the way you look tonight - Page 31

“I do. Or rather,” she amended, “I have in the past.”

He raised an eyebrow in question, his gaze moving between Mary and his brother. “Have you made a change of plans recently?”

“I’ve been planning to move away from being in front of the camera for a while now,” she explained. “San Francisco seems like the perfect place to set down some roots and explore a few new directions.”

She didn’t say that when she’d been looking at her options, she’d never for a moment thought that a man might factor into them. Because in the space of one short week, Jack Sullivan—and his incredible kisses—had started to change everything….

The sound of a laughing child came from outside Ethan’s front door. “I’ll get it,” Jack offered.

Jack and his brother from Seattle hugged and when they came into the living room, Jack was holding an adorable toddler. “Mary, this is Ian the Incredible.”

Her heart melted as she looked at the gorgeous, dark-haired toddler. No question about it, Ian Sullivan was going to be a heartbreaker when he grew up.

“Hi, Mr. Incredible. It’s nice to meet you.”

He looked at her with his big brown eyes and reached out to touch her hair. “You’re pretty.”

Mary was blushing at his very sweet comment, when Jack said, “You got that right, little guy.”

“I’m Claudia.” The petite blonde who held out her hand was pregnant and glowing. “And this is my husband, Max.”

Taking in the third specimen of Sullivan male perfection, Mary couldn’t help but think how her agent, Randy, would have salivated if he could see the brothers all together. As she shook everyone’s hand, Ian wriggled down out of Jack’s arms.

“We’re so glad you could be here with Jack tonight,” Claudia told her. “All this testosterone in one room can be a little overwhelming sometimes—even if,” she added in a lower voice, “it is nice to look at.”

Mary couldn’t hold back her laughter. This was all so normal, and she loved that Claudia wasn’t gushing over her fame as a model. Instead, she was treating her just as she would any other woman her brother-in-law might bring with him to a family gathering.

Relaxing, Mary said, “When are you due?”

Claudia put her hand over her stomach. “Four mon—” Before she could finish answering, she was shooting off across the room to pick Ian up again before he could knock over a vase. Seeing this near miss, Max told Ethan, “I’m going to put a few things away before they end up in pieces on the floor.”

“Sorry about running off in the middle of a sentence,” Claudia said to Mary when she came back, holding her son. “Look,” she told Ian as she put a soft blue bag down on the carpet, “Daddy brought in your toys.”

He gave Mary a blindingly cute smile. “Play?”

Clearly, thought Mary as she grinned back at him, the straightforward Sullivan gene had passed through to the next generation, along with the good looks.

“I thought you’d never ask, Mr. Incredible.”

Glad that she was wearing pants instead of a dress tonight, she sat down cross-legged on the floor with the toddler. He grabbed a puffy plastic book that she guessed did double duty for teething and baths, and climbed onto her lap.

“Read this.”

He smelled so good she wanted to bury her face in his soft hair. Instead, she read the title, “The Sunshine Princess and the Stinky Dog.”

The little boy in her lap held his nose and made a face. “He’s smelly.”

Mary’s heart turned over inside her chest. She’d never wanted to be one of those girls in her village who married in their teens and were pregnant nine months later. And yet, for all her amazing experiences traveling the world, she’d never had this.

She opened the book up and began to read. “One day the Sunshine Princess was sitting in her bedroom looking out the window at the gray and gloomy day.” For the next few minutes, while adult conversation went on around them, she and Ian got lost in the adventures of the stinky dog hiding from the princess who needed to give him a bath. On every page, Ian would point to something that made him laugh, and she was amazed by how much he noticed about the illustrations and the story.

The moment the story ended, he scrambled out of her lap, grabbed a cracker off the table and shoved it into his mouth in one bite. Mary was just starting to get up when Claudia gave her a hand.

“Thanks for reading to him. He really likes you.”

“It was my pleasure. And I really like him, too.”

“Ian is easy to like,” Claudia agreed. “Even being pregnant with him was easy. This pregnancy is, too, actually. I guess I’m one of those lucky ones, between Max, Ian and baby-on-the-way.” She flushed. “I have a tendency to gush.”

“If I were you, I’d be gushing, too.”

They watched Ian repeatedly jump up to try to reach a signed baseball Ethan had on display on a shelf, his face a picture of concentration. “He really takes after his father,” Claudia said with a laugh. “Easygoing until he decides he wants something. And then there’s no changing his mind.”

“That sounds familiar,” Mary murmured.

“Does it?” Claudia looked extremely pleased by that piece of information, but before she could say anything more, she was dashing across the room again to stop Ian from trying to climb up Ethan’s bookshelf as though it were a ladder.