Little Secrets:Unexpectedly Pregnant

By: Joss Wood



She posed the question as a joke but it cut too close to the bone for comfort. How would she react if he told her that he only occasionally used this Chelsea apartment belonging to his biggest client? It was easier to meet Sage in Manhattan than to explain to her, and everybody, that he, despite his sculptures and paintings selling for up to five million each, had just enough cash to keep producing his massive abstracts, to buy steel for his sculptures and to pay the mortgage and amenities on his warehouse in Brooklyn where he worked. And actually lived.

Sage waited for him to respond but when he didn’t, she shrugged. “So, since you don’t have the juice of life, I’m going to take off.”

He wanted to protest but knew it was for the best so Tyce just nodded. After all, nothing had changed.

Sage shimmied those slim legs into a pair of designer jeans and hooked the tabs of a lilac bra together. Tyce, comfortable in his nudity, pushed his shoulder into the doorframe and watched the tension seep into her spine, into those long, toned limbs. He knew what she was thinking: How could they be so perfectly in sync between the sheets and unable to talk to each other outside the bedroom?

They’d done this before. They’d been amazing in bed but out of the bedroom they’d been useless. Used to being on his own, he’d struggled with giving equal attention to his art and to her. Art, it had to be said, always won the battle. At that time, as always, he’d needed to sell as many of his pieces as he could. But, on a more fundamental level, he knew that he had to keep his emotional distance. Relationships, with Sage or anyone else, demanded more than he had to give. His lovers objected to his need to isolate himself, to spend hours and days in his studio only coming out for food, a shower and, yeah, sex. They wanted attention, affection and he, mostly, wanted to be left alone, content to communicate through his vivid, dark oil paintings and his steel-and-wood sculptures. He wasn’t good at personal connections. He’d expended all the emotional energy he’d been given caring for a depressed mother and raising his baby sister and he never again wanted to feel like he was standing on a rickety raft in a tempestuous sea. He’d held Sage at an emotional distance, unable to let her go but knowing that she needed and deserved more from him. Her adoptive father’s death had been their personal tipping point. Since he couldn’t see himself in a relationship, didn’t want to be tied down, he’d used Connor Ballantyne’s passing to put some space between them, and Sage, surprisingly, had let that happen by not trying to reconnect.

Stepping up and helping her deal with Connor’s death would’ve flipped their relationship from casual to serious, from skimming the surface to ducking beneath the waves and he’d been too damn scared of drowning to take that risk.

Tyce rubbed his hands over his face. The Ballantyne situation was complicated—he and his sister, Lachlyn, were the only people who knew that Lachlyn was Connor Ballantyne’s illegitimate daughter—and his attraction to Sage was not, had never been, helpful. His art, the paintings and the intricate sculptures, were the one thing in his life that made complete sense. He knew exactly what he was doing with his art.

Reaching back, Tyce snagged a towel from the rail and wrapped it around his hips, keeping his eyes on Sage as she pushed her feet into spiky heels. She picked up her leather bag and pulled it over her shoulder.

She pointed a finger at him. “So, I’m going to go.”

Tyce saw the shimmer in her eyes that suggested tears and his heart constricted.

Hurting Sage was never what he intended to do, not now and not three years ago.

“Sage, I—” Tyce didn’t complete the sentence, not sure what he was about to say. Don’t go? Thanks for a great night? Let’s try again?

Because the second thought was trite and the last impossible, he just stepped forward and when he was close enough, dropped a kiss on her temple. “Take care,” he murmured.

Sage pushed the sharp tip of her fingernail into his stomach. “If I see anything in your art that references this night, I will personally disembowel you.”

Not bothering to look at him again, she glided from the room, a perfect package of class and sass, her back ramrod straight.

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