Page 13 of Anybody's Dad

Oh, you're really keeping those emotions under control, aren't you? She cleared her throat and something inside her leapt—she swore it was indigestion—when he dismissed the young nurse without a glance and came to her.

"What are you doing here?" she asked the instant he was near.

"I saw the appointment on your calendar when I was at the store on Saturday," he said absently as he sketched her quickly from head to toe. "God, you look beautiful, Tessa."

She couldn't help the flutter in her chest, and unconsciously smoothed her vest and slacks. Then she shook her head, dismissing his compliments and focusing her attention on why he was here. To invade her privacy, her life. To take her baby.

I'm not visiting my child, he'd said. I want him. It terrified her to think just how determined Chase Madison could be.

"Mr. Madison," finally came through tightly clenched teeth.

Chase sighed dispiritedly. She was upset. Well, he didn't expect her not to be. But after his great sales job the other day, he'd hoped she'd be just a little glad to see him. Tessa was a hard nut to crack; this wall she built around herself, for his benefit he knew, was like coming up against ice. For a time she thawed, then something triggered the quick freeze job and Chase found himself back at the beginning. But he wasn't giving up.

"You can't be here." She glanced around at the personnel and patients listening.

"I'm the father, Tessa. I have the right."

"No, you don't. It's my body."

"Your body's nurturing my baby."

"Yours?" a feminine voice asked.

They turned and Chase found a statuesque older woman wearing green hospital scrubs. Faraday was stenciled across the pocket.

"Tessa?" She frowned between the two. "Who is this?"

Tessa cast Chase a superior glance and said, "Test tube number 3-4-6 dash whatever," then ignored him and his narrowing look as she looped her arm with Dr. Johanna Faraday's, drawing her away and whispering quickly. Dr. Faraday spoke calmly, glancing intermittently at Chase.

"Well, at least he doesn't have the warts and baldness you wanted."

"What he has is the ability to charm the socks off your staff, my sister and my employees. He shouldn't even be here."

"Calm down, Tessa. And you're right. An ob/gyn clinic isn't the usual male stomping grounds, but the test proved he is 346-1010, and that gives him the same rights as any other father. Especially since he didn't sign them away."

"No, he didn't." She had to admit that. He was a victim of a computer foul-up as much as she was. But that didn't change the fact that Chase was here, trying to wiggle into her appointment like he was … what? The father? Concerned about her? Hah.

Johanna tapped her pen against her lips, then tucked it behind her ear. "You've acknowledged him as the father?"

"As the donor." She couldn't think of him as anything else. She just couldn't. Where Chase and his rights were concerned, she had to keep her emotions out of it.

Johanna looked thoughtful, then sighed with that I've-come-to-a-decision look. "He doesn't have the right to accompany you in the exam, but in all honesty I can't make him leave. Fathers have rights." Johanna leaned a touch closer. "Is he going to give you trouble, get violent?"

Tessa cast him a quick glance. Chase? Violent? She didn't know him well enough to make that judgment. But the man smiled more than a kid at Christmas. "I doubt it."

Tessa felt as if she were losing control of the situation the minute Johanna Faraday motioned to Chase, then indicated her office. She sent Tessa a behave glance before they disappeared inside. Tessa sat, then Johanna addressed the man standing behind the extra chair.

"I must think of the welfare of my patient first, Mr. Madison, and Miss Lightfoot does not want you here."

Her patient, Chase noticed, wouldn't look at him. Instead she twisted the silken cord of her purse into a hangman's noose. "Miss Lightfoot would rather I vanish off the face of the earth," he said with a half smile and a glance in her direction. "But I'm not."

"Why did you come here, Mr. Madison?"

He felt Tessa's gaze on him, but looked at the doctor. "Because my baby is growing inside her and I have the right to know how well." He glanced at Tessa.

Something flickered in her eyes, so brief Chase almost didn't catch it. He wished he knew her well enough to decipher it. "She's supposed to have a sonogram today. I want to know if everything is okay, with Tessa and my child."

"For a man who offered no more than a few ounces of fluid, you're asking for a lot." Tessa glared up at him, hating that he looked so good, hating that he was being so reasonable. He didn't give a hoot about her, just this baby and his, however small, part in its creation.

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