Karo stared at him, feeling like the world had shifted under her. What was going on here? One moment he was kissing her senseless, the next he was halfway across the room, looking like he was facing a firing squad.
“A cup of coffee would actually be good,” Zac rubbed the back of his neck. Wow, now he was looking anxious. And Zac— alpha male, supremely confident— being anxious made her stomach tie itself into a complicated knot.
Why did she feel like there was much more to come, like her world was about to change?
Karo nodded and walked into the kitchen to put the kettle on. She was out of decent coffee and instant would have to do.
Questions tumbled in her head as Karo spooned coffee into china mugs. Why was he here? Why had he kissed like that and then stopped? What was he going to tell her?
Karo felt Zac’s hand on hers and looked down at the heaped spoon of coffee hovering over a mug. “That’s the fourth teaspoon of coffee you’ve dumped into that mug. If I drink it, I might go into cardiac arrest.” He picked up the glass jar holding coffee and sighed.
“You don’t have to drink it. Just like you don't have to be here,” Karo told him, finally remembering that she had a spine and how to straighten it.
Zac grinned, not even remotely chastised. “Good point. I’ll skip the coffee and get straight to the point.”
Karo folded her arms across her chest and sent him a belligerent look. “Please do.”
“I have come to collect Jada’s wedding book and the flash drive holding her photographs.”
Although she expected his words, disappointment crashed over her. “They are in the studio, I’ll get them.”
“And to ask whether you’d be the official photographer at her reception back home the weekend after next.”
Right, she was two for two. “As I told her, playing favorites would cause me a lot of grief with my clients.” And grief for me, Karo thought.
Zac leaned back against the counter and folded his legs at the ankles, his hands gripping the marble edge behind him. “What about if you came as my date?”
Karo stared at him, flummoxed. Zac sent her another of his I-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing looks and walked over to the stovetop to take the whistling kettle off the gas. Turning back to Karo, he swallowed once, then again, his Adam’s apple bobbing up and down.
“Come home with me, sweetheart.”
Karo pushed her fingers into the space between her eyebrows. Oh, God, she’d love to but she had Max to think about and she couldn’t leave him again so soon. And, after spending the weekend or even a week with Zac, she’d feel ten times worse than she did right now. Her earlier impulse to take him to bed was a mistake because saying goodbye to him again would be the equivalent of stepping into the seventeenth level of hell.
“Bring your son, I’d like to get to know him.”
Karo’s eyes collided with his. “There is no way I’m going to introduce him to a man who is going to drop in and out of his life,’ she stated.
Zac’s expression didn’t change. “What about letting me spend some time with the child who I hope to one day make my own?”
Karo felt her head spin. “Wha-at?” Holding up her hand, she shook her head. “That’s not funny, Zac.”
“I know, nothing is funny about this situation,” Zac stated, sounding a little pissed. “I love Jada, I do but, for the last eighteen years, her well-being and happiness have come first.”
“I had it all planned out, I was going to see my sister married and then I was going to have some fun, indulge in a lot of me-time. For the first time in my life, I’ve not had the responsibility of looking after anyone else and I was looking forward to my freedom.”
“Then I went to Cape Town and this redheaded enchantress walked into my life, tipped it upside down and flipped it inside out. I just need to sleep with her, I told myself, and she’ll be out of my system,” Zac shrugged, pushing a not-too-steady hand through his hair.
Karo, her legs noodle-like, sank into a kitchen chair.
“That didn’t work so well, you just burrowed in deeper.” Zac dropped to his haunches in front of her chair and placed his big hand on her bouncing knee. “I have no expectations here, sweetheart. But I had to come to you, I needed to see you again. I need you to understand that—”
He hesitated and Karo frowned, her entire body vibrating with anticipation.
He released a heavy sigh. “I can’t begin to describe the fierce, crazy, uncontrollable love I feel for you. I go to bed thinking about you, I dream about you, I have missed you every minute since you left Kagiso.”
“I don’t expect you to feel the same way, few people fall in love in a week but my family fall in love quickly. Jada and my parents fell in love at first sight, I took a little more time. But what I’m asking is whether there’s a possibility of us making this work? I’m wondering if you can ever love me, whether we can create a life, and a family, together.”
A thousand butterflies took flight in Karo’s stomach and she fought the urge to fling herself against him and to rain kisses on his face. “I have a son, Zac.”
Zac's eyes didn’t leave hers. “I know and, with your permission, I’d like to help you raise him.” He sent her a wry smile. “I’ve had some practice at it, and I promise to love him as my own.”
Karo placed her hand on her heart, wondering whether she was on a game show, about to be pranked. Her dream was hovering above her, she just had to reach up and take it.
“I know that this is a lot to think about—and we haven’t even touched on where we’ll live. I know this is a lot to take in but, right now, all I need to know if there’s a chance. I’ll make everything else work. Yours and Max’s happiness, will always be my top priority.”
A chance? Karo almost laughed. She was right there with him, feeling everything he did. Karo stood, and placed her hand on his cheek, her thumb scraping through his stubble. “Ask me everything again?”
Zac stood up and pulled her up with him, his hands on either side of her face. “Can I meet your son?”
Karo nodded. “Yes.”
“Will the two of you be my date to my sister’s second wedding reception?”
Zac’s smile hit his eyes and his eyes turned brighter with hope. ‘Do you love me? And if you do, will you consider spending some of your time in Buenos Aires with me? Even, maybe marrying me sometime in the future?”
“Yes, yes, and as soon as we can?”
Zac pulled back from her, his expression a perfect combination of shock and happiness. “Are you telling me that you’ll marry me?”
Karo allowed her smile to bloom, her heart to expand. She was in his arms and she was home. “Yes, please.”
Zac picked her up, and spun her around. Allowing her to slide to his feet, he interrupted their passion-soaked kiss to tell her again, in Spanish this time, how much he loved her.
“I love you too,” she tipped her head to the side and sent him a sly smile. “Can I ask a question now?”
“If you must,” Zac replied, nuzzling her neck.
“Oh, I must,” Karo told him, waiting for her to look at her. When he did, her soul sighed. She was with Zac, in a few hours they’d go and get Max and her puzzle-piece life was, finally, complete. She had her career and her two guys, what more could she ask for?
But there was just one little thing… “Can we go to bed now?”
“Bed, couch, sofa, wall, I’m yours to command, sweetheart.”
And command him she did.
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