Bryce's gaze thinned. He still didn't believe her. But he'd be damned if he'd admit he was jealous.

"What are you doing up? Spying on me?"

"No, I couldn't sleep." Because you're three doors down the hall, he thought.

"Then go to work. Maybe it will give you some free time with Carolina later."

He scowled, resentment riding his spine. "Don't change the subject. My daughter has nothing to do with you lurking outside at midnight."

"I don't lurk. Do you want to see the computer, look at its history?" She held out the computer, glad that she routinely cleared the log-in history.

Bryce's gaze shifted to the case, then to her. It was a challenge. Then again everything with her felt like a challenge. And why was he acting like a jealous lover when he didn't want a relationship with her, with any woman? He'd no right to question what she did on her off time. "No."

Ciara let her arm drop to her side. "Good, because Carolina is the only reason I'm in this house, Bryce."

Although the dig stung, he suddenly smiled.

She frowned. "What?"

"You're a sucker for babies, aren't you?"

Her lips curved and she shook her head, laughing to herself. Grateful for the change of subject, she said, "Yeah, who'd have thought, huh?"

His suspicions fading, he said softly, "Not me."

Ciara felt his gaze slide up and down her body, making her feel half-clothed. She sent him a warning look.

He ignored it. "I know Carolina misses me, and I'd love to stay home all day, but I can't. I've almost closed this deal. When I do, then there will be time."

Then I'll be gone, she thought, and the knowledge bit through her heart. She'd be here only until Mark was caught and it was safe to come out of hiding. What had she gotten herself into here? She was nuts about a little baby girl and more than a little crazy about the baby's daddy. Heck, maybe she was just plain crazy, because this was more involvement than she ever intended.

"How about some wine? Will that help you sleep?"

Boy, she shifted like the wind. "Sure."

She set the computer case by the stairs and turned back into the kitchen. Each step made her suddenly aware of how she was dressed. Ah, well, he's seen me in less, she thought, then crushed back the thought as she went to the cabinet and retrieved a wine bottle. He stopped beside her, taking it and using the corkscrew to open it. She got out the glasses, setting them on the counter and covertly watching him. In drawstring pajama slacks and a robe, he looked so sexy. The robe was paisley gray, open and showing the smooth lean muscle of his chest and stomach. Washboards, she thought and wondered when he had the time to stay in shape like that.

And her fingers started to itch.

Like they had when she'd seen him in Hong Kong, across the banquet room in that black suit, his gaze constantly scanning the crowd for the unknown assailant ready to attack the former first lady.

He didn't look much different to her now. Well, clotheswise, but like then, she'd seen beneath them.

Bryce poured and held out the glass to her. "Ciara?"

She blinked and accepted it, yet said, "I don't have trouble sleeping." She'd lived for years on less than four hours sleep a night.

"Clear conscience?"

"Guilty one?" she retorted.

He smirked. "Nope. Pure as the driven snow."

His thoughts exploded with the images of Diana and guilt washed over him in hard waves.

His expression tightened. He gulped his drink, staring somewhere near the edge of the counter and wishing the wine would wash away the image of her dying to give birth to the child she wanted from a man who didn't love her.

At that moment, he couldn't remember any good times and that hurt as much as the guilt. He could scarcely recall Diana's smile, what it felt like to hold her. What he felt when he did. She wasn't gone even a year.

What kind of man did that make him?

An undeserving one, he thought and lifted his gaze to Ciara.

* * *

Chapter 5

Ciara frowned, wondering what hole he just fell into. His expression looked pained and distant and she replayed that last bit of conversation.

A guilty conscience? This Boy Scout? And over what?

"That look is making me curious," she said.

Bryce blinked. "Turnabout is fair play, I guess."

He was hiding secrets too, Ciara thought. "You never play fair, Ashland."

His sudden smile was devastating, and although she felt it was a little forced, when he inclined his head to the sunroom, she went like a trained puppy. Pathetic, she thought and wondered if she was just hungry for male company. With a male who wasn't trying to get national secrets out of her.

He settled into the big overstuffed chair.

Ciara thought he looked odd against the flowery pattern as she found her now favorite spot near the window. She curled up into the corner of the sofa and gazed out the window. The moonlight splashed across the water and the shore. It looked like glass, and she let out a soft sigh. This was truly a heavenly place. And if things were different, she might have been able to dream about staying here. Belonging. A soft smile crossed her lips at the ridiculous yearning.

Amy J. Fetzer Books | Billionaire Romance Books | Wife, Inc. Series Books
Source: www.StudyNovels.com