Her Impossible Baby Bombshell
He’d planned for everything…
Except becoming a father!
A life of hardship and crushing responsibility left billionaire Tsai Jun Li never wanting a child to suffer the same. He made sure he couldn’t have children. So when Ivy Lam, the woman he shared one mesmerizing encounter with, appears claiming she’s pregnant, he needs proof!
After a painful relationship, Ivy’s night with Jun Li was a magical fresh start. Now she’s preparing for unexpected motherhood…but she didn’t plan on being whisked away to Shanghai! Because it’s suddenly clear Jun Li won’t relinquish his claim…to his baby or to Ivy!
Her Impossible Baby Bombshell
"You want me to believe the one time I had unprotected sex, my vasectomy spontaneously reversed itself and I made a baby?"
— Jun Li, Her Impossible Baby Bombshell
The germ of this idea began when a reader asked if I had written any Canadian heroes. I knew my next book would be set in Asia and that made me start thinking about our huge population of Chinese Canadians in Vancouver.
At first, I thought Jun Li would be Canadian, but we also have a huge number of foreign students of all ages who come to study in Canada and I liked the idea of him having come over quite young. He was homesick and accosted by culture shock and never really enjoyed his time in Canada. This made for a nice contrast with Ivy who is a second generation Chinese Canadian who regards Vancouver as home.
The larger conflict is, of course, the fact she gets pregnant after he told her he had a vasectomy. What I loved most about this idea was the flip of an unplanned pregnancy. Ivy is definitely reeling from the shock, but so is Jun Li. He really feels ambushed by the news and by his sudden paternal instincts which he absolutely never expected to experience.
From there, they’re strangers trying to get through the first weeks of marriage and a very serious pregnancy complication, taking their time realizing they are actually perfect for one another. I hope you enjoy their journey to HEA!
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Her Impossible Baby Bombshell
Love. Yuck. Ivy Lam was over it.
She wasn’t cynical by nature, but she’d only come to this engagement party to be polite. A DM to an old work colleague asking if she could buy him coffee to discuss a career shift had resulted in the invitation from Kevin.
If you’re in town, come to our party. Lots of leads will be there.
So she’d picked up a bottle of wine and spent way too much money on a dress. It was a “casual” afternoon barbecue in one of Vancouver’s most upscale neighborhoods, celebrating a society engagement, but she needed to make a good first impression on potential employers. Easy-peasy.
She had settled on a dusty pink knee-length floral dress that had a 1950s Sunday school vibe to it, but the darts and pleats gave it a tailored look and the scooped neckline made the most of her modest bosom.
For all the good the effort had done her. Most of the women were in daring halter tops with bohemian skirts and eyelet sundresses that hugged their curves. Ivy was both a sore thumb that stuck out and a wallflower to be overlooked.
It was the story of her life. Ivy was neither an introvert nor an extrovert. She was middle-of-the-road, which made her too boring to be the center of attention but perfect for filling out background laughter.
Kevin had been right about the guest list, though. It was brimming with Vancouver’s top commercial real estate developers, stock traders and financial investors. Even a real, live billionaire—if the hushed remark she’d overheard was to be believed.
Tsai Jun Li was—well, it didn’t matter that he’d made her blood heat when Kevin had seemed to make a point of introducing them. Ivy wasn’t here to find a man.
Therefore, it hadn’t bothered her a bit that Jun Li had been drawn away seconds later by a stacked blonde. Blondie was welcome to him. Ivy refused to get hung up on a man who didn’t want her. Not again.
Even if he might be, without exaggeration, the most beautiful man she’d ever seen.
No. Either way she sliced it, there was nothing here for her. Trying to network at such a celebratory event would be tasteless and Kevin’s effusive love for Carla only reminded Ivy of how spectacularly she had failed when it came to happily-ever-after.
Thirty minutes after she arrived, she quietly exited the Point Grey mansion without saying goodbye. As she emerged onto the stoop, the April sunshine made her sneeze.
Allergic to love, she almost said to the valet who blessed her.
“I’m ordering a ride share,” she said in answer to his offer to fetch her car.
She didn’t hurry to bring up the app, though. She wasn’t anxious to go back to her father’s. His new relationship was also loving and sincere and hard to be around. Ivy was happy for him, but she felt like a dupe for believing she had had anything like it.
What a waste! But no more kidding herself. She was moving on. That’s what this trip was about.
She went down the steps to stand in the shade of an ornamental plum tree, trying to read her email. She was hoping for an impromptu request for an interview, but there was nothing because it was Saturday afternoon and the sun was shining. The entire city was outside enjoying a startlingly beautiful and unseasonably warm spring day.
Ivy stepped into the sun and turned her face up, letting the warmth and brightness shine down on her with all its might. She was coming home. It wasn’t so much a do-over as the launch of a new and improved Ivy. One who wasn’t so gullible. One who made her own decisions. Bold, self-serving ones.
“It’s false advertising,” a male voice said.
The valet made an “eep” noise and said, “The Pagani?” He snatched up a key from his board and hurried away.
Ivy looked up the steps, and there he stood, surveying her the way an emperor assessed his domain.
According to Kevin, the thirtyish Chinese billionaire had been his “roommate from our time at UBC.” That made Jun Li sound very tame when he actually moved like a predator, gliding down the stairs in a panther-like lope.
Ivy didn’t mean to stare, but seriously, she forgot to breathe, he was so good-looking.
He had short black hair with just enough length on top to be rakish. His brows were stern, his beard trimmed to a thin line that framed his square jaw and somber mouth. His cheekbones were so high and sharp, they should have shattered the screen on her phone. His skin held a warm golden hue set off by the lime-green color of his pullover.
How was that loosely knit but closely worn sweater not wearing him?
Ivy only noticed his clothes because they so elegantly hugged his muscled shoulders and accentuated his athletic build. He’d skimmed up his sleeves to reveal his forearms, adding to his air of being utterly unaware of how stunning he was. He was like a snapshot out of a men’s magazine. He only needed to tuck a hand into his bone-colored chinos and point at something off camera.
What would he look like in his underwear, she wondered sinfully.
He kept coming toward her, and her admiration sharpened to something more visceral. A tightness of danger with a thrill of excitement.
It was a testament to how anemic her last relationship had been that she had never experienced anything like this surge of anticipation for the man she had wanted to marry, but heat built in her throat as Jun Li closed in on her.
Just as she wondered if he would overwhelm her completely, he stopped in the shade of the tree.
“The weather,” he clarified. His mouth might have twitched as though he was laughing at how mesmerized she was. “An arctic outflow will come through tomorrow and kill all these flowers.” He nodded at the planter pots filled with cheerful pansies. “Or a pineapple express from Hawaii will dump a metric ton of rain and drown them. Everyone who visits thinks this is what it’s like to live here. It’s not.”
He was making her feel exactly how she didn’t want to feel—like a tongue-tied adolescent with her first crush. Like a woman who allowed men to tell her things she already knew. She wanted to be one of those sophisticates like that blonde who hadn’t been afraid to make a play for a man who was clearly out of her league.
“I know” was all she managed to say. “I grew up here.”
His brows went up slightly. “I misunderstood. I thought Kevin said he knew you from his time in Hong Kong.”
“We worked together there, yes.”
Kevin had a very similar background to Ivy’s middle-class, second-generation immigrant upbringing. As a fellow Chinese Canadian boosting a banking career with a stint in Hong Kong, he’d taken her under his wing for the year she’d worked in his department, offering her a sibling-like bond of outward teasing and underlying support.
“I took his job when he left.” That felt very braggy, but she was trying to overcome years of allowing herself to be reduced. “Six months ago, I took a transfer to Toronto.” Huge mistake careerwise, but at least it had forced her to confront how poorly she was allowing herself to be treated and put a stop to it once and for all. “My father still lives here, so I’m moving back to enjoy the smooth traffic and affordable cost of living. Fabulous weather is not this city’s only selling feature,” she punctuated with a facetious smile.
“I would have sworn it had none, but I stand corrected.” His mouth curled with equal irony. The flick of his gaze to her shoes and back suggested male notice. The crinkles beside his eyes suggested he appreciated what he saw. “Do you need a lift?” he asked as a growling engine approached.
Her heart skipped, and she thought, This is it. This is what it’s like to be single.
The tendrils of attraction within her were sliding and coiling with possibility. A flattered blush warmed her cheeks, and she felt the rush of preparing to take a big leap.
At the last second, old habits had her stupid mouth stammering, “I’m in Richmond. It’s too far out of your way.” Because he couldn’t possibly want to spend a second longer with her than he had to. This was exactly how she’d wound up in a dead-end long-distance relationship for eight years.
“I’m looking for an excuse to drive,” he said as a cobalt-blue convertible roadster stopped before him. It was a two-seater with fins and muscles and spoked hubcaps. There was a hawklike beak down the hood. The windshield was slanted to an acute, aerodynamic angle, and the mirrors swept out like antennae.
Ivy couldn’t help biting her lip in temptation. “It looks like something a crime-fighting duo would use to chase supervillains.”
“Blame me for the crime rate, then. I forgot I owned it. I had to have it tuned up before I could drive it, but now that I have, I’ve decided to ship it home. I’m hardly ever here.” He opened the passenger door. “Are you really going to make me save the city all by myself?”
Ivy stifled a snort at anyone owning a car like this—likely worth seven figures—and not only forgetting about it, but having it sent around the world like an overnight package.
This man was not only out of her league, he was from a different planet. But when would she get a chance like this again?
“If the city needs us…” She dropped into the low-slung seat, feeling like a racecar driver must. She dug in her bag for her sunglasses, a cheap pair of cat-eyes that she’d grabbed while picking out this dress.
He put on a pair of designer wraparounds that made him look even more sexy and inscrutable. As he pulled away, she felt like one of those daring women who got on the back of the bad boy’s motorcycle. She felt sexy and self-possessed just by being next to him in this wicked car on this glorious day.
They wound down the hill through tree-lined streets, but when he reached the main road that would have taken them south, there was a detour arrow.
“This looks like a sign,” he said.
“Are you being literal? Or do you mean it’s a warning that I shouldn’t move back here because this is what I’ll be up against?”
“I’m saying we’re being offered a chance to seize this rare, fine day. How do you feel about taking the long way home?”
She waved her hand, silently deferring to him, bemused that she was here at all.
He proved his familiarity with the side streets, and they were soon across the bridge and skirting English Bay, heading into Stanley Park. From there, he took the Lion’s Gate bridge and ran through the gears up the Sea to Sky highway.
Her skirt fluttered as he picked up speed. Her heart pressed back into her spine and her hair snapped her cheeks. She grinned with delight as the music blared and he smoothly whistled past sedans and minivans. It was a sensation of absolute freedom and she should have let them both enjoy it, but she wound up ruining it.
“You know they’ll impound this car if you go too far over the speed limit?”
“They’ll have to catch me first,” he said cockily, but he eased off a little, glancing at his speed and the sign they passed.
“I’ve been working in compliance,” she said by way of apology. “Job hazard.”
“You’re still in banking?”
“Yes.” She understood he was asking because Kevin had left the bank in Hong Kong to take a private-sector position in asset management here in Vancouver. “What do you do?” She had an idea but wondered how a man like him answered such a question.
“The bulk of my work involves international infrastructure projects. We have a lot of contracts around the Belt Road Initiative. I’m president of a conglomerate with a diverse portfolio, though. My father started it with medical devices, and we’re still a global manufacturer for those. My aunt has a handbag supply chain that does ridiculously well.”
“Why is it ridiculous? Every woman needs something trendy in which to carry her husband’s wallet.”
It was a silly joke, a dig toward all the men who complained about holding purses in shopping malls but didn’t want to carry their own wallet.
Jun Li’s expression grew more alert. “I assumed you were single because you were at the party alone.”
Whose wallet do you carry? he seemed to be asking.
A man who led me on for years and never really wanted me. That wallet has been sent to the secondhand store.
A worldly woman with confidence in her own worth didn’t blurt out a sob story about being taken for granted and rejected, though.
“I’m consciously uncoupled as of last Christmas,” she said in the most laissez-faire tone she could manage. “You?”
“Consciously uncoupled as a lifestyle choice.”
“Ah. Noted,” she said dryly, hearing the underlying warning. It stung more than it should, but she was still raw from her breakup. She didn’t need another man telling her she wasn’t good enough for forever. Kudos to Jun Li for being up front about it, at least.
She made herself enjoy the moment and they were halfway to Whistler before she realized it.
“How far are we going?” he asked and her heart lurched as the words ‘all the way’ sprang into her mind.
She didn’t have the nerve to say it and he wound up taking the next exit off the highway. It led to a tourist attraction with a gondola to summit and a dining lodge.
“I’ve never gone up there. Have you?”
“Is today the day?”
“When will we have another?”
Minutes later, they were ambling along an interpretive path enjoying spectacular views of the mountains and the sound below.
“I don’t care if it is false advertising,” Ivy said as she stood at the rail of a platform that jutted out into thin air. “When it’s beautiful, it’s really beautiful. To me, that’s worth suffering the bad days.”
“I’d rather avoid the bad days and accept the good ones as the gift they are.” He turned to her.
He wanted to kiss her. She knew it and she wanted that, too. She turned and lifted her gaze to meet his. They were both smiling.
She didn’t let herself wonder what any of it meant. This day was a gift for both of them.
When his mouth settled on hers, lips firm and smooth and hot, her whole body grew charged with electricity.
This was her chance to take another step toward moving on, she realized with a flash of possibility. Indulging herself with Jun Li was liable to wipe her memory clean all the way back to her first kiss in grade school, but that was exactly what she needed.
The conscientious woman inside her, the one still longing for love, marriage and a baby carriage, warned that a man like him could set a bar that no other man could reach. He could destroy her without even meaning to.
She told that fearmongering voice to pipe down and kissed him back.
They kissed until they were both breathless. When he lifted his head, she discovered they were pressed together, arms wrapped tight around each other.
He licked his lips.
“How do you feel about being used in a rebound situation?” she asked before she could think twice.
“I feel great about it.” His expression relaxed into one of sensual anticipation. “I leave tomorrow morning.” His eyes narrowed as he gauged her reaction to that.
“So do I.”
“Let’s enjoy this day, then.”
Four months later, Singapore
Exactly as she had back in April, Ivy accepted a flute of champagne with no intention of drinking it, even though her mouth was a desert. She held the glass to blend in while she got her bearings at a party where she only knew one person.
Actually, zero. Her quarry wasn’t here yet. She gave the dimly lit piano bar another nervous skim of her gaze—as if Jun Li was a man anyone could miss.
She belonged even less at this five-star Singapore hotel than she had at Kevin’s party. Jun Li’s guests were VPs and CEOs whose net incomes made Kevin’s circle look like burger flippers at a fast food joint.
Instead of her prim pink dress, she wore a cheongsam-inspired sheath with cap sleeves, its red shoulders fading to indigo at the knee-length hem. Was it noticeably tight around her middle? Yes, but it had always served her well at the banking functions she was forced to attend, so she’d worn it as a security blanket.
She had hoped it would work for what was essentially a corporate event, but it was too demure for a trophy wife and not chic enough for a female executive with stock options. Any minute she expected a caterer to hand her a tray of canapés and ask her to serve them to table five.
Everything about this was awful. She was bordering on stalking, coming all this way to ambush a man in front of his employees, but in the three weeks since she’d discovered her pregnancy, she’d had little luck reaching out through normal channels. Jun Li hadn’t given her his number, and his privacy settings on social media were locked down tight. A gauntlet of personal assistants and low-level managers had fobbed her off and shut her down, clearly judging her a schemer of some kind. She’d even asked a headhunter to nose around for jobs that might grant her an interview with him, but that process took forever, and this felt urgent. For both of them.
Truth was, she was still in shock and denial, somehow convinced it wouldn’t be real until she told Jun Li. She had to tell him before she revealed it to anyone else, but getting to him was nearly impossible.
She had resorted to calling Kevin. Aside from sending a wedding gift and regrets, she’d been avoiding him, not wanting to know whether Jun Li had told him they’d spent a night together. She wasn’t ashamed of their brief affair, but it was private. She’d done it for herself and wanted it to be a special memory that was between the two of them. She wasn’t up for any teasing over it. She wasn’t running around bragging that she’d bagged a billionaire. She’d be devastated if Jun Li was boasting about conquering her.
With all other avenues exhausted, however, she had screwed up her courage and invited Kevin for coffee, supposedly to discuss her career.
“You haven’t found the right fit yet?” he asked with surprise.
“I’ve been offered a position, but I’d like your take. I don’t know if it will be flexible enough in the long run.” That was true enough. Her entire life was changing, and she needed a position that would adapt to the needs of a single mother.
They sat down a few days later and warmed up with small talk about his upcoming wedding. It provided the perfect opening to bring up her real reason for seeing him.
“Who’s your best man? Jun Li?” She already knew he wasn’t.
“My brother. Jun Li can’t make it. Annual strategy meeting in Singapore.” Kevin had set down his coffee to side-eye her. “Why? Were you hoping to see him again? Carla thinks you two hooked up because you both left our party early.”
Ivy suffered an appalled moment of realizing she was being gossiped about, but it was obviously a joke. He didn’t really believe they had connected.
“Oh yeah, right,” Ivy scoffed after the longest, most agonizingly culpable silence. She hoped he read her nervous, blushing laughter as unrequited attraction, not guilt. “Every woman was throwing herself at him, but Tsai Jun Li, the Chinese billionaire, went home with me. Five minutes after we met.” She added an eye roll to really sell how outrageous the suggestion was.
Whether Kevin believed her or not, she didn’t know. She didn’t have the nerve to look him in the eye after that.
She should have confessed all and admitted, I really need help, but it felt like a gross breach of ethics to air one man’s private business to another.
After a moment, he had said, “You could do worse. You have done worse.” His voice was a lot more compassionate than his words. He knew all about her woes with Bryant.
Kevin had segued into asking about the job she’d been offered, and Ivy lost her chance to ask how Jun Li might react to her news.
She knew how he was going to react—with complete and utter disbelief. That’s why this felt like such a personal, delicate matter that needed to be discussed in person. A text or voice mail wouldn’t convince him and ran the risk of an assistant getting the news first.
If this wrap-up party had been more difficult to sleuth out, Ivy might have gone back to Kevin, but things had fallen into place very easily. The itinerary for the entire week had been on the corporate website, including the fact Jun Li was scheduled to present some awards tonight, recognizing the most innovative suggestions from the week’s meetings.
Ivy had extended the start date for her new job in Vancouver, finished moving and used points to book a package, arriving in Singapore yesterday.
At least she was getting a final vacation before settling into single motherhood, she thought dourly as she glared into her flattening champagne. Because it was looking as though Jun Li wouldn’t even show up—
A stir in the crowd brought her head up. She glimpsed him through the throng, and her heart stalled. Her knees went soft. She shifted so she had a better view of him, and her shoulders tensed so hard with nerves and jubilation, she could hardly breathe.
He seemed to stop time, pausing to survey the milling guests. He was still the most beautiful man Ivy had ever seen, and it was his superpower to seem completely unaware of his impact. In this faux candlelight, his complexion held a godlike bronze sheen. He wore a striped shirt, open at the collar, and a pair of tailored pants with a cuff, casually elegant and completely untouchable. Beyond her.
How had this pregnancy even happened? That’s what she was thinking as her shoes from the outlet mall pinched her feet and a woman approached him, curvaceous and stunning in a peacock-blue cocktail dress and an abundance of jewelry that Ivy instinctively knew was real.
Ivy couldn’t compete with that. Her gaze glued itself to him as she waited for him to notice her, half terrified, half thrilled to merely be in his orbit again while her heart tripped over itself with jealousy and loss. Her instinct was to crawl away. The last thing she wanted was a humiliating rejection in front of all these people.
If only she could take heart from the fact Jun Li’s aloof expression didn’t change as he spoke to that other woman, but she’d found him very hard to read when she’d spent an afternoon and evening with him. As it turned out, he’d been seducing her the whole time, so he might be doing the same to that woman right now for all she knew. Perhaps he already had.
A small choke of agony left her at the thought. She felt tangled in barbed wire as she stood there. She wanted to rush away and hide, but if he was romantically involved with anyone, he ought to know what she knew.
There would be no convenient time to approach him. No easy way to say what had to be said. She had come all this way, and it was time to wade in before he was completely surrounded or disappeared.
As she started forward, her situation hit her as very tawdry. Not the one-night stand part. She had agreed to that and, even though it had stung that he hadn’t made any effort to reach out to her afterward, she accepted their time together as merely a fling.
No, the fact they’d been intimate but she was forced to go to these lengths so he could disbelieve and disregard her was eating her alive.
She was so focused on Jun Li, a touch on her arm made her jolt in surprise. A young man gave her a pained smile. “You’re not on the list.”
She could only stare blankly. He repeated it in Mandarin.
“You don’t know who I am,” she said, using her own flawless Mandarin.
“Exactly. I know every face except yours. Can you come with me, please?”
“No, I—” She glanced at Jun Li, digging in her heels. His attention was turned on that other woman, and he wasn’t even looking this way.
“Please don’t make a scene,” the young man said. His hand on her arm firmed.
Ivy had the panicked feeling of someone being pulled beneath the surface of a lake, certain she was about to drown.
She yanked her arm free and hissed, “Go tell him Kevin Chow’s friend Ivy needs five minutes.”
Dropping Kevin’s name gave the young man pause. After a wavering second, he said, “Wait by the elevator.”
She did, begrudgingly, and watched as he went to Jun Li to speak in his ear.
Jun Li’s head came up. His gaze seemed to hit her like a spear from across the room, deafening her to the din of conversation and the patter of piano keys. She couldn’t read anything in his body language. Was he pleased? Appalled? She didn’t know, but a hot sting of adrenaline shot to the ends of her fingers and toes, urging her to run while another part of her melted under his gaze.
She didn’t understand why she reacted to him this way, and it was ten times stronger now they had shared a night of passion. More.
Her hand twitched, wanting to protectively cover her middle, but that would be far too telling when people were turning their heads, picking up on where his attention had gone.
Jun Li flicked his hand in an unspoken, I’ll handle it. He left his group and wove unerringly toward her, expression inscrutable.
As he closed in, her lungs compressed and her insides began to tremble. His profound effect on her was not the thrill of catching a handsome, powerful man’s attention. It was a painful sting of raw fear because she sensed his irritation at her turning up this way.
This was a far more daunting man than the one she’d met in Vancouver—which she hadn’t realized was possible—but he still made her blood move like lava under her skin. Instead of basking in the glow of his attention, however, she felt spotted by an eagle. Picked apart. Naked.
It struck her that she’d gone to these ridiculous lengths so she could experience the soaring feeling of being in his presence again, but that had been a mistake. He was about to shoot her down, and the fall would be crippling.
“Ivy.” There was no warmth in his voice. There was no hostility, either, which made it worse. He conveyed annoyance that she was bothering him at work, but otherwise he was indifferent to her being here.
She had the sudden, horrifying sense that he wouldn’t have remembered her at all if she hadn’t just given her name to his PA.
It was a plunge into reality from a fantasy she hadn’t acknowledged. Deep down, she had imagined he might want to see her again. How incredibly foolish of her. He was supposed to have cured her of yearning for a man to bolster her sense of self-worth.
She cut off her anguished thoughts. The backs of her eyes were hot, and her throat wanted to close, but she forced herself to adopt her boardroom demeanor, the one she used when she had to deliver bad news. She was the person on staff everyone loved to resent. She had learned to wear a dispassionate veil to protect herself.
“I’m sorry to bother you,” she said in a level voice. “It was difficult to reach you without revealing why I need to speak with you. It’s a personal matter.”
His brows came together with genuine concern. “Kevin?”
Just as quickly, comprehension washed over his expression along with weary cynicism. “If I gave you a wrong impression when we—”
“You didn’t.” She’d done that to herself and would scream her mortification into a pillow later. “I only need five minutes, but I have information you should have. It’s private,” she added as his assistant hovered behind him.
Jun Li drew a skeptical breath, looking like he wanted to rebuff her, but his gaze flickered over her. She was watching him so closely, trying so hard to read him, she caught the flash of something—memory? Hunger?
Whatever it was disappeared so quickly, it left a void inside her the way a detonation left a scorched crater in the earth.
He withdrew a card from his pocket and loomed close to her.
She was so disconcerted, so buffeted by his dynamic energy, she took a step back, not realizing he was only touching the call button near her hip. She practically fell through the doors when they opened behind her.
He caught her arm to steady her. “I’ll escort you down.” He guided her into the empty elevator and shook his head when the young man would have joined them. “How did you get up here?” he asked her as the doors closed.
By riding the elevator until she was motion sick and slipping into the ladies’ room ages before the greeters with their tablets and their gift bags had arrived. “Does it matter?”
“It’s my hotel. I’d like to know how my security was bypassed, yes.” He touched his card to the panel.
His hotel. Right. He wasn’t just some guy she’d slept with. He was the head of a Chinese infrastructure conglomerate with projects and investments worldwide. He didn’t have time for a lowly one-night stand to bend his ear. She ignored his question to blurt what she had come to say.
“Look, I know my coming here seems extreme, but—”
The floor didn’t drop. It went up, causing her to stagger again.
“Are you all right?” He frowned, and his hand returned to her elbow.
“I thought you were taking me downstairs.”
“I will. You said this was a private matter.” The doors opened almost immediately. He escorted her across a small foyer into a two-story mansion of a penthouse.
It was the kind of over-the-top luxury she’d only seen in reality shows about the rich and famous. He walked her down a spiral staircase made of glass into a living area where the wall of windows looked onto the colorful lights of Singapore against the night sky.
She was completely taken aback by the astonishing view and understated opulence of white leather sofas arranged to enjoy a fireplace that peeked through to an elegant dining room. There were modern art sculptures and abstracts on the walls, an area rug that had to be silk and chandeliers that had to be crystal.
“Drink?” he invited.
“I can’t, thank you.” She cleared her throat and dug deep in search of the woman she’d pretended to be that day with him. Experienced. Detached. This was a compliance error, she reminded herself. That’s all. “I’m not here to attempt an extension of our…” Relationship? “Association,” she decided in a strained voice. “I only thought you should know that I’m pregnant.”
Her heart pounded so hard, she thought the whole building must be pulsating with the sound. Her skin felt hot, but clammy with sweat.
His expression didn’t change. “Congratulations?”
His breath hissed out in a humorless snort while his shoulders slanted with fatalism. He gave a small shake of his head that asked Why are you wasting my time?
“Hear me out.” She held up a hand, noticed it was trembling and tucked it under her elbow, folding her arms defensively. “I broke up with my boyfriend last Christmas. You’re the only man I’ve been with since. Does this look like a full-term pregnancy to you?” She opened her arms to indicate the subtle curve in her middle.
It was nearing the end of July. She was seventeen weeks along, looking more like she’d been indulging at an all-inclusive buffet than pregnant.
“Whether you’re pregnant or not I couldn’t say…” His attention traversed all over her, like a paintbrush making several long, thorough strokes to leave a thick coat. When he dragged his gaze back to hers, his was sparking with heat that was smothered with cynicism. “You’re not the first woman to make a claim like this, you know. They don’t usually have the information I confided to you—”
“Don’t,” she warned, heart wrenched by the contempt she could hear in his tone. The one that censured her against being desperate and foolish. The one that said she had grossly overstepped by coming here.
She was used to powerful men dismissing her. The truth was often inconvenient, but this wasn’t a gray area in a policy or regulation that she was suggesting he abide by. It was way more personal than that. And even though she’d known he would react this way, it hurt to be accused of dishonesty. She might tell white lies, but she was dead honest when it came to life, death and tax implications.
She swallowed and hugged herself again.
“I’m not here to ask for money or a ring. I’m telling you because it’s information you deserve to have. I’m perfectly capable of raising this baby on my own and plan to.”
“Great. Consider me informed. I’ll escort you to your room.”
It was a bluff. She could tell he was testing her resolve to see how she would react to such a callous dismissal.
She wanted to cry. Everything about this was going exactly as she had expected—except for the fact he had the power to cut her in half with a few dispassionate words. She wouldn’t beg him to believe her, though.
“I’m not staying here.” She spoke with as much poise as she could muster, biting back pointing out his hotel was way beyond her budget.
“I’ll ask the doorman to cover your taxi fare, then.” He waved at the stairs.
“That’s not necessary,” she murmured, hesitating.
She wanted to ask one more thing, but it was such a blood-chilling worry, she could barely give voice to it.
His brows went up with exaggerated patience. A muscle pulsed in his jaw, betraying he was finding this interaction disturbing. He was probably already thinking he ought to take a test to be sure and probably annoyed with her for making him think it.
“These things are very easy to disprove, Ivy,” he said, but she didn’t take any comfort in having read him correctly. “Even if you go to the press, I’ll be vindicated very quickly. There’s nothing for you to gain. We had a nice time. I’d like to remember it that way.”
“They are,” she agreed. “Easy to disprove.” The sting of adrenaline in her system intensified as her head whirled. All she’d been thinking for three weeks was a replay of, I have to tell him. He won’t believe me. But I have to tell him…
“And that’s what you want?” he asked in a clipped voice. “For me to do a pointless paternity test? I’ve had a vasectomy,” he reminded.
“So you said.” It was a petty retaliation to let her skepticism hang in the air with such disdain. She added lofty, skeptical brows out of pure malice.
He snorted, and a brief flare of outrage in his expression warned her it was unwise to provoke such a powerful man.
With a shiver of apprehension, she looked to her unpainted nails. “All I’m saying is, if you’re having sex, you should be careful.”
“I am careful,” he shot back. “I always wear a condom.”
“Do you?” Because after the first one had broken, they hadn’t bothered using one the second time.
He swore under his breath. “You want me to believe the one time I had unprotected sex, my vasectomy spontaneously reversed itself and I made a baby?”
“Believe what you want. I’m telling you there’s a baby inside me and there’s only one man who could have put it there. But listen—” She held up her hand, striving to remember what she’d told herself when she had made her plans to seek him out. “It’s obvious you had the procedure so you wouldn’t become a father.”
It took everything in her to speak with equanimity. In the space of a single night, he had changed her life irrevocably, and yes, on some level she felt betrayed by his assurance she had nothing to worry about. She was pregnant, overwhelmed and frightened of the future. His disbelief crushed her, but—
“I’m not here to obligate you. I felt you should know the risk you’re taking with future partners. That’s all.” She conjured her hard-truth smile, the one that said, I know it sucks, but this is the law of the land.
He stood very still, sharp gaze picking her apart as though he was trying to find her ulterior motive because there was no way she could be telling the truth.
“I also want to know…” Her quavering voice trailed off. This was so hard. Her hands were so cold and numb, she nearly dropped the handbag she’d forgotten she was holding. Her heart was in her throat. “Why did you have a vasectomy?”
“My body, my choice,” he threw back at her.
“It wasn’t a concern about…birth defects? Or anything medical that could affect a baby?”
His brows slammed together. “No.”
She let out a shaken breath, one she’d been holding since she’d learned she was pregnant by a man who had taken a drastic step while seemingly young and fit. His reasons were his business, but a grave health concern had seemed a strong possible motive. She hadn’t been able to sleep, wondering what she and her child might face.
Her knees wanted to sag as that weight of apprehension lifted. Exhaustion was catching up to her. She nodded, all of her feeling as though she more floated than stood.
“Okay. Thank you,” she said faintly.
It was done. Her chest felt hollow, but tears of reaction were gathering in her throat. Definitely time to leave. She would go back to her hotel and blame pregnancy hormones for her breakdown, not her own poor judgment in getting involved with another man who was leaving her feeling used and unworthy, but at least she had done what she thought was right.
“Enjoy your party.” Moving to the stairs was a walk across hot coals into an unforgiving shower of icicle daggers.
She didn’t listen for him to call her back. He didn’t believe her and was leaving her to raise their child alone.
It was exactly how she had expected this to go and exactly what she wanted.
It wasn’t possible. It couldn’t be.
That was all Jun Li could think. He’d been in this position before, and it had turned out to be false alarms. He’d made sure after the first time that it would never be possible again.
But her question about birth defects and her profound relief at his answer dragged cold fingers of apprehension down the insides of his rib cage.
Jun Li didn’t know one way or another if he was a carrier for anything. He’d had the procedure to ensure he would never conceive any children, healthy or otherwise.
The sound of the door opening above him snapped him out of his stasis.
Calling her back was an instinctive reflex. A man in his position developed enormous cynicism. He had learned to always be on guard against people looking for an angle to take advantage. Despite one night of intimacy, her claim was outrageous and not something his logical brain wanted to give credence to.
Even so, a barbed hook seemed caught in his flesh, one that was being tugged as though it was attached to her. He couldn’t let her leave. Not yet.
Not now that he’d seen her again.
What was this disturbing reaction he had to her? He’d been warring with himself for the last two weeks, ever since his PA had told him she’d reached out, asking him to get in touch.
He’d been tempted. Very tempted. They’d had an incredible night four months ago, the kind that had burned to the ground all his previous experiences. But they wanted different things. She was moving to Vancouver, and he hated the place. There hadn’t seemed any point in returning her call.
Maybe it had been arrogant to assume her call had been an attempt to rekindle their brief romance, but what other reason would there be? He’d had a quick screen for STIs, and all his results were clean.
A pregnancy hadn’t occurred to him because it wasn’t possible.
The silence above had gone on so long, he reached for the house phone, lifting it with the intention of asking the concierge to stop her in the lobby.
As the phone gave a beep, he heard the door click closed upstairs. She came to the rail of the loft, very pale and looking at her hands, not at him.
He could taste her defensiveness from here. It made his chest itch with premonition, the kind that warned of an approaching danger. All his sinews felt taut, as though they pulled his organs out of place.
It’s not possible, he kept insisting, but there she stood, waiting for him to tell her how futile this was. He couldn’t make himself say it. The knowledge that she’d been about to leave without asking him for anything was pounding in his head.
Maybe she’d realized it was a lost cause?
He never wasted words, but he was never at a loss for them, either. He didn’t know what to say to her, though.
“I need to use a bathroom,” she murmured.
“There’s one up there.”
She disappeared, and a tiny part of him relaxed at having space to think while she remained within reach.
He replaced the phone and pushed his hand through his hair, forcing himself to drink in oxygen as he tried to make sense of this.
He was normally unshockable. Even the news that Ivy had turned up here hadn’t been much of a surprise. Women went to ridiculous lengths to pursue him. Not because he was some sort of player who led them on. He had been very clear to Ivy that he was only offering one night. She could have turned down his invitation to come to his room. He loved sex, but he never pressured women into it. Too many wanted the one thing he would never give them.
But he possessed a stupid amount of money and knew how to groom himself into something women found attractive. Tsai Jun Li was a catch. All the headlines said so.
He didn’t wish to be caught. He had enough responsibilities without a wife and child. As such, he was judicious about when and where and with whom he had affairs.
Ivy had been a spontaneous few hours outside his normal caution. He hadn’t even wanted to be in Vancouver, the city where he’d spent much of his youth, none of it happy. One of the few people he trusted had become engaged, though. Jun Li knew he wouldn’t make it to Kevin’s wedding, so he’d attended the engagement party and used the visit to check in on some investments and sew up a few loose threads of his old life there.
Like him, Ivy had been slipping away early. She’d emerged ahead of him, so she hadn’t been trying to run into him. In fact, she’d flushed with surprised pleasure when he’d appeared.
She wasn’t the most glamorous or fashion-forward woman, more fresh-faced than conventionally pretty. Her curves were subtle and her height average, but she had projected an innate confidence that appealed to him. She had amused him with her little asides.
But even before she’d asked if she could use him to get over a breakup, he’d blown off meetings and other obligations to drive her up the highway that skirted Howe Sound. He never shirked his duties. That had been the tipoff that she was dangerous to him, but they’d wound up necking in a gondola and the passion that had flared between them had emptied his head of his usual guardedness.
When they broke apart, breathless and heavy-lidded, the tone of their day had shifted. The slow-burn sensuality was a tangible entity that had imbued every word and glance. He had touched her as he drove, setting a hand on her knee and playing with her hair. She had traced patterns on the back of his hand and sent him smoky looks of anticipation.
They’d gone to his hotel for dinner, and the walk to his room afterward had felt natural. Inevitable. By then, Jun Li had told her he was leaving early the next day and wouldn’t be back. Ivy confessed to recently ending a difficult relationship. She was nervous to be with someone new but wanted to move on from her ex.
He’d done his best to ensure that night was the best sex she’d ever had. If he was honest, it had been the best of his experience, too. He recalled it far too often and in far more detail than was comfortable. It had taken every ounce of discipline he had to slip away in the early hours as scheduled, the image of her naked body burned into his retinas.
He’d been tempted to stay. He’d been tempted every single day to go back to her. Tempted to turn his back on his family and duties and contracts so he could immerse himself in the pleasure she gave him.
That’s why he hadn’t called her back. He couldn’t afford those sorts of distractions.
Now he wondered if his night with her had been a gross misjudgment. Had he involved himself with an obsessive person who chased a onetime lover around the world to make an absurd accusation? Because if she wasn’t that…
His chest tightened. He’d rather think that’s exactly what she was.
What did that make him, though? He hadn’t stopped thinking of her and was fighting a resurgence of lust now that he’d seen her again.
Does this look like a full-term pregnancy to you?
No. It had looked like breasts straining against silk, a hint of voluptuousness across her stomach and hips. Legs that went on for miles. Oh, he’d enjoyed those legs. His groin was prickling and twitching as he recalled how her knees had hugged him. Her thighs had been hot and soft against his lips when—
He gave his hair another rumple as perspiration rose on his scalp. This was the reaction she was looking for—off balance and distracted by carnality.
Was she that conniving, though? Kevin wouldn’t have introduced them if Ivy was an opportunist. That meant Ivy had come all this way to tell him she was pregnant, and she genuinely believed he was the father.
“It’s not possible,” he insisted aloud.
He would have to prove it. To himself and to her. Muttering imprecations, he called his physician.
“Failed vasectomies aren’t common, but the human body can heal itself in surprising ways,” the doctor said, not reassuring him at all.
Jun Li made arrangements for a test and ended the call.
In a rare fit of temper, he shouted a profanity that echoed back at him from the vaulted ceiling.
Ivy heard Jun Li release a loud, blunt curse and continued to cower in the powder room.
When he’d called her back, tears had been pressing at her eyes. She’d barely managed to face him again and had been trying to regain her composure since. Everything was catching up to her, though. One train car of emotion was piling onto another until the pressure in her chest was threatening to explode.
From the moment she’d learned she was pregnant, she’d thought only about informing Jun Li. Getting herself into a room with him had required concentration and strategy, and maybe she’d used the challenge so she could focus on that instead of the reality of being pregnant by a stranger.
It was hitting her now though. Like a wrecking ball. Her pregnancy. His doubt. The fact she was on her own when she had allowed herself the most ridiculous fantasies, ones where he greeted her warmly and claimed this was what he’d always wanted.
What a silly fool she was!
And even though she had known he would have trouble accepting what she had told him, she felt deeply scorned by his skepticism.
“Ivy.” A double rap of knuckles hit the door, sending a zing of adrenaline through her. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine.” Liar, she accused her reflection. She was ghost-white, skin going hot and cold. She was trembling in reaction and barely able to speak because her mouth was so dry. “I’ll be right out.” She dabbed a wet facecloth beneath her eyes, erasing the mascara leaking from the dampness that kept gathering on her lashes.
“I’ll wait for you at the door.” He wanted to escort her out after all, probably to ensure she didn’t sneak into any more parties uninvited.
Her sinuses pooled with unshed tears, and she tried to swallow away the lump in her throat. There was no reason to be this upset. She would be fine. Other single mothers were in far worse circumstances than she was. Once she got home and told her father, she would be able to put her life in order.
She ruthlessly pushed her emotions into a knot behind her breastbone and walked out.
Jun Li’s brows came together as he looked up from his phone and saw her. He’d thrown on a suit jacket with a silvery sheen to it, making him seem all the more armored against her.
“Jet lag is catching up to me,” she said to excuse her wretched appearance, even though she’d already slept off the worst of it and had only been awake for about five hours.
His mouth tightened briefly, and his gaze raked her as though her pregnancy bump was the size of a watermelon. “Will you allow a blood draw?”
“For a paternity test?” Her heart lurched. She had thought there was a reasonable chance he might ask for one. “I signed a release form with my doctor at home.”
“My doctor will do it.” He opened the door. “He’s on his way back to his clinic.”
“At this hour?” She’d lost track but thought it must be around nine o’clock.
“This can’t wait. I need to know.” He was watching her closely, giving her the impression he was offering her one last chance to change her story.
She nodded agreement, and his expression grew even more remote.
They rode the elevator in silence. A car was waiting as they exited the revolving doors of the hotel lobby. The tropical night air slid across her bare arms and legs like cool silk, then the quiet of the luxury sedan closed around her as she settled into the leather seat beside him.
As it pulled away, she tried to reassure him. “Jun Li, I was serious when I said I’m not asking you to be a fath—”
He held up a hand. “One step at a time.”
He sounded so grave, she clenched her numb hands on her handbag and let her mind empty. Gold and blue and red and purple lights flashed by. It might have been five minutes or an hour later when they were let out in front of a skyscraper. A security guard put them onto an elevator, and they were whisked up to an eerily silent foyer, where they were greeted by a man and a woman.
“Ah-Pei is our lab technician,” the doctor said to Jun Li. “She’ll show you where you can provide your sample.” As Jun Li followed her down the hall, the doctor waved Ivy toward a lounge. “May I offer you tea?”
“I’m sorry, I thought we both had to—?” Comprehension struck. Jun Li was not providing a blood sample. Not yet.
Don’t laugh. None of this was funny. But hysteria was ballooning outward from the emotions she was suppressing, trying to find release in one form or another, tickling and leaking between her ribs.
“Tea. Yes, please. Thank you,” she accepted in a strained voice.
The doctor showed her into a comfortable lounge with a number of tea and coffee options. She kept it simple and chose a bagged herbal tea that she dropped into a cup while he started the kettle.
He chatted about his relatives in Toronto, but all Ivy could think about was Jun Li stroking himself to orgasm in another room. She recalled his shape in intimate detail. The heat and hardness against her palm. His swollen head against her tongue. The way he’d thrust with lazy purpose when he filled her and made love to her, telling her how good she felt squeezing him. The way he’d watched to ensure she was getting as much pleasure as he was. How he had waited for her to grow tense and breathless beneath him before he’d increased his speed and power so they shattered in unison…
From the depths of the corridor, she heard Ah-Pei say something that might have been, “Thank you.” Was that what someone said under these circumstances?
Jun Li came into the room on a wave of energy that struck with hurricane force. The one glance Ivy dared send him noted a fading flush across his cheekbones. She went back to staring into the bottom of her cup.
“The results won’t take long,” the doctor said. “I’ll be back shortly.” He left behind a dense silence.
“There’s tea,” Ivy murmured, though she was only holding hers to warm her hands.
Jun Li ignored her and stood at the window, hands in his pockets, looking so remote she wasn’t sure he’d heard her.
“I’m sorry if that was difficult,” she was compelled to say.
“I practice. It was easy.” He bit off the words, leaving no humor in the sarcasm.
She set aside her tea and covered her face with her warmed palms, leaning her elbows onto her knees, trying to hold everything off. The walls were closing in anyway.
“I didn’t mean for this to happen.”
“Nor I. Obviously.”
His subdued fury shrank her farther into herself. She had convinced herself she would feel only an air of superiority at having done the right thing by informing him, not this squirm of anguish as though she’d caused him some kind of injury. Not this sting of being blamed for something that wasn’t her fault.
“All these moving parts and you happened to be fertile? You’ll forgive me for being incredulous.”
“So was I.” She straightened and folded her arms across her middle. “The signs were there right away, but you’d said it wasn’t possible. I thought I was missing cycles because I was moving and interviewing for a new job.” She’d been exhausted and nauseated, breasts sore, emotional. “When I finally went to the doctor, she looked at me like I was a complete idiot for not suspecting sooner.”
“You’re keeping it, obviously.” His tone was ruthlessly neutral.
“Yes.” Ivy had always wanted children. Her vision of a family had always included a loving spouse, but the fact this wasn’t her perfect scenario hadn’t given her any pause when she discovered she was pregnant. In fact, there was a certain relief in not having to wait until Mr. Right came along.
“Have you had any tests?” He turned to pin her with a penetrating look.
“Routine bloodwork and a scan to confirm my dates. Everything is normal. I’m not really a drinker and I take a decent multivitamin, so there doesn’t seem to be any problem with my having taken so long to realize…” She trailed off as she heard footsteps approaching.
The doctor wore an unreadable expression as he entered. He looked to Jun Li.
Jun Li nodded to indicate he should speak freely.
“You are not sterile. If you were having difficulty conceiving, we would make a more thorough study of count and motility, but the fact sperm is present and appears viable leads me to conclude your vasectomy has failed. It’s possible you’re responsible for this pregnancy.”
Responsible. Yes. That was the avalanche of emotion befalling Jun Li to the point he could hardly breathe. It was exactly as all-encompassing as he recalled from the first time.
“Shall we move on to the paternity test?” The doctor’s voice came to him from a thousand miles away.
Jun Li nodded. His heart was thrashing so hard, he could barely breathe. His head felt as if it wasn’t even attached. He moved with Ivy into a room where the technician poked them both in the arm. He barely felt it. This part was only a formality. If he could make babies, he had little doubt he was the father of Ivy’s.
What’s the point?
A kick of fury with himself struck deep in his belly.
Ivy was watching him with a wary expression, perhaps anticipating some kind of blowup.
He wanted to point fingers and shout blame. He had never wanted to be in this position again. He’d taken the ultimate step to avoid it. Old betrayals and streaks of loss were fueling his anger, but he tamped all that down.
The only emotion that seeped through the cracks was guilt. Jun Li’s life was one of enormous pressure and responsibility. He had never wanted to put that burden on his own child. It was a secondary reason he had made the decision not to procreate, and he’d always been comfortable with the action he’d taken.
A pregnancy had happened anyway. His baby, his heir, was on its way. There was no point in railing over how things were supposed to be. His energy would be far better spent working out how to fit two new people into the life he already lived.
“Paternity results will take a day or two,” the doctor said as Jun Li closed his elbow over the cotton ball inside it.
He ensured the doctor had his direct number and escorted Ivy to the car.
“What hotel are you booked into?” he asked Ivy as he placed a call to his PA.
She told him, and he relayed an instruction to collect her luggage.
“What are you doing?” she blurted, cutting off a yawn she couldn’t stifle. “No. I’m tired. I want to go to bed.”
“I’m saving you the trouble of packing. You’ll be more comfortable with me.”
“You don’t know that! My hotel is fine. I have to be up early for a cruise anyway.”
“Around the harbor. I’m on a package.” Whatever astounded look was on his face made her brow crinkle defensively. “It was the cheapest way to book a flight and accommodation. It’s my last chance for a vacation before the baby.”
He couldn’t tell if she was joking or serious. “You really think I’m going to drop you and my unborn child at a three-star hotel and wave goodbye?”
“I assure you the baby’s current accommodation is top-notch,” she said snippily. “But I’m ready for bed. If you want to talk after you get the paternity results, text me.” She took out her phone and offered it for him to put in his number.
He took it and pocketed it.
“You didn’t come all this way to talk me into a fertility test so you could trick me into believing I’m the father of a baby that isn’t mine. I believe you. We have made a baby.”
“Okay. Don’t you have other women to check with, though? I’d rather not hang around listening to that.” She kept her hand out.
“Are you trying to make my head explode?”
“Oh, were you a virgin that night? I’m the only woman you’ve ever slept with?”
She was serious. For some reason it infuriated him, probably because he hadn’t been able to look at another woman since her.
“That night with you is the only time I’ve ever skipped a condom. I don’t sleep with legions of women.” And he’d already done a quick mental review. Of the handful of women since his last test three years ago, one was married with a baby of the wrong age and the other two were childless. “I’m confident you’re the only woman I need to worry about.”
“But you don’t have to worry about me,” she insisted. “You don’t even want children!”
“That doesn’t mean I don’t want this one,” he shot back, tearing a small hole inside himself with the admission.
Duty required him to claim his child, but he wanted their baby in ways he couldn’t articulate. It was a disturbing sensation of something in him reaching out to her, feeling the connection that had been forged.
“You and I are inextricably linked now.” It was unsettling. He kept thinking of the way she’d tilted him off his axis once. She was doing it again, this time in a far more jarring way. “We have a life to plan.”
It bothered him that he didn’t know what that would look like. It bothered him that he couldn’t control any of this. She had stepped back into his life and had effortlessly thrown everything into chaos. Perhaps it wasn’t intentional, but that was the deeply unnerving part of it. She wasn’t trying to hurt him, but he was at her mercy.
The rational side of him was reminding him to proceed with caution, to work through this methodically. Other parts were taking leaps and bounds into the future, trying to anticipate every possibility and create contingencies.
That scattered approach wasn’t helpful in the long run. He knew that. He couldn’t let this turn him inside out. That’s why they needed a plan.
He frowned at her. “I don’t remember you being argumentative.”
“Gee, I wonder what got into me.”
That would have been a solid gold comeback if he wasn’t straining to hold on to his patience.
Tension crept into her expression as she read his mood. Her mouth tightened.
“I keep telling you I didn’t come here to obligate you. We don’t have to make a plan because I have one. I’m starting a new job and will live in my father’s house. It’s probably not your version of five-star—” her brow lifted with derision “—but it’s cozy and in a good neighborhood with lots of young families. My father is remarrying so I’ll have a stepmother and two stepsisters who already have children ready to give me lots of advice and support. You don’t have to be involved at all.”
He was affronted by her desire to sideline him from their child’s life. From hers.
“If you didn’t wish for me to be involved, you shouldn’t have involved me.”
“That’s not fair! We each had information we needed.”
“So you thought I’d book a fresh vasectomy and that would be my last thought on the matter? What kind of man do you think I am?”
“I don’t know, do I? I don’t know you.” She slouched into her seat, reminding him starkly, “But that was the deal we agreed to. One night, no strings. So yes, I expected to inform you and go home to raise this baby alone.”
“The strings are there whether we want them or not. Neither of us can walk away now.