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The Texas Tycoon's Baby

By:Crystal Green

s ear, he said, “Hey, Tyler.”

Mina walked on a few steps ahead of him, giving him privacy.

Tyler was already talking. “You have an ETA for when you’ll be back in Texas?”

“I just got to St. George. Why?”

Tyler paused for one of those quiet moments that he’d used so well as the big boss of the Barron Group before he’d retired to start up a horse rescue with his new wife, Zoe. Back when Chet had first started working at the Group, he’d welcomed Tyler’s competitive guidance. The same for Jeremiah, his slightly older brother.

But out here, Chet felt very much alone, especially with Mina strolling ahead, her back to him, her hips swaying under that skirt.

He forced himself to look away. “Is it Eli again?”

“Sure enough. He went on a real bender last night. Tore up the lounge at the Broadway, and our lawyers had to step in to run interference.”

Chet wanted to throw the phone, but he kept himself contained. “The last time we were all together, he told us that he was going to change.” They’d been planning an intervention, but when Eli had vowed he was turning a corner, they’d trusted him.

“He was wrong.” Tyler paused. “Jeremiah and I confronted him, then helped him check in to the Whitehall Center for rehab.”

Chet felt his shoulders stiffen.

“But,” Tyler added, “I won’t rush you to get back here because of that, Chet. He can’t have visitors right now. It’d just be good if you could come back when he’s improved enough to see us. Maybe it’ll even happen around the time of Jeremiah’s wedding.”

“You know I’ll be there for that.”

But as for visiting Eli?

Damn it, Chet knew he should be anticipating the day it would be possible. Still, he held back the rest of what he wanted to say to Tyler—that if it was Abe instead of Eli who was in trouble, Chet wouldn’t have gone out of town at all; he would have been around to help Tyler and Jeremiah deal with him. And if Eli hadn’t been so selfish when he’d had the affair with Chet’s mother—and if he wasn’t being so self-centered now—it would’ve been so much easier to accept him.

Plus, Chet mentally added, it would’ve been easier to accept himself, too, because he was Eli’s son now, and he wondered how much he’d inherited from the man he didn’t really know.

“I’ll check in tomorrow about my ETA,” Chet finally said.

They both signed off. When Chet hung up, he stared at the mountains for a moment, feeling aimless.

Then he realized that Mina was waiting for him and for a moment—just a heartwarming flash—he allowed her to comfort him again.

Knowing he would have to rely on more than this to get him through the next months, he forced the dark look that he knew he must’ve been wearing off of his face and walked over to her.

As she faced him with those compassionate green eyes, he sank into another memory of that night, memories that always came unbidden whenever he saw her.

Holding her, because he didn’t know what else to grab on to. Running his hands over her soft, smooth skin, her waist and hips, just before he entered the warmth of her…

His belly seized up, hot and sharp, but he pushed back the sensation. Again.

“Everything okay?” she asked, searching his gaze. There was something more intense about her than usual, though he couldn’t put his finger on it.

Not wanting to lay anything more on her than he already had, he nodded. “Ty was just putting things in order with the family.”

A strange look crossed her expression. Was it because he was shutting her out of a more complete answer?

As she moved on, Chet frowned, wondering if they’d left that night behind after all.

Chapter Two

After showering, Chet felt a hell of a lot better. Good enough to kick back with a beer in his cabin near the main lodge before the chef would arrive with dinner.

And before Mina would get here, too.

Once more, an inexplicable warmth surrounded Chet’s heart. All he’d done was just think of her.

What was going on with him?

Desperate to clear his head, he wandered to the outside deck, where a few hardy chairs and a stone fire pit offered welcome. Later that week, a designer would start putting the grace notes on the guest cabins, as well as the main lodge itself. He and Mina were scheduled to leave the resort in a matter of days—too many other projects to oversee, such as a renovated art-deco office building in New York, a condo project near the Vegas Strip, a grand hotel on the Florida coast. But they’d be back before the grand opening of this one.

As he leaned on the rail, his beer bottle dangling from his fingers, the A-frame of the cabin loomed, all rising glass windows and reaching upper deck—a rustic retreat for the rich clientele who would visit this resort for spa and adventure getaways.

A sense of pride welled within him as he took another drink. It felt good to be building something up rather than tearing it down.

Soon, the chef and her staff came, armed with covered trays, along with enough matched wines to keep a person going for weeks. He stayed outside while they prepared his table.

When he saw Mina coming down the path to his cabin, his blood rushed through his veins again.

There was no fighting it.

She’d pulled her auburn hair, with its sleekly styled layers, away from her flushed face so that the rest of it fell to her shoulders. The hairdo revealed a graceful neck and jawline, plus those cheekbones. Closer up, he knew that her thick lashes would be so long that a princess would kill for them. And the princess imagery didn’t stop there—she was wearing a white peasant’s camisole and yellow skirt that swished just over feet dressed in simple yet elegant sandals. With that stately posture of hers, she seemed like some kind of royal miss who was running off from the castle for an evening to be with him—the pauper, not the prince.

Or, at least, that was what he felt like, even though the Barrons had made him a rich, successful billionaire just like his bro