Strictly Temporary. Robyn Grady

Strictly Temporary - Robyn Grady

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small undershirts and one-piece outfits. As Zack well knew, in any venture, preparedness was the key. Besides, the pink suit had tiny ears on the hood like a cat or bear. Who could pass that up?

      The baby was still pushing out pint-size z’s when half an hour later the cab swerved into his neighbors’ long driveway.

      Dusk had fallen over the peaceful, largely unpopulated district, which was bordered by giant firs, their branches burdened with the weight of new snow. A lonely streetlamp cast an eerie glow over the wintery ground but no light shone from the Dales’ place. In fact, for the first time Zack could recall, that house appeared quite still.


      Trinity was peering out the foggy window, too.

      “No one’s home.” Studying the surrounding woods, she sat back and hugged herself. “We should have stayed at the hotel. Do you even get cell reception out this far?”

      “If you’re heading back in, you’d want to be quick about it.” The driver upped the wiper speed and blades thrashed triple-time across the icy screen. “This is turning into a storm.”

      Fingers threaded on his lap, Zack thought for a moment then gave the driver instructions. “Continue on, a hundred yards down on your right.”

      “Hang on just a minute.” Trinity clutched her seat belt like it was the only parachute on a plane going down. “Did you hear what he said? This snow’s not letting up. If we’re going back into town, we need to go now.”

      “The authorities have my details. They know where we’re headed. We’ll stay put until they get back to us.”

      In the growing shadows, her eyes flashed and those kissable lips tightened. She shook her head. “We’re going back.”

      “Not an option.”

      “Why not?”

      “You mean aside from being smart and staying out of this weather?”

      He paused long enough to draw attention to wind gusting and whistling outside. When Mother Nature spoke, people did best to listen. Besides, he refused to set foot inside that hotel again until Dirkins had sufficient time to sweat over his offer. If he checked in tonight, the owner of that hotel would assume Zack had weakened and was prepared to sweeten the offer he’d made. That wasn’t the case, no matter how much Zack sympathized with Dirkins’s personal situation. A death in the family was never easy, particularly, he imagined, when it involved an only son.

      The baby shifted. A tiny fist curled into the blanket. Zack held his breath while she yawned, stretched and squeaked at the same time a frown pinched her flawless brow.

      He growled. That did it.

      “My cabin’s a minute’s drive from here,” he said. “Don’t know about you, but I’d rather dance naked in that snow than be stuck in a cab when she wakes up crying.”

      The baby squeaked again, louder this time. Then her nose wrinkled before she settled fitfully again. Trinity pressed her lips together for a considering moment before her hold on the seat belt eased and reluctantly fell away.

      “All right. We’ll go to your place.”

      Wasting no time, Zack tapped the driver’s shoulder and the cab pulled carefully out of the Dales’ snow-clogged driveway. After the baby was put down again later, before the authorities arrived, he and Ms. Matthews could take time to reflect on the decisions they’d made, perhaps while sitting in front of a crackling fire with that brandy that felt so close now, he could almost taste it.

      Despite her stand, animal instinct said she was as attracted to him as he was to her. Could be interesting getting to know her a little better.

      Gazing out the window, Zack slowly smiled.

      Who was he kidding? Truth was that he’d like to get to know Ms. Matthews, and her attitude, a whole lot more.

      At the same time the cab rolled away from Zack Harrison’s address, the full moon peeked out from beneath its heavy blanket of cloud. As a silvery glow illuminated the scene, Trinity could barely stop from gasping and rubbing to clear her eyes.

      This was a cabin?

      Zack, with the carrier and bags of baby supplies, was already striding through the drifts on his way to the covered entrance of the spectacular A-frame home. Flopping her coat’s hood over her head, Trinity gripped her case and hurried after him. He pushed back the large timber door, flicked on a light and she stepped through into central-heated heaven. Marveling over her new surroundings, she blindly set her case on the hardwood floor.

      The lower story was huge and open plan, various details of which hinted at exceptional wealth as well as a rustic homey welcome. To the right, the kitchen area was elevated one step and dressed in soaring polished oak with shining granite trimmings. At the far end of the room, a state-of-the-art media section was laid out before sumptuous connected leather recliners. In the center of a massive slate wall, a significant stone fireplace begged to be lit and have marshmallows toasted over gentle flames. A hallway off the foyer would lead to bedrooms, Trinity decided. As she drew back her hood, her gaze climbed a loft staircase that led to a mezzanine floor encased by carved timber rails.

      Zack’s husky words brushed her ear as he passed and explained, “The main bedroom.”

      She quivered. Main bedroom. His bedroom. A whirlpool of images swam up in her mind, the most vivid: Zack Harrison relaxing back against a strong, wooden headboard, rumpled sheet draped over lean hips, hard broad chest shamelessly on display, his expression self-assured…roguish and hot.

      Hauling herself back, Trinity caught her breath. She wasn’t here to fantasize about sleeping with a man who’d made sexual seduction his favorite personal pastime. Obviously she wasn’t the only female he affected this way. The media spotted a new besotted squeeze on his arm every other month. But dwelling on his charisma—on that blatant sex appeal—had no place here, particularly when she’d made a fool of herself earlier at the hotel. She’d practically dissolved when she’d thought he might kiss her. Her skin flashed hot just thinking how he must have laughed when, eyelids growing heavy, she’d visibly trembled.

      But he wouldn’t catch her out again.

      While Zack gently set down the carrier and supplies then maneuvered out of his overcoat, Trinity chased the butterflies from her stomach, slipped out of her coat as well then offered a neutral, totally honest statement.

      “Your home is beautiful.”

      “I don’t spend a lot of time here,” he said, peeling back the carrier’s light blanket, which had acted as a shield for the baby against the falling snow. “I hail from New York, like you. But you already know that.”

      She ignored his mischievous, pointed look and continued to study the room. “So this is a getaway?”

      “My dad used to spend all his time at the office. To make it up to us, we’d always pack up and head off to Colorado for a break during snow season.” He set his coat on the nearby rack, hung hers, too, then shucked out of his suit jacket before hooking that as well. “When I was older, I kept traveling out and found this area. We’ve got some amazing scenery. Nice people, too—the kind who are never too busy to nod and say hello when you pass on the street. I figured I might as well have a place on hand.”

      “But you don’t have a vehicle in the garage?” Or there’d be no need for a cab.

      “Engines like to be turned over regularly, so it’s easier to rent something. When I flew in this time, there’d been a mixup with the rental information. I don’t exactly fit inside a bubble car.” He gave his impressive shoulders an awkward roll to make his point then threw a glance toward the kitchen and collected the baby carrier again. “I’ll put on some coffee. We can get her bottle set up while it brews.”

      Trinity knew she was stepping on dangerous ground but she couldn’t keep her gaze off the impressive ledge of his shoulders in that white business shirt as she followed

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