I Love How You Love Me (The Sullivans #13)(5)

by Bella Andre

Richard Bentley had asked Grace out during their interview a year and a half ago. No one that charming or full of compliments had ever looked in her direction before. So while she knew she shouldn’t mix work with pleasure, he’d been too persuasive and determined for her to resist. Especially in the wake of her father’s death only six months earlier. All she’d wanted to do was just forget for a little while.

Her first date with Richard had been on a private rooftop just outside of Washington, D.C. The restaurant with its white tablecloths had been so fancy that she would have felt terribly out of place in her simple black dress and shoes if they hadn’t been in a completely private part of the restaurant. By the end of the evening, her head was spinning with bubbly and what had seemed at the time like the most romantic date she’d ever had. She never usually slept with a guy on the first date, but looking back, Grace couldn’t deny that she’d felt as though she’d owed Richard for the fairy-tale evening.

On their second date, he’d taken her out on the sailboat, and though the trip hadn’t gone as well as dinner under the stars, she hadn’t considered ending that date with only a kiss good night, either. Every date they had was the same: He’d take her somewhere private that knocked her socks off and then she’d invite him in for the night. By the time she’d realized that something didn’t seem quite right—Why did he never take her out where strangers could see them together? Why did he always have an excuse about being too busy to see her or talk during the week? Why did he say he wanted to keep their relationship between just the two of them for a little while longer?—she’d also missed her period.

Richard hadn’t been at all pleased to learn just weeks later that she was pregnant.

It should have been crazy for Grace to assume that Dylan had anything more in mind tonight than a quick interview and a home-cooked meal at his parents’ house. But she’d stopped being able to lie to herself on the day the pregnancy test had come up positive. So while she couldn’t understand it, she also couldn’t deny the heat that had been in Dylan’s eyes when he’d looked at her. Nor could she deny the answering hit of heat she’d felt simply from being near him. Adding in how good he’d been with Mason and how easily he’d been able to turn her son’s tears into giggles? Right there were three big fat reasons why she would need to work overtime to keep things strictly professional. Because he was far, far too tempting...

The doorbell rang, and she tried to prepare herself to see him again, but when she opened the door, the obvious appreciation in his gaze had her long-dormant sensuality immediately leaping back to life, higher and hotter than ever before. Just the way it had on Tuesday in his boathouse.

“You look beautiful, Grace.”

“Thank you.” It had been so long since anyone had told her she was pretty—or since she’d let herself believe it. “Come on in and I’ll go grab Mason’s things.”

Her son immediately reached for Dylan, and though she felt the same twinge in her chest at the thought of letting anyone else hold him, she knew better than to try to hold Mason off this time. Clearly, he’d been yearning to be close to another guy.

“I like your place,” Dylan said as he looked around her apartment’s small kitchen and living room. “Having the park across the street must be great.”

“It’s a great neighborhood, but you’re right, the park is what sold me.” Despite the fact that the apartment had been, and still was, out of her price range. “Yesterday, when he kept pointing at the slide the big kids were going down, I took him on my lap for the first time.”

“I’ll bet he loved it, didn’t he?”

“So much that we’d still be doing it right now if I hadn’t stopped being able to carry him one-armed up the ladder an hour later,” she confirmed with a ruffle of Mason’s dark hair. She was just about to sling his heavy baby bag and his portable car seat over either shoulder when Dylan said, “Why don’t you take a rest from heavy lifting for a couple of hours and let me carry your load for you?”

She didn’t know why Dylan’s offer made her want to start sobbing, only that she couldn’t keep letting him make her go all soft inside like this. Staying tough and determined was what had kept her and Mason’s life on track so far. If she let down her guard now, if she let someone else carry her load even if it was just for a little while, how hard would it be to pick it up again later, all by herself? Besides, Dylan already had her son in his arms, and she could easily handle the rest. Just the way she always did.

“I’ve got them,” she insisted, when the truth was that between playtime at the park the day before and her long day at the computer rewriting every sentence of her article on new nail polish trends a half-dozen times, her shoulders were aching.

She was more than a little surprised by the beat-up Jeep parked outside her apartment building. From the research she’d done about Dylan’s business—and after having been inside his state-of-the-art boathouse—she knew he was wealthy. But unlike her ex, who’d had to proclaim his wealth in any way he could, Dylan obviously didn’t feel the need to drive around in a little red sports car or a massive Hummer that would edge out all the other cars on the road.

She quickly fit Mason’s car seat into the backseat, then clipped him in and handed him a toy to play with during the drive.

“My mom has been counting down the minutes since I called to let her know that you and Mason were coming to dinner.”

Grace had already felt nervous about tonight, but now her nerves jumped another notch. “He was a little fussy earlier. Hopefully he won’t melt down right when we get there.”

“I’m sure he’ll do great tonight. Besides, after raising five of us, my mother’s a master at dealing with meltdowns.”

With Mason banging away on his toy in the backseat of the Jeep, she should have been able to keep her hormones in check. But the noise didn’t make her any less aware of how close to her thigh Dylan’s hand was on the gearshift or how good he smelled—an intoxicating combination of the sea and freshly cut wood.

“I’d love to know more about your family.” She’d promised Dylan that she wouldn’t focus on his family in the story, but just as he’d said on Tuesday, she’d at least need some background on them to help her understand how Dylan had become the man he was. “In doing some preliminary research for my article, I think I have a fairly good handle on what each of them does for a living.”