Baby Bonanza / For Blackmail...or Pleasure: Baby Bonanza. Robyn Grady
He tapped his finger against the lowest deck on the diagram. “The Riviera Deck.”
“There are people staying down there.”
Pleased that she’d caught on so fast, Nick said, “When the ship came out of refit ready for passengers, I said specifically that those lower cabins weren’t to be used.”
“Yeah, you did, boss.” She actually winced, whipped out her PDA and punched a few keys. “I’ll do some checking. Find out what happened.”
“You do that,” he said, irritated as hell that someone, somewhere, hadn’t paid attention to him. “For right now, though, find out how many of those cabins are occupied.”
While Teresa worked her electronic wizardry, Nick looked back at the framed plans and shook his head. Those lower cabins were too old, too small to be used on one of his ships. Sure, they’d undergone some refurbishing during the refit, but having them and using them were two different things. Those cabins, small and dark and cramped, weren’t the kind of image Nick wanted associated with his cruise line.
“Boss?” Teresa looked at him. “According to the registry, only two of the five cabins are being used.”
“That’s something, anyway. Who’s down there?”
“1A is occupied by a Joe and Mary Curran.”
He didn’t know any Currans and besides, the card had come from whoever was in the only other occupied cabin on that deck.
So he waited.
“2A is…” Teresa’s voice trailed off and Nick watched as his usually unflappable assistant chewed at her bottom lip.
That couldn’t be good.
“What is it?” When she didn’t answer right away, he demanded, “Just tell me who’s in the other cabin.”
“Jenna,” Teresa said and blew out a breath. “Jenna Baker’s in 2A, Nick.”
Nick made record time getting down to the Riviera Deck, and by the time he reached it, he’d already made the decision to close up this deck permanently. Damned if he’d house his paying guests in what amounted to little more than steerage.
Stepping off the elevator, he hit his head on a low cross beam and muttered a curse. The creaks and groans of the big ship as it pushed through the waves echoed through the narrow passageway like ghosts howling. The sound of the water against the hull was a crushing heartbeat and it was so damned dark in the abbreviated hallway, even the lights in the wall sconces barely made a dent in the blackness. And the hall itself was so narrow he practically had to traverse it sideways. True, it was good business to make sure you provided less expensive rooms, but he’d deal with that another way. He’d be damned if his passengers would leave a cruise blinking at the sun like bats.
With his head pounding, his temper straining on a tight leash, he stopped in front of 2A, took a breath and raised his right fist to knock. Before he could, the narrow door was wrenched open and there she stood.
She shouldn’t have still been able to affect him. He’d had her after all. Had her and then let her go more than a year ago. So why then was he suddenly struck by the turquoise-blue of her eyes? Why did that tight, firm mouth make him want to kiss her until her lips eased apart and let him back in? Why did the fact that she looked furious make his blood steam in his veins? What the hell did she have to be mad about?
“I heard you in the hall,” she said.
“Good ears,” he conceded. “Considering all the other noises down here.”
A brief, tight smile curved her mouth. “Yeah, it’s lovely living in the belly of the beast. When they raise anchor it’s like a symphony.”
He hadn’t considered that, but he was willing to bet the noise was horrific. Just another reason to seal up these rooms and never use them again. However, that was for another time. What he wanted now were answers.
“Good one,” he said. “That’s why you’re here, then? To talk about the ship?”
“You know why I’m here.”
He lifted one hand to the doorjamb and leaned in toward her. “I know what you’d like me to think. The question is, why? Why now? What’re you after, Jenna?”
“I’m not going to talk about this in the hall.”
“Fine.” He stepped inside, moving past her, but the quarters were so cramped, their chests brushed together and he could almost feel his skin sizzle.
It had been like that from the beginning. The moment he’d touched her that first night in the moonlight, he’d felt a slam of something that was damn near molten sliding through him. And it seemed that time hadn’t eased it back any.
He got a grip on his hormones, took two steps until he was at the side of a bed built for a sixth-grader, then turned around to glare at her. God, the cabin was so small it felt as though the walls were closing in on him and, truth to tell, they wouldn’t have far to move. He felt as if he should be slouching to avoid skimming the top of his head along the ceiling. Every light in the cabin was on and it still looked like twilight.
But Nick wasn’t here for the ambience and there was nothing he could do about the rooms at the moment. Now all he wanted was an explanation. He waited for her to shut the door, sealing the two of them into the tiny cracker box of a room before he said, “What’s the game this time, Jenna?”
“This isn’t a game, Nick,” she said, folding her arms over her chest. “It wasn’t a game then, either.”
“Right.” He laughed and tried not to breathe deep. The scent of her was already inside him, the tiny room making him even more aware of it than he would have been ordinarily. “You didn’t want to lie to me. You had no choice.”
Her features tightened. “Do we really have to go over the old argument again?”
He thought about it for a moment, then shook his head. He didn’t want to look at the past. Hell. He didn’t want to be here now. “No, we don’t. So why don’t you just say what it is you have to say so we can be done.”
“Always the charmer,” she quipped.
He shifted from one foot to the other and banged his elbow on the wall. “Jenna…”
“Fine. You got my note?”
He reached into the pocket of his shirt, pulled out the card, glanced at the pictures of the babies, then handed it to her. “Yeah. I got it. Now how about you explain it?”
She looked down at those two tiny faces and he saw her lips curve slightly even as her eyes warmed. But that moment passed quickly as she lifted her gaze to him and skewered him with it. “I would have thought the word daddy was fairly self-explanatory.”
“Fine.” Jenna walked across the tiny room, bumped Nick out of her way with a nudge from her hip that had him hitting the wall and then bent down to drag a suitcase out from under her bed. The fact that she could actually feel his gaze on her butt while she did it only annoyed her.
She would not pay any attention to the rush of heat she felt just being close to him again. She would certainly not acknowledge the jump and stutter of her heartbeat, and if certain other of her body parts were warm and tingling, she wasn’t going to admit to that, either.
Dragging the suitcase out, she went to lift it, but Nick was there first, pushing her fingers aside to hoist the bag onto the bed. If her skin was humming from that one idle touch, he didn’t have to know it, did he?