The Heiress's Secret BabyBy: Jessica Gilmore
“Humble, much?” She shook her head. “Seriously, whatever was between us is over.”
He stood watching her walk away, appeased only slightly by the look of regret he’d seen in the depths of her eyes.
* * *
This night was never going to end. Lauren gathered empties and carried them to the tray near the bar. And turned to be confronted by the bride.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
“Nothing.” Lauren fought the urge to hide her hands behind her back. She waved them instead. “See? Nothing.”
“Uh-huh.” Tori grabbed one of her hands and drew it close as she wrapped her arm around Lauren’s. “Because it’s my day, I’ll pretend I didn’t see you clearing the tables.”
“Forgive me. Blame it on habit.”
“Only because I had to stop myself from doing the same thing twice.”
“Oh, that would never do.”
“That’s what Garrett said.”
As they neared the dance floor Lauren demanded, “Where are you taking me?”
“Here.” Tori drew her right into the middle of the dancers swaying to a soft ballad. “I’ve danced with all my favorite people today except one. You.”
Lauren’s stomach jolted at the idea of swirling to music even as her heart overflowed with joy. She stepped into her sister’s arms and hugged her close. If she moved slowly enough she’d be fine.
“Be happy,” she whispered. “More than anything, I hope for your happiness.”
“I am. Happier than I’ve ever been,” Tori assured her. “Garrett gets me.”
“And you get him. It’s why you click.”
“I want this for you.” Tori’s eyes glittered with happiness, with a need to share her bliss with the world. Her gaze flitted to the head table, where Garrett and his best man lounged back with a couple of beers. “Maybe you and Ray?”
“Oh, no.” Lauren automatically shook her head. “Sorry to disappoint, but that’s ancient history.”
“Why?” Tori challenged. “Because he causes you to act spontaneously? To have a little fun? I think he’s been good for you.”
“Good for me?” She laughed. Oh, he did wonderful things to her. But good for her? Not by a long shot. “Think about it. He’s a master manipulator.”
“He’s a director,” Tori reminded her. “It’s what he does, not who he is. He’s not Brad, Lauren. He’d never hurt you.”
Easy for Tori to say. Lauren would rather not risk it. Something told her Ray’s power to hurt would put Brad to shame.
“Ladies, you make such a pretty picture we had to come join you.” Garrett smoothly stepped between them and brought their linked hands to his mouth, where he kissed the back of Lauren’s fingers before twirling her around and passing her over to Ray.
Her world spun as he moved off with Tori.
“Hey.” Ray’s strong arms held her steady. “Are you okay?”
“Yes. No.” She leaned her forehead on his chest, prayed for her stomach to settle. No such luck. “I’m going to be sick.”
Lifting her skirts, she took off at a run. And, oh, goodness, she wasn’t going to make it. But then a hard arm curved around her back and swept her along. She reached the bathroom off the kitchen with no time to spare.
Ray held her hair while she emptied her stomach. She was mortified—and grateful. She wanted him to go but was also glad he was there.
“I’m so sorry.” She flushed and slowly lifted her head. Wait—why was she apologizing? It was his kid causing this inconvenience! A fact he was sure to catch on to with this display.
“No need to be. We’ve all had a tad too much bubbly at one point or another.” He pressed a damp cloth into her hands.
She lifted it to her face, reveled in the coolness. When she lowered the cloth he held a dripping bottle of water out to her. She gratefully accepted it.
“Oh, man, I could kiss you right now.”
He smiled and tucked a loose tendril behind her ear. “Sorry, Dynamite. All trips to the laundry room have been cancelled for the night.”