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Authors: Shelli Stevens

Take Me in Tahoe (4 page)

BOOK: Take Me in Tahoe
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Chapter Eight

Nikki stared unblinking at the wall and waited for the sound of Chase’s breathing to even out. A sure sign that he was asleep.

She waited and then waited some more. Listening to the rain on the roof. It was official. She was the most naïve, horny idiot on the planet.

would get stuck with an unknown man in a cabin, screw him, and then find out he’d lied about not having a girlfriend.
Or a wife

Her stomach churned, and she felt the first sting of tears behind her eyes.

If only it
just been sex. But damn it. She liked him. Really, really liked him. Like, if they’d been in second grade, she would’ve given him the
My Little Pony
-themed Valentine that said
You’re Somepony Special

She slipped out of bed, trying to keep as quiet as possible. Grabbing her suitcase, she started tossing the items she’d taken out back in. Once that was done, she tiptoed to the bathroom and grabbed her makeup case.

Her mini bottle of mouthwash fell out of the case, hitting the floor with a small clatter. The breath locked in her throat, and she peeked out of the bathroom to the bed.

Chase stirred and rolled onto his side. She watched him, waiting for him to sit up and demand to know where she was going. His breathing evened out, signaling he was asleep, and she bit back a disappointed sigh.

Stop it. You will not be sad your
lover isn’t waking up to beg you to stay.

She turned and grabbed the mouthwash, setting it in her case and zipping it all the way closed. Tiptoeing back into the bedroom, she set it in her suitcase and slowly pulled the zipper closed.

Standing, she glanced one last time at Chase. Her stomach twisted again, and her throat grew tight. But the despondency warred with another emotion.

Her blood had come to a slow boil in the time since she’d overheard part of his conversation.

It meant nothing to me. You’re the only woman I want.

She went into the kitchen and found a paper plate and pen. It was important she leave him a note, something so he didn’t have hope that she’d be his adulterous booty call again.

Tapping the pen against her chin, she considered her options.
You lying sack of shit
seemed a little extreme. Finally, she began to write.

Thanks for the weekend fling. It was fun. But gotta get back to the city and real life.

She hesitated. Final enough? She put the pen to the paper again.

Unable to resist, she walked back to the bedroom and glanced through the door.

“Goodbye,” she whispered under her breath.

She blew him a kiss, gave him the finger, and then snuck out the door.

Chase woke to sunshine. He blinked and stared at the ceiling, heaviness in his gut. He rolled over, already sensing she wouldn’t be there.

“No.” He climbed out of bed and looked out the window. Her car was gone. “

Running to the kitchen, he found the note he was hoping she’d left. He picked it up, read it, and then set it down. Slowly, he exhaled the air that had been locked in his chest.

He wanted to call Justin to get her number—all her information.

What the hell was she thinking? Walking out on him? On them? On this life-changing weekend they’d just had. Unless…it hadn’t been life-changing for her.

He closed his eyes, his stomach tight. Unless for her, it had been just what she’d written. A fling.

It doesn’t matter. You’re from two different worlds anyway.

The rational side of his brain tried to make an appearance. But deep down inside he knew. One weekend with Nikki would never be enough. Unfortunately, she’d made it clear she didn’t feel the same.

Nikki wiped the back of her hand across her mouth and flushed the toilet. She leaned against the wall, not bothering to quiet her groans.

The door flew open, and Shaylee stood just outside, arms folded across her chest.

“How far along are you?”

“I don’t know.” Nikki averted her gaze. She knew. About eight weeks and three days.

“How long have you known?”

“A few weeks.”

Shaylee stared at her for a moment then shook her head in obvious amazement. “I don’t get it. How did you get pregnant? You haven’t been having sex.”

“Obviously, I have.”

“You’ve been holding out on me.” Shaylee sighed and helped her up. “Was it a one-night stand?”

More like a two-night.
“It doesn’t matter.”

She’d never told Shaylee or Justin about sharing the cabin with Chase. Didn’t see any point in it. Especially after she’d fled the cabin in the early hours of the morning, without as much as a goodbye. And then she’d found out she was pregnant. How? They’d used condoms. Apparently that wasn’t always enough.

Shaylee guided her into the kitchen and sat her down in one of the chairs.

“Are you thinking of keeping it?”

Nikki blinked. Was Shaylee serious? Glancing up at her friend, she realized she was. The other two options hadn’t been more than a fleeting thought.

“Yeah, I’m going to keep it.” Nikki accepted the glass of water her friend handed her. “I’ll be thirty in two months. I make enough money to support a child.”

“Okay.” Shaylee sighed. “Does the father know?”

“Father know what? What are you guys talking about?” Justin walked into the room eating a breakfast sandwich.

Oh God.
She couldn’t look at him without seeking out the small, but definite physical similarities between him and his brother.
Chase. The baby’s daddy.

Every time Justin came around, she about had a panic attack. Had Chase said anything to him about their time at the cabin?

“Nikki’s preggo.”

Nikki’s eyes widened. “Fuck! A little discretion, Shaylee.” Her stomach clenched with pure panic.

“Wow. Who knocked you up?”

So much for Chase having mentioned her. Disappointment had her throat going tight.

What? Did you expect he’d go bragging about his infidelity?

“Don’t know. She won’t say.”

Nikki wanted to cry—or punch someone. Chase. Justin. Shaylee. Hell, any of them would do at the moment. She clenched her fists and laid her head on the table.

Her stomach rolled at the smell of sausage coming from Justin’s sandwich.

“So you gonna tell us, Nikki? Who’s the daddy?” He leaned over, breathing sausage smell on her.

“For fuck’s sake! Get this greasy ass sandwich out of my face before I shove it up your ass,” she screamed.

The room went silent. Oh God. She’d lost it. Nikki blinked twice then burst into tears.

Chase glanced out the window of his living room. The city was coming out of the morning fog, warming up into a nice summer day. It was Saturday, the second day of his weekend since he didn’t work Fridays.

It was his time to relax, to get out and do something. And he was restless. The urge to get out and go somewhere was hitting strong. He’d considered going to the cabin, but truth be told he couldn’t quite face the memories right now.

It took a serious effort not to obsess or think about Nikki.

Although a day hadn’t gone by when she hadn’t been in his thoughts at some point. Five months of waking up with her image imprinted in his head.

So many times he’d considered swallowing his pride and begging Justin for her information. He’d picked up the phone more than once and called Justin with the intention of doing just that. But each time, the note she’d left would flash through his head.

The phone rang, and he glanced toward it, debating letting it go to voicemail. He turned away from the window and snatched it from the holder.


“Hey, bro. How are things?” Justin’s voice came through clear and bright.

Chase gave a small smile and sat down on the couch. The guy had lucked out all those months ago. Shaylee had taken him back, although it had taken a couple of weeks. And from Justin’s hints, he planned on asking the girl to marry him soon.

“Things are good.” What else could he say? Certainly, not the truth. That he was depressed and half in love with a woman who’d only wanted a weekend fling.

Justin had no idea about the weekend Chase had spent with Nikki. Unless she’d mentioned it, but he’d never gotten that impression.

“So what’s up, Justin?”

“I was calling to see if I could use the cabin this weekend. Or if you already had plans to go up there?”

Chase’s mouth twisted in a bittersweet smile. “No. I’m not going to the cabin. It’s all yours.”

“Oh, thank God.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Thank God? What’s going on?”

“We need to get away. Get out of San Francisco for the weekend.”

“Ah, the relationship needing a little romantic kick?”

“No. The romance is fine,” Justin grumbled. “It’s Shaylee’s crazy roommate.”

Chapter Nine

Chase sat up a little straighter, his blood pounding as his hand clenched around the phone.

“Shaylee’s roommate? What about her?”

“She’s turned into a raging hormonal bitch. But I guess pregnancy does that to you. Anyway, we’d really like to use the cabin…”

Pregnant. The rest of Justin’s words became garbled in his head.


“How pregnant?” he interrupted.

There was a pause. “What?”

“How pregnant is Nikki?”

“Wait. How did you know her name? Have I told you about her? The artist? Kind of wild, dresses a bit punk sometimes? She’s cute in a weird way but swears like a sailor—”

“Just answer the damn question!”

Another pause. “Okay then. I think Shaylee said she’s five months.”

Five months
. He didn’t even need to do the math. The probability that the child was his flashed like a neon sign through his head.

“She’s getting big though. Her ass is expanding about as fast as her belly.”

“You’re such an asshole. Where is she now?”

“Why? Chase, you’re tripping me out. Why are you so interested in Nikki?”

“Because the
is mine.”

Dead silence. Then, “Fuck. I must’ve drunk some bad tequila. I’m putting Shaylee on.”

Nikki stood in the middle of the room, one hand on her belly as she looked around at the gallery exhibit.

They’d drawn a good crowd tonight. Couples and singles were clustered around various paintings, analyzing her art and debating whether or not to spend the money.

“Congratulations.” Lisa, the owner of the gallery, came to stand beside her. “This is probably your most successful exhibit since last summer.”

Nikki glanced at her friend and offered a brief smile. “Thanks. I’m a little shocked.”

“Why? The winter series paintings you did with the snow went fast.”

“Yeah, no kidding. We sold all but one.”

“Well, that may not be true in a few minutes. You have an interested buyer.”

“For Cupid’s Tears?” Her voice rose.

“Yes. A man expressed interest a couple minutes ago.”

Nikki took a deep breath and looked away. She’d known it was a possibility and had wanted the price set so high it would discourage buyers. She hadn’t been ready to part with the painting.

The inspiration for it had come from her weekend with Chase. The oil painting, a mingling of blue and gray, showed the cabin in winter and, in the falling snow, hinted at a lover’s embrace.

“Actually, that’s why I’m here. The potential buyer has some questions for you. I put him in the office if you don’t mind running over there real quick.”

She swallowed her disappointment and gave a brief nod. “That’s fine.”

“Great, thanks.” Lisa gave her shoulder a triple pat before dashing across the floor to talk to some more potential buyers.

Nikki took a deep breath, smoothing the black empire waist dress over her expanding curves and headed to the back office.

She stepped through the door and froze, all the color draining from her face.

“Hello, Nikki.” Chase stepped forward, reaching past her to shut the door behind her.

She had the ridiculous urge to run behind the desk and hide her belly. But yeah, a little late for that.

He stepped closer, a tiny smile on his face. But really, he didn’t look amused.

Maybe he truly was just interested in the painting. It was possible he wasn’t noticing her enormous belly, breasts and ass. Or if he had, he’d probably just assume it was somebody else’s baby.

“So.” He stepped forward and reached out to touch the side of her cheek, sending warmth through every inch of her body. “Were you planning on telling me about the baby?”

Okay. So he wasn’t an idiot. Her heart thudded so loud she was sure he could hear it. She swiped her tongue across her lips.

“Of course, I was going to tell you. You’re a dentist. Free dental for the kid.”

His eyes darkened, and she was fully aware she’d just pissed him off.


“I was kidding.” She lowered her gaze, her hand moving automatically to the baby bump. “Yes, Chase. I would have told you. You’re his father. You have the right to know, whether you choose to be involved in his life or not.”

A sense of wonder and protectiveness swept through Chase. She’d said
father. He was having a son. His chest expanded as he breathed in raggedly. How could she have kept this from him?

I want to be involved?” His voice dropped an octave, shaking with the anger he couldn’t quite hold in check.

He backed her up, until she was pinned between him and the door. Her eyes widened, and he could see the confusion in them.

He ran his gaze from her top to bottom. She’d changed her appearance a bit; wasn’t as punk. Her black hair was in big curls around her face, and her makeup was still heavy but rather more 1940s glam now.

She still smelled the same, that sweet patchouli oil scent that would forever remind him of her.

Her body was lush with curves, her stomach already rounded with their child.

She was sexier now, five months pregnant, than she had been that weekend five months ago.

you want to be involved,” she said, looking overly confident for someone who was about to make him lose his cool.

“You’ve got a lot of nerve.”

“Yeah, so do you.” She met his glare with one of her own.

“You think so? You haven’t seen anything yet.” He lowered his head toward hers, his blood pounding.

He heard the change in her breathing and dropped his gaze to her breasts. Her nipples were tight against the fabric.

“Are you threatening me? Because let me warn you, asshole, you never threaten a pregnant woman. I’ll have you—”

He covered her mouth with his, needing to feel the softness of her lips. To remember the sweet taste of her. She pushed against his chest, her outrage obvious, but he refused to let her go.

The longer he held her, the slower he moved his tongue against hers, the less she resisted. He relaxed his grip on her, murmured a sound of approval. Then she bit his tongue.

He jerked back with a curse. “What the hell—”

“Don’t you kiss me. You can’t walk in here and just haul off and kiss me,” she snapped, folding her arms across her chest. “I will not be your side piece. So you just march that cute ass home to your wife or girlfriend. Whichever one it is.”

She turned, reaching for the handle on the door. “I’ll call you after Dexter’s born and we can work out a parenting plan.”

Chase blinked and the anger drained out of him, leaving him in complete confusion. “What the hell are you talking about? I don’t have a girlfriend, and I’m certainly not married.”

Her hand stilled on the door handle, and she glanced over her shoulder at him.

“I heard you. On the phone in the cabin that night. Why the hell are you lying to me?”

“On the phone?” He shook his head. Where was she getting this?

“You said I meant nothing, and she was the only one you wanted.”

It took almost a minute until the light dawned. The conversation with Justin? How much had she heard? Obviously, only the part to make her assume the worst. Was this why she’d left him that night?

“I was on the phone to Justin, Nikki. If you were going to eavesdrop, you should have listened to the whole damn conversation.”

She gave him a wary look. “What do you mean?”

“I mean I was giving him advice on what to say to Shaylee after he got caught kissing another woman.”

“You mean you’re not married?”


“And you don’t have a girlfriend?”

“Obviously not.”

Her mouth opened, but she didn’t say anything. Just blinked a few times. Then she opened the door and walked out of the office.

BOOK: Take Me in Tahoe
10.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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