The Marriage Contract(6)

By: Kat Cantrell

Now it was all backward and upside-down because this was their son. And Desmond Pierce was her husband. She’d just agreed to go home with him. How was that going to work? Would he expect to exercise his husbandly duties?

That thought flittered through her stomach in a way that wasn’t difficult to interpret at all. Dear God. She was attracted to her husband. And she’d take that secret to the grave.

Mortified, she switched breasts under Desmond’s watchful eye, figuring that if she would be living with him, he’d see her feeding the baby plenty of times. Besides, there was nothing shameful about a woman’s body in the act of providing nourishment for her son. Somehow, though, Desmond made the whole thing seem intimate and heavy with implication, as if they were a real family and he was there to support his child’s mother.

Desmond pursed his lips, still surveying her as if trying to figure something out. “Have we met before?”

Her pulse leaped. “No. Of course not. You wanted everything done through your agent.”

Mr. Lively had been anything but. He was about a hundred and twenty years old and spoke slower than a tortoise on Valium. Anytime he’d contacted her about paperwork or medical records, she’d mentally blocked off four hours because that’s generally how long the session lasted. Except for when she’d gone with him to the courthouse to complete the marriage by proxy, which had taken all day.

Suddenly she wished they’d done this surrogacy arrangement a different way. But marriage had been the easiest way to avoid legal issues. The divorce settlement, which she’d use to pay for school, was a normal agreement between couples with Desmond’s kind of wealth. Otherwise someone could argue Desmond had paid for a baby and no one wanted that legal hassle.

She hadn’t minded being technically married when it was just a piece of paper. Meeting Desmond, being near enough to hear him breathe, changed everything. It felt bigger than a signature on an official document.

“You seem familiar.” He shook his head as if clearing it. “It’s been a long day.”

“You don’t say,” she said, letting the irony drip from her tone. “I’ve been here since 3:00 a.m.”

“Really?” This seemed to intrigue him.

“Yeah, it’s not a drive-through. I was in labor for something like fifteen hours.”

“Is that normal?”

She sighed and tried to shift her position without disturbing the baby. “I don’t know. This is my first rodeo.”

“I’m being insensitive.”

Nothing like calling a spade a spade, which McKenna appreciated enough to give him a break. “I’m sure we’ll get to know each other soon enough.”

Somehow she’d managed to startle him. “Will we?”

“Well, sure, if we’re living in the same house.”

And she could secretly admit to a curiosity about him that she’d have every right to satisfy if they were in close quarters. There was a certain amount of protection in the fact that her time with him had predefined boundaries. The last thing she needed was additional entanglements that kept her from fulfilling her dreams. “But only for three months, right?”

“We’ll do our best to keep it to three months,” he said with a sharp nod, but she had the distinct impression he hadn’t considered that inviting her to live in his house meant they’d be around each other. What exactly had she signed up for?

It didn’t matter. All that mattered was that he’d given her three months with her son that she was pathetically grateful for. It was like a gift, a chance to know him before he grew old enough to remember her, to miss her. A chance to revel in all these newfound maternal instincts and then leave before they grew too strong. She was going to be a doctor, thanks to Desmond Pierce, and she couldn’t let his monkey wrench change that.


The house Desmond had lived in for the last ten years was not big enough. Twenty thousand square feet shouldn’t feel so closed in. But with McKenna Moore inside his walls, everything shrank.

He’d never brought a woman home to live. Sure, Lacey had stayed over occasionally when they were dating, but her exit was always prearranged. And then she’d forever snuffed out his ability to trust a woman as easily as she’d snuffed out the life of their “accident,” as she’d termed it. The baby had been unplanned, definitely, since their relationship hadn’t been all that serious, but he’d had no idea how much he’d want the baby until it was too late. He’d always made sure there was a light at the end of the tunnel when it came to his interaction with women after that.

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