The Texas Tycoon's BabyBy: Crystal Green
His belly seized up, hot and sharp, but he pushed back the sensation. Again.
“Everything okay?” she asked, searching his gaze. There was something more intense about her than usual, though he couldn’t put his finger on it.
Not wanting to lay anything more on her than he already had, he nodded. “Ty was just putting things in order with the family.”
A strange look crossed her expression. Was it because he was shutting her out of a more complete answer?
As she moved on, Chet frowned, wondering if they’d left that night behind after all.
After showering, Chet felt a hell of a lot better. Good enough to kick back with a beer in his cabin near the main lodge before the chef would arrive with dinner.
And before Mina would get here, too.
Once more, an inexplicable warmth surrounded Chet’s heart. All he’d done was just think of her.
What was going on with him?
Desperate to clear his head, he wandered to the outside deck, where a few hardy chairs and a stone fire pit offered welcome. Later that week, a designer would start putting the grace notes on the guest cabins, as well as the main lodge itself. He and Mina were scheduled to leave the resort in a matter of days—too many other projects to oversee, such as a renovated art-deco office building in New York, a condo project near the Vegas Strip, a grand hotel on the Florida coast. But they’d be back before the grand opening of this one.
As he leaned on the rail, his beer bottle dangling from his fingers, the A-frame of the cabin loomed, all rising glass windows and reaching upper deck—a rustic retreat for the rich clientele who would visit this resort for spa and adventure getaways.
A sense of pride welled within him as he took another drink. It felt good to be building something up rather than tearing it down.
Soon, the chef and her staff came, armed with covered trays, along with enough matched wines to keep a person going for weeks. He stayed outside while they prepared his table.
When he saw Mina coming down the path to his cabin, his blood rushed through his veins again.
There was no fighting it.
She’d pulled her auburn hair, with its sleekly styled layers, away from her flushed face so that the rest of it fell to her shoulders. The hairdo revealed a graceful neck and jawline, plus those cheekbones. Closer up, he knew that her thick lashes would be so long that a princess would kill for them. And the princess imagery didn’t stop there—she was wearing a white peasant’s camisole and yellow skirt that swished just over feet dressed in simple yet elegant sandals. With that stately posture of hers, she seemed like some kind of royal miss who was running off from the castle for an evening to be with him—the pauper, not the prince.
Or, at least, that was what he felt like, even though the Barrons had made him a rich, successful billionaire just like his brothers. Still, Chet didn’t know how he fit in to their lives…his own new one, too. He felt as if…
Well, as if he was still on the outside, no matter how hard Tyler and Jeremiah tried to make him feel differently.
Why couldn’t he have been Abe’s son through and through? Why had Eli been so irresponsible, creating him—a bastard who didn’t really belong, no matter what his parentage was?
Mina’s voice eased into his thoughts. “I got a special delivery a half hour ago.”
She’d been holding something behind her back, and now she revealed the object: a small basketball hoop with a spongy ball, just like the one he had back in the San Antonio office.
He couldn’t help but smile.
Mina’s pale skin flushed, as if appreciating his response. “You’re always saying that your office here—and even your cabin—lack a personal touch. I thought I’d take a step in remedying that.”
“I guess it’s obvious that I’m not so good at sitting still.” Even when he was supposed to be kicking back with his boots on the desk and thinking. The motion of arcing a basketball—foam or not—through the air and getting all net gave him a measure of serenity. Not many other people knew that much about him.
She ascended the stairs to the deck and set the sports gear on a chair. His gut tied itself into knots as he thought of what it’d felt like to run his fingers over those bare arms, long, slender, pale, soft. He remembered what her skin had tasted like, too…
When her gaze caught his, it seemed to flare with the same desire he was feeling.
Her lips parted as if she wanted to say something.
But then the basketball backboard slid off the chair and hit the deck, making them both start.
They laughed awkwardly. She might’ve even been just as relieved as he was for the interruption.
Laughing. It was something he would have to do more. Sometimes he wondered what had happened to the old him—the guy who used to shoot the bull and laugh with his pals at the Watering Hole near his Montana ranch.