Expecting his child(6)

By: Leanne Banks


She opened her mouth to say yes, but a strong inner integrity defeated her. She closed her mouth.

"Do you think the best thing for this baby is to have two parents married to each other living in the same home?"

Martina had admired his insight before. Now it got under her skin. "In general, yes, but we have a special circumstance. Our families have held a grudge against each other for over a hundred years."

"What's more important? A grudge or the welfare of our child?"

Martina shook her head. "There's more involved and you know it. You and I wanted each other temporarily. We knew we weren't looking for anything permanent. There's a big difference between what is good on a temporary basis and what is good forever."

Noah walked toward her, his eyes glinting. "Are you saying I'm not good husband material?"

Each step he took closer packed a wallop on her nerve endings. His intensity, his confidence, his personality, his aura had been and still were entirely too sexy for her own good. She lifted her chin. "Yes, I am. There's a big difference between a lover and a husband. As a husband, I can already tell you'll pull the same kind of caveman routines my brothers do. You'll order me around and tell me what to do and expect me to be a good, submissive wife. I'm too independent for that. While you may have been an—" she took a breath and wished for a fan "—incredible lover, you wouldn't work for me as a husband," she said, "at all."

She needed to make that clear to him, to her, to the entire free world, all Third World countries and any planets inhabited by intelligent life.

He put his hands on the counter on either side of her, crowding her. "You're assuming I'll act that way. You don't know that I will. You really only have your experience to judge me. So tell me, what did I do wrong?"

Martina stared into his eyes and bit her lip to keep from repeating the words that flooded her brain. You were too sexy. You made me melt. You made me feel more like a woman than I've ever felt in my life. You made me feel like the most desirable woman in the world. You made me fall so hard I almost couldn't get back up. You made me feel so much for you so fast. You terrified me.

She tore her gaze from his and stared down at his boots. "You have the wrong last name. And you have given signs that you would try to rule me," she told him. "You tried to order me to marry you and come live with you."

"What was your reaction when you found out you were pregnant?"

Martina remembered the bloodcurdling scream she'd let out once she'd left the doctor's office and closed herself in her car. "Okay, I'll admit it wasn't a quiet, rational response."

"How many decibels?"

She frowned at him. "I don't know. I just remember wondering if I'd permanently broken my larynx." She smiled. "But as you can see, I didn't."

"The point is, your first response wasn't the most rational. My first instinct was and is to protect." His gaze drifted over her body, warming her. "What's wrong with that?"

"Nothing, as long as you don't go overboard."

"And you don't think you'll go overboard protecting our baby?"

Martina's chest tightened. She was already feeling overprotective of the precious life inside her. "It's my job to protect."

"Mine, too," he said, lifting his hand to cup her chin. "I won't forget it," he told her, and everything about him, his voice, his determined eyes, his posture, made an oath.

Martina felt a sinking sensation. This was why she hadn't wanted to tell him. She had known Noah wouldn't abandon his child, and her life would be intertwined with his for the rest of her days. She just wasn't sure she could see him on a regular basis and keep her good sense intact. Lifting her head away, she steeled her mind against him. "That's nice, but—"

"And it's part of the reason I'm here," he said, dropping his hand to his hip, but still crowding her. "There's a lot I don't know about you, and there's a lot you don't know about me. You may not want to marry me, but we're still having a baby together. In that case, we've got a lot to learn about each other."

Martina hadn't thought her stomach could sink any lower. "What are you saying?"

"We need to get to know each other. We need to spend some time together."

No, no, no, no, no. Sliding past him would have been much easier if she hadn't been seven months pregnant. Martina gently nudged him away. "I hate for you to have to drive so far for something that shouldn't take much time. Don't you think a résumé would work just as well?"

"No."

"We could write each other. E-mail," she said enthusiastically. "Everyone keeps in touch through e-mail these days."

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