Page 31 of Anybody's Dad


From the passenger seat of his Grand Cherokee, Tessa watched Chase slide carefully behind the wheel. His discomfort was obvious and something hot and sexy slithered through her with the knowledge that she had created it, aroused him till it showed. And showed.

He buckled up and turned the key, except he didn't pull into traffic and instead, gripped the steering wheel, taking deep breaths.

"Chase? You okay?"

"No." He glanced sideways, his eyes half lidded, glistening dark. "You're dangerous when you ignite, Tessa."

Her expression softened, color flooding her cheeks. No one had ever said that to her, and definitely not with such a seductive threat.

Then he leaned over and cupped the back of her head and drew her to his mouth. "I like it," he said against her mouth, then kissed her, warm and wet.

Me too, she thought with a jolt of reality.

He signaled, pulling the car into traffic. "I need a cold shower. A long one."

Tessa propped her arm on the back of the seat and let her gaze slip over him. "So I noticed."

He glanced at her, then made a right turn. "And if you keep looking at me like that, I'll show you more."

Her brows shot up onto her forehead.

"I do want you, Tessa. All of you."

"Chase," she said uncomfortably.

"Too soon?"

She nodded, feeling guilty and selfish.

Chase shifted in the seat, the crowd in his jeans uncomfortable. He warned himself that Tessa might have exploded in his arms, but that was a long way from letting him in her bed. "I'm notorious for my patience. And of course, lately, cold showers."

She laughed at that and he gave her a sour look, amused and frustrated. As he slid the car into a parking slot and shut off the engine, she was surprised to see they were at the park. He hopped out of the car and came to her side, making her close her eyes. With the excitement in his expression, she couldn't deny him the game. Whatever he was up to, he was just too pleased with himself. When she opened them, Chase had a picnic laid out on a thick quilt, with four pillows, two propped against the tree.

"You knew I'd say yes?"

"I hoped. If you didn't, I want you to know I was prepared to resort to gratuitous begging." He flashed her that grin as he emptied the basket, then popped open a can of juice for her, a soda for himself. Within minutes she was comfortably ensconced against the tree, sharing food with a handsome engineer.

"Why did you choose to be artificially inseminated?"

Tessa lowered the sandwich from her mouth and with it went her gaze. She debated over the wisdom of telling him, then decided she had nothing to lose with the truth. She gave him the details of her life with Ryan, her miscarriage and the subsequent end of her marriage years before.

Anger lit his expression, anger on her behalf, as she said, "He never cared for an instant that his child was gone. Only wanted me and our life back just the way it was. He was too selfish to see we could never go backward after that."

"He was an idiot, Tessa."

"I like to think so," she said with a wry smile.

"You're going to be a great mother."

She smoothed one hand over her belly and took a bite of her sandwich. Mother. She'd waited and wanted so long and the words spilled from her lips. "I hated Ryan and for a long time I blamed him for the miscarriage. When I finally got over him, I decided that I didn't need him nor any man in my life to have what I wanted. And after a few years, I proved it." She watched her hand slide over the sphere of unborn life tucked beneath her vest and blouse, and Chase was mesmerized by the movements of his child shifting inside. "The clinic was the best option, other than risking disease and deceiving a man with casual sex."

"Why me? Or rather my donation," he added with a sour look. The more he thought of test tubes and cold examining rooms, the more he disliked it.

She glanced up briefly, holding his warm, blue gaze. "Well, beyond coloring that was exactly opposite of Ryan, it was nothing more than a feeling."

His features tightened with surprise.

"Must be my mother's influence. But I'd never tell her that." She shrugged. "Mother is rather … spiritual."

Chase's smile widened. "New Age?"

She laughed shortly. "More like another universe." She finished off her sandwich and dusted her fingertips, then her tummy. "No, no more," she groaned when he offered her a paper plate full of fruit. She sank down on her elbow, propping her head in her palm. She watched him eat, or rather devour the last of the sandwiches and fruit.

Beyond them was a baseball diamond and playground equipment shaped like a castle, with tire swings, chain bridges and children everywhere, swinging, running, screaming with laugher. Chase watched it for a moment, then turned to her. She could see it in his eyes, that need to share their energy. And when a baseball landed close and rolled, he reached for it as a boy of about eight came hunting after it.