“Now, for the time being we will assume the child is mine. It will have to be proved of course, but I have no doubt of the finding.” Actually, I do, but I’m not about to let her in on my qualms. Easy enough to walk away if I’m not the father. “So let’s discuss the next step, shall we?”
“I’m. Not. Marrying. You.” She bites out between clenched teeth.
“Are you in a relationship?” I know damn well she isn’t, except for Brian Sullivan who keeps sniffing around her like she’s a mare in heat.
She crosses her arms against her chest. “No. I don’t have anyone in my life because I don’t intend to marry.” She enunciates the last five words with firm insistence which I ignore.
“Good. Another croissant?” I smile while bringing the plate to her.
She shoots me a dirty look, grabs a napkin and bites into the flaky crust. No doubt who she’d rather bite into instead.
"I know it requires a bit of thinking to wrap your head around it."
"I'm not doing it. I never intended to marry. Or have children, for that matter. Neither was in my plans." She’s breathing hard. Bloody hell, she’s starting to hyperventilate.
I don’t want her upset, only off kilter, so I ratchet it down a notch. "I'm sorry I took away those options." Even if I don’t remember how the hell it happened.
Her gaze takes a downward turn while she shreds the croissant into small pieces. "It took both of us to make this baby, Gabriel."
"If we marry—"
"Please listen to me." I cover her restless hands with one of my own. A zing travels up my arm from the contact. My nostrils flare, and I catch a whiff of her female scent. She may not wear perfume, but there’s a bewitching essence to her that ensnares my senses.
She takes a deep breath, lets it out and stares point blank at me. "I'm putting the baby up for adoption."
The hell she is! My lips firm into a hard line. "Surely you realize that's no longer an option. I'm the baby's father. I have rights. And I will never consent."
"I can not take care of a baby. I have a full time job, law school. He deserves someone who has time to watch over him."
Joy shoots through me. “He? It’s a boy?” A boy would inherit the title.
She shakes her head. “No. Maybe. I don’t know. I won’t find out for another few weeks. Regardless, I don’t have the resources or inclination to take care of a child.”
“Liz”— I squeeze her cold hands, hoping to lend them my warmth— “you may not want to care for the babe, but I do. It’s my child, after all."
“I want an open adoption, where I will stay in touch with the adopting family, make sure my child grows up safe and loved. If you take him to England, I'll never see him."
She may be planning to place the child with strangers, but the babe means something to her. Bloody hell. Now what do I do? The child will live in London with me. Would she accept a location in the States? We’re opening up a branch in New York City, one which Miranda Stone will head. What if I told Liz it would be me in charge of that office? Would she be more amenable under that condition? Only one way to find out. "I'm not taking him to England.”
“No.” I soften my voice. The nature of what I’m about to share requires it. “There’s something you need to know, but it’s sensitive information which concerns not only myself and my family but Storm Industries and the thousands it employs. Can I count on you not to reveal what I’m about to tell you?”