He motioned toward a side table. “I guessed you’d prefer to serve yourself rather than having Mrs. Ford wait on us.”

Ruby brightened when she saw the huge buffet in warming trays—eggs, bacon, waffles, fruit and fried potatoes, and baked chicken, buttered vegetables in herbs, freshly baked bread and creamy pasta carbonara. “Breakfast and lunch?”


“I wasn’t sure what you’d want, so I asked Mrs. Ford to make a few things. You are pleased?”

“It’s like a dream!” But as she grabbed a plate, she hesitated, feeling guilty. “But I don’t need so much. What will happen to all the food that’s left?”

“What do you mean?”

“It won’t go in the trash, will it?” Biting her lip, she remembered the times her family had struggled to buy groceries at the end of the month. “Someone will get to eat it, right?”

His dark eyes focused on her abruptly. “I’ll offer any leftovers to my staff. Mrs. Ford is an excellent cook so I expect it will disappear. And I’ll instruct Dorothy to make an immediate donation to the local food bank.”

Ruby beamed at him, then filled her plate with a bit of everything, until food was piled recklessly high on the elegant twenty-four-karat-gold-edged china plate. Pouring herself a glass of frothy, freshly squeezed orange juice, she carried them toward the table, then plunked down in the seat next to him. “Thank you! This is amazing!”

He smiled at her warmly. “I’m glad you approve.”

Beneath his glance, her cheeks went pink as her body flooded with sensual awareness. Turning away, she focused on her food. Each bite was more delicious than the last.

“Mrs. Ford can really cook,” she said, though as her mouth was full, it sounded like “Mmph. Fwmph cahwee coo.”

Luckily Ares understood. Taking a gulp of coffee and a bite of his own plain eggs and bacon, he gave a low laugh. “Yes, she can.”

“Mmm” was all she could spare as an answer. She felt like she hadn’t eaten in days.

She was almost shocked when she heard the tines of her fork scrape against the china. She looked at the empty plate, then lifted her shocked gaze to his. “I ate the whole plate.”

“Take more. Take whatever you want.” His dark eyes lingered over her, traveling from her plate, to her hands, to her breasts and finally her eyes. He said huskily, “Take everything.”

He looked at her, then deliberately at the stately oak table. As if he were thinking he’d like to shove the plates and silverware and vase of flowers to the floor, rip the shapeless dress off her, tip her back on the table and explore every sensitive curve of her naked, pregnant body.

There was a loud clatter. She realized she’d dropped her fork.

Trembling, she took a deep breath as she picked it up. She’d made a mistake. She shouldn’t have sat in the chair next to his. He was too close. Her gaze fell to his forearms, laced with dark hair below his rolled-up sleeves. His powerful thighs, thick with muscle beneath well-tailored black trousers, were just inches from hers.

Pushing her hands against the table, Ruby rose unsteadily to her feet. “We’re going to be late.”

Tilting his head, he leaned back in his chair and gave her a lazy grin, as if he knew exactly what she was worried about. “Dr. Green will wait for us.”

Her eyebrows lifted skeptically. “You said she was the best obstetrician in the city. No way she will just wait.”

“She will for us, since in exchange for caring for you, I offered to completely fund her charitable foundation for two years.”

“Oh,” said Ruby. Her own attempts at sweet-talking people usually involved a plate of her sister’s home-baked cookies, not funding some foundation for probably millions of dollars. She lifted her chin desperately. “Still. That’s no excuse to be rude.”

Glancing at his platinum watch, Ares said, “You’re right.” He abruptly rose from the breakfast table, tossing down his napkin. “I’ll ask Horace to bring around the car.”

Placing his hand gently on the small of her back, he led her from the dining room. Trembling, she moved away from his hand. And tried to act like she didn’t still burn where he’d touched her.

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