back of her hand. Her body remembered that touch and everything it could lead to. Everything she’d denied herself since she became a mother...

He looked up at her, an expression of grave seriousness on his face. “We get married.”

Gavin had never proposed to a woman before. Well, it wasn’t really even a proposal since he hadn’t technically asked. And even though it wasn’t candlelight and diamonds, he certainly never imagined a response like this.

Sabine laughed at him. Loudly. Heartily. For an unnecessarily long period of time. She obviously had no idea how hard it had been for him to do this. How many doubts he had to set aside to ask anyone to be a permanent part of his life, much less someone with a track record of walking away from him.

He’d thought they were having a moment. Her glossy lips had parted softly and her pale eyes darkened when he’d touched her. It should’ve been the right time, the perfect moment. But he’d miscalculated. Her response to his proposal had proved as much.

“I’m serious!” he shouted over her peals of laughter, but it only made her giggle harder. Gavin sat back in his seat and waited for her to stop. It took a few minutes longer than his pride would’ve liked. Eventually, she quieted and wiped her damp eyes with her fingertips.

“Marry me, Sabine,” he said.

He almost wished Sabine had gone back to laughing. The firm, sober rejection was worse. It reminded him of her pained, resolved expression as she broke off their relationship and walked out of his life.

“Why not?” He couldn’t keep the insulted tone from his voice. He was a great catch. She should be thrilled to get this proposal, even as spur of the moment and half-assed as it was.

Sabine smiled and patted his hand reassuringly. “Because you don’t want to marry me, Gavin. You want to do the right thing and provide a stable home for your son. And that’s noble. Really. I appreciate the sentiment. But I’m not going to marry someone that doesn’t love me.”

“We have a child together.”

“That’s not good enough for me.”

Gavin scoffed. “Making our son legitimate isn’t a good enough reason for you?”

“We’re not talking about the succession to the throne of England, Gavin. It’s not exactly the horrid stigma it used to be. Having you in his life is more than enough for me. That’s all I want from you—quality time.”

“Quality time?” Gavin frowned. Somehow legally binding themselves in marriage seemed an easier feat.

“Yes. If you’re committed enough to your son to marry his mother when you don’t love her, you should be committed enough to put in the time. I’m not going to introduce a ‘dad’ into his life just so you can work late and ignore him. He’s better off without a dad than having one that doesn’t make an effort. You can’t miss T-ball games and birthday parties. You have to be there when you say you will. If you can’t be there for him one hundred percent, don’t bother.”