she was. And he had some oceanfront property in New Mexico to sell. “Just yell, if you need me. I won’t be far away.” While she warmed up in the shower, he rushed to the front door and returned with her suitcase. His thumbs hovered over the locks. He stopped. Opening her suitcase would be prying—something he hated when people did it to him, no matter what their intentions. Instead, he retrieved his robe and laid it on the bed, just in case she was still chilled. Trying not to think of how good she’d looked in his robe, he returned to the kitchen. He grabbed the coffeepot and filled it with water. His idea to step out for a bit was permanently on the back burner. Once he got Kate situated in a hotel, the afternoon would be shot. And so would his patience. He flung himself down on a kitchen chair, determined to concentrate on something besides his unwanted guest. He opened up his laptop and skimmed over his unfinished email. He had absolutely no desire to work. This realization for a renowned workaholic was unsettling, to say the least. What was wrong with him? Was it the way things had ended in San Francisco with his little girl looking at him with fear in her eyes when he went to pick her up? He inhaled an unsteady breath. He’d made his choice, not to make his daughter a pawn between him and his ex. It was the right decision...for Carrie. Now he had to get a grip. After all, Carrington Gems was all he had left. With one ear toward the bathroom and his eyes on the monitor, he started to type. He’d gotten through a handful of emails by the time Kate emerged from the bedroom wearing his robe. Her dark brown hair was wet and brushed back from her face and her cheeks were tinged pink from the shower. The robe gaped open, revealing a glimpse of her cleavage. His overzealous imagination filled in the obscured details. He should have looked away but he couldn’t. He was drawn to her like a starving bear to a picnic basket. He shifted uncomfortably, fighting back this wave of desire. Sex was not the answer. It only complicated things, even in the simplest of relationships. The fact he’d never met anyone who was so fiercely independent but at the same time looked worn to the bone only made him more curious about Kate. What was her story? Where had she come from? And what was she doing at the hospital? He swallowed hard. “Do you feel better?” She nodded. “I’m sorry to be such a bother.” Was this where he was supposed to step up and comfort her? He hesitated. He never was one of those soft, mushy people. He was a Carrington—strong, proud and unfeeling. Or at least those were the words his ex had thrown at him numerous times and he’d never had a reason to disbelieve her assessment. Until now.... There was something about Kate that bore through his defenses and made him want to fix whatever was broken. But he didn’t know anything about comforting people. With each passing moment he grew more uncomfortable, not knowing how he should act around her. Taking the safe approach, he got up and pulled a chair out for her. “Have a seat while I get you some coffee. Do you take milk or sugar?” “A little of both, please.” That he could do. It was this talking stuff that had him knotted up inside. He wasn’t sure what to say or do. Silence was best. Silence was golden. Once she finished her coffee, he would see about getting her moved to a hotel. His life would then return to normal. Or whatever qualified as normal these days. And he wasn’t going to ask any questions. Her life was none of his affair.
CHAPTER FIVE K ATE SANK DOWN on the black-cushioned chair, mortified that she’d shown up on this man’s—this stranger’s—doorstep and fallen to pieces. The staggering hospital bill already had her worried beyond belief, but combined with the unexpected appearance of her ex-husband it was just too much. It wasn’t often that she let down her guard. And she really wished it hadn’t been