Someone cleared their throat, and Chase turned. Tessa inclined her head to the two men standing in her foyer.
"These suspicious-looking creatures are my brothers, Christian and Colin." Chase slung an arm around both. "Guys? Tessa." They nodded. "Mind your manners." Chase gave his brothers a friendly pat, pushed between them and moved away.
Now she knew for certain that Chase had told his entire family about their situation. The two Madison brothers looked at her as if they'd never seen a pregnant woman before. And Tessa was no less than stunned when Christian and Colin came forward and kissed her on the cheek.
"Hey, Tessa," Christian said in a dark, smooth voice.
"You're prettier than he described," Colin added, wiggling his brows.
Obviously, Chase didn't have a monopoly on the Madison charm, she thought, greeting them politely. She had to admit Dia was right. They were gorgeous, drop-dead and all.
As she closed the front door, out of the corner of her eye she noticed Chase inspecting her home. Somehow it didn't bug her as much as she thought it should and she walked over to her treadmill to switch off the beeping pacer.
Chase was right behind her. "Tell me you aren't running on that," he demanded.
"You try walking with an extra twenty pounds around your waist," she scoffed, "much less running." She drained the bottle of water.
"Did your doctor—?"
"Please don't start," she warned tiredly. "Yes, she okayed it. I was running before I got pregnant, now I walk. Satisfied?" Her gaze drifted over his shoulder to his brothers, who looked a little embarrassed for their sibling. Good, they shouldn't have come. He shouldn't have told anyone.
"You run?" For some reason that shocked him.
"And what do you do for exercise?" She really hated that she sounded condescending.
Without thinking she looked him over, the muscles beneath his tanned skin that resembled warm bronze. With the appraisal came the memory of their kiss. "Yeah, I guess so." Feminine approval tinted her voice and she instantly wished the comment back when he smiled, Cheshire cat pleased. Damn.
Ignoring his grin, she directed them into the living room, then sat on a stool near her design table, out of harm's way. The Madison brothers worked like an efficient team, and as she admired the continuous flex of muscle in her living room, she decided it did a girl good to watch men do grunt work once in a while. All three were roughly the same build, but Christian was slightly taller and broodingly quiet. Colin looked as if Irish blood flowed in his veins with his reddish brown hair and twinkling hazel eyes. But only Chase had that quick, disarming smile, she admitted as he hefted another box. It was his deadliest weapon in the charm department. He flashed it at her at every opportunity, in case she forgot.
It took a dozen trips by each man to clear the gifts, and though Christian and Colin moved rapidly with every intention of getting out of an uncomfortable situation, Chase stopped on each trip to say something to her. It started out with impersonal stuff about her house, her flower garden out front, then progressed to how much he enjoyed looking at her, how good she looked flushed and damp. He did too, she thought, watching perspiration trickle down his temple. She had the urge to swipe it away and instead kept her hands on her thighs. As they loaded the last box, Tessa offered them iced tea, and while Christian and Colin drained theirs in record time, Chase wasn't as fast. Before she knew it, Colin and Christian were gone and Chase stood in her living room, holding the empty glasses. Resigned to the man's making a pest of himself today, she nodded toward the kitchen.
"What will you do with it all?" she said as she flipped on a light and moved to the sink. He was there, bracing his hip on the counter edge, handing her glasses to load into the dishwasher.
"I'll store it until you hold our baby in your arms," he said, and she looked up sharply. Her eyes dampened instantly, her gaze sweeping his features, and he reached out, brushing the back of his knuckles across her cheek. "Tessa?" She didn't move.
"Thank you, Chase," came in a whisper.
"Anytime." He let his hand drop.
Hers shook slightly as she reached into a cupboard for fresh glasses, then she moved quickly away from him, masking her sudden nervousness with pouring more tea and pulling chilled fruit out of the fridge. She wished he wouldn't stand so close. It brought the memory of how well he kissed and the taste of him. And the wonderful, clean smell of him she found so incredibly … inviting. God. She had to try harder to ignore him. He only wanted her baby, and all his charm and sensitivity was to that end.
While she was busy arranging fruit on a platter, Chase looked around the spotless kitchen. Everything in its proper place, he thought, then mischievously peeked in a drawer. Neat, orderly. He glanced up to make certain she was occupied, then tried a cabinet. Cans in order of size, boxes, too. Christ, even her spices were alphabetized! Was his child going to grow up with his shorts starched and his face always clean? Hell, Chase had to hire a housekeeper just to find his bed.