Sitting across from me at a table for two, Lia lifts her glass in my direction. “A toast to baby Luke! It won’t be much longer now, little dude. Make your appearance! Aunt Lia is waiting.”
Laughing, I raise my glass of ice water to join my sister-in-law in her toast. “He’s not due for six more weeks, Lia. Please don’t rush him.”
As if hearing his name, the baby in my burgeoning belly does a cartwheel and sticks the landing right on my bladder—his new favorite pastime. He’s been restless lately, awake more often than not, turning somersaults inside his increasingly cramped quarters and sticking his feet into my ribs. I have to admit, I’m anxious to get him out of my womb and into my arms. I’m so ready to have this baby. Scared, yes. Terrified actually, as he’s my first, and I really don’t know what I’m doing. But also so ready.
I’ve read a ton of books on pregnancy, childbirth, and newborn care. I own a bookstore, so of course my first impulse is to turn to books, but no matter how much you read about something, until you actually experience it for yourself, it’s impossible to really know what it’s like.
Lia takes a sip of her Coke and sets her glass down to reach for a taco. “He’s going to be such a hellion,” she says, laughing. She grins at me. “I guarantee it.”
Based on the stories I’ve heard about his daddy as a youngster, I can believe it. “If he’s anything like Shane….”
Lia wags her finger at me. “He’ll be worse than Shane. I’ll make sure of it. I’ll teach him everything I know.”
I can certainly believe Lia’s prediction, as she’s the biggest hellraiser in the McIntyre clan. “Please, Lia, have pity. I’m the one who’ll have to chase after him. Go easy on me. Don’t corrupt him too soon.”
Lia shakes her head. “Go easy on you? Where’s the fun in that?”
Despite Lia’s merciless teasing, I lean back in my seat and sigh with contentment. It feels so good to be out of the apartment, even for just a few hours. For the past few months, I’ve been working mostly from home, rarely going out. I’m lucky to leave the penthouse these days. Shane’s been watching over me like a deranged hawk ever since we found out I was pregnant. He doesn’t want me to overwork myself, or get too tired, or… pretty much do anything. I know he means well—he’s just trying to protect me—but sometimes it’s smothering. Like right now. I’ve got cabin fever so bad I could scream. Getting away for lunch today with Lia feels like an indulgence.
Lia frowns at me over the top of her glass. “Hey, are you okay?”
I shrug. I really shouldn’t complain. I have everything I could possibly need, and Shane spoils me rotten. I’m married to my knight-in-shining armor, and we’re about to welcome our first child into the world. Yeah, I have nothing to complain about. “I’m just a little stir crazy. I was holed up in the apartment almost all spring, and now it’s nearly summer and I just want to get outside, you know? I want some fresh air and sunshine. I want to do something, go somewhere, anywhere, before this little guy turns our lives upside down.”
I lay my hands on my belly, molding them to the firm round shape of my abdomen, smoothing the fabric of my sundress over the bump. When I feel the undulating ripple of movement inside, I smile.
Lia studies me for a moment underneath her lashes. Then she takes another sip of her drink and shrugs. “Okay, let’s do something. If you could do anything, what would it be?”
“I don’t know. Maybe get out of town for a little while? Even a short trip would be great.”
“Like a road trip?”
“Yes! That sounds like fun.”
“Why don’t you and Shane go up to Jake’s cabin this weekend and spend the night? Just a quick road trip. I’m sure you could talk him into it.”
I frown, thinking the odds of that aren’t good. But her suggestion gives me an idea. “How about a double date? You and Jonah could come with us.”
Lia considers my suggestion. “Sure. Why not? We don’t have anything planned this weekend. Jonah doesn’t have any performances scheduled, and I’m always up for a road trip.”
“We could go to Lucky’s Tavern,” I suggest. “Jonah promised Hal he’d perform there again, and you know how Jonah loves to play small venues.” The more I think about it, the better I like the idea. “Come on! It’ll be fun.” Then I frown. “That’s if I can talk Shane into agreeing to an overnight trip right now.”
“Your due date is still weeks away,” Lia says. “I’m sure you can talk him into it. You won’t know unless you try. Sweet talk him a little. He’ll cave, trust me.”
I reach for my phone. “I’ll call him now.”
Lia catches my hand and shakes her head. “No, don’t call. Ask him in person. Let’s head over to the office right now so you can ply your feminine wiles on him. In his office. On top of his desk.” She gives me a suggestive look. “Do I have to spell it out?”
My face heats up at the thought of having sex in Shane’s office… on his desk, to be exact. I have to admit, it’s one of my favorite fantasies. And, I don’t know what it is about being pregnant, but lately I want sex all the time. Shane’s not complaining—not in the least—but these days I can’t get enough of him. Morning, evening, middle of the night… my body aches for him. Even now, the thought of a little afternoon nookie in Shane’s office is making me flush all over. I can feel the heat building between my legs, making me want to squirm. “I’ll do it.”
“Ladies, can I get you anything else?”
I smile up at our server, a handsome young guy with dark hair hanging low on his forehead. He flips his head back, tossing his bangs out of his eyes, and gives me a megawatt smile as his gaze lingers on my cleavage.
“Forget it, pal,” Lia says, snapping her fingers at our server to redirect his attention. “Eyes off, unless you want me to break your arm.”
“What?” he says, his eyes directed to Lia. He thrusts our check into her hand as he sputters a denial. “I wasn’t doing anything. Honest! I—”
“Save it, buddy.” Lia hands him a credit card. “She’s so not available.”
* * *
A taxi drops us off in front of the McIntyre Security, Inc. office building, and we walk inside, glad to get out of the stifling heat.
As we pass the front desk, the security guard on duty gives me a friendly smile. “Good afternoon, Mrs. McIntyre.”
Mrs. McIntyre. Shane and I have been married for nearly six months now, but I’m still not fully accustomed to hearing people call me that. “Good afternoon, George.”
As we head toward the bank of elevators, I catch my reflection in the mirrored wall. My gaze catches on my obviously pregnant belly, as well as the diamond ring and gold band on my ring finger. I never expected to find myself married and pregnant at twenty-five. Good grief, I’d never even had a serious boyfriend before I met Shane.
Just thinking about my new husband puts a smile on my face. I fell so hard for him, and not because of his looks or his wealth. And not because of his hot CEO persona and the way he fills out a suit and tie. No, I fell hard for him because he gets me. And he loves me in spite of all my flaws and insecurities.
From the very beginning, he accepted me for who I am. He got my anxiety, and he made things right for me. He also eliminated the monster who had loomed over my life like a sinister, dark cloud. He killed Howard Kline for me, when that cretin broke into my home with the intent to kill me as payback for the fact that he’d spent nearly two decades in prison for abducting me when I was a young child. Shane made sure that he himself was the one to pull the trigger and put an end, once and for all, to my lifetime of fear and anxiety.
Lia rides up to the twentieth floor with me, where the executive offices are located. She’ll drop me off on Shane’s floor, and then she’ll head down to the third floor, where the martial arts studio is located so she can hang out with her twin, Liam, while I’m plying my wiles on my unsuspecting husband.
When the elevator stops at my floor, she shoos me out. “Have fun. And remember, he’s putty in your hands.”
Before heading to Shane’s office, I make a quick detour to the ladies’ room. I want to freshen up first, brush my teeth, and—here’s the most important part of my plan—slip off my panties and tuck them into my purse. For what I have in mind, a bare bottom will work wonders.
Walking half-naked beneath my billowy sundress feels strange to say the least. It’s actually pretty daring of me, as I’m not the most sexually confident woman in the world. I almost chicken out before I reach the executive suites, but Diane Hughes, Shane’s executive assistant, sees me through the glass walls and waves me inside. Before I can think better of my plan, and get cold feet, I walk through the door and stop at her desk.
“Don’t you look pretty,” she says, giving me a bright smile. Her pale blue eyes crinkle at the corners as she looks me over. She rises from her chair to give me a warm hug. “Pregnancy becomes you, dear girl. How are you feeling?”
When she releases me, I lay my hands on my belly. “I’m as big as a house, Mrs. Hughes, but I feel great.”
She grins. “You’re going to be such a fantastic mother. I just know it! And Shane! Good Lord, that little baby is all he talks about these days. That, and how beautiful you are.”
My cheeks pinken as I glance toward Shane’s office door, which is closed. “Speaking of Shane…do you know if he’s busy at the moment?”
“You go right in, honey. His next appointment isn’t until three o’clock.”
As it’s only one-thirty, that gives me plenty of time for what I have in mind.
“He’s all yours, dear,” Diane says, waving me toward Shane’s door. “I’ll hold his calls until further notice.”
I smile guiltily, wondering if she’s a mind reader. Am I that transparent? “Thank you.”
I knock on his door, steeling myself with a deep breath.
I open his door, popping my head through the opening, and see Shane seated at his desk.
He looks up, and his demeanor changes immediately as he leans back in his chair with a pleased expression. “Sweetheart! What are you doing here?”
“I hope I’m not interrupting anything.” I step into his office and shut the door behind me, turning the lock to ensure our privacy.
He raises an eyebrow, but he doesn’t comment.
“I went out to lunch with Lia today,” I say, setting my purse on one of the black leather chairs positioned in front of his desk. “Since I was in the neighborhood, I thought I’d stop by and say hello.”
He looks very much like the corporate CEO in his charcoal gray suit and white dress shirt. I could stare at him all day in his GQ finery. His short, brown hair and trim beard frame his handsome face perfectly, making me weak in the knees just at the sight of him. And those electric blue eyes…they can go from gentle and smiling to hot and intense in a heartbeat.
He crosses his arms over his chest and looks at me pointedly. “Where’s Sam?”
“Sam and Lia switched places today so Lia and I could have a girls’ day out. I didn’t think I needed two bodyguards.”
He relaxes a smidgen. “Then where’s Lia? I assume she accompanied you here.”
“She’s downstairs with Liam.”
“I see.” His smile brightens.
Before I can lose my nerve, I round his desk and swivel his black leather chair so that he’s facing me. He raises an eyebrow, his curiosity piqued. I know I have his full attention when his gaze darts down to the V-neckline of my dress, which shows off my new cleavage, and then back up again. Having cleavage is a relatively new experience for me. I’ve always been pretty flat-chested, but pregnancy has given me a temporary boost in that department. I finally have something to show off, and I intend to put it to good use.
“Are you busy?” I say, gripping the arms of his chair and leaning in to brush the tip of my nose against his.
His hands grip my waist. “I’m never too busy for you. What do you have in mind?”
I can tell from the glint in his eyes that he’s getting ideas of his own. There’s a very good reason why I never play poker with Shane and his brothers. I’m terrible at hiding my hand, and I’m sure he already suspects I’m up to something. “Diane said she’d hold your calls.”
“Really?” His lips quirk up in a grin, and he looks decidedly intrigued. And aroused. “Go ahead. I’m listening.”
I step between Shane’s knees, standing as close to him as I can. His long fingers flex on my plus-sized waist. “I like this,” he says, his fingers clamping down on my flesh. “There’s more of you to grasp.”
I laugh as I lean forward to kiss him, thinking I’d better do this before I lose my nerve completely. I raise one knee and slide it onto his chair, on the outside of his right hip. My initial plan was to straddle his lap, unzip his pants, and ride him like a cowgirl, but now I’m wondering if that’s even possible with my belly in the way. And then there’s the question of whether or not his chair can hold our combined weight.
Before I can do a quick mental calculation, he slides his hands beneath my dress and up the backs of my thighs, pausing when he reaches the juncture where my thighs meet my bare butt cheeks.
“Where the hell are your panties?” he says, sounding almost scandalized. His gaze shoots up to meet mine. “Did you leave the house like this?”
“No! I took them off a few minutes ago in the ladies’ room. I’m not about to walk around downtown Chicago half-naked!”
He relaxes, apparently mollified by my answer, as he proceeds to slip his fingers between my legs from behind—something he knows is guaranteed to turn me on. His fingers tease the seam of my labia, making me squirm. Then he dips a long finger into my wetness and groans deep in his throat. Immediately his expression tightens, and his nostrils flare with arousal.
“Jesus, sweetheart,” he says, touching me more intimately, sliding his finger deeper inside to stroke me deliciously. He leans forward and presses a kiss to the shadowy valley between my breasts and groans. “You’re so wet.”
Before I can even think about attempting my cowgirl position, he sweeps his arm across the surface of his desk to clear a spot right in front of his chair. Then he lifts me up and sits me on his desk, bare bottomed, and turns his chair to face me. I shiver when he pushes my dress up around my waist, exposing my nakedness to his hot gaze. His cheeks darken as he looks his fill.
I run my fingers through his short, chestnut brown hair, making the short strands stand up in tufts. “Um, do you have anything planned for this weekend?”
He glances up at me, his brow furrowing incredulously. “You’re sitting half-naked on my desk and you want to talk about our weekend plans?”
I grin guiltily, knowing full well how inept I am at this. “I was thinking we should go away for a night this weekend, the two of us and Lia and Jonah. It would be fun.” I rake my nails against his scalp, and he closes his eyes, giving me another heart-felt groan. “You know, one last bit of fun before the baby arrives.”
He frowns, looking like he’s resigned himself to having this conversation. “What exactly did you have in mind?”
I shrug, continuing to stroke his hair as it’s an excellent way to distract him. “Just a quick little road trip. We could drive up to Jake’s cabin in Harbor Springs tomorrow morning and stay the night. It’s only a two-hour drive. It’ll be fun. An overnight double date.”
He frowns. “Honey, I really don’t want to go out of town so close to the baby’s due date.”
“He’s not due for another six weeks!”
“But what if something happens? I don’t want to be so far away from your doctor.”
“Nothing’s going to happen. Besides, the cabin’s only two hours away. That’s not so far.”
Shane leans back in his chair and crosses his arms, a frown marring his handsome face. “Beth, no. It’s too risky.”
“Oh, come on, it’ll be fun. We could go to Lucky’s Tavern for dinner. Jonah could play a few sets—he promised Hal he’d perform there again. That would be fun. Come on, please? This might be the last chance we’ll have to do something like this for a while. And I have cabin fever so badly! I feel like I’ve been stuck at home for months.”
“I really don’t like the idea of you being so far away from your doctor.”
“I’ll be fine. I promise. Please?”
I lean forward and kiss him, my fingers in his hair as I tease his lips apart. I draw his lower lip into my mouth and gently suck on it, which I know drives him crazy. Actually, he likes it when I suck on anything of his. “Please?”
He sighs, clearly exasperated. “Beth.”
He lays his warm hands on my bare thighs and spreads my legs wider, exposing me to his hot gaze. “You don’t play fair, do you?”
I smile, sensing victory. “We can make out at the cabin. Remember the last time we stayed there?”
He laughs. “We don’t have to leave Chicago to make out. In fact, isn’t that what we’re trying to do right now?”
“Yes, but it’ll be fun to go somewhere with Lia and Jonah. Shoot, we live in the same building and hardly go out together. Come on. Let’s do something spontaneous and crazy.”
“You want something spontaneous and crazy?” He reaches for the hem of my dress and pulls it up and over my head, dropping it to the desktop, leaving me sitting bare-ass naked on his desk, dressed in nothing but a white lacy bra. My heart starts pounding, and I glance behind me at the locked door. I know no one can see us, but still… I feel so exposed. It’s unnerving. “Shane.”
He unhooks my bra, and the cups spring free. My bra straps slide down my arms, leaving me uncovered.
“You wanted spontaneous and crazy,” he says. “Does this count?”