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The Texas Tycoon's Baby

By:Crystal Green

ould think about was that night… Or, more to the point, the moments after they’d made love, when the world had come crashing down around her.

But now wasn’t the time to think of that, especially when she heard him at her doorway.

She exhaled once more, turning around and telling herself not to look as if she had a secret that might send him running.

“Long time, no real see,” he said, leaning against the door frame, grinning, as if he was happy to confirm that she’d made it here from San Antonio safely a few days ago when he’d sent her ahead to inspect the property before he arrived.

Mina’s insides did something like a thousand individual back bends, tying her up.

Was it because there was something in his gaze? A pow that turned the dark blue of his eyes into a second of firework brightness?

Was he remembering how perfect they’d been for each other just when he’d needed someone to hold him and ease him?

Mina had seen the same pow in him a couple of times since then, during car rides to or from the airport where she would debrief him on the run, or during their frequent long-distance teleconferences. But she could never be sure.

They’d never mentioned that night again. And she’d never told him that the condom he’d worn hadn’t worked.

“How was the flight?” she asked.

“Just fine. I can’t stand being cooped up though, even if I’m taking the corporate jet. There’s something about being in an enclosed place, especially thousands of feet in the air where I don’t have the choice of getting out.”

“Sounds like a man who misses the open range.”

He smiled, doffing his hat and holding it by his side, as if remembering the old days, before Abe had called him down to Texas from the comfort of a Montana cattle operation. Chet had sold his holdings to go to work for the Barron Group—a move that he’d made after finding out about Abe’s cancer.

That was even before Abe had told Chet about his true parentage though, before his world had broken open. Mina couldn’t imagine what that kind of news would do to anyone—making them doubt all the truths a person had ever known, shattering their trust in the people they depended on for honesty.

Abe had died a few months ago, further adding to Chet’s sorrows, taking away the man he’d thought to be his father for a second time in under a year.

As he tossed his hat on a nearby wingback chair, Mina wondered if there’d ever be a right time to put another life-changing piece of news in front of him.

She slid her iPad onto her desktop, then made her way over, standing before him, not sure whether to hug him in greeting or not. Memory halted her as she recalled the heartbreaking aftermath of that night: how the lamplight had bathed them as they lay on that couch, her clothes on the floor, her skin singing with the afterburns of his touch, her body aching pleasantly after being filled with him.

Mina, he’d said, and she’d caught trouble in his tone. She’d held her breath as her giddiness—her bliss at how they’d finally come together—dissipated.

I took advantage of you…

As she’d reeled under that, he started talking about how he knew she wanted to be a serious businesswoman, and he’d never meant to cast a shadow on her reputation. He didn’t want everyone to think that she owed her career to her sex life with him.

Even then, she’d known that he was talking around the real issues—how he couldn’t handle a relationship in all the turmoil that’d come to him that night, how he’d let his anger and grief get the better of him. And every bit of it had rung through her like a punch that had deadened her chest, then the rest of her body.

He had no idea that she would’ve given up everything—a career, her solid reputation—for his love.

But with the way he’d looked into her eyes, as if he hated himself and was confused about everything around him, she had forgiven him. It was beyond her to despise him when she’d freely offered comfort. And even though it had torn her apart to say it, she’d told him that everything was okay between them—no harm, no foul. From there, he’d gone his way and she’d gone hers, always his stalwart. Always his girl, even if he didn’t know it.

She’d thought about quitting her job, just so she wouldn’t have to torture herself any longer, but the thought of being away from him was even worse. And they had been able to work with each other in the aftermath, thank goodness. Yes, she’d mostly stayed at their San Antonio headquarters while he’d traveled around the country on various projects, but there’d been one exception to that—when they’d spent a day at his brother Tyler’s wedding. She’d only been at the festivities because she’d worked with the oldest Barron brother for years and she’d been invited. Chet hadn’t asked her to accompany him.

Besides, that had been before the doctor had given her the official word about her pregnancy.

Now, as she stood in front of him, so unsure about how to act, Chet looked just as out of sorts as ever, his gaze searching hers.

Then he laid a hand on her arm, as if that was a good enough greeting.

Her skin tingled, even under the cotton of her blouse. She could feel the weight of his hand even after he removed it and wandered farther into her office, heading toward the window to take in that mountain view.

Just let him get his head together a little longer, Mina thought as dismay needled her. Wait until he’s in a better place to hear that he’s going to be a dad, because if you tell him at the wrong time or in the wrong way you’ll lose him completely.

She went to the window to stand by him. Even though he had moments where she believed he was so damaged by what had gone on with his family, there were times when she thought he could come around, especially here, in the desert, away from the drama. This ranch spa was his dream, and a distraction, too. He was putting his heart and soul into renovating it, and it was almost as though, if he could build this pl