Page 11 of Anybody's Dad

"No." She jammed tomatoes into a plastic sack.

"Careful, they'll bruise."

"I want to bruise you," she hissed over the stack of red fruits.

Chase's grin widened.

"Will you quit smiling!"

He didn't. "Bothers you, doesn't it?"

"Everything about you bothers me." She dropped her selection into the cart and moved on.

Chase rounded the bin and dogged her heels. "What bothers you the most? That I'm the father of our baby or that you're attracted to me?"

"Is your ego always so overblown, Mr. Madison?"

He caught the cart, keeping her near, and Tessa felt her insides shift and twist. And it had nothing, absolutely nothing to do with her baby. Those disgustingly sculptured shoulders of his looked bigger and more muscular than when he was in her shop on Saturday, his eyes a darker blue and unspeakably intimate as they traveled the line of her body, caressing it without touching. As if they weren't in the middle of the produce aisle drawing attention, for heaven's sake.

"Admit it, you feel this—" he inhaled through clenched teeth, his gaze simmering "—this assault on the senses, the blood, every time we get close."

"Sexual attraction is hardly the basis for a relationship—" Oh, what made her admit that?

"Aha. So you have thought about it."

He was grinning again, the rat. "No." Her reddening cheeks contradicted her.


"I'm not lying. Now, leave me alone." She brushed him aside with the cart. He was right beside her, nodding to the eavesdroppers and interested customers.

"I'm here, Tessa, to stay. Get used to it." Half threat, half coaxing.

"Not a chance." She wouldn't look at him, dropping item after item into her cart.

Chase knew he was getting to her. "God, you eat that?"

She looked to see what he meant and frowned, then snatched up the sardines, replaced them on the shelf and reached for tuna. Oh, just go away, she thought.

"Got you all confused, don't I? Wondering where I'll turn up next?"

She spared him a withering glance. "Amuse yourself with the idea, Mr. Madison. You have so far."

"I'm going to do more than amuse myself with it," he said with a long glance down her body. Those eyes were dangerous, she thought, and was about to ask him what he had planned in the let's-mess-up-Tessa's-life scenario, when someone called out.

"Hey boss, you're needed on the site!"

Chase twisted, nodding to a man dressed in work clothes, a tool belt slung over his shoulder, a cellular phone in his hand.

Chase looked back at Tessa, loving her wide, puzzled eyes. He had her flustered nicely, he thought, and let impulse take him. He wrapped his arm around her, pulling her flush against him. His child kicked, as if joining its mother's effort as she pushed at his chest.

"Let go." She glanced around nervously, then looked at him, embarrassment blooming in her face.

He bent, inhaling the scent of cinnamon near her ear, and whispered, "I can't. I've never walked away from a challenge." His words burned her skin, sending gooseflesh down her throat to her breasts. "And baby or not, Tessa Lightfoot—" Her fingers flexed on his chest and she closed her eyes. "It's you I want."

Even though she would never believe him, his words sank into her heart like tiny arrows, weakening her resolve. She pushed at his chest. "No, Chase, you can't," she whispered back, then gasped as his lips ground against her neck in a hot, quick kiss before he pulled away.

They stared at each other for an instant and Tessa touched her throat, feeling warm and tingly all over. That was … was … delicious.

He smiled slowly, privately. Then he left her standing in the middle of the aisle between the cabbages and kumquats. Gripping the cart, Tessa watched him, his broad back, his indecently tight behind. Her heart pounding in her throat, her body awake and alive with sweet, quick passion. It had been so long she almost didn't recognize the sensation. Not that it had ever been like that. And she wondered, hoped, she had at least some effect on him.

When he met up with his crewman and back-stepped to look at her, Tessa's gaze dropped briefly to the well-worn mold of his jeans. She smiled, smug as realization played across his face. His skin darkened, his expression sheepish as he shoved his hands into his pockets.

She wasn't without a little power.

And it made them even.

Later that evening, Carole Anne Madison shifted to the edge of the Queen Anne tapestry settee, her hands poised on her lap as she stared up at her eldest son. Chase saw her gaze flick to his father, the pipe clenched in his teeth. Idly, Chase wondered if it was lit this time.

"She's a lovely woman, Chase."