She looked at him, askance. "Certainly. He made me see that he wanted me first, always had." Her lips curved in a half smile, of memory and lost love. "Walter was a quiet man, but did what was best for his peace of mind first. I expected loud declarations, but I got my assurances in a fierce possessiveness that made other men cringe if they so much as looked at me with desire. He finally admitted that he'd gotten me pregnant intentionally, to keep me."
Chase smiled, wishing he'd known Tessa's father. Yet he felt if he did, there would be a shotgun at his back right now.
"I've tried to reason with her," Celeste was saying. "But she won't even discuss you with anyone."
And she wouldn't even speak to him, refused his calls. Chase reminded himself that he was doing what was best for his son. But deceiving Tessa, sneaking visits with Christopher while his mother was there or her sister, Sam, was tearing at him. He felt as if for the past six weeks he'd been betraying her, but she'd pushed him to going behind her back. His patience was gone, long gone, and Celeste's past had nothing to do with them now.
"She'll have to talk to me soon, Celeste. I can guarantee it."
Tessa stilled as Chase neared, walking across her shop, his hips rocking with his long, smooth gait. Her heart picked up its pace, but he scarcely paid her a glance, passing her and bending immediately to Christopher. From his day swing, her son cooed softly, reaching out to grab his nose, and Chase nuzzled his tummy with his head. Christopher's little arms flailed, a tiny pounding, and Chase laughed deeply.
"Hey, slugger! You're eating well, I see." He kissed him once more, then straightened, and the baby whimpered, tilting his face to look up at the shadow of his father. Tessa frowned, her gaze shooting between them. Christopher hadn't been around him since the birth, but it was as if he knew exactly who Chase was. Was it instinct?
Chase kept the smile plastered on his face and wondered how long he could put up with this act. He was miserable and she wasn't in such great shape, if her gaunt look was any indication.
She nodded, clamping a tight grip on her emotions. "Chase."
He missed the sound of his name on her lips. His gaze hungrily swept her from head to toe. "You look great." It was sort of odd, seeing her without a huge tummy. Her clothes, a short, deep purple skirt and matching scoop-neck silk blouse, nipped her figure in all the right places. He could see the hint of her bra, lace and shaping, and he realized it matched the outfit. It was incredibly arousing.
Christopher fussed and Chase dragged his gaze from her and lifted him from the swing. The boy settled quietly against his father and Tessa's throat closed. She would never tire of seeing them together like this.
"He's wet." She reached for the baby as Dana called to her. "I can manage. See to your customers. Just point me in the direction." After a moment's hesitation that set his teeth to grinding, she nodded to the office. Chase walked into the office, laying Christopher on a small dressing table to change him. A small portable crib rested in the corner, toys and clothes stuffed under the base.
"Whew, son! You couldn't save that one for your mom?" The infant's little mouth opened as if to speak, his legs and arms wiggling. "I guess she gets her share, huh?" With a hand on his son, he gathered the necessary items to attack a diaper dirty enough to bring down Kuwait.
Tessa's fingers tightened on the doorknob as she watched Chase. His moves were swift and sure, but he played with Christopher, nibbling his toes, raining quick kisses over his face. Their baby giggled.
And Tessa felt like the biggest fool.
Three days a week Christopher was here with her in the shop; the other three days were spent between Carole Anne, her mom and Sam until she could find a care-giver worthy of the future president. She'd love to have Christopher with her every minute, but found it hard to get any work done with her son so close, when she wanted to simply settle on the couch and hold him all day.
"Has he been fed?"
Tessa started, focusing her vision on Chase. She nodded.
Chase dismissed her and looked down at his son. "Nap time, kiddo. No, now don't whine. I'll hang around, scare away any bogeymen. You know, dad stuff."
Tessa's eyes burned and her composure sank to a deadly level. She had to be near him, smell him, if she couldn't touch him. She didn't think Chase wanted to even look at her. How had she turned their love into a cold battle so quickly? Even as regret laced through her, it only served to confirm that he wanted his son. And not her. Why else would his love die so quickly?
Chase was all too aware of the woman standing beside him as he laid down his son. He could feel her eyes on him, touching over his body, and he wanted nothing more than to grab her up in his arms and kiss the daylights out of her. His groin hardened at the thought of having her close to him again, of smelling her scent, feeling her body sheath his. But he was hurting—hurting that she'd allow his family access to their son and not tolerate a moment with him. The only reason he'd barreled his way in today was that he missed Christopher. And he missed the sight of her over the past weeks. He knew he was risking his heart every time he looked at her. "Chase?"