Read Nothing Less Than Love Online

Authors: Lilly LaRue

Tags: #contemporary, #contemporary romance, #sensual romance, #secret baby, #sexual tension

Nothing Less Than Love (2 page)

BOOK: Nothing Less Than Love
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Chapter Two

 

The previous night’s ordeal made
Gwyneth late in rising. She put on clothes in a daze and drew the
brush through her hair lethargically. Gwyneth headed straight for
the kitchen when she got to the bottom of the stairs, where she
found Beth busily preparing lunch. “Good morning, darling. Did you
sleep well?” Beth asked off-handedly.

 

“Fine,” Gwyneth answered softly. “Can
I help you in some way?”

 

Beth shook her head so Gwyneth sat at
the table and reached for an apple. “I heard you took care of our
favorite patient last night?” Beth commented as she whipped a
creamy confection. “How did that go?”

 

Clearing her throat, Gwyneth said
thickly. “It was fine. Er, where is Jordan anyway?”

 

Beth shrugged and joined her niece at
the table. “You know Jordan—he was gone this morning by
seven-thirty. Howard couldn’t keep him home short of tying him
down.” Beth shook her head and clicked her tongue. “That boy is
such a workaholic.”

 

Gwyneth was saved having to make any
further conversation of Jordan because Beth changed the subject to
other things. They discussed Gwyneth’s school, her plans for the
summer, and men in her life. At eleven, Beth jumped up from the
table. “My god, I have to finish lunch. I’ll see you this evening,
Gwyneth.”

 

♥♥♥

 

Feeling wrung out, Gwyneth stayed
close to the house all day. She took a swim in the afternoon and
spent the remainder of the day in the library rereading one of her
favorite books. She went upstairs to shower before dinner with the
servants in the kitchen. All day long, her stomach had filled with
butterflies at the thought of her coming confrontation with Jordan.
She knew the worst he could do was throw her out—and Beth along
with her. That thought was the most horrible to endure. How could
she stand it if her stupidity led to Beth’s dismissal from the
position she’d held from her eighteenth year? It was with a heavy
heart that Gwyneth sought Jordan after her meal.

 

She found him in the study and she
knocked timidly. “Yes?” He sounded terse. Gwyneth poked her head
around the door and asked if this was a bad time. “No, please come
in. I always have time for the maid’s niece,” he said
mockingly.

 

Gwyneth sank into the chair across the
massive desk from Jordan’s. “How are you feeling?” she asked
cautiously.

 

With a bark of laughter, Jordan leaned
forward. “Like you care? I know it was a matter of my mother just
asking you for a favor. Of course, with the amount of money they’re
shelling out, it’s the least you can do.”

 

She nodded. “For your
mother.”

 

“Well, my mother assures me you were a
saint and I was well taken care of. How much is it going to cost
me?” He sneered.

 

Gwyneth had trouble following his
rapid change of topic. “You don’t remember last night?” she asked,
feeling numb. She hadn’t even processed the insulting question
about her fee.

 

Frowning as he counted bills
from his wallet, Jordan said. “Should I? Was it particularly
memorable?” He tossed five hundred across the desk. “Florence, that
should cover the price of your
services
.”

 

Her mouth tightened as Gwyneth’s brown
eyes burned gold with anger. “I don’t want or need your money. I’m
not the avaricious bitch you’ve made me out to be.” Back straight,
she marched out of his study. Once outside the door, painful cramps
nearly bent her over. It hadn’t gone badly, she thought sickly. He
didn’t even remember their illicit night together. She was
relieved, but also enraged. How could he have forgotten something
so important?

 

 

The next few weeks passed surprisingly
quickly for Gwyneth, largely due to Marcus. He filled her days with
a variety of activities, including museums, plays, picnics, and
walks along the bay. They often drove to San Francisco for lunch
and shopping. Once, they even went to the liberal arts university
Marcus attended to watch a performance. Afterwards, he introduced
Gwyneth to his girlfriend Victoria, who was small and shy, but very
attractive.

 

The attention Marcus lavished on her
didn’t go unnoticed by Jordan, who called her into his study one
night. “What game are you playing with my little brother?” he asked
as soon as she sat down.

 

“I’d love to know what you’re babbling
about?” Gwyneth arched a brow, striving for cool she didn’t
feel.

 

Jordan settled into his chair and
leaned forward. “You’ve spent a lot of time with Marcus lately. So
much that he’s even stopped seeing his girlfriend, who is a nice
young woman.”

 

Lashing out, Gwyneth bit out. “I
suppose by nice you mean she isn’t the maid’s niece?”

 

Jordan shrugged. “Yes, you could say
that. Her father is on the custodial staff of the university
though.” His eyes chilled and his face grew hard. “I want you to
terminate any further unnecessary contact with Marcus. I won’t see
him ruin a relationship with a sweet girl over some viper like
you.”

 

Gwyneth leaned forward. “Did you know
Victoria is in Europe? I’ve met her, and she is a nice young girl.
She was accepted for an intensive course of study in ballet and
won’t be back from Rome for six more weeks. I’ve been keeping
Marcus company because he’s lonely and misses his girlfriend.” She
got to her feet and started for the door.

 

Jordan grabbed her arm and spun her
around. “Don’t walk away from me. We’re not through yet. I’ve been
going over your bills for the year and have a few questions about
your expenditures.”

 

Gwyneth tried to jerk free, but he was
holding her too tightly. “You don’t want to hear my answers. You’ll
just interpret your own explanations anyway—casting me in the worse
possible light.” She averted her face from his gaze. “Release me or
I’ll scream. I find your touch repulsive.” She swallowed the lump
in her throat when Jordan’s eyes blazed with fury and knew she’d
gone too far, but refused to call back the words. Jordan yanked her
into his arms and ground his lips on hers. To her humiliation, her
body responded immediately and they were soon in a passionate
embrace.

 

Gwyneth moaned when his lips found the
sensitive spot behind her ear and Jordan suddenly realized what he
was doing. He shoved her away from him. “Get out. Get out of here,
and don’t ever come back!” She recoiled from his rage and ran out
of the office as fast as she could. In the nearest bathroom, she
lost her dinner, then huddled weakly on the floor, weeping. She was
sick again before finally finding the strength to drag herself
upstairs and into bed. It was a long night as she tossed and
turned.

 

 

Chapter Three

 

Gwyneth awoke the next morning still
feeling sick to her stomach and washed out. After being sick in the
bathroom she plodded downstairs and collapsed on the love seat in
the library. She was still lying there an hour later when Marcus
found her.

 


Are you sick?” he asked as
he felt Gwyneth’s forehead. “No fever.”

 

Shaking her head, she pulled herself
up. “Just nauseated. I’ll be fine.”

 

Marcus reached down to help her stand
up. “Come on—we’re going to the doctor.”

 

“I don’t need a doctor,” Gwyneth
insisted as she leaned against him, still protesting when he led
her to his car. She drowsed through the half-hour drive into the
city, where he took her to an urgency clinic. Gwyneth filed out the
paperwork and rose when the nurse called. “Gwyneth
Barbary.”

 

She followed the nurse into the exam
room, where she changed into a paper gown and waited for the
doctor. He appeared a few minutes later and silently examined her.
Afterwards he frowned at her, but she’d never seen him smile yet.
“You provided a urine specimen?” he verified.

 

Gwyneth nodded, clenching her hands.
She wasn’t expecting anything to be wrong except stress or
emotional shock. “You’re pregnant.”

 

“What?” Gwyneth gasped painfully.
Cramps hit her stomach and she bent forward. “I can’t
be.”

 

“The results are conclusive,” the
doctor responded. “Of course there are options, such as abortion or
adoption.”

 

Gwyneth nodded. “I know. I need to
think about all of this,” she said softly.

 

The doctor nodded and left her to
dress. The nurse brought her a prescription for prenatal vitamins
and Gwyneth left the room and settled her bill.

 

Marcus was still reading a magazine in
the waiting room and he took one look at her pale face. “What’s
wrong?”

 

Gwyneth shook her head and walked out
of the office. She was at the car before she burst into
tears.

 


Gwyneth, what is it?” he
demanded, scared.

 

She started laughing, bitterly. “I’m
pregnant. I can’t believe it, but it’s true.” As she was
explaining, Marcus was settling her in the car and fastening her
seat belt. “I’m having a baby,” she moaned more to herself than
Marcus.

 

He got behind the wheel, started the
car, and merged into traffic before saying anything. “Will there be
a wedding in the future?”

 

“No, absolutely not. It was once and
just a mistake. In fact, he hates me, we hate each other. He won’t
want to know about my baby.” Gwyneth took deep breaths and tried to
calm down. She couldn’t even think about telling Jordan right now.
Besides, he wouldn’t want to know, she assured herself.

 

Marcus nodded as he got onto the
freeway. “Well, you’ll just have to marry me then. I’ll take care
of both of you.”

 

Tears flooded her eyes again and she
sniffled. “You’re very sweet, Marcus, but I can’t accept your
proposal. Anyway, what would Victoria say?”

 

His face grew somber. “She can’t say
anything. Last week she broke up with me. It seems her dance
instructor is a wildly attractive Italian gentleman who wants to
marry her. The wedding plans are in full motion. I know it must be
love because she’s even giving up dancing to stay home and play
wifey.” He was so bitter that Gwyneth momentarily forgot her own
trouble. She’d never seen Marcus like this and she knew it would
take a long time for the scars to heal.

 

She put her hand on his and whispered.
“I’m sorry, for both of us. I know you’re a noble man, Marcus, but
I won’t marry someone I’m not in love with. I know you too well.
You wouldn’t be happy if you settled for less than
love.”

 


What if I love you?” Marcus
tossed out experimentally. “You’re my best friend, and we could be
happy together.”

 

“There’s no attraction, and you know
it. No,” she shook her head firmly. “Let’s not discuss this again.”
Marcus dropped the subject and they continued back to the Del Royce
manor.

 

♥♥♥

 

Gwyneth turned in early and lay in the
dark, thinking. She knew that abortion wasn’t an option for her
personally, though she was pro-choice. For her, it was a matter of
responsibility—she couldn’t punish an innocent child for her stupid
mistake.

 

Adoption was out as well. When her
parents were killed, she came to live with Beth, who’d been
wonderful to her. Still, their relationship was not maternal, more
sisterly. Gwyneth never had the opportunity to know her parents,
and she couldn’t consign her child to the same fate.

 

That left one option open to her, but
that option created more problems. Gwyneth knew that finishing
school would be difficult with a baby, and she wouldn’t feel right
accepting help from Howard and Lilly now. With three years in
business technology she could get a job, but it wouldn’t pay as
well as the same job once she had a degree.

 

Of course, the biggest question was
should she tell Jordan he had fathered her baby in a moment of
weakness? Would he even believe her? He doubted her motives for
everything and would probably think she was trying to manipulate
him. No, she thought decisively, she wouldn’t tell him about the
baby. At least not now. When she was settled, Gwyneth would
consider letting him know then. It was with a heavy heart that she
finally fell asleep.

 

 

Determined to have a bit of money when
she left, Gwyneth began to look for a job, and by the end of the
week she was successful. An elderly woman who ran a tea shop in San
Francisco hired her to work full time for the remainder of the
summer at a decent wage, plus commission on selected items. Beth
offered the use of her Honda, so Gwyneth didn’t have to rely on
anyone for transportation. From the time she left in the morning
until she returned at night, she was in control of her life.
Everything seemed clear-cut and manageable, if not easy. However,
at the Del Royce home, the presence of Jordan changed
everything.

BOOK: Nothing Less Than Love
10.68Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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