Page 22 of Anybody's Dad

"You're closing me out, suppressing your feelings." His hand closed over her forearm when she wanted to move away, far away from those mysterious eyes. "Because you don't want to trust me. Or yourself."

Her gaze flew to his. "You're right, I don't trust you. Or your motives."

Slowly he shook his head. "What you don't trust is what you're feeling."

She scoffed uneasily and to Chase, things got a little clearer.

"You can't push me away, Tessa. I won't go. I'm in your life, and if I have to, someday I'll prove it's you I crave. The baby's just an added dividend."

He stared deep into her eyes, holding her prisoner with them, making her feel a lush longing that drove the breath from her lungs. He drank it, in a soft, feathery kiss, a melting of air and scents. He was about to press his mouth harder to hers when she turned her face away and stepped back, clasping her hands in front of her.

Chase felt her distance beyond the three feet separating them.

"It will take more than kisses to make me believe you. And an added dividend? You made it very clear that you want my child for yourself." Every moment she had to remind herself of that, even when she wanted to stay in his arms. Her voice was frosty and soft when she added, "Don't get any ideas that there's anything more than a little desire between us. My baby and I are one and the same."

His lips tightened in a grim line, his expression angry and determined. "You won't be for long." He spun about and stalked from her shop.

Tessa spent the remainder of the day in uneasy confusion, wondering what he'd do next.

A film about King Arthur played on the VCR as Samantha walked into the room, her arms full of small ice cream tubs and spoons.

"Here. Take one of these."

"Give it to Tessa," Dia said. "She has the traveling tabletop." Dia looked pointedly at the plate of takeout pizza perched on Tessa's stomach. She reached for a plate of cookies and Dia snatched them away. "Not good for the baby. Too much caffeine in chocolate, you know."

Tessa slanted her a glance. "At least I have an excuse for big hips," she shot back with a tight smile, taking a double chocolate chip cookie and sinking her teeth into it. Sam laughed and Dia looked down at her body, then instantly put the ice cream aside.

Grinning, Samantha dropped into a stuffed chair, swinging her bare legs over the side, and proceeded to indulge in Jamoca Almond Fudge Decadence.

"Think we should invite Mom?"

The sisters looked at each other, then collectively responded, "Nah."

"The food's not natural enough," Dia said, eyeing the pink bucket of ice cream tempting her from the coffee table.

"Natural is good sometimes." Sam's gaze flashed up, her spoon poised at her lips. "This just isn't one of them," she said around a cold mouthful.

"God, she doesn't know what she's missing." Tessa licked the back of the spoon and Dia gave into her weaknesses and ate Rocky Road till she was ill.

"How's it been, living with her these last weeks?" Tessa asked Sam, her smile telling her elder sister she sympathized. Samantha didn't live in New Mexico, but chose to remain in Colorado, where they had all been born and raised. Sam had been her only champion when her mom and Dia tried talking her out of artificial insemination. The distance never stopped Sam from showing up regularly to keep their mother and little sister in line. She had come for an extended visit during Tessa's last trimester, and Tessa adored her for it.

After a moment, Sam shrugged. "Fun, actually. Mom's an incredible woman, very powerful."

Dia and Tessa exchanged a smirking glance, and Tessa avoided outright laughter by stirring her ice cream. Then she lifted a slice of pizza and took a huge bite. Her mind wasn't on the movie, but on an engineer with an incredible behind.

"How's Chase?" Dia asked casually. Samantha glanced up.

Tessa blinked, then chewed, washing the food down with diet soda and wondering if they could read her mind as she said, "He tried to get the baby into Trojan Academy."

Sam frowned. "Trojan Academy? Great Goddess, sounds like a condom factory."

Laughter erupted and Tessa agreed.

"More like snob factory," Tessa said. "Costs a fortune in tuition. And this is an elementary school!"

"Did you fight about it?" Dia asked in her courtroom tone.

Did everyone think all they did was argue? "Only that he had no right to do it without asking me."

"It's his kid, too," Dia pointed out the obvious.

Tessa groaned, not wanting to talk about Chase, for the only memory she could recall was the last one from earlier that day, when he had kissed her into stupidity in the middle of her shop.

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