Maybe because she knew with absolute certainty that Zephyr would not be marrying her if she wasn’t pregnant. And she wasn’t offering to wait until the iffy first trimester was over, was she?


On top of all that, he had offered her the option of moving to Greece and living on a private island. Was it any wonder she felt like she’d been dumped in a waking dream?

Merely accepting the fact that she was pregnant was hard enough. She didn’t feel any different, but the blood test assured her that she would be soon. Her hand slid to her still flat stomach while she clicked the print function on the presentation she’d just finished.

Brandi had done a lot of the preliminary work and it had only been a matter of changing a few things before it was ready for presentation. Thank goodness. Piper’s mind was scattered to the four winds.

But scattered or not, there was one thing she was sure of: they would be happy together. If she didn’t believe that, she would not be moving in with him, much less marrying him. But she did believe it, deep in her bones. He was perfect for her, even if he had a mental block where love was concerned. And she was perfect for him.

No matter how much everything else scared her, she had to cling to that knowledge.

And right now she had to work.

Giving a final read-through to the design proposal for a local private attorney’s office space, she left her office and headed toward the shop floor in search of her assistant.

“Hello, Pip.”

Piper’s head snapped up at the male voice she had not heard since leaving New York.

Wearing a designer suit from last year’s line and looking years older than the last time she’d seen her ex-husband, Art Bellingham stood not five feet in front of her.

“What are you doing here?” she blurted out, her usual professional persona deserting her completely.

“An old friend can’t drop by to visit?” He tried the smirking half smile she used to find so sophisticated, but now just seemed cheesy.

“You are not an old friend.”

“That hurts, Pip. We were friends once.” Now he was laying on the charm.

It wasn’t working, not even sort of. She shook her head, clearing the cobwebs old memories had spun so quickly the moment she heard that annoying old nickname, and then looked around for her assistant, Brandi. Watching Piper and Art with avid interest, her twenty-two-year-old assistant was standing near a display of sample drapery fabrics.

Piper held the design proposal out to her. “Put this in presentation format and get the color boards we made to go with it. You’ll be presenting it to the client at tomorrow morning’s meeting.”

“You sure I’m ready for that, boss?” Brandi asked, her focus now completely on the designs in her hands.

“Yes.” The younger woman had done supervised presentations with aplomb. She was ready to fly solo.

“Fab! I’ll get right on this.” She rushed toward their work corner.

That took care of one distraction.

“Is this a business or social call?” Piper asked Art, feeling more in control of herself.

“A little of both, Pip.”

“My name is Piper. I hate that nickname. I always did.” And he’d always insisted on using it.

“Hey, don’t get all offended.” He put his hands up in mock supplication. “It’s not always easy letting go of the past.”

She crossed her arms and gave him a look she had learned from Zephyr when he dealt with particularly irritating suppliers. “Funny, after the way you blackballed my name in the New York interior design industry, I had no problem leaving my past behind.”

“Is that why you sicced your billion-dollar pit bull on me?” He frowned and shook his head, signs of his disappointment that had affected her at one time like an arrow to the heart.

Now she felt nothing but some amusement that he thought the guilt card could ever work between them again. “I don’t know what you are talking about.”

“I was hurt when you walked away from our marriage. I may have said some things that could be taken in a detrimental way,” he said like he was sharing some big confidence, “but that’s no reason for you to destroy a design firm that’s been in my family for three generations. I thought better of you, Pip—Piper, I really did.”

His guilt trip attempts were getting old fast. “I repeat…I do not know what you are talking about.” She tapped her sandal-clad foot. “Start making sense, or take your smarmy self out of my shop.”

“Smarmy? Piper, is that really how you see me?”

“That wounded look stopped working before our marriage did, and I don’t think you want chapter and verse on how I see you, Art.” Copyright 2016 - 2023