“Will do.” She paused, and Nick turned to look at her. They were standing at the bow of the ship on the Splendor Deck, mainly because Nick hadn’t felt like being cooped up in his office. And he couldn’t go to his suite because Jenna was there. Being in the same room with her without reacting to her presence was becoming more of a challenge.
The last few days had been hell. Being with her every day, sleeping down the hall from her at night, knowing she was there, stretched out on a king-size bed, probably wearing what she used to—a tank top and a pair of tiny, bikini panties—had practically killed him. He’d taken more cold showers in the last three days than he had in the past ten years.
His plan to seduce Jenna and then lose her was backfiring. He was the one getting seduced. He was the one nearly being strangled with throttled-back desire. And he was getting damned sick of it. It was time to make a move. Time to take her to bed. Before they got the results of that DNA test.
Tonight, he decided. Tonight he’d have Jenna Baker back in his bed. Where he’d wanted her for the past year.
He was almost surprised to hear Teresa’s voice. Hell, he’d forgotten where the hell he was and what he was doing. Just thinking about Jenna had his body hard and aching.
“What is it?” He half turned away from the woman and hoped she wouldn’t notice the very evident proof of just how hungry for Jenna he really was.
“The lab in Cabo called. They faxed the results of the DNA test to the lab in L.A.”
“Good.” His stomach fisted, but he willed it to loosen. Nothing to do about it now but wait for the results. Which would probably arrive by tomorrow. So, yeah. Tonight was the night.
“Do you want me to tell Jenna?”
Nick frowned at his assistant, then let the expression fade away. Wasn’t her fault he felt like he was tied up in knots. “No, thanks. I’ll do it.”
“Okay.” Teresa took a deep breath, held it, then blew it out. “Look, I know this is none of my business…”
“Never stopped you before,” he muttered with a smile.
“No, I guess not,” she admitted, swiping one hand through her wind-tousled hair. “So let me just say, I don’t think Jenna’s trying to play you.”
He went perfectly still. From the shore came the sounds of car horns honking and a swell of noise that only a crowd of tourists released for the day could make. Waves slapped halfheartedly at the hull of the ship, and the wind whipped his hair into his eyes.
He pushed it aside as he looked at Teresa. “Is that right?”
She lifted her chin, squared her shoulders and looked him dead in the eye. “That’s right. She’s just not the type to do something like this. She never did give a damn about your money or who you were.”
“Teresa—” He didn’t want to talk about this and he didn’t actually care what his assistant thought of Jenna. But knowing Teresa, there was just no way to stop her. An instant later, he was proved right.
“—still talking. And if I’m going to get fired for shooting my mouth off,” she added quickly, “then I’m going to get it all said no matter what you think.”
“I didn’t say anything when you fired her, remember. I even agreed with you to a point—yes, Jenna should have told you she worked for you, but from her point of view I can see why she didn’t.”
“That’s great, thanks.”
She ignored his quips and kept talking. “I didn’t even say anything when you were so miserable after she left that it was like working for a panther with one foot caught in a steel trap.”
“But I’m saying it now,” she told him, and even wagged a finger at him as if he were a misbehaving ten-year-old. “You can fire me for it if you want to, but you’ll never get another assistant as good as I am and you know it….”
Gritting his teeth because he knew she was right, Nick nodded and ordered, “Spit it out then.”
“Jenna’s not the kind to lie.”
A bark of laughter shot from his throat.
“Okay, fine, she didn’t tell you she was an employee. But that was one mistake. Remember, I knew her then, too, Nick. She’s a nice kid with a good heart.”
He shifted uncomfortably because he didn’t want her to be right. It was much easier on him to think of Jenna as a liar and a manipulator. Those kind of women he knew how to deal with. A nice woman? What the hell was he supposed to do with one of those?
“And,” Teresa added pointedly, “I saw the pictures of your sons—”
“That hasn’t been confirmed yet,” he said quickly.
“They look just like you,” she countered.
“All babies look like Winston Churchill,” Nick argued, despite the fact that he knew damn well she was right.
“Yeah?” She smiled and shook her head. “Winston never looked that good in his life, I guarantee it. They’ve got your eyes. Your hair. Your dimples.” Teresa paused, reached out and laid one hand on his forearm. “She’s not lying to you, Nick. You’re a father. And you’re going to have to figure out how you want to deal with that.”
He turned his face toward the sea and let the wind slap at him. The wide stretch of openness laid out in front of him was usually balm enough to calm his soul and soothe whatever tensions were crowded inside him. But it wasn’t working now. And maybe it never would again.
Because if he was a father…then his involvement with those kids wasn’t going to be relegated to writing a check every month. He’d be damned if his children were going to grow up not knowing him. Whether Jenna wanted him around or not, he wasn’t going anywhere. He was going to be a part of their lives, even if that meant he had to take them away from their mother to do it.
The ship felt deserted.
With most of the passengers still on shore exploring Acapulco, Jenna wandered decks that made her feel as if she were on board a ghost ship. That evening, she was back in Nick’s suite and feeling on edge. She’d showered, changed into a simple, blue summer dress and was now fighting the fidgets as she waited for Nick to come back to the suite for dinner.
Funny, she’d spent nearly every waking moment with him over the past few days, feeling her inner tension mount incrementally. She’d convinced herself that what she needed was time to herself. Time away from Nick, to relax. Unwind a little, before the stress of being so close to him made her snap.