The Texas Tycoon's Baby

By: Crystal Green

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 place back up, he could do the same with himself.

Even with the positive thoughts, though, something niggled at Mina. What if she had only been there to cushion his fall that night, and she really didn’t mean any more to him than that? Chet was the type who would marry a woman he’d gotten pregnant purely out of honor. But honor wouldn’t be enough in a marriage.

And Mina didn’t want that from him. She wanted his love. Her child deserved that, too. Mina knew exactly what it was like to be a surprise baby—she’d been an “accidental child,” as well, except her own mom and dad had been very married.

She’d just been a “happy” accident for them during a hard financial time that they’d eventually recovered from. At least, that’s what she’d overheard from a drunk uncle talking about it during a barbecue years and years ago.

Even now the thought stung as she and Chet stood at that window. Both of them, accidents. She related more to him than he knew.

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