Forbidden: A Stepbrother Secret Baby Romance
biggest sip of wine I can get away with.
    The interior of the house is even more magical under cover of darkness. The living room is now filled with tall cocktail tables draped in silky white tablecloths; the fabric pools fashionably onto the floor. I make my way over to the real sommelier, who is a tall whip of a man with a face like a ferret. "If only I had a photo of you earlier, that could have saved me a lot of time and heartache," I quip to the man, who looks deeply confused.
    "Beg pardon?" he asks me, cupping his hand lightly around his jug ears.
    "Never mind," I reply. "Merlot, please. The 1972 vintage."
    The sommelier looks through the bottles. "I'm sorry, we don't appear to have that."
    Recognition dawns over me, and I feel like an absolute idiot. "Of course, sorry," I reply. Jax only pulled that for us. "Then I'll just have whatever you want to give me, then."
    The sommelier stiffens as he glances down at my bulging stomach. "May I offer you some Perrier?" he says as politely as he can muster. I feel the judgment pouring out from his thin little lips.
    My nostrils flare and my face forms itself into the defensive posture I’ve learned after decades of being around my mother: a close-lipped smile complete with teeth grinding. "Ah, I see. Yes, Perrier is fine." A moment later I have a glass of fizzing, bitter water that I immediately pour into one of the fairy-light-covered potted ferns. I stare at the crowd around me.
    I recognize no one here, but this isn't a surprise. My Midwestern mother has suffered for decades trying to claw her way into the upper social circles of Indianapolis, such as they are. Then she meets Lyle on a cruise, they have a whirlwind romance, he proposes, and she sets about erasing nearly every trace of her former life. I am the sole exception to that purge.
    I glance around the room again, this time looking for Paul. Where is he, anyway? I make my way through the crowd back to the pool, which has been rapidly cleared of the aisles of chairs. Most of the guests are inside now. I wonder briefly if this chair banishment is a plot concocted by my mother to keep me standing the entire evening. I won’t put it past her to do something like this. I take another lap of the room inside, searching for anything to sit on. Sure enough, there isn't a single chair in sight. I grab one of the staff dressed in all-black suits and shirts. "Excuse me, but is there going to be any seating put in place today?"
    The young man looks at me sheepishly. "The lady of the house doesn't want anyone getting too comfortable." He glances at my girth, alarmed that I might go into labor at any second. He looks around worriedly and lowers his voice; I have to lean forward to hear him. "I can bring you a chair. But it will have to be hidden." He nudges his head over to a far, dark corner of the outdoor breezeway. "It’ll be behind one of the trees over there.”
    I sigh and nod. "That would be wonderful. Oh - and also, you haven't seen my boyfriend, have you? Dark hair. Skinny. On his cell phone?"
    He looks at me and nods. "Yes, he’s over on the other side of the pool."
    I thank him and make my way over to Paul, who is indeed on his phone next to one of the towering palm trees. I clear my throat as I get closer to him. He looks up and nearly drops his phone. Then he speaks into it. "Oh, yes, okay. That would be great. If you could just email me that, that would be wonderful." He slides his finger across the screen and looks at me with an air of extreme guilt. "Honey, hey. You were...great up there! Well done." He reaches over to give me a light kiss on the cheek. His lips feel cold.
    "Yeah, thanks, it was a struggle for me to just stand there silently," I say sarcastically. "You going to be out here all night? I feel like I haven't sat down since we got off the plane."
    Paul suddenly yawns dramatically. "You know, I was just going to grab some appetizers and head on up to our room," he says. "I'm just really, really

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