Bound By Marriage(55)

By: Nalini Singh

She laughed. “You call this reasonable?” She spread her arms to catch the rain but it was a hidden ray of sunlight that caressed her face.

“Damn reasonable.” Getting up, he pulled her to her feet. “Come on, you need to get dry. We can’t risk you catching a cold.” And though he didn’t mention why it was so important for her to stay healthy, she saw his gaze flick to her stomach.

Curling her hand into his, she smiled. Poor Gabriel, so used to getting his way.

Little did he know that his most inconvenient wife was about to make his life even more unpredictable.

Jess had been wrong. Gabe didn’t fall in love with their child at first glance.

He fell in love with Raphael Michael Dumont somewhere between her eighth month and labor. Smiling at the memory of the horrified look on his face as he’d held their baby in the hospital and realized he was done for, Jess cut the peanut butter sandwich in half before handing it to the little boy jumping up and down by her side. “Here you go, honey.”

“And Dad’s?”

Prepared for the question that accompanied his every food request, she gave him the second half. Gabe had become used to being fed at odd times of the day and with food only a three-year-old would consider a delicacy. “He’s in the study.”

“I know.” He ran off in that direction.

Picking up the tray holding her and Gabe’s afternoon coffee and Rafe’s hot chocolate, she followed at a slower pace. When she entered the study, it was to find her son standing beside the sofa where Gabriel sat. Rafe was laughing at something his father had said, but there was no laughter in her husband’s eyes.

In its place was a deep vulnerability that tore her up. It was gone a second later but she knew it remained inside of him. It always would, and whether he acknowledged it or not, it made him a better man and a wonderful father.

Biting into the sandwich he’d been handed, he ruffled his son’s auburn curls.

Rafe jumped up to sit beside him. Gabe rarely verbalized his love for his son, but Rafe didn’t need the words. He had the solid confidence of a boy who knew he was loved absolutely and unconditionally.

Jess put the tray on the coffee table and sat down on Gabe’s other side. “Are we disturbing you?”

“Every damn day. Can’t get any work done.”

Grinning, she wrapped an arm around his waist as he placed one of his over her shoulders. “Good. You’d get too stiff and grouchy if we let you alone.”

His arm tightened. And she heard what he was saying. Like her son, she knew she was loved, loved so much that she was Gabriel’s greatest weakness. “I think it’s time,” she said, having waited till after Rafe finished his snack and ran off to find a toy.

“He’s too young.”

“When did you learn to ride?”

He was silent for several minutes. “I’ll teach him myself.”

She’d expected nothing less. “We should use Maisy. She’s gentle.”

“The Tanners have a pony they’re thinking of selling. Quiet, good-natured.”

“Sounds perfect.” She leaned against his strength, safe in the knowledge that the sole thing she had to worry about with Gabe and their son, was over-protectiveness.

“What did Richard say about your newest pieces?”

She grinned at the memory of her last conversation with the gallery owner. “He thinks you’re my best piece, wants to know if he can borrow you as his date occasionally.”

“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that.” Gabe scowled. “What about the paintings?”

“He said that aside from having an impeccable eye for hot men,” she couldn’t help teasing, “I’m also an artistic genius.”

Gabe pulled her into his lap. “That explains why you married me.” He caught her laughter with his mouth.

And she melted. The years since their wedding had only intensified the sensual heat between them. “How can you always do this to me?”

A hint of familiar arrogance lit his eyes—Gabe might have decided to allow his family into his heart, but he was hardly tame. “I’m your husband. It’s my job.”

A slow smile spread across that gorgeously masculine face.

She traced the edges of his lips. “In that case, I think you deserve a raise.”

“Dad!” Rafe ran back into the study holding a toy.

“It’s not working.” Unsaid was that he expected his father to fix it. That’s what heroes did.

And Gabriel Dumont had always had the heart of a hero.

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