Page 16 of Anybody's Dad

"You need to leave." She didn't bother looking up.

"Gee. If I knew you better I'd say you weren't happy to see me."

She delivered a scathing glance. "What gave you that idea?" came dryly.

Chase frowned. She looked pale. "Have you eaten breakfast yet?"

"I'll remind you to mind your own business and not to tell me what to do, Mr. Madison."

So, they were back to that again. "You need to—"

"I need? I need!" She tossed the invoices on the desk. "What the hell do you know about what I need?"

Stunned by her temper, he grasped her arms with a gentle hold, forcing her to look him in the eye. "I'd like to know, Tessa."

"Nothing from you."

"You're going to get it."

She frowned, eyeing him thoroughly. "That sounds too much like a threat."

He grinned, briefly kissing her forehead. "I'm not out to hurt you, Tessa. One of these days you'll have to trust me on it."

"I have no reason to trust you."

"You will." Chuckling, he moved away, heading to the door. "You will."

Tessa's gaze dropped to his behind shifting beneath the silky nylon shorts. She didn't trust herself, not when she wanted to reach out and squeeze that behind.

Christian Madison braced his shoulder against the window frame and watched the delivery truck pull up before his brother's offices. He shook his head before twisting a look at Chase, elbow deep in paperwork. "She sent them back. Again."

Chase looked up and grinned. "I expected as much." Especially after the dismissal in her shop yesterday.

Christian rolled around and folded his arms over his stomach. His gaze flicked to Colin, who lounged in a leather chair beside Chase's desk. "How long are you going to keep this up? Till you're in debt over shipping costs?"

"As long as it takes," Chase said, leaving his desk and heading for the door.

"Can't you see she doesn't want anything from you, Bro?" Colin called to his big brother but Chase was already out of sight.

Chase met the deliveryman in the office foyer, his staff tuned to their conversation. He tipped the guy extra to make the return trip and put a smile back on his face. Stubborn woman. They were only gifts for their child.

Tessa folded her arms over her tummy and gave the deliveryman a dirty look before he made it to the first porch step.

"Take them back."

His muscular shoulders drooped. "Ma'am, these are the same packages you sent back yesterday and this morning."

Tessa stared at the crate for a moment, then stepped back from the open door and motioned him inside. He gestured to his partner, and within minutes the corner of her living room was filled with packages from the finest stores in the city.

Dammit, Chase. They'd been at this since early yesterday afternoon, and the man just wouldn't get the message. Closing the door, she moved to the phone and dialed her sister. She got the answering machine. She started to tell her lawyer to take out a restraining order on him, then thought better of it and hung up without speaking. She glared at the five-foot-high stack of boxes. She wasn't going to open a single one. But she wasn't going to spend her one day off venting her anger on the deliverymen either.

"Hey, lady, you can't park there!"

"I just did," Tessa said, walking determinedly up the slope. She stopped in front of him and as the breeze molded the billowy jean dress to her body, his gaze immediately dropped to her belly. "Chase Madison. Where is he?"

He swallowed first. "Now you just stand right here, ma'am, and I'll find him. Don't move, okay." He put up his hands as if to keep her there, and Tessa offered him a sweet smile. Pregnant women had that effect on some men. It was an advantage she seized.

"Find him, quickly," she said a little breathlessly, and dramatically touched her stomach. He took off like a shot, leaping stacks of lumber and equipment. It did nothing to lighten her mood. She was still going to get Daddy Warbucks to back off and out of her life, starting now.

"Hey boss, got a visitor," Dave called to Chase a few minutes later.

Chase waved him back as he finished testing the concrete mix, then stood and motioned for his crew to start pouring. "Inspectors?"

"Not a chance."

Chase turned at his foreman's tone and frowned. Dave was glancing back over his shoulder nervously. It was the first time he'd seen his former Marine gunnery sergeant unsure. Chase stepped over iron framework and climbed out of the hole. He saw Tessa immediately, watched her brush loose strands of black hair from her cheek. Quickly he strode to a bucket of water to wash the sweat and dirt from his face and arms. He kept watching her as he dried himself, then advanced, tossing the towel to Dave.

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