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He scowled. It was the damn woman. He’d been caught off guard by everything about her. Maybe he’d expected someone more like Ashley. Sweet, shy, innocent, naive, a bit vulnerable, in need of protection. Maybe his ego had been stroked by offering Pippa a night in his bed. Maybe he thought he’d been granting her a favor while indulging in what he’d wanted to do from the moment he’d met her.

Instead, she’d rocked his world. This was a confident, self-assured woman who wasn’t afraid to reach out and take what she wanted, and she’d wanted him. His ego should be assuaged by that. But he found himself disgruntled because…the damn roles had been reversed.

It was almost as if she had been the one to say, Hey, I want you but I don’t want any strings. She’d taken control.

He’d acted like an out-of-control, desperate, raging sex fiend. Nothing like the composed, commanding man he liked to present to the rest of the world.

And that…well, that bothered him. A lot.

Shaking his head, he walked down the hall back to his bedroom. He entered hesitantly, which was stupid given that he’d seen her drive away, but somehow her presence was still firmly imprinted. He could smell her.

His gaze traveled over the rumpled bed linens, the mussed pillows. One of the sheets was barely clinging to the bed. Most of it was on the floor.

He should have taken her to one of the guest rooms. He didn’t bring women to his bedroom. Ever. If he’d actually been thinking the night before, he would have remained downstairs where she wouldn’t have breached the areas private to him at all. But the only prevailing thought he’d had was to get her into bed, however fast he could do it.

Lust was a bitch.

A controlling, fickle mistress from which there was no escape. At least not when it came to Pippa Laingley. Maybe now that he’d had her six ways to Sunday, his blood would cool and he wouldn’t lose his damn mind every time she came within a hundred feet.

His gut told him this was in no way true, but for his peace of mind, he was going with it.

He walked into the bathroom, wincing at the mess facing his cleaning lady. The shower door was still open. Towels had been discarded on the floor. The countertop was a mess thanks to his impatience. He’d swept the surface bare with a quick hand right before lifting Pippa onto the edge so he could have her again.

There were at least two discarded condoms on the floor.

He gingerly leaned down to toss the one by the sink into the nearby trash can and then went for the one on the floor by the shower. He used a tissue to pick it up and started for the trash can when he noticed something that sent panic knifing through his stomach.

He froze, unable to even process the evidence before him. Then a string of obscenities blistered the air. His stomach balled into a knot. Sweat broke out on his forehead and his mouth went completely dry.

He closed his eyes, willing it not to be so, but when he reopened them, he saw irrefutable proof in his shaking hand.

The condom had torn.


Pippa was tempted to throw her cell across the street, but only the knowledge that she’d have to replace it kept her from giving in to the urge. What else could possibly go wrong today?

She’d found the perfect place for her bakery and catering business. It was in a nice area. The terms were satisfactory. It had already been outfitted with the necessary facilities. All she’d need was a little remodeling to the front to accommodate eat-in customers and she’d be set.

After so long doing word-of-mouth events, she was ready for a more solid step. One that would give her a steady income versus never knowing when she’d land her next gig. Her meager savings had kept her in her current apartment, but if she didn’t start bringing in a regular income, it would be gone in a year.

She was certain she could qualify for a small-business loan, but in order to get the necessary funds, she needed a signed lease. Which she had, at least until her Realtor had called her to inform her that there was a problem.

Suddenly her dreams of cute cupcakes, yummy little pastries, intricately decorated bonbons and delicious-smelling breads evaporated.

She blew out her breath in a cold fog and mounted the steps to her apartment. She fumbled with the lock just as her cell phone went off, which only renewed her desire to toss it into oncoming traffic.

She managed to push inside to where it was a great deal warmer, and after kicking the door shut with her foot, she glanced down at her phone. It wasn’t a number she recognized, but given that she’d handed her number out to potential clients, she couldn’t afford not to answer the phone.

With a sigh, she punched the receive button and put it to her ear. “Pippa Laingley.”

She was in the midst of trying to shrug out of her coat when she heard Cam’s voice over the line.

“Pippa, it’s Cam.”

She paused and then chuckled, leaving her coat dangling from the arm that was bent to her ear. “Well, hello, Cam. What a surprise. I distinctly remember you saying you wouldn’t call. To what do I owe this honor?”

“One of the condoms broke,” he said tersely.

She quickly switched the phone to her other hand so she could shake away the coat. She left it there in the doorway and walked toward her living room, sure she hadn’t heard him correctly.

“Say that again,” she said shakily.

She sank onto the couch, clutching the phone tightly to her ear.

There was an indistinguishable sigh and then he said, “The condom we used in the shower. It broke. I didn’t discover it until after you’d left. Since we were in the shower, there would have been no…evidence…at the time. I didn’t notice.”

Her heart lodged solidly in her throat and she closed her eyes. No, she wouldn’t have noticed, either.

He’d been insatiable, but then so had she. The very last thing she’d considered at the time was whether the condom had performed as expected. Obviously if it would have happened at any other point, they would have known. But in a shower?

“Pippa, are you there?”

The strident demand shook her from her thoughts.

“I’m here,” she said faintly.

“There are things we have to discuss.”

She frowned. “Why are you only just now calling me? When did you discover this?”

There was a pause. “I found it yesterday after you left.”

“And you’re only just now telling me?” she shrieked. “This would have been good to know yesterday when there was something I could have done.”

Even as she was furious at him, she wasn’t sure what she would have done. A morning-after pill? It would have been a bit late for that, but what did she know about such things? She could have at least done some research and made an informed decision.

“Calm down, Pippa.”

The condescension in his tone just pissed her off even more.

“Don’t tell me to calm down,” she seethed. “You aren’t the one who has to live with the consequences of that broken condom.”

“Don’t I?” he snapped. “If you think an unplanned pregnancy doesn’t affect me every bit as much as it does you, then you’re delusional. Now quit shouting at me so we can discuss our options like adults.”

She bit hard into her lip to prevent the outburst straining to break free.

“Now, I assume from your reaction that you aren’t on any sort of birth control.”

“No one can ever accuse you of being stupid.”

“Cut the crap, Pippa. I get that you’re scared and caught off guard. This isn’t a picnic for me, either. You taking this out on me helps neither of us.”

Realizing she was doing exactly as he’d accused, she went silent, her grip still tight around the phone. She should have thrown it when she’d had the urge. If she had, she wouldn’t be having this harrowing conversation right now.

“I think you should move in with me, at least until we know if you’re pregnant.”

Her mouth fell open and her brow creased in disbelief. “What?”

He sighed again. “Perhaps this isn’t a conversation we should be having over the phone. I can pick you up in an hour.”

She got her wits back in time to utter a hoarse, “No.”

“Then what’s your preference?” he asked impatiently.

She put her hand to her temple and dug her fingers into it, massaging the increasing ache.

“Look, Cam, I’m not moving in with you. That’s about the most absurd suggestion I’ve heard. We don’t need to talk face-to-face. Right now, I have no desire to see you. I’m in shock. I need time to figure out my options. I don’t need you breathing down my neck. If it turns out I’m pregnant, I know where to find you, and believe me, you’ll be hearing from me then. Until that point, I’d appreciate it if you just backed off.”

“Damn it, that’s not what I want. Look, Pippa, I need to know that you and the…baby…are safe. If there is a baby, I mean. The best way to do that is for you to be close where I know you’re taken care of.”

There was quiet desperation in his voice and an odd detached tone that suggested to her he wasn’t even focusing on the real issue at hand. His head seemed to be somewhere else and that annoyed her all the more.

He was worrying about her and a theoretical baby’s safety, and at this point she was just worried that there was a theoretical baby.

“I don’t care what you want,” she said evenly.

She pulled the phone away from her ear and punched the end button. Then realizing that Cam was the persistent sort, she turned it off and thrust it away.

She sat there for several long minutes, staring into nothing as she tried to absorb the implications of that broken condom. She wasn’t stupid enough to laugh it off and say something absurd like, Who gets pregnant from that one time? There were any number of pregnant women who’d naively asserted the same thing. She wasn’t one of them.

She shot to her feet, needing to do something. Information. Probabilities. She knew the timing was probably good, but she hurried to her bedroom to dig out her diary where she kept information on her menstrual cycle.

Any single, sexually active woman was a moron if she didn’t keep track of such things.

She slipped to the page where her last entry had been written and then calculated the days in her head. Then she let out a harsh groan. Could the timing have been any better? Not that she could possibly predict when she was ovulating, but if she went with averages, there was a good possibility that this weekend had been her prime baby-making window.

Okay, so it was entirely possible. The next thing she needed to do was figure out her options, if she had any.

She went back to that damnable phone, turned it on and ignored the cacophony of sounds signaling missed calls, voice mails and text messages. They were probably all from Cam. The man was likely on his way here.

She punched in Carly’s number and hoped like hell her friends were available.

A moment later, Carly’s sunny voice spilled over the line and Pippa sagged in relief.

“Pip! How’s it going? Have your lease all straightened out? I have to tell you I’m so excited for you! How did Ashley’s housewarming go? I was so sorry to miss it. I hope she wasn’t too disappointed.”

Pippa flinched from the onslaught and waited to get a word in edgewise. “Carly, are you free? I need the girls. This is an emergency.”

There was a brief silence and then Carly said, “Pip, are you all right? What’s happened?”

“I’ll tell you when we’re all together,” Pippa croaked. “Can you call the others?”

“You bet. Oscar’s?”

Pippa hesitated. “Yeah, but make sure we get a private table.”

“Do you want me to call Ashley?” Carly asked. “Is she still in Greenwich?”

As much as Pippa wanted and needed Ashley there, she wasn’t sure if it was a good idea. But she was just selfish enough to see if Ashley would make the trip in for her.

“See if she can make it,” Pippa said in a low voice. “But make sure… Tell her I want her to be careful.”

“If she knows you need her, she’ll be there,” Carly said in a comforting voice. “We’ll all be there, Pip. You know that.”

“Yes, I do, and I love you all for it.”

“Give me some time to get everything ironed out and then I’ll text you with a time everyone can meet. In the meantime you know you can come over. I only have one appointment this afternoon. You can always hang out here at the salon. I’ll even do your nails.”

Pippa smiled. “Thanks, Carly, but I’ll just meet you guys later. I need to figure some stuff out.”

Pippa could practically see her friend’s frown.

“I’m worried about you, Pip. Be careful, okay? I’ll see you as soon as possible.”

Pippa hung up the phone, relief so great she was shaky with it. She had the best friends in the world. Smart friends. They’d be able to help her figure this out.

In the meantime, she wasn’t sticking around the apartment in case Mr. Broken Condom decided to make an appearance. The very last thing she wanted right now was to face the potential father of her potential child.


Pippa lengthened her stride as she neared Oscar’s. There was a mix of snow flurries and tiny pellets of sleet in the air, stinging her cheeks as she walked.

She’d hoped the cold would bring her around. Make some of the shock wear off. But she was still reeling from Cam’s phone call and all that was going to help her right now was an emergency session of the girlfriends’ round table.

She opened the door to Oscar’s and unwound the scarf she’d hastily thrown around her neck. She scanned the room, relief easing some of the awful tension when she saw her friends already seated in a corner booth way in the back. It was perfect.