Craving Him Page 34

He’s promised me he didn’t want her—that we’d still be together no matter what happened with the baby. But I wondered if that’d change once he saw her mothering his child. And if he had no interest in her romantically, could I handle him playing the doting dad to her baby. God, I sounded selfish. I was jealous of a baby. How pathetic was I?

I dragged my sorry ass behind Ben to the waiting car.

• • •

After the brief plane ride on what I learned was an island jumper, we were shuttled by a sedan to a private thatched hut, not a hotel. I spun around to face Ben.

“Are you serious?” I grinned.

“I only want the best for my baby.”

I leapt into his arms, tackle-hugging him.

This place was paradise. Secluded and romantic. I doubted I’d ever want to leave.

The bellhop left us and our suitcases alone in the hut with just the gentle sound of lapping waves to accompany us. There was a large bed in the center of the room dressed in white fluffy bedding, two bedside tables, and a sofa across the room. Very simple, yet beautiful and elegant. I wandered toward the door leading out from the far end of the space with Ben trailing at my heels.

The bathroom vanity and a small room for the toilet were inside, but the shower itself was outside. Gray slate stones stacked more than chest high provided some privacy from the beach beyond, and a waterfall-style showerhead hung from the center of the ceiling.

It was absolute heaven. With the gentle lull of turquoise waters lapping the shore and a steady ocean breeze to keep the hut comfortable, it was everything I imagined a South Pacific paradise would be.

During the trip, it was as though we were both trying extra hard to be the perfect couple, to not let Fiona’s warning haunt us or mark our time together. For ten days, we lounged in hammocks on the beach and sunned ourselves until we were a deep golden brown, despite our best efforts at slathering on sunblock. We swam, ate entirely too much, and sipped cocktails in the late-afternoon sun. There was no phone, no TV, no Internet. Just us. As much as I tried to ignore it, I couldn’t help but feel like a clock was ticking, marking down our time together. I wondered if Ben felt the same way. He was extra sweet and attentive.

My monthly cycle made an appearance, so I spent the entire week bloated and fighting off chocolate cravings. Ben was amazing, though, massaging my lower back, ordering dessert even when I insisted I didn’t need it, letting me sleep in, and generally being the world’s most responsive boyfriend.

Most mornings after waking late and eating a light breakfast in our room, we walked straight out of the front door and onto the sand to wade into the warm seawater for a morning swim. But this morning, Ben turned toward me, smoothing the hair back from my face and watching me as though mesmerized.

He looked at me like something big was on his mind, but for the time being he remained silent, just stroking my cheek, running his fingers through my hair and watching me.

“Did you sleep okay?” I asked, finally.

Ben

Emmy watched me curiously as I ran my fingers through her long, silky hair. “Did you sleep okay?” she asked finally.

“Fine.” I nodded. The truth was I hadn’t slept for shit last night. I laid awake thinking about the very real possibility that Fiona’s baby was mine. Could I really turn my back on her and the child? Growing up without a father figure¸ I’d vowed that I’d never be a deadbeat dad. And the more time I spent with Emmy, the more I began to worry about how close we were growing. Thoughts of Fiona and the baby weighed heavily on my mind. Somehow seeing her rounded belly this week made it all the more real. There was no denying she was getting bigger all the time. There really was a baby growing in there.

“Is something wrong?” Emmy asked, her forehead creasing as she watched me.

I didn’t answer for several long moments and Emmy pressed her palm to my cheek. “Everything’s fine,” I managed. “It’s probably time we got back to reality.”

“I suppose we should.” She rolled closer and stretched. “This has been perfect.” She rubbed her hands over my bare chest, absently, like her body dictated that we be touching anytime we could. “It’ll be almost Thanksgiving by the time we get home.”

“I suppose it will.” It was almost Thanksgiving, though you wouldn’t know it from the balmy eighty-degree days we’d grown used to in Fiji.

“What are you doing for Thanksgiving?” she asked.

“Ah . . . nothing, most likely. Last year my housekeeper, Magda, brought some me leftovers. The year before that I was in Brazil for a shoot.”

“So you won’t be with your mom in Australia?”

“Nah. Probably not. We haven’t discussed anything. And they don’t celebrate American Thanksgiving in Australia. Are you planning to go to Tennessee?”

“Yes. Would you . . . want to come home with me?” I could read the indecision in her eyes. I wondered if she worried it was too soon to bring me home, or if she worried that her parents wouldn’t like me.

“If you want me there, of course I will.”

Her eyes brightened. “You could meet my family, see where I come from.”

“I’d love that.” I lifted her hand to my mouth and pressed a kiss to her knuckles. Everything about my relationship with Emmy was uncharted territory for me, but I didn’t mind. I guess we’d find out if I was good with parents. It wasn’t her mom I was worried about—I was pretty sure I could win her over. It was her father who had me nervous. And it was the South. Didn’t they shoot first and ask questions later?

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