The Brooding Surgeon's Baby Bombshell. Susan Carlisle
upset about not flying out tonight.”
“Yeah. My mother has the beginnings of Alzheimer’s and I don’t like to leave her alone overnight. I’m worried she might not handle being by herself.”
“You worked it out?”
“I did. I got a friend to go over and stay with her.” Worry flickered in her eyes as she glanced away.
“She’s why you needed the job with regular hours. I understand caring for someone with your mother’s illness can be difficult.” He was an only child whose mother turned to him often for help and emotional support, but she still possessed her mental faculties. If she didn’t and he had to provide her with constant care even while he traveled...?
Zoe looked at him again, brow furrowed. “It is. I hate watching her wasting away. And good care is costly.”
“My mother is all I’ve got. My father died before I was born. I can only imagine how I would feel if she got sick.”
Her eyes took on a dark look before she said, “Growing up without a father can be tough. Do you have a stepfather?” Zoe seemed to have changed the subject on purpose.
“Nope. Mom never remarried.” He’d often wondered why. She’d always said it was because his father had been the love of her life, but he’d thought there might be more to it. As a kid, he had overheard her tell a friend she felt like she might be doing Gabe a disservice by not marrying. That she worried her decision not to do so had left Gabe with no male role model or father figure.
“She must be a great mom,” Zoe commented, bringing him back to the present. “You seemed to have turned out all right.”
His mother had been and still was a good mother, but truth be known, his grandmother had been the primary adult during his formative years. His mother had worked full-time to provide for him. “Thanks for saying so. But lately she’s been applying pressure to become a grandmother. It gets old.”
Zoe’s head turned to the side, her look quizzical. “You have no interest in making her one?”
“No. I’m not good family material. My job, my career, doesn’t leave me any room for a family. I’m far too busy. More than one girlfriend has accused me of being a workaholic. A wife and children deserve a full-time husband and father. I decided long ago that that drama wasn’t for me.”
A peculiar expression came over her face, but before he could ask what was wrong, the waiter brought their meals. Zoe started talking about places she had visited and would like to go to and he dismissed her unexplainable expression in favor of her entertaining conversation. When they were done with their meal, Gabe said, “It’s still early. Would you like to go to the jazz bar downstairs?”
She hesitated a moment. It really mattered to Gabe that she said yes. She finally quipped, “Why not? It sounds like fun.”
Relief washed over him and he smiled. Why was it so important that she go? He placed his hand at her back and guided her out of the restaurant toward the circular stairs. His hand fit perfectly in the hollow of her back. At the club, he asked for a table close to the band.
They had been there a few minutes when Zoe touched his arm. She leaned in close and said into his ear, “I needed this. Thanks for asking me.”
He smiled, glad she was having a good time. His body tightened with awareness. It was overreacting, big-time. Or was he overly conscious of his body’s natural response to an attractive woman he genuinely liked? They were both single and old enough to know their own minds, so why shouldn’t they enjoy each other’s attention?
Several couples moved to the open area of the floor. On impulse Gabe asked, “Would you like to dance?”
“I’m not very good.” She sounded more disappointed than rejecting.
He stood and offered his hand. “You don’t have to be. Just follow my lead.”
Zoe smiled. One he would remember. “Hey, I can do that.”
Gabe held her hand as they stepped out onto the floor. Pulling her into his arms, his hand went to her waist. It was so small his arm almost wrapped all the way around her. The top of her head came to just below his chin. The sweet scent of her filled his head and his body stirred. He resisted the strong urge to pull her tight, but firmly squelched the idea. His arousal would be evident. This was the nicest evening he’d had in a long time and he had no intention of ruining it by scaring her off.
The sultry sound of the saxophone swirled around them.
She looked up, commanding his attention. “I’m impressed. You’ve a surgeon’s touch even on the dance floor, gentle and skilled.”
“Thank you, ma’am.” He brought her a little closer in spite of his resolve. There were other things he was good at he’d like to show her. He needed to squelch those types of thoughts too. Gabe missed a step.
Her hand squeezed his shoulder when she stumbled.
He looked at her, mumbling, “Sorry.”
“I’m sure it’s your partner,” she said.
Searching the depths of her eyes, he muttered, “I assure you it isn’t.”
“I’ve not had much opportunity to dance since my prom, years ago.”
Her eyes were so green. “You’re doing great.”
She stared back. They continued to move slowly around the space. It wasn’t until there was a mumble going around the room that he forced his attention away from her seductive gaze. The music had stopped. They were the only ones still on the dance floor.
Zoe looked around. Her cheeks were spots of red. “Oops. I guess we got carried away.” She focused on him. “It’s been a long day and time I head upstairs. It’s later in my time zone than it is in yours.”
“Okay.” Gabe hated to let her go. He held her hand as they returned to the table. She picked up her bag and he left a few bills on the table for their drinks. “I’ll see you to your room.”
Zoe grasped her bag with both hands. He would have liked to have one of them in his. Somehow it seemed to belong there. What would she do if he kissed her? Would she push him away? Did he dare take a chance? He’d regret it if he didn’t.
They entered the elevator and rode up to her floor without a word. The need to touch her, hold her gnawed at him. Tension, thick as a wool blanket in the winter, lay between them. She glanced at him once, her soft, questioning eyes uncertain. He was painfully aware of what he wanted but did she feel the same? The decision must be hers.
At her door, she pulled her keycard from her purse and turned to face him. “Thank you. I really enjoyed this evening. Especially the dancing.”
Was she flirting with him? Testing the water?
She gave him a long look as if reaching a decision. With a blink, her hands came to rest on his shoulders as she stood on her toes and kissed him.
That was all the encouragement Gabe needed. He reached out, pulling her against him, his mouth crushing hers, his tongue finding a warm welcome. Her arms wrapped his neck and she hung on during the most passionate kiss he’d ever received. He wanted her. Right now. Based on her actions, she wouldn’t deny him.
He steadied her on her feet and growled, “Key.”
Zoe put it in his hand, her lips finding his again. He had no problem with that. Backing her against the door and with a minimum amount of fumbling, he managed to get the door opened and them inside.
It closed with a click behind them. Zoe’s legs wrapped around his waist. His hands cupped her butt as he stumbled toward the bed, his blood boiling and his body alive with desire for her.
He eased her down onto the mattress, moving over her. Had he ever been this hot for a woman? Supporting himself on his hands, he searched her face. She stared back. He saw the second doubt