The Texas Tycoon's BabyBy: Crystal Green
What? What had they been to each other?
The wind carried a hint of Mina’s perfume past him, and it made him light-headed, reminding him of what it felt like when he’d held her against him.
When he’d first seen her as more than an assistant.
That night he’d filled himself up with the scent of her, a combination of green tea and…calm. It was at odds with her sunset hair, which seemed so very lively against the quiet of the desert as the breeze cajoled a stray lock out of her upswept hairdo.
In spite of all his efforts, Chet stole an even better peek at her now. Wearing a skirt that came to her knees, she had the posture and the elegance of a lady, with high cheekbones sprinkled with freckles and clover-hued eyes that usually bore a sparkle.
But there wasn’t much of a sparkle today. In fact, there was some kind of distance.
Did seeing him again for more than a debriefing make her think about what had happened between them?
Disappointment clawed at him, surprising him with its sharpness. From the way they’d fallen back into their boss-assistant relationship, he could’ve sworn that she’d let go of that night. Hell, he would’ve even said that she’d been relieved when he’d told her that he should’ve never put her in a position to assuage his anguish.
Even now, he still wanted to kick himself for how he’d acted with her after he’d held her, kissed her, been inside of her.
I’m sorry…I took advantage of you…
He just hadn’t known what to make of what had happened. His emotions had been abraded, bleeding, and she’d been there. That’s all.
And it had been wrong to pull her into his vortex of trouble.
How was it that he’d ruined so many things in his life without trying? Mina, and even his family. He hadn’t meant to be born the way he was, but the truth of his birth had thrown everyone into chaos, anyway, and as ridiculous as it seemed, he felt responsible.
Rocks crunched under their boots. The silence between them was like a saw, and he had to turn it off.
“Where are we off to first?” he asked.
“How about the spa?” She motioned to the east where, just over the hills, the white dome of the building peeked up. Around it, there would be pools with waterfalls and serene sculptures.
Mina added, “You should see the inside. There’s a meditation room with floor-to-ceiling windows, and a quiet lounge with fountains where the guests will go while waiting for their treatments. You should see the Paradise Room, too, with its waterfall and pool.”
She seemed fine with the small talk, just as she was fine with everything.
When her phone rang, the sound split the air. She took it out of her pocket and glanced at her ID screen, then put it away.
“It’s my mom. She’s probably calling to chat.” She laughed. “Or, should I say, to check up on me.”
He knew from comments Mina had made here and there that her family was really tight. They had frequent get-togethers at her parents’ home in the San Antonio suburbs, with her two local sisters and their brood usually in attendance.
Odd that he knew so little about her private life when she seemed to know so much about his because of the scandal.
“How’s the family doing?” he asked.
“Great. Same as always—caring, nosy, all that.”
Was there some dryness in the way she’d said it?
“You’re not too keen on the nosy part,” he said.
“Not really, but what family isn’t that way? It just means they care about what happens to me.”
Her words struck Chet hard. He’d been doing everything possible to avoid anything even near to “nosy” or “involved” with his own family. Then again, they weren’t much like the Fergusons at all. First, there was Eli, who’d been hitting the bottle hard ever since he and Abe had announced that Chet was Eli’s son. Then there were his brothers, who were doing their best to deal with the situation in their own ways.
The term “family” didn’t really even apply to the lot of them. Actually, Chet wasn’t sure what a family was since his own had obviously been a lie. His mother had passed on a few years ago in a car accident with Aunt Florence, who supposedly hadn’t known about her sister-in-law’s affair with Eli.
And Mom wasn’t the woman he’d thought she was.
That left Abe.
Something in Chet’s core took a fall at the thought of him. The man he’d called “Dad.” The man he’d abandoned for a life in Montana just as soon as he was old enough to get out of the house and strike out on his own.
And Chet had wanted to leave because, intuitively, he’d always suspected there was something off whenever Abe and his mom had exchanged those heavy, sad glances when they thought “their son” hadn’t been looking.