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Most Wanted - Case Of The Mesmerizing Boss Part 21

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"No, I'm not coming in today. Why?" he asked. He frowned.

Then he burst out laughing. "You don't mean it? When? Is she going to be all right?" He shook his head. "My G.o.d, of course I'll tell Tess. She'll die laughing. Tell her we'll be along to see her tonight, and for G.o.d's sake, confiscate her piece before she manages to do it again!"

"What is it?" Tess asked the minute he hung up.

"You'll never believe this," he said. He got up and pulled on his jeans, still chuckling. "You remember Helen was complaining that she was the only person in the office who'd never had a brush with a bullet?"

Her hands hesitated on the diaper she was fastening. "Yes."



"Well, it seems this afternoon she grabbed the wrong way for her pistol and shot herself in the foot."

"Oh, the poor thing!" Tess exclaimed, and ruined her sympa- thetic remark by bursting into helpless laughter. "I'm sorry, it isn't funny. She'll be all right?"

"Only a flesh wound. By the time she gets through embroidering 157 it, she'll have had near-gangrene. They're keeping her overnight at the hospital just in case, so I told Nick we'd drop by to see her."

"I'll take flowers," she said. She grinned. "And a medal if we can find one."

He went to stand beside her as she finished changing the baby and lifted him into her arms. His eyes as he looked down at the two most beloved people in his life were stormy with happiness and love.

"He really does look like you," she said softly.

"Like both of us," he corrected, sliding a loving arm around her.

His eyes twinkled. "Happy?"

"I never dreamed of being so happy." She reached up and kissed him. ''You're not sorry it worked out this way, that you had to marry me?" she asked worriedly.

"I never had to marry you," he corrected with lazy tenderness.

"I was only looking for an excuse, or did you really think I just happened into that restaurant the day you were having lunch with Kit?"

"You followed her!" she said, laughing. "She said you did."

"I followed her, all right. I'd brooded all morning about what I was going to do. Tess, I was going to ask you to come back with me," he confessed. "To live with me, marry me, to take a chance on a life without children."

She touched his face. "Oh, Dane!" she breathed.

"Then everything went wrong," he murmured. "And I got in- terrupted too soon."

"I was going to tell you about the baby," she replied, "and that man who approached you cost me my nerve."

He groaned. "All that time, wasted." He scowled suddenly.

"You were having problems that day. It wasn't the ulcer, it was the baby."

"Yes," she said quietly. "But when you held my hand, the pain went away. I thought later that it was as if the baby knew you were his father, and he was responding to you."

His eyes darkened as he looked at her. "I gave you a hard time.

I'm sorry, about everything."

"I loved you," she whispered. "I thought you might learn to love me, if I didn't rush you. I didn't want you to worry, or I'd 158.

have told you about the baby as soon as I knew. I didn't realize how hungry you really were for a child."

"Not for a child. For our child. Part of us." He bent and brushed his lips tenderly over the baby's temple, then he lifted his eyes back to hers. "You don't know how I missed you when you moved out of the apartment, or how afraid I was for you when those drug dealers were after you. For a long time, I thought I didn't want marriage. And then you wanted me to show you what lovemaking was." He groaned. "I didn't think it was possible to feel so deeply.

I'd have done anything to get you, except sacrifice your need for a child." He searched her eyes. "It makes me humble, thinking of how much you were willing to sacrifice for me."

"Didn't that work both ways," she whispered.

He kissed her softly. "I like learning about love with you. I must be an apt pupil, because you sure make a lot of noise when we're in bed together."

She flushed, and he chuckled at her embarra.s.sment. He grinned, bending to kiss her nose. "The baby gave me the best excuse in the world to marry you and take you home with me, without having to tell you how desperately I loved you. I thought I'd killed everything you felt for me."

"Silly man," she said lovingly. "Love doesn't die that easily."

"So it would seem. You had a hard time carrying John. Next time, we'll plan the baby, and I'll be with you every step of the way."

"That sounds like you want me to stop seducing you," she re- marked.

"Heaven forbid!"

She smiled. "I wanted you so badly that night. I loved you. I thought if I gave you all I had to give and asked for nothing in return, you might learn to trust me, maybe to love me."

"I loved you, all right," he said huskily. He drew her closer with her precious bundle in her arms. "My G.o.d, we've had a rocky road.

I hope things will be a little smoother for us now."

She reached up and kissed him with aching tenderness. "Stand back and see how smooth. I'll love you to death," she whispered huskily.

159 He actually flushed, his darkening eyes almost a statement of in- tent.

"Want me to try?" she murmured provocatively, parting her lips to draw his eyes to them.

"Are you serious?" he asked unsteadily. "Come here."

But before he could get further, their son let out a wail and went searching for the rest of his lunch.

Tess laughed as he found it, smiling at the ferocity of her son's furious expression. She looked at Dane, and the love in his eyes made her warm all over.

"It seems that my son has priorities," he mused, fighting down the surge of desire. "But there's always tonight."

"Yes. I love you," she whispered.

"I love you, too, little one. So much!"

She nibbled softly at his lips. "When John starts school, how would you feel about letting me go back to work?"

He lifted his head. "As a skip tracer for Short?" he asked.

"As an operative for you,'' she corrected.

He pursed his lips. "Keeping it in the family, I gather?"

"Until John is old enough to look good in a trench coat," she agreed.

He hugged her close and drew his fingers lovingly over his son's head. He hesitated, but she looked determined. Well, if he taught her, and watched the cases she took, he could keep her safe. It wouldn't hurt to let her feel independent. At the same time, he wouldn't really mind having her underfoot half the time. He smiled at just the prospect. "Okay. But you'll start out as a skip tracer, and no Mike Hammer stuff, got that?"

"Of course!"

She leaned her head on his chest and smiled at their son. But behind her back, where she was sure he couldn't see them, her fingers were crossed. Seconds later, his smile almost a declaration of love, he reached slowly behind her. And uncrossed them.

END.

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Most Wanted - Case Of The Mesmerizing Boss Part 21 summary

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