Ultimatum: Marriage(5)

By: Ann Major

He backed out of the bathroom on the pretense of finding her more towels and his robe. For his own sanity he knew he should figure out what she wanted and then get rid of her as soon as possible. But as he grabbed the robe off a hook in his master bath, he knew he wasn’t going to do anything so sensible.

She’d fascinated him from the first moment he’d seen her in that tight gold sheath on his brother’s arm at his grandfather’s eightieth birthday party. When Cici had asked him to look after Alicia so she could dance with Logan, he’d jumped at the chance. Then Logan had disappeared with Cici, and he’d offered to drive the stranded Alicia home.

Over a late-night coffee he’d found her even sweeter than she was gorgeous—not at all like her calculating father. A writer and an editor, she hadn’t been the shallow rich girl he’d expected. She’d been intelligent and insightful. When he’d kissed her after she’d laughed at one of his jokes, they’d both gone up in flames.

The morning after they’d made love, Logan’s CEO, Hayes Daniels, had presented him with irrefutable proof that her father was a criminal. When Jake and his CPA had checked the books and bank statements for Houses for Hurricane Victims, they’d discovered alarming discrepancies. Jake had gone with Hayes to turn Mitchell in to the feds.

Since her father was a crook, a crook he’d blown the whistle on, Jake should rid himself of her immediately. But she looked so lost.

Even after he’d discovered her father had robbed Houses for Hurricane Victims, she’d consumed his thoughts. He’d called her repeatedly. Not that she’d answered. No doubt she blamed him for her father’s downfall.

How could he still find her attractive? But he did.

From their first tentative kiss, when her velvet-tipped fingers had singed his flesh through his cotton shirt and her lips had been so soft and hot as they’d parted for his tongue, his groin had tightened with unbearable need.

That a single kiss could have given such a contagion of pleasure should have been a warning. Instead, he’d staked his claim by arching her body against his.

He still wanted her. Which meant he should make her leave before he did something really stupid.


After sweeping up the glass in the foyer and opening a can of tuna in the kitchen, Jake was unlocking the cat crate to let the beast out when he heard a crash from the bathroom.

Ears flat, the cat raced out of the kitchen so fast he collided with a china flowerpot and knocked it over.Ignoring the cat and the dirt spilling from the shattered pot, Jake ran down the hall to check on Alicia.


When she didn’t answer, panic slammed him.

“Alicia? Alicia! Are you all right?”

No answer.

When he pounded on the door with his fists and there was no response, he tried the doorknob, which turned. He shoved it and the door flew open, thick vapors enveloping him. “Alicia?”

Blindly he made his way through the steamy mists to the glassed-in shower-tub and slid the door open.

Through the steam he saw her lying in a crumpled heap, warm water streaming over her naked thighs. Shutting off the faucet, he leaned down and picked her up. Grabbing the towels and robe she’d placed on a stool, he clutched the unconscious woman and carried her down the hall into his den. She wasn’t heavy, so he bore her easily.

He was careful not to a glance at her nude body more than necessary. Still, his gaze did linger on the heart-shaped birthmark on her left breast that he’d once tongued so ardently the night he’d made love to her. Settling her onto his couch, he couldn’t have cared less how the water might stain the expensive leather. He was too worried about her.

He lifted her wrist and felt a pulse. He smiled when it was steady and strong. Maybe she’d knelt down for something she’d dropped and had stood up too fast.

“Alicia! Wake up!”

She mumbled something he didn’t understand and then turned her face away from him.

Had she hit her head? Did she have a concussion?

“Daddy!” she whispered. “Daddy! Where are you? Why can’t you ever, just this once, stay home?”

Was she delirious? Thinking to inspect her scalp for injuries, Jake slid his fingers through her hair. Parting the thick waves with his blunt fingers, he discovered a lump.

“Open your eyes!” he commanded.

Much to his surprise, the long, feminine lashes fluttered. Her plump, sexy lips quivered.

Brown irises slowly filled with light as she struggled to focus. “Jake…it’s you? What’s wrong? Why are you shouting at me?”

She reached out and took his big hand, sending a sexual shock of awareness through him. “Where am I?”