Authors: Zara Cox
THE INDIGO LOUNGE SERIES #4
No, no, no.
suspended, then kicked into slow motion. Noah waited for the denial. Waited for
the nightmare that flashed across his vision to subside. A muffled whimper came
from beside him.
Michaels. The most important thing in his life right now stood next to him. The
one person he had woken up this morning thanking his lucky stars for. The one
he should be looking at. Taking care of. Hanging onto so she wasn’t dragged
into this bedlam.
he couldn’t look at her. Couldn’t force his gaze from Ashley Maitland, the
woman sitting cross-legged on his living room sofa. The woman whose lips
parted, ready to utter words he knew would change his life forever.
One hundred percent, yes.
You are going to be a
God. Ashley what…
Because you’re supposed to be my husband and the father of my children,” she
said with the same unapologetic assurance that stated the world owed her a
living. A trait he’d once thought sexy.
coating his mouth, he sliced a hand through his hair, resisting the urge to
pull the damn strands out. The grenade she’d detonated in his life had done
more than enough to unbalance him. The last thing he intended to do was grant
her the satisfaction of knowing she’d turned his life inside out.
no longer together, Ashley.” He sucked in a deep breath, struggling for a civil
tone in the face of her ridiculous assertion. “I’m no expert on
pregnancy—that is if you really are pregnant—but I think baby brain
is supposed to kick in
you have the baby. Unless you’re claiming
amnesia on top of everything else that you’re making up right now?”
features tightened for a second before settling back into the serene look she
liked to present to the world. Noah hadn’t noticed how creepy that
transformation was before now.
would I make up something that you can check in two minutes?
but I’m not stupid. This is
happening. I get that you need to take a moment, but Noah…it’s happening.”
gaze slid to Leia and back to him. The clear smugness in her eyes made him
If she was telling the truth…
was going to be a father. With the one woman he detested more than any other in
vision clouded for several seconds. He concentrated on getting air into his
lungs and his brain. He needed to, so he could wrap his head around the
insanity of the situation.
even though the facts were clear, he couldn’t believe the enormity of the
forced his hands into his pockets, to resist striding across the strangling her
with them. “So let me get this straight. You used my sperm without my
permission and got yourself knocked up so what…we could play happy families?”
smile widened, one slender shoulder lifting in a careless shrug. Despite her
outwardly relaxed impression, Noah caught a dart of apprehension in her eyes.
“You should never have left me. What happened two years ago was just to bring
you to your
Even after you left, I thought
you’d come back. We weren’t supposed to be apart for this long. You’ve dragged
things out too far. It’s time for us to be together again.”
choked sound came from beside him again. Head spinning, he glanced at Leia. Her
her beautiful eyes a dark, haunted
grey that stared back at him in bleak resignation.
moved toward her.
took a step back.
heart clenched. “Don’t do that. Don’t retreat from me,” he pleaded. With
everything going to shit around him, he couldn’t take a world without Leia. He
took her hand and, thankfully, her fingers closed around his.
the corner of his eye, he saw movement. Warren Snyder - Leia’s ex-guardian and
the other unwanted equation in this whole despicable debacle - rose to his
feet. Again, the slimy bastard’s eyes slid to Leia in a way that made Noah want
to cause him serious and permanent damage.
tiny frozen part of him was quite impressed at how his two nemeses had
orchestrated this meeting. Hell, he couldn’t have planned it better.
didn’t alter the fact that they were seriously messing with the one thing in
the world most precious to him.
turned to her as she pulled her hand away. She folded her arms across her midriff
the way he’d come to recognize as a self-preservation tactic. This time he
didn’t stop with one step. He took her arms, pulling her close, crowding her.
When she refused to look at him, he captured her nape and forced her to face
you dare leave me here in the fucking Twilight Zone all by myself.” It was a
fucked up time to be making jokes. But the very blatant reality that she was
pulling away from him threatened to send him down a tunnel he didn’t want to
twisted round, unable to stop the snarl surging from his throat. “Do not say
her name. You have two options, Snyder, you
either sit down
shut the fuck up or you leave right now. You know where the hell the
door is. You don’t control her any more. Got that?”
Snyder’s demeanor remained the same.
Cold, non-reactive dead
eyes, which sent an uneasy sensation down Noah’s spine.
But to his credit,
Snyder sat back down, crossed his legs and steepled his fingers together.
turned back to Leia. Her eyes met his. He breathed a sigh of relief to see that
the haunted look had dissipated somewhat.
need to go,” she said.
rose to mingle with the shitload of emotions coursing through him.
She was reeling
he got that
the irrational part of him, which suggested she was giving in to what Snyder
wanted, rose and slapped him in the face. “No you don’t.” His response was
rough with anger. “We had plans.”
mouth dropped open. “Are you serious?”
grip tightened on her arm in acknowledgement of her disbelief. “Jesus, I don’t
know what the hell I am, but I know I don’t want you to leave. Not now.”
shook her head and closed her eyes. The look that washed over her face cut
right through him. “Noah, I can’t stay. You know that, right?”
right, Noah. What we need to discuss is just between you and—”
the hell up, Ashley.”
to stand the look on Leia’s face, he slid his hand down her arm and dragged her
to the sliding doors. Stabbing the button that parted them, he led her to the
terrace. The crisp and fresh breeze from the ocean promised a bright new day.
the night he’d spent with Leia, their fiery row and their even more tempestuous
making up, it was a day that should’ve harkened a new and glorious beginning.
It had all right. Except, he’d never have foreseen this version of it in his
stopped beside the gleaming pool and looked down at her. She’d grown paler, and
her lips trembled before she pursed them.
I know this was a curveball neither of us expected. Hell, I can’t even begin to
think straight about any of this, but leaving isn’t going to solve anything.
It’s selfish, I know, but I’m asking you to stay.”
What good could I possibly offer here? Warren is right—”
fucking agree with anything Snyder has to say about us, and I won’t be
responsible for what happens next,” he said through jaws clenched so tight he
expected them to snap in half.
sorry, I know you don’t like him—”
snorted, cutting her off.
I know I’ve been blind to certain indicators,” she continued with a small
frown. “But he’s right.”
vision threatened to cloud again. He pinched the bridge of his nose and sucked
in breath. “No, he’s not. He’s a goddamn—”
you’re going to be a father.” The words were hushed, dropped into the middle of
his rage with soft, agonized, whispers.
froze, unable to look away from the anguish in her eyes.
rose in twenty-foot waves. Regardless of how he felt about Ashley, she was most
likely carrying his child. She wouldn’t be so bold, so smug, if there wasn’t
some truth to her assertion.
you even know how you feel about that?” Leia shook her head. “You don’t need me
around. I’d only confuse issues.”
the hell is that supposed to mean? I want you here. You belong with me.”
can’t be here, Noah. I can’t be the support you need.” Her voice broke. She
tried to move away again.
caught her to him, selfishly drawing on her warmth, on the memory of last night
and what he’d felt in her arms. She’d tried to leave then, too, thinking she
wouldn’t be enough for him.
she’d been the promise of everything he wanted come to life. He’d convinced her
to say and she had. With every atom in his body, he wanted to be back in that
place, in that time with her.
he was already losing her. She’d retreated into herself, to a place where he
couldn’t touch her. He tried to understand. She needed to regroup the same way
he did. Hell, he needed more than to
needed to get to the bottom of what was going on. Speak to his lawyers…find out
how the hell this had ever happened. But first he had to deal with Ashley.
anger and disbelief scythed through him at the thought of what she’d done. But
with it came the realization of what was happening.
never given much thought to children in the immediate future. Before last week,
work and sex had been his life.
had quickly taken precedence over those priorities.
He kissed her because he couldn’t help himself. Because he needed her in ways
he still hadn’t been able to fathom. Ways he couldn’t communicate with anything
but his touch, his kiss.
kissed her because he was at a loss as to how to stop her from retreating.
Because he could still feel her pulling away.
the kiss. Her lips puckered beneath his, opened up and let him in. With a groan
of relief, he tasted her long and hard. The crazy receded until there was only
the two of them, wrapped in their own world, their chemistry a clawing hunger
that demanded to be satisfied.
grabbed his nape, scraped her long fingernails along his scalp, threading that
fine line between pleasure and pain that was their own unique aphrodisiac,
their own nirvana. He slammed her back against the solid outside wall, heard
her moan of pleasure at the rough treatment. He wedged a thigh between hers and
slid one hand to grip her throat. Then they fell deeper into the kiss, their
need for each other escalating to the point where he lost touch with reality.
took several seconds to realize she was pushing him away, not forcefully but
with enough strength to remind him where they were, what shitty chaos they were
treading neck-deep in.
sighed, released her and dropped his forehead against hers. Sliding his thumb
down her cheek in a soft caress, he quickly calculated. “Give me a few hours to
deal with this. I’ll reschedule our meeting with the investigator for this
evening.” He hadn’t lost sight of the fact that Leia’s stepfather, Stephen
Willoughby - the man who’d violently raped her when she was seventeen - was out
there, released from prison early and determined to make her life a living hell
once more. Protecting Leia was still his highest priority right now. “God, this
is nuts. I don’t want you to leave. Stay here, baby. I’d go crazy wondering if
you’re okay if you leave.”
started to shake her head before he’d finished. “No, I can’t stay.”
I really wish you wouldn’t fight me on this, Leia.”
turned her head, and he caught the renewed anguish on her face. “You don’t
understand. I’m not leaving now to return later. We won’t be meeting your
investigator together. When I leave, I’m not coming back, Noah.”
leaned back, frowning. “What do you mean you’re not coming back? Leia, your
stepfather is out there and he needs to be found. We will meet with the
investigator tonight. There’s no way I’m calling off the search for Willoughby.
Not until he’s found and back behind bars where he belongs. In case I didn’t
make myself clear, your safety is non-negotiable. So yes, if you don’t want to
stay here, I’ll let you have a few hours in that bastard Snyder’s care, but
you’re coming back here tonight. Understood?”