The Tycoon's Secret Affair

By: Maya Banks

San Francisco was it, she admitted with forlorn acceptance. Hopefully she could land a job, save up some money. Having a rent-free place to stay would be helpful but she hated to take advantage of Kirk’s generosity.

“Damn you, Piers Anetakis,” she whispered. He’d managed to turn the most beautiful night of her life into something tawdry and hateful.

With a resigned shake of her head, she knew there was little point in feeling sorry for herself. There was nothing to do but pick up and go on and hopefully learn a lesson in the process.

Chapter Four

Five months later…

Piers descended the steps of his private jet and strode across the paved runway to the waiting car. The damp, chilly San Francisco air was a far cry from the warm, tropical air he was used to. He hadn’t taken the time to pack appropriate clothing, and the thin silk shirt and light suit coat didn’t offer much in the way of protection from the pervading chill.

The driver had already been instructed as to Piers’s destination, so he sat back as the car rolled away from the airport toward the hospital where Jewel was being treated.

What had happened to her? It must be serious if she’d broken down and phoned him after he hadn’t been able to uncover her whereabouts for five months. Guilt was a strong motivator, and yet his efforts had come to naught.

No matter. He now knew where she was. He’d see to it that she had the best care and settle an amount on her to compensate her loss of employment, and then maybe he could get her out of his head.

When they finally rolled up to the hospital, Piers wasted no time hurrying in. At the help desk he was given Jewel’s room number, and he rode the elevator to the appropriate floor.

At her door, he found it slightly ajar and issued a soft knock. Not hearing any summons, he pushed the door open and quietly walked in.

She was barely more than a rumpled pile of sheets on the bed, her head propped haphazardly on her pillow. Her eyelashes rested on her cheeks, and her soft, even breathing signaled her sleep.

Even in rest, she looked worried, her face drawn, her brow wrinkled. Her fingers were clutched bloodlessly at the sheet gathered at her chest. And yet she was as beautiful as he remembered, and unfortunately for him, he’d been haunted by her beauty for the last five months.

He removed his suit coat and tossed it over the chair beside her bed and then settled himself down to sit and wait for her to wake. The slight movement alerted her, and her eyes flew open.

Shock registered as soon as she saw him. Her eyes widened in what looked to be panic. Her hands moved immediately to her stomach in a protective gesture he’d be blind to miss.

Then he saw what it was she was protecting. There was an unmistakable swell, a taut mound that shielded a baby!

“You’re pregnant!”

Her eyes narrowed. “Well, you needn’t sound so accusing. I hardly got that way by myself.”

For a moment he was too stunned to realize her implication, and then when it came, it trickled like ice down his spine. Old memories came back in a wave, and hot anger quickly melted away the cold in his veins.

“Are you saying it’s mine?” he demanded. Already his mind was moving in a whir. He wouldn’t be trapped again by a conniving woman.

“She,” Jewel corrected. “At least refer to your daughter as a human being.”

Damn her. She knew that by personalizing the vague entity she shielded that he’d be inhuman not to react.

“A daughter?”

Against his will, his voice softened, and he found himself examining her belly closer. He impatiently brushed aside her cupped hands and then snatched his own hand back when her belly rippled and jumped beneath his fingers.

“Theos! Is that her?”

Jewel smiled and nodded. “She’s active this morning.”

Piers shook his head in an attempt to brush away the spell. A daughter. Suddenly he envisioned a tiny little girl, a replica of Jewel but with his dark eyes. Damn her for making him dream again.

His expression hardened, and he once again focused his attention on Jewel. “Is she mine?”

Jewel met his steady gaze and nodded.

He swore softly. “We used protection. I used protection.”

She shrugged. “She’s yours.”

“You expect me to accept that? Just like that?”

She struggled to sit up against her pillows, her fingers clenched into tight balls at her sides. “I haven’t slept with another man in two years. She’s yours.”

He wasn’t the gullible fool he’d been so many years ago. “Then you won’t object to paternity testing.”

She closed her eyes wearily and sank back into the covers. Hurt flickered in her eyes when she reopened them, but she shook her head. “No, Piers. I have nothing to hide.”

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