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Home > Executive's Pregnancy Ultimatum (Kings of the Boardroom #2)(3)

Executive's Pregnancy Ultimatum (Kings of the Boardroom #2)(3)
Author: Emilie Rose

“I don’t think so. Not as long as you had a job that sucked the life out of you. Out of us.” She tried to shake off the bad memories. “I’ll have my attorney draw up another set of divorce papers. Like last time, I want nothing from you.”

“Except my child.”

Another dream dead. They’d once planned to have a large family—at least three children, maybe four, because she’d hated being an only child. “Like I said, I’ll go back to my donors.”

“You don’t have to.”

Her heartbeat blipped out of rhythm. “What are you saying?”

“You can have my baby.”

She forced a breath into her tight chest. “The clinic said your sample had been destroyed. Are you planning to make another donation?”

“I’m not talking about frozen sperm or artificial insemination.”

Her tongue felt as dry as parchment paper. “Then what are you suggesting, Flynn?”

“I’ll give you my baby—the usual way.”

Stunned by the idea of making love with Flynn again, she staggered backward into the counter. But an undeniable wisp of desire snaked through her. They’d been so good together. She’d experienced nothing remotely close to that level of fulfillment before or since Flynn. But she couldn’t risk it.

“No. That isn’t an option. I didn’t do casual sex before and I’m not going to start now.”

“It’s not casual sex when we’re still married. I know how much not knowing anything about your father bothered you. This way you’ll know who fathered your child, and you’ll have my complete medical history.”

Tempting. And dangerous. “Why would you agree to that?”

“I’m thirty-five. It’s time to think about kids.”

Alarm ripped through her. “I’m not looking for someone to be a part of my child’s life.”

“Your catering business takes up what? Fifty, sixty hours a week? When are you going to have time to be a parent?”

Had he been checking up on her? “I’ll make time.”

“Like Lorraine did?”

She winced as the barb hit deep. “That’s low—even for you, Flynn.”

Her mother had worked long hours as a chef in a series of swanky L.A. restaurants and would then come home to drink until she passed out. Typical of a functional alcoholic, only her family had suffered. Her mother had hidden her addiction well from her employers and the rest of the world.

“It will be easier to raise a child with two parents and better for the child. It’s also a good backup plan in case something happens to either of us.”

Horrified by his implication, she backed away. “We might still be married, but we’re not staying that way.”

“I want to share every aspect of the pregnancy and delivery and be a part of the baby’s first year. After that we can go our separate ways—other than sharing custody. We’ll keep the option open for our child to have the siblings you never had.”

“More children? Are you crazy?” But what he said appealed on so many levels. Too many levels.

“I want to be a father, Renee. I want a family.”

“Don’t you have a girlfriend or someone your mother would approve of who could—”

“I could ask you the same question. No men in the picture?”

“I’m not seeing anyone.” She’d be insane to risk her heart and her health again. Shaking her head, she paced to the opposite side of the kitchen. “Thanks for your generous offer, but I’ll stick with my donor catalog.”

“You’d rather depend on a questionnaire that’s probably no more truthful than a personal ad?”

Another direct hit. She had wondered how factual the donor data might be. Sure, the lab results would be accurate, but she’d done enough online dating in the past few years to know that answers applicants provided rarely resembled the truth. “I’ll choose carefully.”

“Think about it, Renee. The plans we made. The house we bought and restored together specifically with raising a family in mind. The fenced yard. The dog. The whole deal. Your baby could have all that.”

Her heart squeezed. “You still have the house?”

“Yes.”

They’d spent the first six months of their marriage working side by side renovating the beautiful Victorian in Pacific Heights. She’d spent the second six months wandering around the empty rooms alone trying to figure out how to save her dying marriage. In the end, all she could do was save herself.

“Flynn, it’s a crazy idea.”

“So was us running away to Vegas to get married. But it worked.”

“For a while. And judging by your license plate, you still work for Maddox Communications. Nothing has changed.”

“The job is under control now. It doesn’t consume me like it used to. Move in with me. Let’s make a baby, Renee.”

She gaped at him. “Move in with you? What about my business? I’ve spent years building California Girl’s Catering. I can’t walk away for a year and expect my clientele to be waiting when I come back. And I can’t commute. It’s a five-or six-hour drive each way without traffic.”

“I checked out your Web page. You have ‘an amazingly talented assistant’ who helps you, or so you claim on your blog. Leave the L.A. business in her hands temporarily and expand into the San Francisco area. I have connections. I’ll help you.”

He certainly knew which buttons to push to get her acquiescence. She didn’t doubt for one second that Tamara could handle the L.A. side of the business, and having the Maddox clout behind CGC would certainly get her foot in the door of the highly competitive San Francisco marketplace faster.

But were the risks worth the potential rewards?

“Have my child. Allow me to spend the baby’s first year under the same roof, and then I’ll give you an uncontested divorce and pay full child support.”

A tiny, sentimental part of her wanted to agree. Renee had always believed Flynn would make a wonderful father—the kind she wished she’d had. She’d experienced firsthand how patient and encouraging he could be when he’d taught her the skills of restoration. But letting him back into her life was scary and risky.

You’re older, wiser and stronger now. You can handle it.

She had to be crazy, because she was actually considering his suggestion. But maybe…just maybe this insane idea could work. Focus on the result. A baby. Someone to love and come home to each night. But if she was going to keep her head and her sanity, she needed to lay ground rules.

“Flynn, hooking up just to have a baby is crazy.”

“It could work—for both of us.”

“If I agree to this, then I’ll need help finding kitchen space in San Francisco.”

“I’ll get right on it.”

She rubbed her cold hands together. Her heart pounded wildly out of rhythm. She gulped, trying to ease the knot in her throat. “Okay, I’ll consider it, but I have a few conditions.”

Victory flared in his eyes, giving her a moment’s panic. “Name them.”

“We need time to get to know each other again and make sure this crazy scheme can work before jumping back into bed together.”

“How much time?”

“I don’t know. A month, I guess. That should be long enough to determine whether or not we’re still compatible.”

“Agreed.”

“If it’s not working, then either of us can back out and you will sign the divorce papers.”

He dipped his chin. “I’ll sign.”

The sense of panic squeezed tighter, as if she was drowning and desperate for air. Was she crazy to plan on bringing a baby into a broken marriage? But she and Flynn had never had the kind of volatile arguments her mother and her mother’s lovers had had. Their child would not feel like a bone of contention. Her baby would know from day one that it was wanted, planned, not a mistake that derailed her life.

“I—I want my own bedroom. We’ll get together…when it’s time…if we decide to go through with the plan.”

The crease in his forehead deepened. “If you insist.”

“I do.” She smothered a wince at the words she’d spoken so many years ago. Back then her heart and head had been filled with happiness, dreams and possibilities, instead of a stomach-twisting fear that she was making a huge mistake.

“Anything else?”

She searched her brain for more protective barriers to build, but her thoughts churned so chaotically she could barely think. “Not at the moment. But I reserve the right to revisit this later, if need be.”

“I accept your terms and have a few of my own.”

She stiffened. “Let’s hear them.”

“I want to keep the real reason for our living together between us. It is critical that our family, friends and business associates believe we are trying to reconcile rather than temporarily hook up to make a baby.”

Could she fake that kind of happiness? For a baby she could do almost anything. “I guess that would be better in the long run—especially if there is a child.”

“Then we have a deal?”

Doubts swirled through her like fruit pureeing in a blender.

Think of the baby. A beautiful blue-eyed, black-haired, chubby-cheeked baby.

She nodded and extended her hand. Flynn’s long fingers encircled hers. He simultaneously tugged and stepped forward, then covered her mouth with his.

Shock crashed over her like a waterfall as his warm, firm lips moved against hers. Familiar sensations deluged her, sweeping her back into a current of desire and far out of her depth. Even though he was six feet and she was barely five foot three, they’d always fit together like perfectly cut puzzle pieces. His thigh spliced between hers, his strong arms enfolded her, tucking her into his chest. It felt as if she’d never left his arms, and she was right back where she was supposed to be.

Horrified, she broke the kiss and shoved against his chest. Gasping for air, she backed away, but she couldn’t deny the turbulent flood of hunger sluicing through her. “What was that about?”

“Sealing the deal.”

“Don’t do it again.”

“I’m not allowed to touch you?”

“No. Not until…it’s time.”

“Renee, to make our reconciliation look real, we’re going to have to touch and kiss and act like we’re in love.”

“I’m a caterer, not an actress.”

He dragged a knuckle down her cheek and over the pulse hammering in her neck, then along the neckline of her top. She shivered and her n**ples tightened.

“Let your body do the talking. You still want me and it shows.”

She gasped at his audacity. Unfortunately, he told the truth. Her reaction to a simple kiss told her she still wanted her husband. And wanting Flynn was the worst possible thing that could happen.

If she wasn’t careful, Flynn Maddox would break her heart all over again or worse, drive her to self-destruction. And then she’d be no good for anyone—especially her child.

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