“Of course we won’t,” Ruby said comfortingly.
“I know.” His dark eyes were like ice. “Because you will be raising her without me.”
He’d said that before, but hearing him say it now, after he’d actually heard their baby’s heartbeat, Ruby felt like she’d been punched. “But—just because your parents were like that, it’s no reason—”
“I know my limitations,” Ares said flatly. “I know who I am. And who I’m not.” He looked away. “But as I said. She’ll always be provided for. So will you.”
Licking her lips, she said, “But you’ve never had a child before. How do you know you can’t be a good father?”
“Because I know.”
Her heart hurt. The more she got to know him, the more she wished things could be different. That he could be different. Her baby didn’t just need financial support, but a flesh-and-blood father.
Ruby tried to smile.
“Try it. You might like it,” she said wistfully, echoing his earlier words.
Ares stared at her as the sedan pulled to the curb in front of his nineteenth-century mansion. Horace leaped out to open her door, then started pulling shopping bags from the trunk. Ruby went back to help, ignoring his protests. As she turned back toward the house carrying bags, she saw Ares was still in the car. Frowning, she looked into the back seat.
“Aren’t you coming?”
“You go ahead,” he said. “I need to go to the office.”
“But it’s—” she swiftly consulted her phone “—almost ten at night!”
“Yes,” he said crisply. “And I’ve been away from it too long. The company won’t run without me. Horace?”
Handing her the rest of the bags, the driver looked at her sympathetically. “Ring the doorbell. Mrs. Ford will let you in. I’ll wait until she does.”
Bewildered, Ruby went up the steps to the elegant limestone mansion and rang the doorbell. A few moments later, the housekeeper answered.
“I trust you had a good evening, madam,” she said icily.
“I…um…” Ruby looked behind her just in time to see the Rolls-Royce driving away. A lump rose in her throat. “Yes,” she whispered. “And no.” And carrying her bags of beautiful vintage clothes and broken dreams, she went inside.
IT HAD BEEN a mistake.
A catastrophic mistake.
Ares could see that now.
He never should have brought Ruby to New York. Never installed her in his house. Never gone with her to the doctor, or taken her to that vintage boutique.
Then he would never have had to see her face light up with joy. Her gaze wouldn’t have pierced his heart as they heard their baby’s heartbeat. He never would have shared memories about his parents, or heard Ruby’s voice tremble as she asked him questions like How do you know you can’t be a good father? Try it. You might like it.
Ares sat alone at the long dining table the next morning, across from the huge Ming vase filled with fresh flowers. He took a long drink of black coffee. The hot beverage burned his throat. Setting down his newspaper, he stared bleakly out the window overlooking the leafy street.
He had stayed at the office past midnight last night, talking to lawyers. He hadn’t come home until he was sure Ruby would be asleep. He hadn’t wanted to face any more questions.
For months now, he’d ached to feel her naked body back in his arms. But now, when he knew he was close to getting what he wanted—just the look in her eyes when he’d taken her to the vintage boutique had told him that—he was afraid.
Ruby was dangerous. She had a way of getting past his defenses. Of making him feel things he shouldn’t feel. Want things he shouldn’t want.
She almost made him wish he could be a different man.
But Ares couldn’t change his character. He couldn’t change what he knew to be true.
Love was a weapon. And he wouldn’t let himself be annihilated by it ever again.
He never should have brought Ruby here.
He needed to send her away.
His lawyers were already drawing up the paperwork and expected to have it finished by late tonight. By tomorrow, Ruby would be on his private jet, headed back home, where she would raise their child as a single mother—and become one of the richest full-time residents of Star Valley.