Strictly Temporary. Robyn Grady
Harrison. How much did he truly know about this neighbor of his, Mrs. Dale? Trinity’s foster mother had given off a caring would-die-for-these-children impression, too. All a big fat lie.
“How can you be sure this miracle neighbor of yours will be in?” she asked.
“The Dales are homebodies. I’ve been in town a few days. When I passed by this morning, just before the snow began to fall, Mrs. D was hurrying inside her gate, back from taking one of her grandkids for a walk in the stroller.”
Nibbling her lower lip, Trinity glanced around the busy foyer…at the helpful receptionist, the bellboy waiting patiently nearby, the concierge at his desk looking ready at a moment to rush over and help.
She made her decision.
“We’re staying here. It’s a good hotel. Great staff—”
“This baby’s better off with someone who knows about children.”
His voice held a warning note—low and deep—but he didn’t look annoyed, merely determined. And, damn it, didn’t he have a point? They’d already established they had no idea how long the authorities would take getting out. And if she put her own past experience and suspicions aside, Mrs. Dale could be precisely what this baby needed at this uncertain point in time. To be fair, how much of her reluctance was about what was best for the baby and how much about her own issues and personal dislike for Mr. Harrison?
Trinity gazed down at the baby, still sleeping soundly, and finally relented.
“Okay.” She nodded. “We’ll go.”
“I need to see her settled before…” Trinity shut down an image of the baby being taken away to God knows where, for however long, and ended by saying, “Before I leave.”
Zack Harrison’s features were angled in a strong, classical kind of way. His coal-fringed eyes reflected a character that was both comfortable with himself as well as with others, but they were also hypervigilant. Watchful while somehow resigned—the mark of a man who wielded power and was content in the knowledge that he was indeed a force.
Self-assured. Unapologetically so. But now Trinity saw another emotion shifting in his gaze.
Was it respect?
“In that case,” he said, “we’d better go before our cabbie turns traitor and takes another fare.”
At the same time he moved to claim the carrier’s handle, so did she. When their hands met, skin against skin, heat on human heat, Trinity felt her face flush as her blood reacted and raced. With that lock of hair hanging over his brow, Zack looked across and grinned at her. Getting her rabid hormones under control, Trinity straightened.
“Before we go, I think it’s only fair I admit that I know who you are.”
His chin lifted. “I told you who I was.”
“I read like everyone else, Mr. Harrison. You help run your family’s hotel chain. You do whatever it takes to get whatever you want—” She hesitated but couldn’t hold it back. “And you pride yourself on seducing beautiful women.”
The grin froze on his face. “You subscribe to my fan club.”
“Just so you understand—I’m agreeing to this only because I believe it’s the best option for that baby.”
“Not because I’m ruthless and irresistible?”
Her heart jumped and she fought the urge to lick suddenly dry lips.
“Definitely not because of that.”
He seemed to loom closer, look hotter, as his eyes glittered, penetrating hers. “Well, now you have that out the way, we should go. Unless…”
Her antennae quivered. “Unless what?”
“We get this out of the way now.”
“Get what out the way?”
“I thought you might want to kick my shin, slap my face. Pull my nose.”
The tension locking her shoulders eased. She’d thought for a moment…Oh, but that was ridiculous.
“I’ll try to restrain myself,” she said.
He looked at her sideways as if he might be able to glimpse a well-hidden piece of her soul. “Ms. Matthews, you didn’t think I was going to do something wholly in character, like take you in my arms and kiss you? Maybe even ravage you?”
Her cheeks caught light. The man was outrageous! “Of course not.”
“I’m such a beast. How can you be sure?”
“I’m hardly your type,” she pointed out. “Even if I were, after these last few weeks of less than glowing publicity, you couldn’t possibly want to draw attention to yet another incident.” She slid a confident glance around the busy area. “We’re out in the open. Everyone has cell phones and every cell phone has a camera.”
Mr. Harrison’s eyes lost their spark. His gaze turned dark, almost predatory.
“You think I care about gossip?”
“No. I don’t.” She cocked her head. “But maybe you should.”
That devilish smile twitched and spread again.
“You’re right. Maybe I should.” He stepped unforgivably close while his gaze held her unforgettably still. “And maybe I should give the world something to really talk about.”
Zack slanted his head closer to Trinity Matthews’s stunned violet-colored eyes and almost forgot that he’d been teasing. Making her pay.
She didn’t know him from a lump of wood. What a laugh that she should make assumptions based on the tripe gossipmongers served up—and how typical. After all, she was one of them—a reporter for some rag-or-other he’d never heard of before today. Most publications shared a common code, turning a castaway line or suggestive photo into a sensation that had nothing to do with the truth and everything to do with building numbers and keeping their parasitic jobs.
Still, he was a good sport. He wouldn’t hold any of that against Ms. Matthews, particularly when she was so darn cute all fired up, blushing and battling her conscience. Would she make a scene if he did the unimaginable and kissed her, or would she melt into his embrace and maybe make the front page herself?
Sorely tempted, his head dropped lower, but at the last moment, his trajectory veered and his attention fell again to the baby. He collected the carrier and headed for the hotel exit. A few seconds later, Trinity Matthews’s heels were clicking double-time behind him.
Outside, from a gray Colorado sky buttressed by mountains, the snow was falling faster. When they were all safely back in the cab, Zack called Child Services on his cell while the meter ticked and Trinity watched the baby. Finally he spoke with a woman who asked for his number and address then said a representative would get back to him as soon as possible. She also said it was her obligation to inform the police of all details, including his. Perfect. Saved him.
As he ended the call, in hushed tones, Trinity asked, “What’d they say?”
“They’ll get back to us.”
“When they can.” Soon, he hoped. He slotted the cell away. “In the meantime, we’ll pick up some spare diapers and head over to Mrs. Dale’s.”
When the authorities took away the baby, he’d pay for Trinity’s return fare to the airport. With this good deed done and out of the way, he’d get to sipping that brandy before a toasty log fire. Zack was in half a mind to ask whether Trinity might like to join him, if only to see whether she’d leap at the chance to dress him down or betray her morality for curiosity and accept.