There was a price to pay for her one-night stand. Five months ago Skylar Fortune had slept with the man of her dreams. Now worldly horseman Zack Manning had returned, and she was forced to tell him she was expecting his baby. Outraged at being kept in the dark, the domineering New Zealander demanded marriage. His smoldering charm wooed the pregnant plain-Jane back into his bed, but Skylar wasn't about to let him dictate her future. Despite everything, their burgeoning love for their tiny miracle bonded them together...until Zack's notorious past exposed his true motives!
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May 07, 2007
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Excerpt from Expecting a Fortune by Jan Colley
Skylar pressed Send and waited for the personalized world clock to do its thing.
"Sioux Falls, South Dakota, U.S.A," she read off the screen. "Friday, 9:06 p.m. Christchurch, New Zealand, Saturday, 4:06 p.m."
Would he be working?
Scraping her fingernails along damp palms, she drew in a ragged breath and hopefully a bucket of courage. Too long had passed, about three months too long, but she could hide it no longer.
Phone, address book...her fingers raced around the desk, tidying the jar of pens, straightening papers. Should she make a drink or go to the bathroom first? If you want to make an easy job seem mighty hard, just keep putting off doing it. Who said that? she wondered, then a knock at the door cranked up her heartbeat. A welcome relief? A stay of execution? But the butterflies stayed with her as she rose, tugging her long shirt down over her sweats.
It was easy to avoid people, living in the cottage by the stables, away from the prying eyes of the main house on the estate. No one had noticed a thing, but that wasn't surprising. After all, who ever noticed Skylar? But the concern in her brother's eyes on a rare visit from Deadwood last week came back to her now.
"Coming." Skylar yanked the door open and nearly passed out on the spot.
Zack Manning opened his mouth then closed it again with an audible snap, or that might have been the sound of her knees buckling.
He stared at her, the beginnings of a smile on his handsome face fading fast.
Her worst nightmare. Adrenaline flooded her system and she could not look away. She felt her lips move in a soundless prayer, felt the tension in her fingers, balled into fists by her sides.
After an age, he lowered his gaze, straight to her midriff. Released momentarily, she sagged against the doorjamb, but her relief was short-lived. Incredulous gray eyes shot back to her face, pinning her again, and she watched his tanned face leach slowly of color.
Skylar swallowed. "Zack," she said, her tone just above a whisper. Deny everything. He couldn't see what she had hidden under her long checked flannel shirt.
"When did you think you might put me in the picture?" Skylar's head dropped and she stared at her feet. "I was just--I just got off the Net. The world clock..." Her voice trailed off. Did she expect him to believe that when she was four months pregnant and hadn't bothered before now?
The crown of her downcast head prickled under his glare. Sighing, she moved to the side so he could enter. Skylar closed the door as he brushed past but did not turn immediately. Instead she leaned her forehead on the door, gathering her jumbled thoughts, but the truth of it was, she had no idea what to say.
Slowly she turned. Zack prowled the lounge of her cozy little cottage and he looked furious. Tightly controlled, but furious. His tall rangy form bristled with tension, his mouth was set in a harsh line.
She hovered by the door, hoping she didn't look as tragic as she felt.
Zack suddenly came to a halt and leaned forward with his large hands spread on the battered leather of her old sofa. "We used protection." His voice was flat.
Skylar's first thought was surprise that he did not question the baby's paternity, that he automatically assumed this was his child. Then she bit her lip to stop a rogue smile. Who would want her? After all, she'd been a virgin that night back at the beginning of February.
"The...it broke, I guess." She kept her face down, unable to even say the word. Her face felt hot enough to fry an egg on. How excruciating, to be discussing this with him. "I thought--" her breath hitched "--it might have, when Maya was here."
Her best friend had burst into the unlocked cottage almost the moment they'd finished. Skylar had panicked, vaulting from her bed, pushing at him while throwing a robe on. Maya had a habit of just walking up the stairs and into her bedroom.