‘A second opinion,’ Maggie repeated as the words struck a chord in her mind and it started to race.

‘Yes,’ he agreed. ‘I think Maisie’s name has cropped up between us before. She’s my right-hand man. I rely on her extensively.’

Maggie blinked furiously. ‘But there’s no Maisie at the McKinnon Corporation, I checked,’ she blurted out, then her cheeks burnt even more fierily. ‘I mean—’

‘That’s because I’m the only one at the office who calls her Maisie. Her real name…’ he paused and their gazes clashed ‘… is Mary Kelly.’

Maggie froze. ‘She… she told you?’ she breathed.


‘But that’s not fair! I had no idea who she was. I would never have—’ She stopped abruptly.

‘Told her you were pregnant otherwise? How about telling me? I gather you hadn’t planned to do that either.’

Maggie got up and paced around in deep agitation with the bottom line being—So much for the I can’t live without you, Maggie, bit.

Then she turned to him incredulously. ‘How would she know it was your baby?’

‘She didn’t. But she did know about what happened in the shed because I alerted her to be on the lookout for any unforeseen complications while I was away. When she came back to me with her report this afternoon, she told me it was you who’d shown her around—and the rest of it.’

Silence stretched between them until he added, ‘I was the one left to put two and two together—although Maisie is very adroit at reading between the lines.’

Maggie sat down again suddenly. ‘When I said there was no news, I think I must have been still in shock at seeing you again. My mind just went blank.’

‘OK, reasonable enough. What about the two months prior to tonight?’

Maggie rubbed her face, then she laced her fingers and said urgently, ‘I just haven’t known what to do!’

‘How did it happen?’ he queried grimly. ‘You seemed so certain you were safe; you told me you were on the pill.’

‘I was,’ she said hollowly and explained what must have happened.

‘Do your parents know?’


He stared at her, taking in the faint shadows beneath her eyes and her slender figure beneath the long white shirt and flimsy trousers. There was no sign of any changes in her as yet—or, yes, there was, he thought suddenly. There was a new air of vulnerability about her.

‘There’s only one thing to do,’ he said. ‘The sooner you marry me, the better.’


MAGGIE reached towards her plate and took a carrot stick out of the salad, a purely reflex action as the impact of what Jack had said hit her.

Then she stared at him with the wand of carrot in one hand and her mouth open.

A glint of humour lit his eyes. ‘A curious reaction. I can’t read it at all.’

She closed her eyes. ‘That’s because I can’t read my emotions at the moment at all.’ Her lashes lifted. ‘You’re not serious?’

‘Oh, yes, I am.’

‘But, apart from all the complications you so carefully pointed out to me at Cape Gloucester, you don’t particularly want to marry anyone, do you? Unless that was a sop to my sensibilities, but that’s even worse because it means you particularly didn’t want to marry me!’

‘Eat the carrot or put it down, Maggie,’ he suggested.

She stared at him, then threw it down on the plate because a moment or so ago she might have been shell-shocked and unable to get in touch with her emotions—that could have been true of her for the last two months, she realized—but she was no longer.

Jack McKinnon had hurt her almost unbearably, she now knew. Yes, a lot of it was her own fault, but that didn’t alter her vulnerability to this man, and to let him marry her only because of their baby—was that asking for more hurt than she could bear?

‘I got myself into this,’ she said. ‘I will handle it.’

This time it was a glint of anger that lit his eyes. ‘Don’t go all proud ‘‘Trent’’ on me, Maggie,’ he warned. ‘If you think that I, of all people, would allow you to wander off into the sunset with a child of mine, think again.’

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