The Wrong Wife

By: Eileen Wilks

One



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There was a head on the pillow next to hers.



Cassandra O'Grady blinked sleepily at the back of a man's head so close to her own. She wasn't alarmed by the sight. Cassie never felt much of anything except reluctance when a new day first forced itself on her. If she'd been capable of thinking yet, though, she might have been amazed at how little she grudged opening her eyes this morning.



She knew that head. But whose leg was cuddled so cozily between hers?



That question had an important ring to it. Cassie's three functioning brain cells—the ones left on, like a night-light, to lead her back to wakefulness—stirred with feeble interest. She blinked and managed to frown.



It was a nice head. Not too round or square or oblong. Just right. The hair covering it in back, her present viewing angle, was nice, too—soft and thick. In the early-morning light, with the rest of the world's colors just starting to wake, that hair held on to the darkness of midnight. Cassie's frown softened into a smile.



Morning, afternoon or night, Gideon's hair was beautiful.



Gideon?



Cassie actually felt her heart start. It made a sudden jump and then began to thump so obviously against the wall of her chest, that she understood that the ignition had just been turned on and the accelerator pressed.



Gideon. Gideon Wilde. That was Gideon's head lying on a pillow eight inches from her own.



Oh, yes, she knew the shape of his head, the darkness of his hair and the way his short, no-nonsense haircut left the nape of his neck bare. And those were his wide shoulders flowing into the strong lines of his back, lines she'd sketched only from memory because she couldn't let him know his body fascinated her. That was Gideon's back, because Gideon was lying on his stomach beside her in this large, strange bed, stretched out like the big cat she'd often thought he resembled. And though her line of sight didn't go any farther, like beneath the sheet, logic suggested that the leg pressed so intimately between hers belonged to Gideon, too. Gideon's strong, hairy, muscular thigh pressed right up against—



Embarrassment was one type of heat that flooded Cassie as she realized what she wasn't wearing. The same thing he wasn't wearing. Memory rushed in, along with another sort of heat—memories of yesterday … and last night.



She remembered taking Gideon's phone call yesterday at her brother's office. She'd gone with Ryan to meet Gideon at the Blue Parrot Lounge. She remembered the hours at the Blue Parrot and the trip to the airport, followed by the garish lights of the Las Vegas strip … and last night. Oh, yes, she did remember last night.



Beyond the masculine shoulders that partially blocked her view, Cassie could see the pale, gilded colors of the luxury suite, colors that made her think of Cinderella's coach. At the foot of the bed was a Disney version of a pirate's foot locker, painted a soft, dreamy color. Titanium white, she thought, with just enough Hansa yellow to turn milk to cream. Her bouquet rested there. The orchids were a richer cream than the chest they lay upon, and the roses were a paler blush than the color that swept over her as she remembered.



Oh, yes, this was a morning like none before in her life. Cassie smiled, aching with happiness, and started to cuddle closer to the big man in bed with her.



Her movement made him stir. A deep, low, dying sort of groan rumbled up from his chest. He rolled away from her, onto his back, throwing out a heavy arm that glanced off Cassie's chin.



"Ow!"



His eyes jerked open. They immediately squeezed closed again. He made a soft, piteous sound.



She knew Gideon had put away a lot of alcohol yesterday, both before he called her brother and later. She knew Gideon seldom drank more than a single highball and that he probably felt lousy. But he still ought to be more careful what he did with his arms. Cassie frowned, rubbed her chin and scooted back another couple inches.



His eyes opened again. Slowly his head turned on the pillow. From a distance of a foot and a half she looked at Gideon's craggy face, stared right into his unfocused eyes. He looked awful. Well, Gideon never looked really awful, but he did make her think of the Marlboro Man coming off a binge, with his eyes dark as sin and the most beautiful mouth she'd ever seen on a man. Gideon usually managed to present himself to the world as cool, civilized and in charge. The polished veneer helped him deal with the money people who invested in the oil and gas deals he put together.



Not this morning, though. This morning his sophisticated image was ruined by his poor, reddened eyes and the dark stubble of his beard.



She smiled at him tremulously. "Good morning," she whispered.



His eyes widened, then froze in an expression of absolute horror. "Oh, my God."

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