It’s for the best, he told himself harshly. Forget it. It doesn’t matter.

Ruby caught up with him on the sidewalk just as he waved down Horace, who brought the Rolls-Royce to the curb of the busy Midtown street.


“Where’s the fire?” she demanded, sounding hurt. “Why did you rush out so fast?”

“Did I?” he said flatly.

“I had to wait for a new prescription for prenatal vitamins, and make my next appointment. I didn’t know when you’d be able to come, so…”

“Next time you’re going alone.” He opened the passenger door before the sedan had even come to a full stop. “Get in.”

“You don’t want to come to doctor appointments?” Ruby said wistfully as she climbed in.

“I have a company to run.” Getting in beside her, he leaned forward and gave Horace the name of a designer store on Fifth Avenue. He turned to her with a smile so forced, it strained his face. “Now I’m taking you shopping. You didn’t like the other clothes. We’ll get you new ones. Plus, you need a ball gown and jewelry. Perhaps a diamond necklace? A tiara like a princess?”

As he feared, Ruby was not so easily distracted.

“Why are you acting so weird?” she said as the sedan merged into traffic.

He glared at her. “I am not acting weird.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.”

“Are you disappointed it’s a girl?”

“That’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever said to me.”

“Then why?”

He turned to her. “I want the baby to have my last name. Even though we’re not wed. Do you agree?”

“Why?” she asked, visibly taken aback.

“Is it so strange for a child to have her father’s name?”

“No,” she said slowly. “I guess not. But it will be a pain filling out forms, with my last name different from hers. Ivy and I liked having the same name as our mom. So even strangers knew we were a family.”

“I have no family,” he said slowly. “I am the last Kourakis.”

Silence fell as they drove down Fifth Avenue. Ruby gave him an encouraging smile. “Of course she can have your name. It will be fine. Lots of families have different names, don’t they? And it all works out.”

“Thank you,” he said quietly.

Looking out her window at the crowded sidewalks, she murmured, “So many people.”

“Tourists.”

“I would love to be a tourist. See the Statue of Liberty and Times Square and all that stuff.”

He stared at her. “Are you kidding?”

“No. You might have lived here a million years but I haven’t. And after I go back to Star Valley,” she added wistfully, “I don’t know if I’ll ever be back.”

“Fighting the crowds through Times Square on a hot, humid August day is my idea of hell.”

“I guess we could wait till the weather’s better. The baby’s not due till Christmas…”

He flinched. “Christmas is worse. The Thanksgiving parade starts the whole ridiculous season. Rockettes in tiny elf hats. Santas ringing bells at every corner, begging for donations.”

Her lips lifted on the edges. “How about October, then?”

Setting his jaw, he said nothing. She just stared at him, until he finally bit out, “What?”

“I’m just waiting for you to tell me what you hate about October in New York.”

She was secretly amused, he realized. The harder he tried to repress his irritation, the more it seemed to bleed out of him. And rather than snapping back in her turn, Ruby was just watching him, as if trying to understand the reason for his bad mood. Which was even worse.

Clearing his throat, he changed the subject. “You haven’t asked me why you need a ball gown.”

“Why do I need a ball gown?” She gave him a crooked smile. “Don’t tell me you’re actually going to use that ballroom of yours?”

He shook his head. “We’re attending a charity gala tomorrow night.”

She shrank a little into the smooth leather seat. “We?”

“It is a big society event. I ordered a table. My ex-girlfriend backed me into a corner, but I think she’s afraid a summer gala might have trouble attracting big-name donors.”

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