One Night, Two Babies

By: Kathie DeNosky

One



“M rs. Montrose, I know what Derek did was wrong, but you have to give him another chance.”

When Arielle Garnier looked up from her computer screen at the sound of the male voice, her heart came to a screeching halt. The man who just stopped inside her office doorway was the last person she ever expected to see again. And if the look on his handsome face was any indication, he was just as surprised to be coming face-to-face with her, as well.His vivid green eyes pinned her to the chair. He stared at her for several uncomfortable seconds before he finally spoke again. “I need to talk to the preschool’s administrator, Mrs. Montrose, about an incident involving Derek Forsythe. Could you please tell me where I could find her?”

“Helen Montrose is no longer in charge here. She sold the school and retired a couple of weeks ago.” Arielle tried desperately to keep her voice even in spite of her jangled nerves. “I’m the new owner and administrator of Premier Academy for Preschoolers.”

She took a deep breath and reminded herself to remain outwardly calm, even if his reappearance in her life did shake her all the way to the core. This was her territory and he was the one intruding. Besides, she’d rather walk barefoot across hot coals than allow him to think he still had any effect on her.

When he continued to stare at her, she forced herself to ask, “Was there something you needed?”

He finally shook his head. “I don’t have time to play games, Arielle. I need to speak with Helen Montrose as soon as possible.”

The shock of seeing him again quickly gave way to anger that he didn’t believe she was the new owner. “I told you, Mrs. Montrose retired. And if you have business here at the school, you will have to deal with me.”

He didn’t look at all pleased with the situation, but that was just too bad. She certainly wasn’t excited to be seated before the man who, three and a half months earlier, had spent a week loving her like she was the most desirable woman alive, then disappeared without so much as a backward glance. He hadn’t even had the decency to call or leave her a note.

“All right,” he eventually said. She could tell he wasn’t happy, but instead of pressing the issue any further, he took a deep breath. “I suppose this would be a good time to reintroduce myself. My real name is Zach Forsythe.”

Arielle’s heart felt as if it had fallen to her feet. Among his other transgressions, he’d lied to her about his name? He was really Zachary Forsythe, owner of the Forsythe resort and hotel empire? And if he was here to discuss Derek Forsythe, did that mean he was the little boy’s father? Was he married?

Bile rose in her throat and she desperately tried to think if she’d heard or read anything about him recently. But all she could remember for certain was that Zach Forsythe was reputed to prefer a quiet lifestyle out of the spotlight and guarded his privacy as if it were the gold in Fort Knox. Unfortunately, she didn’t know anything at all about his marital status.

But the very thought that she might have spent a week in the arms of a married man sent a cold chill slithering down her spine. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but a few months ago I distinctly knew you by the name of Tom Zacharias.”

He ran an impatient hand through his thick dark brown hair. “About that—”

“Save it,” she interrupted, holding up her hand. “I don’t particularly care to hear whatever explanation you’re about to fabricate. I believe you wanted to talk about Derek Forsythe?” When he nodded, she went on. “And I assume you wish to discuss his pending suspension for biting another little boy?”

His mouth thinned into a grim line before he gave her a short nod. “Yes. You have to give him one more chance.”

“I haven’t been here long enough to be familiar with his past behavioral patterns, but your son’s teacher said he’s—”

“Nephew.” Frowning, he then flashed her the same smile that he’d used to seduce her almost four months earlier. “Derek is my sister’s little boy,” he corrected. “I’m not now, nor have I ever been, married, Arielle.”

She was relieved to hear that she hadn’t done the unthinkable. But his devastating smile and the intimate tone he used to say her name made it hard to think.

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