“Define ‘rush,’” Luke answered. “How do you feel about lobster rolls as a main course?” he asked Danica. “This place is famous for them.”

“Wait—you think I’m pregnant?” Danica blinked several times in Phoebe’s direction, struggling to wrap her mind around the question. Sure, she and Luke frequently engaged in the activity required for creating a child, but even if she were pregnant—and she wasn’t—she would barely be aware of it herself. A chuckle escaped her lips as she turned to face Luke. “Is this a question every woman you bring to meet your parents receives, or just me?”

Phoebe closed her menu and put it down on the plate in front of her, careful to square the corners so they were aligned perfectly with the plane of the table. “My son has never been married before, Danielle. And certainly not to someone whom we’ve never met, whose name barely shows up in a web search, much less on any social rosters of any import.”

“You’ve learned to use a web browser. Good for you,” Luke said. “Let’s cut to the chase. You wanted to inspect my wife. Here she is. She even agreed to the inspection, which says far more about her than any internet search could. Now, can we order?”

Jonathan cleared his throat. “It’s a rare occasion when I can have lunch with my son and his beautiful wife.” He patted Danica’s hand where it rested on the table’s surface. “It’s such a nice day, wouldn’t you agree? I do miss living here at times. Tell me, did you grow up in California?”

“No, Rhode Island.”

“Ah, Newport! I know it quite well. Do you sail? I’ve always said there is nothing in a man’s soul that can’t be cured by an hour of wind in your hair and sea salt in your face. Bracing!” He chuckled, his eyes crinkling in the corners.

“Sorry, I don’t sail,” Danica said. “And you probably know Newport better than I do.”

“Tennis, then. Surely you play. We must have you out to the club when you come to Florida. Doubles, perhaps, although you two kids would wipe us old folks off the court. Speaking of—” he turned to Luke “—your stepmother and I are at the top of doubles ladder this month, again. The interclub tournament should be a cakewalk this year. At the board meeting, I told them the club is going to need a bigger trophy case. Ha!” He guffawed. “The guys at the club are still laughing.”

“Danica isn’t much for organized sports,” Luke said, flashing a conspiratorial grin in her direction.

“No?” Jonathan’s eyebrows met in the middle of his forehead. “Golf?”

She shook her head.

“What about skiing? That’s not too organized. Especially not the way we do it.” He chuckled and shook his head. “By the time we arrive in Vail and open the house, it’s too late to hit the slopes. We hit the schnapps.”

“Sure. I ski,” Danica said. She had a feeling if she didn’t land on a sport, Jonathan would continue to quiz her until he found one. And it wasn’t a lie. Much. In high school she went on a school trip to a ski resort in New Hampshire and fell down the bunny slope a few times.

“Great!” Jonathan flashed two rows of very white, very straight teeth at her. “It’s settled. Christmas in Colorado.”

“Dad—” Luke began.

“Oh, please, Jonathan.” Phoebe cut off her son. “One, you just met the girl. Two, no one knows who she is or what she wants from Luke. This...whatever it is...came wholly out of the blue and I can’t believe you’re swallowing this malarkey. Three, you have no idea if she will still be around next week, much less by Christmas. Four, Irene said—”

“All right.” The thunderclouds building on Luke’s expression erupted into a storm. He stood up. “You wanted a meeting, you got one. It’s now over.” He put his hands on the back of Danica’s chair, ready to pull it out so she could stand up. “Danica, let’s go.”

“Lucas Dallas, sit down,” Phoebe commanded. “We’re not done, and we won’t be until we’ve figured out how to handle this situation you got yourself into. You have very specific obligations to uphold and we need a plan.”


Tags: Susannah Erwin Billionaire Romance
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