“For as long as you want.”
Twisting her head, Ruby looked back at him, her beautiful face half hidden in shadow. And then, with the edge of her cheek frosted by moonlight, she smiled up at him, eyes shining.
IT WAS DONE.
Ruby stood in their brand-new nursery, looking around her with joy in her heart. Room by room, with Ares’s blessing, she’d redecorated his—their—house over the last seven weeks, adding color, making it comfortable. Making it home.
“You’re sure you don’t mind?” she’d asked in August.
He’d softly kissed her. “Whatever makes you want to stay, I want you to have.”
And that had been that.
Over August and September, she’d replaced the mansion’s sharp avant-garde furniture with soft, squishy couches that felt good to lounge in. Redecorating had been a joy for her. But this last project had been her favorite by far—turning the former guest room, the one next to the master bedroom, into their daughter’s nursery.
Ruby rubbed her over-six-months-pregnant belly and looked around her with satisfaction. The walls were now painted a cheerful light pink. The black four-poster bed had been replaced with a white crib, and the stark metal chandelier, with those hideously hard edges, was now a sweet white chandelier with baby animals on it. The huge walk-in closet had been filled with soft baby clothes and tiny shoes, and the accessories island turned into a changing table. A rocking chair now sat beside the window, and the bedroom had been filled with children’s books, and so many toys and stuffed animals, it was half library, half zoo.
Ruby gave a sigh of contentment.
Living together, she and Ares had fallen into a rhythm. Each morning, he left for his building in Midtown. She spent the day working on the house, taking care of herself and going to doctor’s appointments. He often came home for dinner late. Twelve-hour days were typical for him, even on weekends.
“The downside of running a company,” he’d told her. “Always working.”
“It’s not a downside for you,” she accused. “You like it.”
He’d given her a wicked grin, then kissed her and said huskily, “Not as much as I like coming home to you in my bed.”
Ruby shivered, remembering. He always knew how to seduce her. He made her feel so good at night, making love to her in their hot, dark, deliciously sensual private paradise. Nighttime was her favorite time.
But during the day…
Ruby stopped the thought in its tracks.
She was fine, she told herself firmly. This city was becoming home to her. New York wasn’t that different from Star Valley, she’d realized. No matter where you lived—in small towns or big cities—people were people.
She’d attended several galas and other events since that first charity ball. And though some of Ares’s acquaintances, especially his former mistresses, had scorned her as Poppy Spencer had warned, others had been curious and friendly. She’d already made some friends, going out to coffee, getting tips about quirky furniture shops far beyond the designer boutiques and exclusive decorators of the Upper East Side.
In search of new furniture, Ruby had traveled downtown, then to Brooklyn, then even farther afield to villages on the Hudson River. Ruby’s days had been filled with the joy of the hunt, finding one amazing piece after another to decorate their home.
It helped to keep busy. It was so strange not to have a job, or three. She sometimes didn’t know what to do with herself.
But Ivy had finally answered her, as Ares had said she would. A week after he’d said that, her little sister had texted her.
Thanks for the college money. I just enrolled at Boise State.
Now the sisters talked regularly. Ruby hoped to have Ivy visit over the holidays, about the time her baby was due.
Standing in the center of the nursery, where she was folding little baby socks, Ruby looked down at her belly. Less than three months until their child would be born. She was happy.
Setting down the tiny socks, Ruby took a deep breath, rolling back her shoulders. She looked bleakly out the big window, which was flooded with morning light.
Ares still avoided talking about the baby. Although he’d allowed her to create the nursery and to buy things for their daughter, he’d never again gone to a doctor’s visit. And whenever she brought up the subject, he would withdraw—first verbally, and if she persisted, he would literally get up and leave the room.