Matias sat at his desk and thought about his evening. Life had a way of smacking you down just when you thought you were in a good place. He hadn’t thought about his mystery woman in months; he was just minding his own business and then, boom – there she was.
He wasn’t the type of man who chased after women. He didn’t do long-term relationships and he knew the meaning of no. And that’s the line he fed himself every time he wanted to go back to her home. He’d refused to try and find out who she was. They had slept together and she’d politely asked him to leave. Everything had happened the way it should’ve, yet, he couldn’t stop thinking about her.
Matt clicked open his laptop and did a search for “Lou Torres.” Opening up the first link, a Wikipedia page about her, he started to read and what he found out was fascinating.
Her real name was Eva London and she was related to royalty – of course she was. Rolling his eyes, he scrolled pass Career and stopped at the heading marked Family. Blah blah blah, her mother was a renowned scientist, her father and brother recently invented the ability to time travel. He scrolled past all of this information until he saw a sentence that caught his eye. She had a son. Alistair Kieran Torres Zenteri. He smiled, relieved that Alistair was not a significant other, but a child.
His smile faded though when he saw the birth date, Jan. 19, 2061. He quickly did the math. The child would be three years old. He searched for a photo of the boy, but couldn’t find anything. Apparently, Eva was very protective of her son. Skimming the rest of the article, he learned she’d been with a Glasgow Zenteri for the last seven years.
Matias walked over to stare out his window. Seven years. Which meant she’d been with Zenteri the night they met. Thinking back, he tried to remember what they’d talked about. Had either of them asked if the other was in a relationship? He didn’t think so and aside for the stumble out of the club, she’d seemed sober. He hadn’t sensed that she was intoxicated, otherwise that night would have never happened. He didn’t take advantage of people. He wasn’t his father.
Her son, Alistair, was three. He was the right age, born around the right time…could it be his? She’d given the boy a different last name, but that could be because she hadn’t known his. Did this Zenteri guy she was with know the boy might not be his? He cursed harshly. She didn’t seem like the type of person who would cheat. But then again, he didn’t know her at all.
The article did not mention an address but if she was showing artwork in town, then she might still live in the same loft. He would pay her a visit this week.
Matias didn’t even wait a day before he found himself in front of her home. As he walked up the steps, the front door opened and a man walked out with a small bundle in his arms. Matt stared at them as they brushed past him. He was the same man the article said was dating Eva and he seemed upset about something.
Matias watched as they got into a taxi that was waiting at the curb and drove off. Then he turned and rang the doorbell.
A moment later, Eva came to the door and he was reminded – again – how beautiful she was. Her hair was up in a ponytail and she was dressed casually. He remembered that shirt. It was the same one she’d worn the last time he’d been at her house. She looked at him in confusion.
“What are you doing here?”
“I wanted to see you,” he said. “Can I come in?”
She nodded and let him in. Her home was the same, except now she had baby stuff everywhere. There was a playpen and a walker in the living room now. It was a good reminder of why he was here.
“Would you like something to drink?” She shifted from one foot to another, nervous.
“Okay. Well, how can I help you; did you want something? Other than to see me of course.” She rolled her eyes, as if wanting to see her wasn’t reason enough. He thought it was and said as much. “It’s a bit inappropriate for you to just come by my house.”
He frowned. “Maybe if I was a stranger. Or a stalker.”
“You are a stranger. I didn’t even know your name until last night.” She looked him up and down, smiling a little. “I think you could do ‘stalker’ pretty well.”
“No, I don’t stalk people. There are better ways of getting what I want.” He grinned at her.
“I remember,” she said softly. Again, his mind flashed back to the night they met.
He cleared his throat. It was so easy to get distracted around her. “Your showing went well last night. It was in the papers this morning.”
“All my showings end up in the papers the next morning.” She said this matter-of-factly, as if she was a bit disgusted by it.
“Why doesn’t that make you happy?”
“I never know if it’s because my work is actually good or because of my last name.” She walked towards the kitchen and he followed. They always seemed to end up in the kitchen. It was bright and spacious, but full of knickknacks that proved she used it often. He liked her kitchen.
“Is that why you sign all your art as Lou?” She nodded. That made sense. She wanted her work to speak for itself. He liked that.
She started to make herself a PB&J and offered to make him one.
“So you paint and cook. Nice.”
She laughed. “I’m a regular Martha Stewart. Don’t forget I sculpt too.”
“And you sculpt.” Who the hell is Martha Stewart? She had the oddest expressions. He grinned at her, sitting on one of the bright high stools across from her. She finished her meal and turned to grab some plates from one of the cabinets above the kitchen sink. As she reached for the plates, her shirt lifted, exposing her back and the huge dragon tattoo there.
It covered her entire back and was a stunning work of art. She’d joked that she was a fan of The girl with the Dragon Tattoo. He hadn’t known what she was talking about at the time, but he’d looked it up later. It was a good movie. He’d spent at least an hour tracing the lines across her back before she’d had enough of his curiosity and had flipped over. He’d forgotten all about it after that. Seeing it now made him remember and he shifted in his seat.
She came back to the counter and set a sandwich in front of him. “How many women do you know that will cook for their stalker?”
He shook his head, trying not to laugh. “I told you, I’m not a stalker. And I know a few women who wouldn’t mind getting a little dirty in the kitchen for me.” He shrugged. “I think I’m worth it.”
She looked at him and said nothing. But when he winked at her, she started to laugh. He loved the sound of her laughter.
“Okay, fine. I’ll take your word for it.”
They ate their meal and he offered to clean up. He didn’t know this woman and yet he felt as if she’d been a part of his life forever. Perhaps all his obsessing over her these last four years was the reason.
Once the dishes were done, she looked up at him and said, “Alright, now will you tell me why you’re here?”
He’d forgotten. With their banter and the laughing and ease he felt around her, he’d forgotten why he’d come. He looked over to the side, trying to figure out how to bring up such a serious topic and saw the baby monitor. It was just standing there at the end of the kitchen counter. It had been there all this time. He looked around the room and saw all the things he’d missed the first time. The toys, the high chair, and the monitor. He sighed. “Can I ask you a question?”
“Sure.” Her smile wavered a bit.
He saw the uncertainty in her eyes and he balked at asking outright. He was standing close to her and moved in a few more inches until he was towering over her, looking down into her incredible eyes. “I want to kiss you.”
She licked her lower lip, a nervous gesture. “That’s not a question,” she whispered.
“No. It’s not.” He leaned down slowly, giving her a chance to say no, to back away. But she didn’t. He wrapped an arm around her waist and felt the tension in her body. She held herself so still, too still. He remembered the last time he’d kissed her, how electrifying it had been. Would four years change their reaction to each other?
He pressed his lips to hers, softly, testing the texture, the shape. His body remembered hers and he was soon pressing down more firmly. Time had done nothing to mellow their reaction to each other. It was mesmeric, sizzling, and soothing all at once. Like a refreshing summer rain after a day of hot sun. When he lifted his head away from hers to gulp in some air, she was sitting on the counter, legs spread around his, eyes shut, panting. He didn’t even remember moving.
“Matias,” she whispered. And didn’t his name sound fantastic on her lips.
His need to kiss her, claim her, make her his in some small way was disconcerting. He brushed his hand across her side, up toward her breasts. He let some of his magic flow into her; relax, open up and let me in. He expected some push back, a gentle slap down from her own magic. But when she leaned into him, wrapping her arms around his neck, he frowned. Something was different about her. He slowed the ascent of his hand. Her magic was weaker than it had been four years ago.
He put some distance between them and rubbed along her thigh, smiling up at her. “Hey.”
“Hi.” Her eyes were shuttered and hazy, her voice heavy with lust. She reached up and stroked his cheek.
He sighed. He had to stop.
“What’s wrong?” She whispered. She sounded so…he shook his head. He’d pushed her and anything that happened now wouldn’t be real. And when she realized it, she would be furious. He might as well do what he came here to do.
“Eva, is Alistair my son?” He waited, not breathing. If she said yes, what would he do? Would he be angry that she’d never tried to reach out and tell him? Would he be relieved? He never saw himself as the nurturing type, but he could be. If he had to be. Did he want to be?
She jerked back from him; her eyes wide and startled. She stared at him blankly before laughing haltingly. He raised an eyebrow. Not the reaction he’d been expecting.
“No. Alistair is not your son,” she said.
When he frowned, he looked dangerous, Eva thought to herself. She kept the smile on her face and willed herself not to show how embarrassed she truly felt. This man had come to her home to ask about the paternity of her child. And sadly, he had every right to do so.
Mortification was exactly what she deserved right now. What had she expected? That he’d been so captivated with her that he just had to come see her? Of course he would look her up and discover she’d had a child. And of course he would want answers. She should have guessed.
“He’s not mine?” Matias asked slowly, as if he wanted to make sure.
She shook her head. “He is not yours.”
He didn’t say anything and she heard the unspoken question. And the accusation. If it had been the other way around…she sighed.
“I’m sure of it.” She thought she would see relief on his face, but surprisingly, she didn’t. He looked oddly disappointed. He couldn’t be disappointed, though. Who would want a child to result from a one-night stand?
He opened his mouth to say something else, but she cut him off. “I think you should leave now.”
She disentangled herself from him and pushed him away. Getting off the counter required his help, but she put as much distance as possible between them after that. She didn’t want him here anymore. In her home, reminding her of all the things in her life that could have been different.
She’d spent all last night dreaming about Matias King. She’d been through this once before and had no intention of letting it happen again. She was happy with Alistair, with Glasgow, with her life. She didn’t need some guy she’d met when she was at the lowest point in her life to suddenly pop back up and make her feel like shit. And goddess forbid if Glasgow came back and found him here.
They were trying so hard to make their relationship work and the last thing she needed was to give him a reason to doubt her. She wasn’t the easiest person to love and she knew he was getting frustrated with her. And angry. She shuddered. Yeah, Matias needed to leave. Now.
“I’m sorry you came all this way for nothing, but I don’t think you should come back. I’m – I’m with someone.” He was only here to make sure he didn’t have a child running around. She would never see him again and that’s the way it should be. She walked to the door and held it open for him. With any luck, she really would never see him again.
Why did that thought make her feel so sad?