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.” In the calm graceful way she had, she left the room, and Chase knew he had to go after her.Leaving the others still discussing the idea of a lawsuit, he caught up to her in the hallway that led to the powder room.When he clasped her elbow, she wrenched away from him.“I don’t want to talk, Chase.”“Everyone is going to find out eventually.”“Everyone? Who is everyone? Are you going to make an announcement everywhere you go?”“Be reasonable about this.These are my friends.”“The least you could have done was let me know you had told Scott.I might have been more prepared.”“I’ve known him since high school, Jillian.We talked after I found out my blood type wasn’t compatible with Marianne’s.You told Kara.What’s the difference?”“I knew Kara wouldn’t spread it all over Daytona Beach.”“The real problem here is—you haven’t accepted this yet.You have not accepted the fact that Marianne is your daughter and Abby is mine.”“Why are you able to accept this so easily?” she wanted to know, and now the anger was gone from her voice.“Easily? Is that what it looks like to you? Every time I look at Marianne, I feel torn up inside.Every time I look at Abby, I think about the three years I’ve missed with her.Nothing about this is easy.But I’m a pragmatist.It is what it is, and we have to deal with it.So you’d better take your head out of the sand and face reality.”Looking at her, the sadness in her eyes, the love she had for Abby that she thought she had to let go of, he wanted to take her in his arms.Every time his elbow had brushed hers at dinner, his knee had grazed hers, his breath had inhaled her perfume, desire had stirred and reminded him of his body’s needs.There was something in Jillian’s eyes he couldn’t name—distrust, suspicion, anguish, maybe even resignation?He saw her take a bolstering breath and then she said, “Go back to your friends, Chase.I need a few minutes to myself.”Slipping into the powder room, she locked the door.He’d thought tonight would give them a break from their problems.He’d thought tonight would neutralize the situation between them.He couldn’t have been more wrong.It was almost midnight when Jillian and Chase returned home.The lights were blazing in the downstairs of the house and Stan’s truck was parked in front of the garage.“Chase—” Jillian couldn’t finish, worried something had happened to the girls.She unbuckled her seat belt quickly and rushed out of Chase’s sedan.In a moment he was beside her.He opened the door, and they went down the hall to the kitchen.“Mother would have called us if anything was wrong,” he decided, but there was worry in his tone.When they reached the kitchen, they found Eleanor seated at the table, a blanket around her shoulders.The microwave beeped and Stan took a mug from inside, dropping a tea bag into it.“What’s going on?” Chase asked, eyeing his uncle and his mother.Sliding out of her coat, Jillian hung it on a hook, noticing how gray Eleanor looked.“She has a fever of one hundred and two degrees and a sore throat.When she felt woozy, she called me.”Chase went over to his mother, pulled out a chair in front of her and sat down.“Did you feel poorly before we left?”“My throat was a little scratchy, that’s all,” she said in a croak.“Later, I felt dizzy and afraid I’d pass out with the girls.Stan came over to put them to bed.”“Why didn’t you call us?” Jillian asked.Eleanor gave a little shrug and winced as if the motion hurt.“I didn’t want to interrupt your evening.It wasn’t as if something was wrong with the girls.”An expression crossed Chase’s face and Jillian wondered what he was thinking.He said in a clear, low voice, “You’re as important as the girls.”Tears welled up in Eleanor’s eyes, and Jillian wondered if she was feeling that poorly or if something else was going on here that Jillian didn’t understand.After a few moments of awkward silence, Stan stepped in, plunking down the mug of tea on the table beside Eleanor.“She needs to be in bed.She’s always waiting on everybody else.Now she needs to be taken care of.”Eleanor laid a calming hand on Stan’s arm.“Don’t be silly.I’ll be fine in the morning.”“I doubt that,” Stan retorted, “but I know better than anyone that you’ve got a mind of your own.Since reinforcements have arrived, I’ll head out.”At the door, Eleanor stopped him with, “Thank you.”“Don’t mention it,” he mumbled, then hurried down the hall and out the door.“He’s a good man,” Eleanor said pensively, looking after him.“He’s right about one thing,” Chase said, rising to his feet.“You need to be in bed.Let me help you upstairs.”“I’ll bring your tea and maybe a glass of juice.Vitamin C might help,” Jillian added.“Apple juice, not orange,” Eleanor demanded.“Apple won’t hurt my throat.”Jillian almost smiled.Eleanor would have her way, one way or the other.After Chase helped his mother to her bedroom, keeping his hand on her elbow to steady her, Jillian offered, “If you want to check on the girls, I’ll stay and help your mom.”“I’ll be back shortly.” He gave his mother another concerned look.“Don’t worry, Chase.Tomorrow I’ll be fine,” Eleanor said.“I’ll bring one of the monitors in here and if you need anything, all you have to do is say so.”When he left the room, Eleanor mumbled, “Always thinks he knows best.I’ll keep it turned off.”The evening had been emotionally draining for Jillian.After she had gone back to the dinner party, everyone had acted as if they’d hadn’t been trampling in her private life.Eleanor’s gruffness now was an endearing distraction.The older lady didn’t like being the center of attention and, like everyone else, she wanted her own way.“Chase just wants to make sure you’re taken care of [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]

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