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“It doesn’t.” Rielle pressed her lips to his, coaxing his mouth to open to her kiss. She loved this intimacy. The give and take. The taste of him. The feel of his breath on her face, sometimes fast and short, sometimes soft as a sigh.


He eased off first, then kissed the corners of her mouth, the apples of her cheeks, her temples and between her eyebrows. “So we can only be like this…openly affectionate…?”


“During the day when Sierra is at school. Or at night when we’re alone.” She gazed into his eyes. “Not forever. Just for a little while. You’ll know when the time is right to tell her.”


“I’ll tell her? Not we’ll tell her?”


Rielle shook her head. “She’s your daughter. I’m just a woman who lives here.” She slipped her arms around his neck. “Who is wildly attracted to her father.”


He lifted an eyebrow. “Wildly?”


“Uh-huh. And I’ll prove it.” She nuzzled his ear. “Did you happen to bring a condom with you?”


“Nope. I brought two.”


“Always prepared. I like that about you.”


“Ree, I know you haven’t been with anyone for a long time. I haven’t been either. Can we skip the condoms?” He caressed her face. “I’d like to make love to you without latex between us.”


“I, ah…talked to Doc Monroe last night, and she wrote me a prescription for birth control. But even if I get it filled today, it’ll take a month for the pills to be effective.”


Gavin had a pensive look on his face.


“What?”


“There’s no chance I’ll ever get you pregnant. I had a vasectomy nine years ago.”


Her eyes searched his. “Really?”


“After the divorce and dealing with Ellen using Sierra to manipulate me…I never wanted to give a woman that much power again or to do that to another child of mine. So I scheduled the procedure. I love my daughter. She fills my life with enough joy that I’m content with having one kid. Are you all right with that?”


“Do you mean was I hoping to get pregnant at age forty when I have a twenty-four-year-old daughter?” She shuddered. “That boat has sailed for me. But I already had one unintended pregnancy in my life. I wasn’t keen on taking chemicals to prevent that from happening again at my age, but I’d do it.” She kissed him. “So I’m very happy I don’t have to.”


“Me too.”


She hopped off the barstool. “Race you to my room. Whoever wins gets to be on top.”


The man had such a competitive streak. He nearly knocked her on her butt as he raced down the hallway and jumped on her bed.


But he let her be on top anyway.


Gavin’s cell phone rang early Monday morning. “This is Gavin Daniels.”


“Gavin! Good to hear your voice. This is George Krebs. I’m with the Bracken Investment Group?”


He tried to put the name with a face but couldn’t. “You have me at a disadvantage, George. Have we met?”


“Once, briefly, last year. At a Shout It Out fundraiser.”


“Natalie, my media coordinator at Daniels Development Group, handles donations for those events—”


“No. This call isn’t about a fundraiser, but we do appreciate all your support. The reason for my call is…a little odd. So bear with me.”


“Okay.”


“My understanding is you’ve stepped down from the day-to-day running of Daniels Development Group?”


“Technically I’m still running DDG, but not from the Phoenix office. I’ve relocated.”


“Permanently?”


“Why don’t you tell me why you’re so interested in who has control of my company?”


“One of our clients is interested in buying the Golden Valley property recently listed with DDG. I assume you’re familiar with it?”


“Very familiar.” That was the last chunk of undeveloped land his father had purchased fifteen years ago, prior to his death. Gavin had been holding onto it, waiting to see what type of development sprang up in that section of Maricopa County. It’d been completely unzoned at the time of purchase, which meant it could end up residential or commercial. Now the surrounding area contained medical complexes and high-end high-rise condos. With the possible shift in the commercial real estate market, Gavin had decided to list it right before they’d left Arizona. And if his assessors were correct, the sale of this chunk of dirt would be the biggest financial payout of his career.


He inhaled a deep breath. “So what seems to be the problem?”


“You’re the listing agent. Our client has tried several times to get in contact with you, but your office staff at DDG has been very vague as to your whereabouts.” He paused. “Have any messages gotten through to you about the interest in this property? Because make no mistake; our client is very interested.”


Gavin swore and paced to the window. “No. I haven’t heard anything and I apologize for that, George.” Speculation about his diminishing role in his businesses could have serious financial repercussions, so he had no choice but to explain. “Four years ago after my mother’s death, I split DDG into two companies. Technically I’m still the CEO of DDG, but in the last year I’ve taken a more active role in Daniels Property Management. The DDG office staff apparently misinterpreted my personal contact instructions and I will get that handled immediately.”


“Good. I’ll admit we were concerned you might have health issues, as one of our event planners mentioned you’d lost some weight in the last year.”


“That was intentional, not health related. And to allay your concerns as to my whereabouts, I’m currently living in eastern Wyoming, while my daughter finishes high school.”


“Eastern Wyoming? Oh. That seems sudden.”


“I discovered I had family members in this area. I’ve visited several times over the last few years and ended up buying land. Naturally, I wanted my daughter to be raised around family.” That wasn’t too far from the truth.


“I’m happy to hear that. But that still leaves me with what to tell my client.”


“Tell him I’ll apologize in person tomorrow for the miscommunication. Shall we meet in my office at DDG, say, around ten a.m.?”


“That sounds perfect, Gavin. Thank you.”


“Thank you for tracking me down. I’ll call you at this number if I run into travel delays. If not, I’ll see you in the morning.”


Gavin had known he’d face last minute trips to Arizona when he’d opted to move to Wyoming. He called his travel agent and winced when he heard the price for a ticket to Phoenix in the economy section would set him back fifteen hundred bucks.


A drop in the bucket if you can sell the land for the assessed value of thirty-five million dollars.


Gavin rearranged his schedule. He called Charlie and Vi, texted Sierra and left her a voice mail. Lastly, he dragged out his suitcase and picked three suits to get him through the week. The suits had been in dry cleaning bags since the movers had packed them in Arizona. Not much occasion to wear a suit and tie in Sundance.


Maybe there should be. You should take Rielle out for dinner when you get back from this trip.


Great plan. Ben had warned him not to treat Rielle like a dirty little secret. He’d love to show her this wasn’t a fling by taking their relationship public. But she’d given him the impression she wasn’t ready for that.


Now he had to ask a huge favor. He tracked her down and the instant he saw her, he wanted her. So he dragged her to bed.


Afterward, being naked, tangled up with her, hearts pounding and flesh damp, he realized he didn’t want to hide this affection he felt for her. He didn’t want to hide anything from her.


Gavin kissed the small of her back. “I could stay here all damn day, but I’ve gotta go.”


She rolled over to face him, still modest enough that she’d pulled the sheets up to cover her breasts. “I saw your suitcases in the entryway before you carted me off to bed, tycoon.”


“I wanted to give you a proper good morning and goodbye.”


“Mmm. I did come two times so you got me coming and going.”


He grinned. “Love that dirty mouth. I have to go to Arizona for business for a few days.”


“What’s going on?”


“Possible land deal sale. Possible huge land deal sale.”


Rielle cocked her head. “How huge? I’m not asking for a spreadsheet, but I hear you wheeling and dealing on the phone, so I’m interested how this came to pass.” She poked him in the chest. “You always ask me for explicit details about my businesses. So I want you to know I’m interested in your professional life as well.”


“Really?”


“Yep. Your real estate tycoon-y side formed you as a man. And since I like your man form…I want to know more.”


He kissed her forehead. “Basically, I’ve been holding on to a chunk of land that’s worth a lot of money. There’s some confusion in my office as to why the potential client couldn’t get in touch with me. So I need to straighten out office snafus and hopefully cash a really big check.”


“Better than six bucks apiece for plums?”


“Let’s just say this land deal could be worth…five point eight million six dollar plums.”


Her eyes rounded. “Wow. That’s a plum sweet deal.”


He groaned at her pun. “Anyway, I can’t take Sierra.”


“No problem. You go make your bajillion dollars and I’ll crack the whip on your daughter. Not that she needs it.”


“You sure?”


“Positive. Just bring me back a suitcase full of—”


“Money?” he supplied.


Rielle elbowed him in the gut as she rolled out of bed. “I’m not interested in your money, Gavin Daniels. Bring me back a suitcase full of grapefruit and oranges. They want like four bucks a pound at the grocery store and I’m too cheap to pay it.”

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