Susan elizabeth phillips nobodys baby but mine pdf

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    Nobody's Baby But Mine. Home · Nobody's Baby But Mine Author: Susan Elizabeth Phillips Nobody's Baby But Mine. Read more. Outrageous, heartwarming, wonderfully sensual I loved it!”—Jayne Anne Krentz “For sheer fun, nobody beats Nobody's Baby But Mine.” —Detroit F. Genius physics professor Dr. Jane Darlington desperately wants a baby, but finding a father won't be easy. Growing up, Jane's super intelligence made her feel.

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    Susan Elizabeth Phillips Nobodys Baby But Mine Pdf

    "Outrageous, heartwarming, wonderfully sensual I loved it!"—Jayne Anne Krentz "For sheer fun, nobody beats Nobody's Baby But Mine." —Detroit Free. Create PDF with GO2PDF for free, if you wish to remove this line, click .. “I know that seems strange, but it's very difficult for a child to grow up. Create PDF with GO2PDF for free, if you wish to remove this line, click here to download Virtual PDF Printer Nobody's Baby But Mine-Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

    Meriel kapoioi This review makes me want to read it even more. Doing a re-read is fantastic. You don't have to read every single page to get the oh so wonderful feeling. And boy did I get that "oh so wonderful feeling" while re-reading this one. I adore SEP. She is truly an icon among her fellow authors of romance.

    Tell him, Rose. Jane Darlington, a respected physicist with only one lover in her past—was being called a whore that it took her a moment to muster a haughty response. You got to fu—er—bonk her. Its low-pile white carpet, gray sectional sofa, stereo equipment, and large-screen television were expensive but uninteresting.

    She noticed various containers tossed down on the carpet: In addition to being a hayseed, Mr. People exchange presents all the time. How about I trade her in for a steak dinner? She would never find anyone more perfect to father her child. He drained the liquor in his glass. How dare he talk about her like that! Her emotions sometimes betrayed her, but her mind seldom did, and now it was shouting at her to do something.

    He was ideal, and somehow she had to find a way to make him change his mind. The pills gave her courage. All she had to do was outwit him. I work under exclusive contract, and my contract calls for me to practice my craft only with Mr. They rushed toward the foyer with a speed that was at odds with their size. Melvin turned back to her at the last minute. You give Bomber the works, you hear? Anything he wants. A moment later, the front door slammed shut.

    She and the man they called the Bomber were alone. As he raised the tumbler to his lips, he studied her with pale piercing eyes that looked as if they could carry out a scorched-earth campaign all by themselves.

    She had to come up with some way to seduce him before he threw her out, but what? Besides, it was hard to get enthusiastic about undressing in front of a stranger who was standing in a fully lit room that had a wall of curtainless windows. She stalled for time. What about murderers? She started to smile until she saw by his expression that he was serious. Your bag of tricks. How long you been a hooker, anyway? Once again, she would have to lie.

    Maybe it was the pills, but she seemed to be getting a better grip on the whole process. It was simply a matter of inventing a new reality, embellishing it with a few pertinent details, and doing her best to retain eye contact throughout the process. I, for example, am not promiscuous. My late husband. I happen to be a widow.

    A very young widow. Then I remembered that my husband had always complimented me on the intimate aspects of our marriage. One partner? Her brain clicked away. Are you talking about whorehouses? Her head felt as if it were floating off her shoulders. It must be the liquor. Thank goodness he was too dull-witted to realize how outlandish this conversation had become.

    Role playing, for example. Making love on a bed of rose petals.

    You got anything spicier to offer? That really frosted her. He was thirty-six, but he had the nerve to regard a woman of twenty-four as old!

    It was the principle that counted. She mustered a look of sympathy. I assumed you were able to handle a grown woman.

    Feeling decidedly malicious, she gestured toward his telephone. If she has her homework done, she should be available. Now go ahead and show me what you learned from those training films about warm-up activities.

    How could she entice him? She was a good dancer in private, but in public she tended to be awkward and self-conscious. Perhaps she could do a routine from one of her aerobics classes, although between her demanding work schedule and the fact that she preferred brisk walking as an exercise form, she usually dropped out before the session was over. I bet a SPS such as yourself loves longhair music. She performed a few shoulder rolls from the warm-up part of her aerobics class and tried to look sultry, but the quick pace of the music made it difficult.

    Still, the chemicals surging through her bloodstream spurred her on. Inspiration struck. He crossed his legs and yawned. She experimented with a small hula routine. He glanced at his watch. It was hopeless. She stopped and let the bumblebee fly on without her. Or a couple of old John Travolta movies. He was going to kick her out, and she would have lost her best chance to have the child of her dreams.

    Desperation made her voice husky. They were shorthanded. I ended up with you by default. Please, Mr. Bonner, I need this job. Squeezing her eyes shut, she pulled them to her breasts and held them there, palms flat.

    It was a mistake. He was standing so near that she had to tilt her neck to gaze at him. She saw a small scar on the side of his chin, another near his hairline. He was all muscle and steel. She loosened her hands, and he slowly released her breasts. You are. She waited patiently, giving his sluggish brain all the time it needed to work.

    It would immediately be apparent that I was lying. Her heart thudded as he led her out into the foyer and up the carpeted steps without releasing her. The side of her body brushed against his.

    She tried to move away, but he held her captive. As they climbed the stairs, she regarded him through the corners of her eyes with apprehension. She knew it was only her imagination, but he seemed to have grown taller and bigger. Her gaze swept from his chest to his hips, and her eyes widened. Beneath those jeans he seemed to be fully aroused. She reminded herself that she was female, and he had a caveman mentality. In his drunken state, he must have decided that any woman would do.

    She should be grateful he was dragging her into his cave by the ribbon instead of her hair. He flipped a switch. Recessed lighting illuminated a king-size bed made up with blankets, but no comforter.

    It sat opposite a wall that held a row of windows covered with plantation shutters. There was a chest of drawers, a comfortable chair, a set of bedside tables, but very little clutter. He released her ribbon and turned away to shut the door. She gulped as he twisted the lock. Some PSSs specialize in groups. And those are level threes. Could we turn out the lights, please? The room was immediately bathed in the wide bars of moonlight slipping through the shutters. He walked over to the bed and turned his back to her.

    She watched him draw his knit polo shirt over his head. The muscles of his shoulders rippled as he tossed it aside. It had been one thing to plan this encounter in the abstract, but it was quite another to face the reality of having sex with a stranger. Get to know each other a little better. He turned to her and, with a flick of his fingers, opened the button on his jeans.

    Bars of moonlight fell across his naked chest and down over his hips. Had she done that? He spoiled her view by sitting on the edge of the bed to pull off his socks. So far everything about him was larger than Craig. She took a long, steadying breath and slipped out of her heels.

    Wearing only his unbuttoned jeans, he lay down on the bed and leaned against the pillows. She reached for the snap at the side of her jacket. He crossed his arms behind his head and watched. As her fingers touched the snap, ripples of panic turned her skin to gooseflesh, and she fought to reassure. What difference did it make if he saw her naked? But her hand felt as if it were paralyzed.

    She noticed that his zipper had crept down, revealing a narrow blade of hair bisecting a flat abdomen. Do it! Let him see you! He watched her, saying nothing. There was no kindness in that hard-eyed gaze. No gentleness. Nothing to reassure her. Cal would probably appreciate it if she simply let him get to it. She began walking toward the bed. He might not be book smart, but he had street smarts, a valuable asset to pass on to a child.

    The white silk crept up to her thigh. She reached underneath, and as she withdrew the condom she had tucked in the top of her stocking, she was hit full force by the moral implications of what she was doing. She had deliberately sabotaged the condom, and this was thievery. Studying particle physics either distanced people from God or brought them closer.

    For her, the latter had happened, and she was defying everything she believed in. At the same time, she began to rationalize.

    He was merely a device. This would have absolutely no negative effect on him. Setting aside her qualms, she peeled apart the package and handed the condom to him. Then she straddled his thighs, determined to get this over with as quickly as she could. He gazed up at her, his arms crossed behind his head, the condom between his fingers.

    Staying on her knees, she garnered her courage and reached for the open waistband of his jeans.

    Nobody's Baby But Mine

    Her fingertips brushed the taut skin of his abdomen, and the next thing she knew, she was flat on her back. With a hiss of alarm, she gazed up at him. His mouth tightened into a hard, thin line. Who the hell are you?

    Who are you? Her only chance to salvage this situation lay in simplicity. She thought of Jodie Pulanski and forced herself to look directly into his eyes. He thought she was a bimbo! The novelty of it distracted her, and it took a moment to recover.

    Then he reared back, releasing her shoulders. With the bars of moonlight falling across his body, there was something primitive about him and elementally male. She looked away as he tugged on the sabotaged condom. This was it, then.

    Susan Elizabeth Phillips

    Her mouth went dry as he turned back and reached for the snap that held her jacket together. She flinched and made an instinctive grab for his hand.

    He clenched his teeth in something that resembled a snarl. I want to keep my clothes on. Now he knew exactly how little she had on beneath her skirt. He stroked them, soothing her as if she were a cat with an arched back. For somebody who wants it so bad, you sure are tense.

    Just give me my baby and let me out of here. His fingers brushed the soft hair at the juncture of her thighs, and she wanted to die from the embarrassment of it. She winced as his touch grew more intimate, then tried to turn the sound into a moan of passion.

    She had to relax. How could she possibly conceive when she was so tense? Of course not. What would it have been like, she wondered, to be the teenage girl making out with the town football hero in the alley behind the drugstore? When she had been sixteen, she was in college. She felt the moist heat of his breath on her breast, and she nearly leaped off the bed as his lips found the bump of her nipple. A hot rush of desire, as unexpected as it was overwhelming, rushed through her.

    He closed his mouth over her nipple and teased it through the silk with the tip of his tongue. Sensation flooded through her body, waves of it, crashing in on her. She fought against what was happening. This had to be a sacrifice, or she could never live with herself.

    But Craig had always ignored her breasts, and the sensations were so sweet. Do it, will you! She heard something that sounded like anger in his voice. And then she felt an awful pressure as he pushed himself inside.

    She turned her cheek into the pillow and tried not to cry. He cursed and began to pull away. His movements were unhurried—deep, slow thrusts of silk and steel that unfurled ribbons of pleasure inside her.

    Sweat from his body dampened the fragile barrier of her clothing. He reached under her and caught her hips in his hands. He tilted them up, angling his own body in such a way that hot spasms licked at her. Her excitement grew even as she fought to suppress it. The fact that she was finding pleasure in having sex with a stranger shamed her, and as the sensations intensified, she tried to concentrate on her research by conjuring up thoughts of the top quark that obsessed her.

    But her mind refused to focus on subatomic particles, and she knew she had to act or he would push her to orgasm, something that would be unforgivable. She steeled herself, even as her brain warned her of the danger of inciting a warrior.

    I thought you were supposed to be a great lover? Why is it taking you so long? She bit her lip to keep from crying out as he drove deep. Again and again. She clung to him with her thighs and her arms, meeting his fierce thrusts with a grim determination. She would stay with him, and she would feel nothing. But her body rebelled. Those intolerable pleasure waves grew strong. She gasped. And then his muscles stiffened. Every part of him went rigid, and she felt the moment when he spilled.

    She clutched her hands into fists, her own pleasure forgotten. Swim, all you warrior babymakers! Swim, all you sweet little brainless babymakers! With a rush of tenderness for the gift he was giving her, she turned her lips to his damp shoulder and gave him a soft kiss of gratitude.

    He slumped forward, his weight heavy on her. She kept her thighs clutched around his hips, not letting him go even as she felt him begin to withdraw. Just a little longer. Not yet. The power of her will was no match for his strength. He pulled away and sat up on the edge of the bed. Bracing his elbows on his knees, he stayed there, staring into space and breathing deeply.

    The bow that had been fastened around her neck had come untied, and, as she moved, it slipped onto the pillow. Bars of moonlight slashed across his back, and she thought she had never seen anyone who looked so lonely. The wrongness of what she had done struck her like a blow. She was a liar and a thief. He rose and headed for the bathroom. A s Cal stood under the locker-room shower, he found himself thinking about Rosebud instead of the grueling practice he had just completed or the fact that his shoulder ached, his ankle throbbed, and nothing on him seemed to be recovering as quickly as it used to.

    He ducked his head and let the shower water splash over him. Something had been very wrong. Why had she refused to take off her clothes? That bothered him. Just as Cal was rinsing the shampoo out of his hair, Junior yelled into the shower room.

    He wants to talk to you. But not Bobby Tom Denton. Cal smiled as that familiar Texas drawl came over the phone lines. Consider this your personal engraved invitation. That wife of mine keeps me on a real tight leash. Did you know she got herself elected mayor of Telarosa right before Wendy was born?

    Bobby Tom never complained about being forced from the game by blowing out his knee, but Cal knew it still had to be ripping his guts apart. Football had been B. Poor B. Football was his life, and nothing would ever change that. Not age. Not injuries. He finished his conversation, then went to his locker to dress. As he pulled on his clothes, his thoughts drifted away from Bobby Tom Denton and back to his birthday night. Who was she, damn it? The gesture seemed as studied as his appearance.

    But despite his shortcomings, Jerry had been appointed director of Preeze two years ago, a maneuver engineered by the older and more conservative members of the scientific establishment, who wanted one of their own to head such a prestigious institution. By contrast, her position on the Newberry College faculty seemed remarkably uncomplicated.

    Your cab fare from the airport, for example. Now, his brow furrowed, and he launched into an assault on her work, not a simple thing since he comprehended so little of it.

    As he pontificated, the depression that had dogged her ever since her failed attempt to get pregnant two months earlier, settled in deeper. If only she were carrying a child now, everything might not seem so bleak.

    Cal Bonner was warrior, a man of aggression and brute. It would be Cal Bonner or no one. No one else was required to do anything like this. It was bureaucratic busywork, and the very idea went against the essense of everything Preeze stood for.

    This is blatantly unfair. Years of self-discipline prevented her from saying any of this out loud, especially since she would end up hurting herself more than him. Instead, she rose to her feet, and, without a word, marched from his office.

    She fumed as she rode down to the main floor in the elevator and stalked across the lobby. How much longer was she going to have to put up with this? Once again, she regretted the fact that her friend Caroline was out of the country.

    She very much needed a sympathetic ear. The gray January afternoon held that ugly hint of permanence that always seemed to hang over northern Illinois at this time of year. She shivered as she climbed into her Saturn and sped toward the elementary school in Aurora where she was scheduled to do a science program for the third graders. Some of her colleagues teased her about her volunteer work there. They said that having a worldrenowned theoretical physicist teaching elementary-school children, especially disadvantaged ones, was like having Itzhak Perlman teaching beginning violin.

    But the state of science education in the elementary schools disturbed her, and she was doing her small part to change it. As she hurried into the assembly room where the third graders were waiting and set down the supplies.

    As she returned their greetings and gazed into their eager, mischievous faces, her heart twisted. How she wanted a child of her own.

    She felt an unexpected rush of disgust directed entirely at herself. As she began her first experiment, using a candle and an empty oatmeal box, she made up her mind. According to Jodie, Cal was going to his family home in North Carolina shortly after the season was over, so if she put this off any longer, he might be gone. Her conscience chose that moment to remind her that what she was doing was immoral, but she firmly silenced that nagging voice.

    On Saturday, she would put her misgivings behind her and head for Indianapolis. Maybe this time the legendary quarterback could score a touchdown just for her. He passed Kevin Tucker, but neither man spoke. They both hated the public ass-kissing they were forced to do, but it was part of the job. Then Kevin would start in about all the respect he had for Cal and how privileged he was just to be part of the Stars. It was all bull. The reporters knew it. The fans knew it. Cal and Kevin sure knew it, but, still, they had to go through the motions.

    He fast-forwarded to the second quarter and pushed the play button, then watched until he found what he wanted. He hit the rewind button and watched again. With his gaze firmly fixed on the screen, he unwrapped his pillow mint and ate it. Unless his eyes were playing tricks, their safety had a bad habit of signaling a blitz by looking twice toward the sideline.

    Cal smiled and tucked the information away. Summoning all her will-power, she raised her hand and knocked. The door swung open. She saw a bare chest.

    Blond chest hair. A pair of green eyes. I seem to have the wrong room. Bonner was in What kind of business do you have with the old man? This young man definitely needed to be put in his place.

    Well, I sure hope you can help him deal with all his problems about getting old. Could you please tell me his room number? Just let me get my key. They rounded a corner and went down another corridor before they stopped in front of It was difficult enough facing Cal without having an onlooker, so she quickly extended her hand and shook his.

    I appreciate your help. Thank you again. The door swung open, and Jane caught her breath as she once again found herself face-to-face with Cal Bonner. Next to the youthful glory of Kevin Tucker, he looked more battleworn than she remembered, and, if anything, more formidable: Your personal spiritual advisor.

    Like you should be narrating wildlife films on public television. His pale eyes raked her. Go do your homework, kid. Tucker pulled away from the doorjamb and winked at Jane.

    Old guys like Calvin need their beauty sleep. She smiled in spite of herself. He grabbed her arm and pulled her inside. The pillows were bunched up against the headboard of the king-size bed, and the spread was rumpled.

    Static flickered on the silent screen of the television. The room plunged into a darkness that was relieved only by the flickering silver light from the television screen. This second time was going to be even more difficult than the first. She dropped her purse to the floor. We both know where this is headed. As his hips pressed against hers, she felt him grow hard, and it was as if every cell in her body came alive. For someone who had always been timid with the opposite sex, playing the femme fatale was a powerful experience.

    She sank her fingers into his buttocks and pressed her breasts to his chest. Running her hands up along his sides, she curled her body against him, moving seductively. But her sense of power was short-lived. He pinioned her to the wall and caught her chin in a rough grasp. I want the truth. I swear. Before he could question her further, she pushed her hands between them and released the snap on his slacks. As she struggled with the zipper, she felt his hands on the bodice of her jacket.

    She opened her mouth to protest just as he pulled it apart. He immediately stepped away from her. She forced herself to smile. I came all the way to Indianapolis so I could feel ravaged. With my clothes on. If only she could read his mind. The prospect excited her, and that was the last thing she wanted. This was about procreation, not lust.

    Besides, it might be harder to get pregnant that way. He splayed them, lifted her off the floor, and stepped into the nakedness between. Instead, she looped her arms around his shoulders and held on. Instead, he touched her with one gentle fingertip. She buried her face in the side of his neck and sank her teeth into her bottom lip to keep from crying out. She had made herself his whore. That was all she meant to him, a slut to be used for a few moments of sexual pleasure and then discarded.

    His finger traced the entry to her body. She shuddered and focused on the strain in her splayed thighs, the uncomfortable pull of her muscles, anything except that silken stroking. But it was impossible. The sensations were too sweet, so she dug her fingernails into his back and bucked against him. All she had to do was hang on. The heat from his body burned through his shirt into her breasts. The wall bruised her spine, and he had spread her legs so far apart the muscles ached.

    She no longer had to worry about suppressing her pleasure. She wanted only for him to finish. He thrust so deeply inside her that she winced. His shirt grew damp beneath her palms, and he used her so that he made her feel as if he were punishing them both.

    She barely held on to him through his orgasm. When it happened, she tried to will her body to absorb the essence of his, but her badly bruised soul wanted only to escape.

    Seconds ticked by before he finally withdrew. He slowly stepped away from her and lowered her to the floor. Her legs were so rubbery, she could barely stand.

    She refused to look at him. With her jacket clutched together in one hand and her thighs wet, she ran out into the hallway. He called her name. That silly name she had taken from a beer sign.

    It was a jaunty wave, one that said, So long, sucker. The door slammed behind her. T he following evening Cal sat in his accustomed place toward the back of the chartered plane that was returning the Stars to Chicago from Indianapolis. The lights were out in the cabin, and most of the players either slept or listened to music through headsets. Cal brooded. Afterward, Kevin had gone in to replace him, been sacked three times, fumbled twice, and still thrown the ball fifty-three yards for the winning touchdown.

    His injuries were coming faster now: He was thirty-six years old, and he tried not to remember that even Montana had retired at thirty-eight. In addition to his ankle injury, his knees throbbed, a couple of his ribs hurt, and his hip felt as if it had a hot poker shoved right through it.

    Between the ankle injury and the disastrous incident with Rosebud, he was more than glad to have this weekend behind him. If it had been any groupie other than Rosebud, he would never have let her into his room. He liked them fresh and dewy, with high, full breasts, pouty mouths, and the smell of newness about them. Rosebud smelled like old-fashioned vanilla. Then there were those green eyes of hers.

    He liked flirty, fluttery eyes on women, but Rosebud had no-nonsense eyes, which was ironic considering the fact that nothing about her was honest.

    He brooded all the way back to Chicago and kept at it right on into the next week. The Stars were playing in the semifinals for the AFC Championship, and despite his sore shoulder, he managed to perform. Denver won, twenty-two to eighteen. Davenport has scheduled a departmental meeting for Wednesday.

    She wanted to dance, sing, jitterbug on the ceiling, then race through the corridors of Stramingler Hall and tell all her colleagues that she was pregnant. The temptation to share the news was nearly irresistible, but she was only a month along, Marie was a judgmental sourpuss, and it was too early to tell anyone.

    One person knew, however, and as Jane collected her mail and walked into her office, a nagging worry burrowed through her happiness.

    Two nights ago Jodie had dropped by the house and spotted the books on pregnancy that Jane had unthinkingly left stacked on the coffee table. Still, she had seemed genuinely happy and sincere in her desire to keep the secret, so, as Jane closed herself in her office and flipped on her computer, she decided not to waste any more energy worrying about it. She logged on to the electronic preprint library at Los Alamos to see what new papers on string theory and duality had been posted since yesterday.

    It was an automatic act, the same one performed daily by every top-level physicist in the world. The general public opened a newspaper first thing in the morning.

    Physicists connected with the library at Los Alamos. But this morning, instead of concentrating on the list of new papers, she found herself thinking about Cal Bonner.

    According to Jodie, he was spending most of February traveling around the country fulfilling his commercial endorsement obligations before he left for North Carolina in early March. Instead, she found herself envisioning the nursery she wanted to decorate. Her mouth curved in a dreamy smile. This precious child of hers was going to grow up surrounded by everything beautiful. Jodie was pissed. Melvin Thompson had rented Zebras for a party, and all the players who were still in town were there.

    Tell you what? I lived up to my part of the bargain. Where had he come from? What was he doing back here? Jodie and me are going to step outside and have ourselves a little chat. All day the radio had been warning that temperatures would be dipping into the single digits that night, and as they hit the alley, their breath made vapor clouds in the air. Jodie shivered, and Cal regarded her with grim satisfaction.

    He was finally going to have his questions answered. Mysteries had always made him edgy, both on the football field and in real life. He found himself worrying about her at the strangest times. Her eyes darted to the side. I promised. Her name is Jane. He knew he was scaring her, and that was just fine with him. He wanted to get this over with as quickly as possible. Her defiance annoyed him. If none of them wanted to hang out with you, not even the backups.

    He lowered his voice until it was barely more than a whisper. He just stood there and waited. She rubbed her arms for warmth and regarded him with belligerence. And she works at one of those labs, too. This is like her whole life and everything. He knew the answer even before she spoke.

    She regarded him uneasily. That she used me to get herself pregnant? He had to fight to stay in control. Tell me why she choose me? And being so much smarter than everybody else made her feel like a freak when she was growing up.

    What do you mean? Why did she choose me? Li-9 stays behind, binding it and the two remaining neutrons as a three-body system. She heard whispers. More whispers. Puzzled, she turned to investigate the source of the disturbance. And saw Cal Bonner leaning against the sidewall, his arms crossed, fingers tucked under his armpits. All the blood rushed from her head, and for the first time in her life, she thought she was going to faint.

    How had he found her? What was he doing here? She wore a conservative double-breasted woolen dress, and her hair was pulled into the French twist that kept it out of her way when she worked. A thick silence fell over the room. Everyone in her class seemed to recognize him, but he paid no attention to their reactions. He only looked at her.

    She had never been the target of such undisguised hatred. His eyes were narrowed and deadly, hard lines bracketed his mouth, and, as she watched him, she felt as unbound as the nucleus of the isotope she had just been describing. With so many curious eyes looking on, she had to pull herself together.

    There were ten minutes left in the class. She needed to get him out of here so she could finish. Get out. Cal uncoiled from the wall, shut the door, and punched the lock. Leaning against the doorjamb, he crossed his arms and tucked the fingers in his armpits. His forearms were tan and muscular. A strong blue vein throbbed there. His posture suddenly seemed full of significance, the sign of a man forcibly restraining himself.

    You sure were full of words when we met before. He walked slowly toward her, and she took an involuntary step backward. She bumped into the chalkboard as dread slithered down her spine. I care a lot. She caught the scent of soap, wool, and fury. The fact that you set out to get yourself pregnant with my kid. And I hear you hit the jackpot. She sagged against the chalk tray. Not this.

    Please, God, not this. Her body felt as if it were closing down, and she wanted to curl in on herself.

    She drew a deep, shuddering breath. She knew it was useless to deny the truth, but she could barely form her words. Just forget about it. She gave a guttural scream as he gripped her by the shoulders and jerked her away from the board. His lips were pale with suppressed rage, and a vein pulsed at his temple. You want me to forget? I wanted a baby so badly.

    It was an. All I could think about was having a baby. I was born that way, but it can be more of a curse than a blessing, and I wanted a normal child. Sperm bank donors tend to be medical students, men like that.

    I love this baby with all my heart, and I would never do that! She spun away, hugging herself with her arms and moving to the side of the classroom so she could put as much distance between them as possible, protecting herself, protecting her baby. She heard him coming toward her, and she felt as if she were being regarded through the crosshairs of a highpowered rifle.

    His voice was whispery and strangely disembodied. Why are you doing this? This baby is mine! And you know why? There are millions of single mothers. Listen to me. I can keep you in court until I bankrupt you. This is my baby! She had moved into a bitter, pain-filled place where speech was impossible.

    I even kind of like it. So we can either do this in private and keep it clean, or we can go public and make it nasty, not to mention real expensive. My financial responsibility is to the kid. I happen to be able to take care of this child all by myself.

    How could she hand her child over to this barbarian, even for short visits? She was going to fight him. He had no right to stake a claim to her baby! He had no right—.

    Her indignation slammed headlong into her conscience. He did have a right. He had every right. She made herself face the truth. She had gotten into this situation by turning her back on her principles, convincing herself that the end justified the means, and look where that had led her.

    From this point on, she must base every decision on only one criterion: She grabbed her notes from the lectern and made her way to the door. Darlington barely made the deadline. He could still see her standing in the classroom wearing that dark orange dress with a double row of gold buttons fastening her up tight. Her hair had been swept back into one of those efficient hairdos, and big glasses covered up her green eyes.

    He stalked over to the windows, where he stared blindly down at the parking lot. Rose Bud. Jane regarded him nervously. There were Buds who came over on the Mayflower. They were at Lexington, Gettysburg, the Battle of the Bulge.

    One of my female Bud ancestors helped establish the Underground Railway. My uncle used to work for the Santa Fe. Jane shot her a startled glance. What kind of twisted value system did this man have that he regarded a woman in her late twenties as old? Junior cinched the belt on his trench coat. Follow me in your car. Willie said to put this on you. She stiffened as she saw what he withdrew. She lifted her hand to her throat, and her stomach pitched as she touched the loops of satin ribbon.

    A birthday present from the guys. The Bomber was up four hundred. Brady or Mrs. Man, was she hot. Did you know that, Cal? Partridge on The Partridge Family. Although Cal could turn the field blue during a game, once he was out of uniform, he seemed to lose interest.

    He eyed his next putt, a sharp dogleg left into a KFC bucket. Chris finished off his beer. Would you rather bonk that Beauty and the Beast chick or Pocahontas?

    God, he loved these jerks. Week after week they put their asses on the line to protect him. It had been the worst year of his life. His brother Gabriel had lost his wife Cherry and only child Jamie, two people Cal had deeply loved, in a car accident. He banked his next putt off the TV cabinet, combining his touch on the golf greens with his skill at the pool table, and put the ball within inches of the KFC bucket.

    Unlike his teammates, Cal seldom got drunk, but this was his birthday, he had the blues, and he was trying to make an exception. He smiled as he remembered his last birthday. Still, he hoped she was happy. He was a yeller, by nature. A lot of the more aggressive women, the ones who might have been able to stand up to him, turned out to be money-grubbers. Not that he blamed a woman for looking out for herself, as long as she was up front about it. He was young, dammit!

    And since he could pick and choose when it came to women, why should he choose a desperate thirty-year-old who was starting to turn brown around the edges when he could have a beautiful young woman with some dew-sparkle still left on her? He refused to think of himself as anything but in his prime, especially now that he had Kevin Tucker breathing down his neck. At the same time he noticed Chris checking his watch for the third time in fifteen minutes.

    Uh, no. What was the point? When he entertained his friends, he chartered a plane and flew everybody to Scottsdale. He was a great player because there was no clutter in his life. No permanent houses, no permanent women, nothing that could make him feel old and used up.

    Nothing that could cause him to lose his edge. Cal regarded them with amusement. All night, there had been something going on between them. Now it seemed he was about to find out what. With the fat pink bow tied around her neck, she was gift-wrapped and special-delivered. She was also feeling a little muzzy, not at all like herself, and she suspected those pills Jodie had given her had kicked in.

    Junior of the caterpillar eyebrow took her coat and whispered brief introductions to three men who could only be football players. Melvin was black, and his wire-rimmed glasses gave him a faintly scholarly look that was at odds with his enormous frame. Willie had warm coffeecolored skin that accented a pair of huge lady-killer eyes.

    Junior finished his introductions and shoved his thumb in her direction. But how old is she? A woman who traded in lust would hardly react so violently to being fondled. She recovered quickly and regarded him with all the haughtiness of an upperclass call girl.

    Happy birthday to you, Happy birthday to you. Dry-mouthed and terrified, she reached the end of the foyer.

    On her next step, her heels sank into the white carpet. She turned, spotted Cal Bonner, and froze. Even through her narcotic-induced haze, one agonizing fact became completely clear. The television screen had lied.

    He stood silhouetted against a wall of windows with nothing behind him but the cold November night. She had chosen a warrior. He cocked his head to the side and studied her. His gaze was cold and grim, and it sent frightening impressions running through her head.

    Gray eyes so pale they were almost silver. Eyes that knew no mercy. A man who made his own rules and answered to no one. Hard muscle and sinewy strength. A physical animal.

    Brutal cheekbones and a ruthless jaw. No softness there. Not even a speck of the gentler emotions. This man was a conqueror, designed by nature to make war. A chill traveled along her spine. She knew without question that he would be ruthless with anyone he decided was his enemy.

    Babies were a natural consequence of rape and pillage and not to be given a second thought. Rough hands, accompanied by raucous male laughter, pushed her toward the man she had chosen to be the father of her child. We cared enough to send the very best. She bumped into a muscular chest. A strong arm encircled her before she could fall, and she caught a faint whiff of scotch.

    Her sudden helplessness was frightening. She had to force herself not to struggle to get free because she knew he would crush her if he sensed her weakness. An image flashed through her mind, of her body naked beneath his, and she immediately pushed it away.

    His cupped hand slid up her arm. He might have the body of a warrior, but he was only a football player, and not a very intelligent one at that. The knowledge of her own superior brainpower gave her enough confidence to look up into those pale eyes as he slowly released the grip that held her captive.

    Cal, this is Rose. Hell, no. Her family came over on the Mayflower or something. Tell him, Rose. Jane Darlington, a respected physicist with only one lover in her past—was being called a whore that it took her a moment to muster a haughty response.

    You got to fu—er—bonk her. Its low-pile white carpet, gray sectional sofa, stereo equipment, and large-screen television were expensive but uninteresting.

    She noticed various containers tossed down on the carpet: a plastic cup, a KFC bucket, an empty cereal box. In addition to being a hayseed, Mr. People exchange presents all the time.

    How about I trade her in for a steak dinner? She would never find anyone more perfect to father her child. He drained the liquor in his glass. How dare he talk about her like that! Her emotions sometimes betrayed her, but her mind seldom did, and now it was shouting at her to do something. He was ideal, and somehow she had to find a way to make him change his mind. The pills gave her courage. All she had to do was outwit him. I work under exclusive contract, and my contract calls for me to practice my craft only with Mr.

    They rushed toward the foyer with a speed that was at odds with their size. Melvin turned back to her at the last minute. You give Bomber the works, you hear? Anything he wants. A moment later, the front door slammed shut.

    She and the man they called the Bomber were alone. As he raised the tumbler to his lips, he studied her with pale piercing eyes that looked as if they could carry out a scorched-earth campaign all by themselves. She had to come up with some way to seduce him before he threw her out, but what?

    Besides, it was hard to get enthusiastic about undressing in front of a stranger who was standing in a fully lit room that had a wall of curtainless windows. She stalled for time. What about murderers? Your bag of tricks. How long you been a hooker, anyway? Once again, she would have to lie. Maybe it was the pills, but she seemed to be getting a better grip on the whole process. It was simply a matter of inventing a new reality, embellishing it with a few pertinent details, and doing her best to retain eye contact throughout the process.

    I, for example, am not promiscuous. My late husband. I happen to be a widow. A very young widow. Then I remembered that my husband had always complimented me on the intimate aspects of our marriage. One partner? Her brain clicked away. Are you talking about whorehouses?

    Her head felt as if it were floating off her shoulders. It must be the liquor. Thank goodness he was too dull-witted to realize how outlandish this conversation had become.

    Role playing, for example. Making love on a bed of rose petals. You got anything spicier to offer? That really frosted her. He was thirty-six, but he had the nerve to regard a woman of twenty-four as old!

    It was the principle that counted. She mustered a look of sympathy. I assumed you were able to handle a grown woman. Feeling decidedly malicious, she gestured toward his telephone. If she has her homework done, she should be available. Now go ahead and show me what you learned from those training films about warm-up activities. How could she entice him? She was a good dancer in private, but in public she tended to be awkward and self-conscious.

    Perhaps she could do a routine from one of her aerobics classes, although between her demanding work schedule and the fact that she preferred brisk walking as an exercise form, she usually dropped out before the session was over.

    I bet a SPS such as yourself loves longhair music. She performed a few shoulder rolls from the warm-up part of her aerobics class and tried to look sultry, but the quick pace of the music made it difficult. Still, the chemicals surging through her bloodstream spurred her on. Inspiration struck. He crossed his legs and yawned. She experimented with a small hula routine. He glanced at his watch.

    It was hopeless. She stopped and let the bumblebee fly on without her. Or a couple of old John Travolta movies. He was going to kick her out, and she would have lost her best chance to have the child of her dreams. Desperation made her voice husky. They were shorthanded. I ended up with you by default. Please, Mr. Bonner, I need this job. Squeezing her eyes shut, she pulled them to her breasts and held them there, palms flat.

    It was a mistake. He was standing so near that she had to tilt her neck to gaze at him. She saw a small scar on the side of his chin, another near his hairline. He was all muscle and steel.

    You are.

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    She waited patiently, giving his sluggish brain all the time it needed to work. It would immediately be apparent that I was lying. Her heart thudded as he led her out into the foyer and up the carpeted steps without releasing her.

    The side of her body brushed against his. She tried to move away, but he held her captive. As they climbed the stairs, she regarded him through the corners of her eyes with apprehension. She knew it was only her imagination, but he seemed to have grown taller and bigger. Her gaze swept from his chest to his hips, and her eyes widened.

    Beneath those jeans he seemed to be fully aroused. She reminded herself that she was female, and he had a caveman mentality. In his drunken state, he must have decided that any woman would do. She should be grateful he was dragging her into his cave by the ribbon instead of her hair. He flipped a switch. Recessed lighting illuminated a king-size bed made up with blankets, but no comforter.

    It sat opposite a wall that held a row of windows covered with plantation shutters. There was a chest of drawers, a comfortable chair, a set of bedside tables, but very little clutter. He released her ribbon and turned away to shut the door. She gulped as he twisted the lock.

    Some PSSs specialize in groups. And those are level threes. Could we turn out the lights, please? The room was immediately bathed in the wide bars of moonlight slipping through the shutters. He walked over to the bed and turned his back to her. She watched him draw his knit polo shirt over his head. The muscles of his shoulders rippled as he tossed it aside.

    It had been one thing to plan this encounter in the abstract, but it was quite another to face the reality of having sex with a stranger. Get to know each other a little better. He turned to her and, with a flick of his fingers, opened the button on his jeans. Bars of moonlight fell across his naked chest and down over his hips.

    Had she done that? He spoiled her view by sitting on the edge of the bed to pull off his socks. So far everything about him was larger than Craig. She took a long, steadying breath and slipped out of her heels.