Expecting His Secret Heir

By: Dani Wade

But was it the right thing to do?

Maybe he should have asked himself that before he threw her off mill property yesterday. He’d had a gut reaction to seeing her there, so close but seemingly oblivious to him. He wished he had controlled himself, but what was done was done. He couldn’t go back.

With his life, he knew that all too well.

Turning away from the computer, he decided to confront this problem head-on rather than hide behind snooping. Security might be his business, but it didn’t have to be his life.

Thirty minutes later, he wondered if he should have taken the easy way out. Figuring out where Sadie was staying had been easy—this was, after all, a small town. Getting past the nosy owner of the B and B? Well, that was an altogether different problem.

“Gladys, I know she’s here, I just need to know what room she’s in.”

“Is she expecting you?”

“Probably.” At least that much was the truth. If Sadie remembered anything at all about him, it should be that he was a man of action.

Gladys leaned against the high desk in the foyer. “Now, why would Black Hills’s newest hero want to see some strange woman who just came into town?”

Lord, this woman wanted a pound of flesh, didn’t she? “I haven’t always lived here, Gladys.”

“So you met her somewhere else?” Was that a gleam of excitement in her eyes? How sad that his life had gone from daily drudgery to full-on gossip mill fodder.

He’d met Sadie right here in Black Hills, but it had seemed like another time and place. “The room number?”

Probably recognizing the obstinate look on his face and realizing she wasn’t getting any gossip from him—outside of his very presence here—Gladys relented. “Room three.”

Back straight, he refused to look over his shoulder to see her watching him as he climbed the stairs. He hesitated before knocking, but luckily there was no one to see it.

The door opened, revealing Sadie. She was just as he remembered her, with smooth, translucent skin, an abundance of fiery red hair and green eyes that appeared guileless. A trap he wasn’t falling for this time.

“Zachary,” she said.

He stalked through the doorway. The suite was more spacious than the tiny hotel room she’d occupied the last time she’d been here. This was open and airy, with a lightly feminine touch. His gaze bounced away from the bed in an alcove and came to rest on the laptop in a low sitting area in front of a fireplace. He made his way forward with measured steps.

“It’s been a while, Sadie,” he finally said.

“Five years,” she murmured.

He paused, giving away the fact that he’d heard her when he would have preferred not to show any reaction at all. He was ashamed to admit, even to himself, that he’d often thought about what he would say if he ever saw her again. He’d pictured himself as calm, slightly condescending as he asked her why she’d left without a word, without any explanation.

Nothing in that scenario came close to the amped-up emotions he was experiencing at the moment.

Eager for a distraction, he paused in front of the open laptop. Several pictures shared space on the screen, showcasing the smoldering mill from different angles. He’d never had much time for art, but to his inexperienced eyes, these looked pretty good.

Which for some reason made him even angrier.

“You weren’t authorized to take pictures there.”

“Did you tell that to every bystander in that parking lot with their cell phones in their hands? Or just me?”

He glanced in her direction, mildly surprised by her return salvo. He hadn’t known her to be very confrontational. Not that they’d spent much time arguing, but they had talked—a lot. He wouldn’t have called her a doormat, exactly, but she’d shown a lot more spirit in the last twenty-four hours than he’d seen in the week he’d known her five years ago. A week that had ended in a night he couldn’t forget.

She raised one fine brow. “There were no signs posted. No one said I couldn’t be there...at first.”

He studied the images a bit longer. Damn if she didn’t have him stumped. What exactly had he wanted to accomplish by coming here? To go over the same territory as at the mill? To find out why she had returned? To get information without having to ask any direct questions?

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