It had been more than two years since Cam Stern's memorable affair with Becca Tuntenstall. And upon seeing her again, the club owner realized the heat still burned between them. He had to pursue her. This time, he would get to know her better...perhaps even take things beyond the bedroom.
But Becca had been keeping a secret--they had a son. Suddenly Cam's plan was no longer clear. He wanted to be part of his child's life. But was he prepared to forge a relationship with the woman who had deceived him?
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April 01, 2011
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Excerpt from Reunited... with Child by Katherine Garbera
What had she been thinking when she'd accepted this invitation?
Becca Tuntenstall really didn't have time to go to a charity function in the middle of the workweek. But considering her former boss had invited her, she felt that it was just the second chance she needed. She'd walked away from everything and everyone in this world almost two years ago, and now she was ready to get back to it.
She checked her lipstick one more time in the ladies'-room mirror at the glitteringly decorated Manhattan Kiwi Klub. She'd designed this interior and really thought it captured the sparkle of the city with a sophistication that wasn't really found in society anymore.
She left the bathroom and walked into the ballroom. Her former boss, Russell Holloway, stood facing her. He smiled when he saw her and waved her over. She fixed a smile on her own face and headed his way like the confident, brash woman she'd been two years ago.
She stopped in her tracks as she heard the one voice she'd thought she'd never hear again.
"Cam?" she said, not having to feign surprise at all.
She stared at him for what seemed like a frozen moment in time, and a million memories rushed through her mind. She remembered how hard it had been to just walk away from this man. "What are you doing here?"
"Russell invited me."
"Uh"okay. But don't you live in Miami?" "I do. But I do travel from time to time," he said wryly.
She flushed, realizing she sounded like an idiot. "I'm sorry. You are just the last person I expected to see tonight."
"Or ever?" he asked.
"Definitely," she said. He looked good, damn him. Cam was tall, at least six foot five, with thick, dark brown hair and eyes that were so blue she couldn't look away from him. He had a strong, stubborn-looking jaw and a clean-shaven face. He wore his tux with an ease that most men simply couldn't carry off. He looked very comfortable and so devastatingly handsome that she had a hard time thinking straight. But then Cam Stern was the son of a socialite and a pro golfer. He'd been born with a silver spoon in his mouth and had only seen his wealth grow since he'd become an adult. In fact, she doubted there was anything that Cam couldn't buy. She knew that well enough from her experience with him.
"Well, I've got to go," she said, fully intending to walk away from him and never speak to him again.
"That's not going to work, Becca," he said.
"Why not? I believe your last words to me two years ago were that if I didn't want to be your mistress we had nothing left to discuss," she reminded him. She'd long gotten over her anger at the way he'd thrown her confession of love back in her face. Hell, no, she hadn't. She still wanted to see him writhe. She still wanted him to feel the intense pain she'd felt when he'd said those words to her.
"I owe you an apology," he said. "I have no excuse for being so cold. I was...your confession was unexpected and I wasn't in a position to make a decision to put a woman on par with my business."
"I know that," she said. "Despite how bitter that sounded just now, I really have moved on. Let's start over."
"Yes, pretend you are just running into me again and I'll be more polite," she said.
He started laughing. "I have missed you, Becca."
She shook her head. "Is there no one else who makes you laugh?"
"Not like you," he said.
She smiled at him, but she wasn't about to let herself fall for his good looks and easy charm again. Cam had done a lot more than break her heart. He'd left her shattered, and she'd had to rebuild her entire life and who she thought she'd be. "That's too bad."
"Yes, it is. What have you been up to?" he asked.
"I started my own business," she said.
"I have to confess I knew that. Russell has been singing your praises to me for a while now."
"He has? I wonder why," she said.
"Because Cam has a project that could do with your touch," Russell said, coming up to them. Russell was a New Zealand millionaire who, like Cam, had been born with more money than Midas. At forty-one, he was two years older than Cam, and he lived the life of an international playboy, jetting from one cosmopolitan city to the next, managing his chain of Kiwi Klubs.
She never turned down work, and she wouldn't if Cam had a legitimate offer for her. She rarely saw her clients, and she could probably manage a few days of face-to-face time with Cam.
"I had hoped to discuss business at another time," Cam said.
"Nonsense. What else would you two have to discuss?" Russell said.
"What else?" Becca asked. Her short, red-hot affair with Cam had also been super-secret. They'd met in her hotel room each night and had white-hot sex. She'd thought it was a whirlwind romance, but it had turned out that the reason Cam had been keeping her secret was that he hadn't wanted more than sex from her.
"What else indeed," Cam said. "I'm not sure if you have heard any of the radio ads for Luna Azul's tenth anniversary celebration or not."
"I have heard them. Very good idea to advertise a Memorial Day weekend trip to Miami to be surrounded by celebs and balmy tropical weather."
"Thanks," he said. "That was my idea. Anyway, we have recently purchased a shopping mall that we are going to open as Luna Azul Mercado. And I'm looking for a designer for the project."
"And I thought of you," Russell said.
She opened her clutch purse, took out a business card and handed it to Cam. "I'd love to hear more about your project."
He took her card and glanced at it for a long moment before putting it in his pocket. "Business out of the way, perhaps we can enjoy the evening now. Can I get you a drink?" Cam asked.
"Gin and tonic," she said.
When he walked away, she was tempted to sneak out the back, but she'd paid a lot of money for her seat at this charity dinner with the intention of meeting a lot of Russell's friends and maybe securing more work for herself.
Becca doubted she would enjoy one second of tonight. There were few situations that she could think of that would be less fun than sitting next to two men from whom she'd kept important secrets. Russell didn't know that she and Cam had been lovers, and Cam didn't know that their affair had resulted in a child.
Cam had been prepared to see Becca again but he'd forgotten how he'd always reacted to her. One brief touch of her hand in his and his entire body had tingled.
Becca's heart-shaped face was pretty--not classically beautiful, but he couldn't take his eyes from her. Her nose was small and delicate, and her thick black hair was worn up with a few tendrils framing her face. Her mouth was full...seductive with that full lower lip, and he remembered the taste of her.
The scent of her had overwhelmed him, and he'd wanted to stand still and just breathe her in. He'd wanted to wrap his arms around her, plant his mouth on hers and say to hell with the last two years.
But he knew that wasn't going to be easy. He'd hurt her when he'd thrown her out of his life. He would never admit this to another person, but Becca had scared him and he'd had to walk away before he'd done something foolish--such as fall for her.
He got their drinks and walked back across the room. She stood talking to a well-dressed woman and looked up as he approached. She had a new life, he thought, watching her. She didn't need a former lover back in it. But he wasn't a man who gave up easily and there was only one thing he wanted...Becca Tuntenstall.
"Your drink," he said, handing it to her.
"Thank you. Cam, do you know Dani McNeil?"
"I don't believe I do," he said, shaking hands with the other woman.
Her hands weren't as soft as Becca's, and he didn't have any reaction to touching her. As though he needed proof that Becca was different--he'd already figured that part out.
"Dani works for Russell's foundation. She is the one who coordinated this tonight."
"Well done," Cam said. "I've attended a lot of parties and this one certainly ranks among the best."
Dani flushed. "Thank you. I've got to go check with the kitchen. I want to make sure everything is perfect." She walked away.
"I'm not sure I know many people at this function."
"I do," Cam said.
"Would you mind introducing me to some of them? I'm trying to grow my business."
"I'm not clear on what it is," he said.
"Tuntenstall Designers. I've designed interiors for hotels and nightclubs. I just finished work on a new hotel in Maui."
"Sounds like you don't need to grow too much," he said.
"There are always more hours in the day to fill," she said. "I'm afraid of running out of work."
"Has that happened?" he asked, wanting to know more about what made her tick.
"Not yet. But it could and I don't want that to happen."
He smiled. "You remind me a lot of me when I started the club."
"At least you had a trust fund to fall back on," she said.
He nodded. "That's true. But it didn't make the work any easier. And I was very conscious of the fact that if I failed I'd be putting my future and my brothers in jeopardy."
She quirked one side of her mouth. "I guess I didn't think of it that way."
"Why would you?" he asked. He was very aware that he and his brothers had cultivated an image of carefree playboys who'd never had to worry about anything.
"I hate it when people make assumptions about me," she said.
"We all do it," he said. "So who do you want to meet?"
"I really don't know. I heard that Tristan Sabina was here and he is a co-owner of Seconds nightclubs..."
"You want me to introduce you to the competition?" he asked. He was joking. Seconds was more competition for Russell's Kiwi Klubs than for Luna Azul. They had several branches in international hotspots instead of one dedicated location like Luna Azul. Someday Cam thought it might be nice to have another club, but he liked what they were doing in Miami. It would have to be just the right situation to tempt him to leave.
"Would you mind?" she asked.
"Not at all. In fact I know Tristan fairly well," he said, taking Becca's arm in his. He took a sip of his dirty martini and savored the salty taste.
"Do you need another drink?" he asked her.
"I'm good," she said. "Thanks for doing this."
"Introducing me to Tristan," she said, drawing to a stop. "You don't have to."
"I know. I want to," he said. He'd let something slip away with Becca, and, to be honest, he regretted it. He hadn't been ready for her love two years ago, and he didn't know if he was now. But with his brothers settling down and Becca coming back into his life, he at least wanted to give it a chance.
He waved over Tristan, who was accompanied by his wife, Sheri. Cam made short work of the introductions.
"Becca is an interior designer," Cam said.
"Enchant?, mademoiselle," Tristan said.
"It's a pleasure. I hope you don't mind but I asked Cam to introduce us so I could give you my card. I've done a lot of work for nightclubs and hotels."
"I don't mind at all," Tristan said. He took her card and pocketed it. "But I can't talk business tonight or Sheri will likely kill me." His French accent was very smooth and barely noticeable.
"I will," his wife said. "He's promised me a night out and I intend to hold him to it. We work together, so I hardly ever have a chance to just spend time with my husband that doesn't involve work or family."
"Then I'm sorry I brought it up."
"Not at all. So how did you start your own business? My boss can be a bear...I might want to do the same."
"You aren't quitting, Sheri, and leaving me alone at the office."
"Why not?" she asked her husband.
Tristan leaned down and whispered something in her ear that made her blush. Then she kissed him, and he put his arm around her. Cam wasn't sure what had been said, but he knew that it was intimate.
And he wanted that. He had been alone for a long time and had grown used to it, but there were times, especially now that his brothers were both engaged, that he wanted something more.
He glanced down at Becca and noticed that she was watching the married couple, as well. He'd ruined things with her once by not...by what? They'd had an affair. Affairs don't turn into love overnight. Cam Stern had always known he wasn't the kind of guy that women fell easily in love with. He was arrogant and difficult. He might know his way around a bedroom, and he knew he was the kind of lover who ensured his partner's pleasure, but a life together was about more than sex. He'd learned that the hard way.
The conversation at the dinner table was fun and lively, ranging from politics to economic trends to fashion. Becca wasn't sure she was going to fit in with the billionaires, scandalous heiresses and socialites, but she was managing to hold her own.
Seated around the table for eight were Russell and his supermodel date; Becca and Cam; then next to Cam, Geoff Devonshire--a member of the British royal family--and his new wife, Amelia Munroe-Devonshire; next to them were Russell's CFO, Marcus Willby, and his daughter Penny.