Baby Benefits(2)


With a sigh of resignation, he said, “Then I suppose I should open a bottle of champagne or something. Welcome the other newest member of the Messina family.”

Dex quirked an eyebrow. “The other newest member?”

“Yes,” he said grimly. “I stopped by New York on my way to Antwerp and convinced Kitty to come on the trip with me.”


The censure in Dex’s voice didn’t surprise Derek. Dex had never liked Kitty, not that Derek had let that get in his way during the three years of calculated courtship it had taken to win her over.

“You aren’t going to congratulate me?”

Dex raised the brandy snifter in a toast. “Congratulations. You got to spend two weeks with one of the most heartless women in the country.”

He ignored Dex’s dig. “Actually we had a very nice time.”

“I hope you didn’t plan to impress her with our office in Antwerp. She’s probably been touring diamond cutting houses since she was a little girl.”

“I should hope so.” Kitty was an heir to the Biedermann Jewelry fortune. Her family owned the largest chain of jewelry stores in the country. “That’s one of the reasons I’ve asked her to be my wife.”

Dex choked on his brandy. “What. Don’t tell me she said yes.”

“Of course she did.” Derek took no satisfaction in his brother’s shocked expression. “I wouldn’t have asked if I hadn’t known she’d agree. Besides, she’s a smart enough woman to see the business advantages to merging our families.”

Dex looked down at the child sleeping in his arms. “What will she say when she finds out about Isabella?”

“I have no idea.” Of course, that wasn’t entirely true.

Kitty was beautiful and intelligent, with the business sense of a shark, all of which made her the perfect woman for him. She was not, however, the kind of woman to raise someone else’s bastard child.

“This time, I’m definitely quitting.” Raina Huffman gave herself a firm look in the mirror. She pressed her hands on the cool marble of the twentieth-floor executive women’s bathroom. Despite the glare she gave herself, she wasn’t quite convinced.

But it was time. Past time.

From behind her, a voice said, “You’re not going to quit.”

Raina spun around to see her friend Trinity standing with her hands on her hips and an amused expression on her pixielike face.

Raina narrowed her gaze. “I am going to quit.”

“No, you’re not. You never quit. You’re always saying you’re going to quit, but you never do.”

As Trinity disappeared into one of the stalls, Raina frowned. “This time I mean it.” She turned, propped her hip against the counter and began counting off items on her fingers. “I’m tired of being his errand girl. Of doing everything he wants the minute he wants it.”

“You’re his assistant, it’s your job,” Trinity countered smoothly.

“When he calls me at one in the morning on a Sunday and wants me to run a personal errand for him, that’s not my job. It’s a pain in the butt, that’s what it is.”

The toilet flushed and a second later Trinity emerged from the stall to wash her hands. “He may be a pain in the butt.” She met Raina’s gaze in the mirror. “He may even be the most demanding bastard of a boss in all of Dallas. Hell, he may make Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada look like a fairy godmother. But you’ll never quit because he pays you oodles and oodles of money. Which you need.”

Raina had to stifle the urge to defend him. Plenty of people—Trinity included—joked about him being an evil dictator, however Raina knew better. Yes, he was a ruthless businessman and a demanding boss, but as his assistant and near constant companion, she saw sides of him that no one else did. However in addition to being generous and loyal, he was also intensely private and wouldn’t appreciate her defending him to anyone.

So instead of thinking about his qualities that she would miss, she focused on something Trinity would understand.

“The oodles of money are nice.” Raina sighed as she thought of all the money she’d made over the past nine years. Money she’d faithfully shuffled over to her mother’s bank account to help raise her siblings. “But Kendrick is graduating in May. And Cassidy’s scholarship came through again, so she’s set for another two years. They’re officially on their own.”