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Home > Executive's Pregnancy Ultimatum (Kings of the Boardroom #2)(13)

Executive's Pregnancy Ultimatum (Kings of the Boardroom #2)(13)
Author: Emilie Rose

Dining with him resurrected too many memories: good ones of sharing similar evenings and bad ones of sitting on the sofa in sexy lingerie and waiting for him to come home or sitting outside on this balcony drinking alone. That was one of the reasons she’d chosen this room—to remind her of how weak she’d been.

Did that make her a masochist? Maybe. But Granny had always claimed the only way to overcome a weakness was to admit it and confront it—something Renee’s mother had never done with her alcoholism.

Renee lay down her fork, her tummy full but agitated, and focused on Flynn, his thick dark hair, his deep blue eyes, his determined jaw and delicious mouth. He abhorred weakness of any kind. Would he hate her if he discovered her secret? Would he try to turn their child against her?

The urge to run quickened her pulse and dried her mouth. She wouldn’t find the space she needed to distance herself from Flynn in this house, not with the past suffocating her.

“I’m going home to L.A. tonight. I need to check on Tamara and lease a new van for the San Francisco branch.”

He frowned. “You said you were ovulating.”

Therein lay the complication. Her break would, of necessity, be a brief one. And then tomorrow night she’d come back and make lo—have sex with Flynn again whether or not she had her head together. But right now she needed the strength that only mental and physical distance could deliver.

Beneath the table she picked at the seam of her pants with a fingernail. “Twenty-four hours shouldn’t matter. I’ll come back tomorrow as soon as I’ve done what needs doing in L.A.”

His gaze fixed on hers like crosshairs on a target. “If you leave now it will be past midnight when you arrive.”

“Traffic will be lighter at this time of night.”

His lips thinned, then he inclined his head. “Let me help you acquire the van. I know a salesman at a local dealership that I trust who’ll give you a good price.”

He’d always tried to take care of her, to protect her from difficulties. She had to make him understand she needed to stand on her own feet. “Flynn, I can negotiate a car contract without a man to help me. I’ve done it before.”

“If you could wait a few days, I could clear my calendar and go with you.”

She couldn’t let herself become dependent on him. He was only a temporary fixture in her life. “The builder will be here soon, and I won’t be able to get away. He’s working us in between projects. I have to go now. Tonight.”

Resignation flattened his lips. “Call when you arrive and before you leave to come home to let me know you’re on the road.”

His concern yanked at something inside her, reminding her of a time they couldn’t bear being apart for more than a few hours and they’d bent over backward to please each other. But those days were long gone and they weren’t coming back. She wouldn’t let them.

“How was week one in purgatory?” Tamara asked from the opposite side of the kitchen work counter early Wednesday morning.

Renee dropped the sugared violet she’d been carefully placing on a petit four. “It’s only been five days and it’s not purgatory.”

“Living with my ex would be.”

“Your ex is an idiot. Flynn’s a nice guy. Are you sure you can handle this weekend’s wedding alone? I could come back Friday night.”

Tamara’s dark eyes widened and her jaw went slack in disbelief. “Are you insane? And don’t change the subject. You know you don’t have to do this baby-making thing. If you want a kid that badly, I’ll give you one of mine. They’re already housebroken and they adore you.”

“Ha-ha. Aren’t you the comedienne? You love your girls, so don’t give me that nonsense. I’m the one who had to dry your tears when your youngest started school, remember?”

Tamara sniffed. “What can I say? I was used to her coming to work with me. I lost the little slave who lived to fetch and carry for Mommy.”

Renee chuckled and used the tweezers to gently anchor more violets in the icing. She’d taken a risk on hiring Tamara as a kitchen assistant four years ago. At the first interview Tamara had warned her that her daughter Angela suffered from epilepsy, and after a few terrifying seizures at day care Tamara didn’t trust anyone else to watch out for her special child. Tamara had assured Renee that Angela would be as quiet as an angel, and the name had stuck.

Angel had been a fixture in the kitchen from Tamara’s first day on the job. Renee had set up a gated corner, complete with toys and a small crib, which allowed Tamara to work and watch her daughter. During lunch more often than not all of them had eaten outside so Angel could run around Granny’s backyard.

The interaction with Angel had only increased Renee’s ache for a baby of her own, and Tamara hadn’t been the only one missing the little girl since she’d started kindergarten last fall. The toys and gate were gone now, leaving the kitchen and Renee feeling empty and lonely.

“I want a family, Tamara.”

“You do realize that having a baby doesn’t guarantee you’ll have someone who’ll love you back, right?”

Renee smothered a wince as the arrow hit home. “I’m not a high schoolkid. Yes, I know.”

“And being a single parent is hard.”

“I know that, too, but because of your stellar example, I know I can do it. Besides, you let me practice on your children, so I’m ready.” She scanned the work surface. “What’s left to prepare after these?”

“You’re changing the subject again. But it’s the finger sandwiches, if you must know. I won’t do those until tomorrow morning. What about the witch-in-law? Is she still a factor?”

Renee rolled her eyes. There were times she regretted sharing so much with her assistant. “Persistent, aren’t you?”

Tamara batted her lashes in mock innocence. “It’s one of my charms. Spill it.”

“Carol has already been over to spread her poison, but Flynn overheard and he threw her out.”

“Wow. Impressive. Too bad he didn’t have the balls to do that seven years ago.”

Renee winced. “I never told him that his mother treated me like trailer trash.”

Tamara gaped. “You should have. Are you sure you can handle this sex-only relationship? You certainly are quick to jump to his defense.”

“Again, with your fine example, I know how to handle it.”

“Pffft. My sex-only lifestyle is because there’s not a guy out there I’d trust to raise my girls or one who doesn’t bail when he finds out about them. But there is some freedom in knowing that you can enjoy a man without the hassles that usually come attached to one.”

“I intend to do exactly that.”

“Still…you should think very hard before deciding to raise a child on your own. It’s a 24/7/365 job.”

“I know.” Renee didn’t dare tell her assistant that the decision might already have been made, because she didn’t want to answer the multitude of questions that would follow. “You’re managing to raise two on your own.”

“I have your help.”

Renee shrugged. “And I’ll have yours.”

“What about the San Francisco branch? What will happen to it once you have what you want? You’re not going to stay in his basement indefinitely, are you?”

“Once the business is going strong I’ll find a new location and then hire a manager. If all goes according to plan and I get pregnant quickly, then I estimate my baby and I will be back in L.A. permanently in less than two years.”

Tamara paused with the pastry bag in her hand. “You can count on me. And don’t forget to tell that husband of yours that if he hurts you again, he’ll feel my rolling pin upside the head.”

“Your rolling pin is safe. Flynn won’t get the chance to break my heart again.”

Flynn caught himself watching the clock Wednesday morning and counting the minutes until he could get out of this meeting. Work had once monopolized his thoughts, but since Renee had come back into his life, she’d taken over the top slot.

Only half listening to the discussion around the conference room table, he caught himself sketching her face in the margin of the report in front of him and shifted in his seat.

What time would she get home?

Would she even come back?

She’d appeared to have second thoughts about their bargain after the sex. Hell, she’d left town last night to avoid a repeat encounter. He would have loved to get her into his bed and make love to her again more slowly, taking the time to linger over each inch of satiny skin. He would have reacquainted himself with all his favorite places: the sensitive spot behind her knee where she often dabbed perfume; the dimples at the base of her spine that she hated; the ticklish arch of her foot.

But she hadn’t been interested in round two. If she really wanted to get pregnant, wouldn’t she have hung around to jump him again last night and this morning? It bothered him that she’d sent him a text message to let him know she’d arrived safely rather than call as he’d asked. Like some romantic, newlywed sap, he’d wanted to hear her voice.

He checked his watch again. He’d have a surprise for Renee when—if—she came back. She liked to do her exercising indoors. He’d ordered a treadmill and video setup for her so she could walk her miles and watch cooking shows simultaneously. The equipment would be delivered late this afternoon.

Brock continued explaining how the economic crisis had put the squeeze on potential clients’ advertising dollars. Nothing Flynn as VP didn’t already know. Then his brother switched to Athos Koteas’s latest account-stealing stunts. Again, it wasn’t a news bulletin that the Greek immigrant was a ruthless bastard. Madd Comm struggled to compete with Koteas’s European connections and devious tactics. Good thing none of the old guy’s three sons was as competitive.

“That’s bull and you know it,” Asher Williams, Madd Comm’s CFO, barked in reply to something Brock said, making Flynn snap to attention.

What had he missed? Flynn scanned the tense faces around the table and tried to figure out what had set off the normally unflappable Ash.

“Ash, we have to make it work,” Brock said.

“You’re asking the impossible.” Ash shot to his feet and slammed out of the conference room. Silence descended, broken only by Brock’s muffled curse and the shuffling of papers and clearing throats of the ad executives around the table.

Damn. Flynn rose. “I’ll talk to him.”

He followed Ash out and down the hall to the CFO’s office and knocked on the open door. “You okay?”

Ash’s brows flatlined over his hazel eyes. “Brock’s trying to squeeze blood out of a rock. It can’t be done.”

“I hear you. But we have to stay competitive.”

Ash stared silently out the window, his back tense.

Flynn closed the office door. “Is this even about work?” The silence stretched. “Do you have something you need to run by me, Ash?”

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