Strictly Temporary. Robyn Grady
the twinge beneath his ribs, Zack set his jaw and squared his shoulders.
After that, no doubt the mother would show up, all teary but relieved, and the family would have a good story to share at the kid’s twenty-first.
But, for now, Red needed a hand to battle the snow and get them both inside.
He shifted. “I’ll help you back in.”
Before he could insist, she’d opened her door. Standing with her overnight case in one hand, she waved in the direction of the hotel entrance with the other. Zack glanced out the back window. Through swirls of snow, a uniformed bellman was striding over, monster umbrella fending off the inclement weather.
James Dirkins, the current owner of this hotel, had refused his first offer on behalf of Harrison Hotels, but at this moment Zack was more determined than ever. When he snared the deal, bought this hotel, his first priority would be to cover that forecourt. Such a basic thing. No wonder occupancy was down.
After handing her luggage to the bellman, Red slid out the carrier. She had the good grace to flash a quick smile goodbye before the bellman shut the door and Zack watched them shrink then vanish into the white.
“So, you going to the airport, pal?”
Gaze still on the drifts, Zack murmured, “A private address.”
“You want me to guess?”
But Zack wasn’t listening.
He didn’t even know her name.
“You could buy your own cab the way the meter’s clicking over,” the driver said. “Not that I’ll complain.”
Zack’s ears pricked, his stomach jumped and he sat straighter. Was that the wind he heard gusting outside or a baby’s cry?
Squeezing his eyes shut, he counted to three but, wouldn’t you know, the urge only grew. Wasn’t often Zack Harrison felt cornered. Beaten. But now he groaned, whipped out his wallet, dropped a bill over onto the front seat and told the driver, “Wait here. As long as it takes. I’ll be back.”
Trinity Matthews knew precisely what she’d gotten herself into.
Hours of waiting—and worrying—in a city where she knew no one; the naturopath she’d met and interviewed today for Story didn’t count. And yet as she moved over the polished marble floor, heading for the hotel’s sweeping timber reception desk with the baby carrier weighing on her arm, Trinity couldn’t regret her decision.
Child Services did their best, but lines were long and resources low. At one time, she’d applied for a job in the department but personal experience with the system, as well as insight into herself, said she’d never cut it. So many neglected or abandoned children…She’d want to take home every one.
Glancing down, Trinity studied the sleeping baby and raw emotion gripped and thickened in her throat. Nobody asked to be tossed away. Nobody deserved to be, certainly not this little angel. If, in fact, abandonment were the case.
The echoing slap of footfalls on marble came from behind. Trinity pivoted around. The man from the cab—the one with those incredible midnight eyes, that velvet smooth baritone and a smile that seemed strangely familiar—was jogging up toward her, dodging patrons and hotel staff, overcoat tails flapping behind. As he pulled up, a lock of dark hair fell over his brow and his broad shoulders rolled back as he drew in a deep breath. For a moment, Trinity felt a little out of breath herself. From head to foot, and everywhere in between, what an outstanding example of the male species. And there it was again…that niggle that whispered she knew him.
And maybe shouldn’t trust him.
Then he introduced himself and the pieces of that puzzle all fell magically into place.
“I forgot to introduce myself,” he said with a lopsided grin. “Zackery Harrison.”
Trinity’s eyes widened at the same time her stomach muscles clutched. Of course! Standing in the brighter light, who could dispute that dynamite build, the Hollywood looks, that authoritative air? In person, Mr. Harrison was indeed criminally sexy. From all she’d read, Trinity also knew he was a greedy, self-serving jerk.
But she wouldn’t call him out on that here, now. This was neither the place nor time to give Mr. Harrison a piece of her mind. Siphoning in a settling breath, she schooled her features and introduced herself.
“I’m Trinity Matthews.”
“Ms. Matthews,” he said, looking as commanding as he did in his numerous celebrity shots, whether appearing barechested on his yacht or looking sophisticated and invincible in a tailored suit and tie. “I’ve given this situation more thought and I want to help.”
Studying his charitable expression, she asked the obvious.
Wariness flickered in his eyes before he smiled again. “Because I have some spare time and you need to get back to New York.”
Trinity took in his intoxicating grin, white and inviting—the same smile that had reached out to intrigue her earlier in the cab. The same look that had seduced some of the country’s most beautiful women and persuaded officials to trade people’s homes for commercial profits. Her blood boiled to even think of self-serving, money-hungry corporate studs like Zack Harrison when so many people did without.
Which led back to the little person who needed her help now.
Whom did this baby belong to? What was her story? Trinity couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to cast her aside. She was so perfect. So beautiful.
“I’ll catch a later flight,” she told Harrison. “I might not be a world expert where caring for new babies is concerned, but chances are I know more than you.”
Weren’t women supposed to be instinctive about maternal matters like feeding and soothing? Of course, Trinity knew better than most there were exceptions.
When Zackery Harrison crossed his arms, a subtle cue to have her capitulate and be on her way back to New York, Trinity set down the carrier and crossed her arms, too.
“I’m not leaving,” she told him, “until I know she’s okay.”
“I have a place not far from here—”
“I said no.”
Babies needed constant care and attention. Love. She wasn’t certain Harrison even had a heart.
“My neighbors keep an eye on my place when I’m away,” he pushed on. “Mrs. Dale is a spritely grandmother of ten. She doesn’t like today’s music or grasshoppers, particularly when her dianthuses are in bloom. But she adores babies. She used to be a foster mom.”
Trinity suppressed a shudder. Despite her personal experience, certainly there must be a ton of fabulous ones. Still, she couldn’t help her reflex reaction. For years the term “foster mom” had been interchangeable with “monster mom,” aka Nasty Nora Earnshaw, her own foster mother.
“Mrs. Dale ran her own home child-care business not so long ago,” he went on. “Still has all the gear—high chairs, playpens. I know she’d be happy to help.” His dark eyes glittered. “You don’t want to miss your interview.”
Trinity’s fists unclenched.
Her job meant more to her than anything. It gave her the chance to travel and meet so many interesting and inspirational people. Individuals who touched others’ lives in so many ways. After living in a small Ohio town most of her life, she loved working in New York. She’d made friends there. Had made herself a life.
Her profession was a fiercely competitive one. In these tough times, positions were hard to come by. With three coworkers laid off last week due to more budget cuts, she couldn’t afford to rock the boat.