When Tate Harper's sister disappears, the globe-trotting TV host is suddenly the caregiver for her infant niece. She has to find her sister ASAP! Enter single father and sexy CEO Linc Ballantyne, her sister's ex. He's a family man to the core, and he'll help Tate—if she agrees to be his temporary live-in nanny.
Soon she's juggling a baby, a toddler and a growing attraction to the billionaire Ballantyne. But when it's time to go back to her real life, will she pack her bags or stay and find out what being a family really means?
It would be his fourth call in ninety minutes, and Tate debated answering. But, genetically unable to ignore a ringing phone, she sighed with resignation and pulled her phone out of her pocket.
She rolled her eyes at the name on display. Yep, Mr. Paranoid was checking up on her. Over the last week or so, they’d found some sort of routine. Linc took Shaw to school, and then he went to the office, leaving mid-afternoon to collect Shaw from pre-K. At The Den, they shared a cup of coffee, and then Linc went into his home office to work while Tate took charge of the kids.
They both spent a lot of time thinking about what making love would feel like. Well, Tate knew she did. Far more than was healthy.
But today was different as Linc had called around lunchtime to ask whether she could collect Shaw from school, stating that he couldn’t get away from his desk. He then called her forty-five minutes later to remind her to collect Shaw, and then Amy, his assistant, called her to check that she was on her way. The man had serious trust issues, Tate thought. Then again, he had lived with Kari, so she couldn’t blame him.
Tate looked at her still-ringing phone. There was no doubt that Linc wanted to know that she had Shaw.
Knowing that the call was about to drop, Tate finally answered. Linc’s voice, deep and sexy, but holding a trace of anxiety, flowed into her ear. “I didn’t think you were going to answer.”
Tate rolled her eyes. “Hi, Linc.”
“I’m just checking to see if the school released Shaw to you without any problems. They are sticky about who picks up the kids and when.”
Tate decided to have some fun with him. “Oh, God…is that the time? Was I supposed to collect him? Is it really half past three?”
There was a long beat of silence. Linc was probably deciding whether she was messing with him or not, or he was making plans to put a hit out on her so Tate handed her phone to Shaw. “Say hi to your dad.”
“Hi, Dad!” Shaw said into the phone, always happy to talk to Linc.
Linc spoke, and Tate’s eyes hit the back of her skull when she heard Shaw’s answer. “Yes, Tate was waiting for me when I came out. No, I didn’t have to wait for her. Oh, and Dad? I need a lot of cupcakes for tomorrow. Like, hundreds.”
Tate heard Linc’s loud groan and bent her fingers at Shaw, gesturing him to hand the phone over. Lifting the phone to her ear, she pushed the stroller with one hand and headed for home. “You sound like you are about to have a coronary, Ballantyne. I have your kid and we’re heading home.”
“Did you hear what he said about cupcakes?” Linc demanded, and Tate could imagine him running his hands through his hair.
Okay, this wasn’t a big deal. “There are about a million bakeries in Manhattan. Send one of your minions to buy however many you need. Easy-peasy.”
“Nothing about ChildTime is that easy.” Linc growled. “Hold on a sec. I’ll see if they sent an email about this.”
Tate pushed the stroller and idly listened to Shaw talking animatedly to Ellie as she waited for Linc to come back on the line. When he did, there was tension in his voice. “Yep, I found it. It was something I thought Jo would handle, so I ignored it. And, as per usual, they’ve complicated the process. They would prefer the twenty four cupcakes to be homemade, preferably with the child being involved in the process.”
“So buying the cupcakes is out.”
“Yep, the school actively promotes families spending time together. Crap, I need this like I need a hole in the head. I have this damned photo shoot tonight, and the family is coming over for supper, and I now have to make cupcakes! Shoot me already.”
“Twenty-four?” Tate demanded. “How many kids are they feeding?”
“They are asking for extra so that they can donate them to shelters for abused women and kids.”
That’s a nice gesture, Tate thought, slightly mollified. “What photo shoot?” she asked, recalling his previous comment.
“Our PR expert has the four of us in a series of print advertisements, all of us dressed the same and holding a piece of jewelry or a gemstone we have an emotional connection to,” Linc explained. “The idea is to get people to the website to read up on our stones and the story behind them, hoping that they will see something they like on the site and part with their cash to have it.”
Tate remembered seeing the ads featuring Jaeger. She’d done exactly what he’d mentioned—she’d read up on how he’d proposed to Piper with the Kashmir sapphire featured in his ad. “It’s such a great idea. Is the campaign working?”
“Yeah, we’ve had good responses to Jaeger’s and Beck’s ads,” Linc replied.
Shaw tugged on her sleeve, and she looked down to see his worried expression. He was four, and he wanted to take cupcakes to school. Tate sent him a reassuring smile.
“Hold on a sec, Linc, while I talk to Shaw. What if I make the cupcakes and you and Dad decorate them?” she asked the little boy. “Would that work?”
Shaw nodded enthusiastically. “Can we make animal cupcakes? Or space monsters?”
Oh, dear Lord. What had she gotten herself into? Animals? Space monsters…? Well, with the aid of the internet, hopefully she’d figure something out.
“Is that okay with you, Linc?” Tate spoke into the phone again.
“I know you can cook, but can you bake?” Linc asked in her ear, his tone doubtful.
Tate pulled a face. She was a travel and food journalist and a fairly good chef, so whipping up a batch of cupcakes wouldn’t strain her culinary repertoire.
“Can you? And more importantly, do you want to try and fit making twenty-plus cupcakes into your very busy afternoon and evening?” Tate pertly replied.
Linc’s sigh was heavy. “No, I can’t, and, no, I don’t.”
Tate smiled. “Then your part-time, fill-in nanny will make them.”
“My part-time, fill-in nanny is about to get a huge raise.”
“I’m sure we can work out a repayment plan that would be a lot of fun,” Tate replied, lowering her voice seductively. God, what was she doing? She heard Linc’s swift intake of breath and knew that she was playing with fire. Tate slapped her hand against her forehead and groaned. She had to resist him, and she should not be making flirty comments!
“What, exactly, did you have in mind?” Linc said, his voice low and husky and vibrating over her skin.
Tate closed her eyes, mortified. “Ignore me, I should not have said that.”
“Why is your face red?” Shaw demanded. “Are you sick?”
Tate heard Linc’s wicked laugh in her ear. “Are you blushing, Tate? What, exactly, are you thinking about?”
“I am not about to tell you that!”Tate admitted, lifting her hand to her burning cheeks.
“Spoil sport. But it’s okay because my imagination is vivid enough for both of us. I’m just glad I’m alone and sitting behind a desk.” Linc admitted.
Tate blushed again at the visual that popped into her head and wished that she were with him, touching him, running her hands over the hard-ridged muscles of his stomach and into the back of his pants to push them her finger tips into the hard muscle of his butt.
“We can’t do this, Linc. We really can’t complicate our lives by having—” Tate glanced at Shaw “—doing that!”
“I know that. I’ve tried everything to talk myself out of taking you to bed, but I want you, Tate. I’m wrong for you, and you’re wrong for me, but hell…I keep thinking of the patterns I want to draw on your skin, how I want to go about discovering every perfect inch of you. Then I want to make love to you until you forget your own name.”
Oh, God, her panties just caught fire. Tate felt the throb of desire start in her womb and spread through her body, causing sparks to ignite under her skin.
“You’re diabolical,” she wailed. “This isn’t a good idea, Linc. You know it’s not!”
“Screw good ideas,” Linc muttered.
Three years after Tyce Latimore let Sage Ballantyne walk away, they end up back where they started—in bed. Now she’s carrying his child…and there’s no way he’s losing her again.
Tyce is tempting. Dangerous. Addictive. Sage left him for all the right reasons. But one passionate mistake could reunite her with the world-famous artist for all the wrong ones. A baby on the way ups the ante. So does an explosive secret that threatens their two families and could shatter Sage and Tyce’s precarious reunion…