Ares slammed his coffee cup against the wooden table.

Today would be their last day. Tonight their last night. He took a deep breath. He would use this time well. He’d romance her. Seduce her. Take as much of her as he could.


Because tomorrow she’d be out of his reach.

It’s better this way, he told himself harshly. Better for her. Better for me.

“Good morning.” Ruby entered the dining room, smiling at him shyly.

“I trust you slept well.” He stood up courteously, even as a very uncivilized heat flooded through his body.

Ruby was wearing a 1950s-style red dress, with ties at the shoulders and a flirty skirt over her baby bump. Her dark hair flowed over her shoulders, her heart-shaped lips were scarlet and her brown eyes shone beneath black lashes as she looked at him. “I wasn’t sure if I’d see you this morning. I thought you might have already gone to work.”

“I’m taking today off.”

“Those are your casual clothes?” Her lips lifted humorously at his long-sleeved black shirt and tailored black trousers. “Don’t you own any shorts? It’s supposed to get really hot.”

“Shorts aren’t my thing.” His eyes traced over her hungrily. “You look beautiful.”

“Oh. Thank you.” Her cheeks went hot beneath his gaze. She quickly turned to the side table. “Wow. Mrs. Ford outdid herself again.”

As Ruby loaded waffles, fruit and scrambled eggs on her plate from the chafing dishes, Ares’s eyes traced over her long legs that ended in dark strappy sandals, her bare shoulders, her full breasts and the hint of a baby bump beneath the red skirt.

“I’m taking you to see New York today.”

She turned to him, her eyes big. Then she smiled. “You mean you’re sending one of your staff to take me around.”

“No. I’m taking you.”

She blinked. “But you said that touring New York in August is hell.”

Ares thought of how he’d hungered for Ruby for nearly five months. How he hadn’t been able to touch any other woman, because he’d wanted only her. That was the real hell. “I changed my mind.”

Her lovely face lit up, and it was like sunshine after a rainstorm. “Yeah?”

“What do you want to see first? The Statue of Liberty? Times Square?”

“Oh, yes,” she said eagerly. “And the museum.”

“Art?”

“Dinosaurs.” Setting her plate down on the table, she clapped her hands with the joy of a child. “I want to eat a hot dog from a cart. And a cannoli from Little Italy.” She tilted her head. “What exactly is a cannoli, anyway?”

“Dessert.”

“Is it any good?”

“You’ll see,” he said huskily.

Filling his own plate with plain toast, eggs and bacon, he returned to sit beside her.

Glancing up nervously, Ruby looked toward the end of the table with the folded newspaper. “I thought you were sitting down there.”

“I was. Now I’m sitting with you.”

Her cheeks went pink. She seemed careful not to let any part of her body touch his as she ate. He wondered if she was even tasting her breakfast.

He barely tasted his. He was impatient with food. It wasn’t what he was hungry for.

As soon as her plate was empty, he said in a low voice, “Are you ready?”

“Oh, yes.” She rose to her feet so quickly, she nearly lost her balance. “I didn’t have any plans today, other than reorganizing the closet. And maybe seeing if I could help Mrs. Ford in the kitchen. Though she already made it plain she doesn’t want my help.” She gave a shy smile. “I was feeling kind of lonesome last night after you left, so I went into the kitchen to see if I could help tidy up. It’s what I always have done, you see. Clean up. Mrs. Ford yelled at me that pregnant women need peace and rest and I was to go relax and get out of her kitchen. But we ended up sharing a pot of tea.”

“A pot of tea? With Mrs. Ford?” Ares was astonished.

“Oh, yes.” Leaning forward, Ruby confided, “I used to be intimidated by her. But not anymore. She’s nice.”

Nice? He’d never thought of his stiff-necked housekeeper that way. He wondered uneasily how long it would have been before Ruby’s insights stretched into his soul, as well.

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