“You do? Other than making money, I wasn’t aware.”
“Right. You are probably the only person in the world besides Neo that knows that for the lie it is.” They both made their orders and then he gave her a significant look. “You are one of those obsessions.”
“You’re turning into quite the silver-tongued devil, you know that?”
“I have always been good with my mouth.”
“That can certainly be taken more than one way.”
“You should know.”
She felt herself blushing, despite their history together. Nevertheless, she agreed. “I do.”
The young barista cleared his throat. With a blush darker than hers burning on his cheeks, he handed Zephyr their drinks.
Zephyr pulled his car back out onto the road. “You are not my only interest, however.”
“My feelings might be hurt if you hadn’t downgraded whatever you’re going to try to talk me into from an obsession, which I am, to an interest.”
“I like fish.”
“I had noticed.” Her blue eyes queried where he was going with this. “You eat it more often than either steak or chicken.”
“Not to eat. To watch.”
“You want to go whale watching?” she guessed.
“Not today. I was thinking the aquarium.” That was so not what she expected to hear.
“You want to go the Seattle Aquarium…but that’s for children.”
“I don’t think so.”
Wow…just wow. “No way.”
“I go when I need a place to think. Watching the fish can be very soothing.”
“Even with all those children around?”
“I like to see happy families.”
Somewhere over the Atlantic, Zephyr had become convinced that Piper was indeed pregnant. Regardless of the statistical probability after her years on the birth control patch. Therefore, he needed to convince her that marriage to him was a good option for her future, even without the love.
He wouldn’t give her love, but he realized he could give her more of himself. It went against his desire for selfprotection, but he now considered his sharing of his past with her as a brilliant tactical move on his part. Piper needed to feel emotionally connected to people she cared about. He had seen the effect his sharing had had on her.
She’d drawn closer to him even as he’d attempted to backtrack to a shallower level of emotional intimacy. With his baby’s future on the line, he could and would give Piper a stronger connection, despite the fact he had no intention of allowing himself to be vulnerable to romantic love, were he even capable of the emotion.
Going to the aquarium wasn’t some big romantic thing, but it would allow Piper to glimpse a part of his life he did not share with others. It wasn’t much, but his instincts told him that sharing this habit with her would work toward convincing her they could have a strong enough marriage to raise children in.
Piper enjoyed the aquarium more than she thought she would. A lot more, but what she found most intriguing was watching the way Zephyr watched the other people there. She was sure he had no idea just how much his expression revealed of the inner man. His mouth would tilt in a half smile every time a child made an enthusiastic noise to its mother or father.
He watched the antics of the little ones with an indulgent grin and looked with pure longing at more than one set of parents visiting the aquarium with their kids.
“You really enjoy being here, don’t you?” she asked him in the glassed-in tunnel of exotic fish.
“Very much.” He looked around them with a wistful expression that was there and gone in a blink. “Everyone here has normal lives.”
“I assume.” He smiled ruefully at her correction.
“You have a normal life. Now.”
“Yes, of course,” she said.
“I’m a workaholic tycoon that spends most of his time making money and creating places for other people to enjoy the fruits of theirs.”
“So, spend some time enjoying them yourself.”
“You aren’t alone right now.” If she didn’t know better, she would think he was making his case for how much he needed his own family.
“No, I am not.”
“Does that make you happy?” she couldn’t help asking.
“Yes, I like being here, in one of my favorite places, with you.”
“It’s special.” Really, really special. And he was sharing it with her. She reached up and kissed the corner of his mouth. “Thank you.”
They both stepped to the side as a young boy went racing by, his older brother right behind him and a woman even farther back calling for them to slow down.