A/N Thank you all who have read my stories and those who have reviewed. This is a new one but for those who have expressed interest, I will be continuing Wounded Harts, at least one more chapter, so stay tuned.
Her world was spinning out of control. She'd barely had time to absorb the news and she certainly wasn't prepared for her husband's reaction. But then why shouldn't she have been? This was something that wasn't supposed to happen.
"Elliot, did you hear me?" She asked
Elliot Manning stood behind the bar in their home in Sydney, Australia, taking a drink of bourbon, "I heard you just fine."
"Well, then say something." She pleaded
"What do you want me to say, Jennifer?" He replied coldly, "We had decided, or I thought we had, that there would be no children."
"I know but it looks like our plans have changed." She said softly, "Is it really so bad?"
"I thought we both felt the same way. Our lives are too chaotic for a child." He explained, "You're always traveling with work and I'm too involved with the game ranch. That was supposed to be enough."
She sighed heavily, "It was enough, but things do change, Elliot."
"So you're set on having this baby?"
"I'm open to the idea." She said
He walked out from behind the bar, "Well then you'll do it without me." He walked past her heading for the door
She turned around as he approached the door, "Elliot…"
He stopped at the door and turned back around, "If you insist on having it I'll expect you out of here as soon as possible. But if you come to your senses I'll be on the boat."
"Elliot, please don't force me to make that decision." She pleaded, "I can't."
Without a word he walked out the slamming of the door causing her to jump.
THE NEXT DAY
Jennifer was exhausted and sick. She'd heard about morning sickness but had no idea how intense it could be. She managed to take a shower late in the morning and eat some toast. By the afternoon her stomach had settled and she drove out to the marina hoping in the clear light of day Elliot would change his mind. She found him lounging as if he hadn't a care in the world.
"Hi." She said, a hint of hesitation in her voice
He sat up and took off his sunglasses, "I take it you've seen how foolish having this child would be."
Her hopes dashed, she lowered her eyes, "No, I told you, I can't do that. I thought, maybe, we could talk about this calmly, like adults."
"There is nothing to talk about." He said, "Let me know when you've found a place to live. I'll be here until then."
"Elliot, I have to fly to the states." She informed him, "Fortune Magazine wants me to do a piece on this hot shot multi-millionaire, Jonathan Hart. Can we talk about this when I get back?"
"Go ahead but I wouldn't count my being here when you get back." He put his sunglasses back on and leaned back in his chair, signaling the conversation was over.
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
Jennifer checked into her hotel after an exhausting sixteen hour flight. She took a hot shower and ordered room service. After eating, she read over some of the background material on Jonathan Hart and he was no ordinary millionaire, if you could consider a millionaire ordinary. No trust fund kid, he had been orphaned at the age of two and grew up in a Catholic orphanage in San Francisco. He had started Hart Industries in 1969 with an idea for transistors and a love for electronics. He had gone to college courtesy of the Navy, for which he had been a pilot. She put away the folder and stretched out in bed. In the quiet of her suite she allowed herself to think about her baby. A smile played on her lips as she placed her hands on her abdomen. She had never thought of herself as maternal but she couldn't help feeling happy at the thought of being a mother. She hoped some time apart would soften her husband's heart but Elliot rarely changed his mind about anything. He was the rugged bad boy type, which was what attracted her to him. He could be an angel and a devil all at once and had an unpredictable temper. He had never been violent but could be given to bouts flashes of anger at the drop of a hat. She looked at the clock and it was nine fifteen local time which meant it was the middle of the night in Sidney. Her body was weary but her mind wouldn't let her rest so she turned on the television and eventually fell asleep to the sounds of an old Cary Grant movie.
The next morning she awoke feeling somewhat rested but nauseated again. She had her meeting with Jonathan Hart at ten so she had time to get herself together. She managed to eat some toast and drink some juice then went to the bathroom to get ready. She studied her face and despite sleeping a good ten hours she appeared tired and pale. She applied her makeup, dressed and headed out to meet Jonathan Hart
When she arrived she told his secretary, Deanne, who she was and was told to go on in to Jonathan Hart's office.
She opened the door and he stood then came around the desk to greet her, "Ms. Edwards." She used her maiden name for work but in her daily life it was abundantly clear she was Mrs. Manning
"Mr. Hart." She shook his extended hand, "Thank you very much for taking the time for this interview. I know you aren't fond of them."
"Please sit down." He gestured to one of the chairs facing his desk, "I must tell you the only reason I agreed was because the magazine assured me I was in the best of hands and that you would be sure to mention some of the charities Hart Industries partners with."
"Mr. Hart, we will make every effort to mention anything you feel is important in the article." She assured him
He offered a warm smile and she was struck by how the corners of his blue crinkled, giving those eyes a slightly mischievous glint, "I really want these worthy causes to get some national attention." He paused, mentally sizing her up, "So let's get started, shall we?"
"Of course." She agreed, "So, Mr. Hart, how does an orphaned navy pilot really get to be the ring master of all of this?"
He laughed a little, "Tell you what? I'll tell you everything you want to know, if you'll do me two favors."
She could tell he was a real charmer, "And what would those favors be?"
"Well, one, you call me Jonathan." He replied, "And two, have dinner with me tonight."
"Well, Jonathan." She said, "I don't know about dinner."
"Come on, let me show you some of the finest L.A. has to offer." He insisted, "I understand you don't even live in the states."
"Uh, no I don't, but…"
"It's just dinner." He said, "Please."
She sighed heavily, "Alright."
They continued the interview for the next hour and Jennifer went back to her hotel to go over her notes and see if there was anything else she wanted to ask the enigmatic Mr. Hart. It was early morning in Sidney and she debated internally whether to try and call Elliot. She had left word that she got there alright but she doubted he cared. She was hanging on to the hope that he would come around and he wouldn't force her to make the impossible choice between him and their child she carried.
That evening Jonathan picked her up and took her to La Cachette, one of the finest French restaurants around. She looked over the menu but nothing sounded appealing, her stomach in knots. She didn't know if it was stress or part of the early stages of pregnancy.
"I'll have the salad nicoise." She told the waiter handing him her menu
"And I'll have the steak au poivre." Jonathan handed the waiter his menu
"Shall I bring you a bottle of your usual, Mr. Hart?"
He looked at Jennifer and she begged off, "I'll just stick with water, thank you."
Jonathan shifted his gaze to the waiter, "No, Philippe, that will be all."
He nodded, "Very well, Sir."
He took a drink of water, "So Ms. Edwards, I've told you a good deal about myself." He pointed out, "How about you return the favor?"
She shook her head, "No no, I'm not the one being interviewed."
He leaned forward, "Well, then I'm at a distinct advantage, aren't I?" He replied smiling, "You know all about me but I know virtually nothing about you."
She smiled slightly, "Okay, I'll tell you one thing about me." She took a drink of water, "I'm married." She held up her left hand displaying a silver band encrusted with diamonds
He leaned back in his chair, "Ah, foiled again." He joked, "Well, I hope the guy at least has enough sense to know how lucky he is."
Her throat tightened almost preventing her words from coming forth, "You certainly aren't short on charm Mr.…Jonathan. How is it that you aren't married? The ladies must line up around the block."
He smiled ruefully, "Hardly, besides it's hard to know who is really interested in you and who is only after your money. One of the pitfalls of being exceedingly wealthy, I suppose."
"I guess that's something most people don't realize about someone of your means." She replied, "Money comes with its own brand of headaches."
"Well, I learned having been dirt poor then amassing all I have that the old saying is truer than you realize." He said, "Money sure doesn't buy happiness."
After dinner he drove her back to her hotel feeling a brief sense of sadness that the evening was over. He knew she was married but there was something so intriguing about the lovely auburn haired reporter. If only he had the luck in love that he had in business.
"Thank you again for dinner." She offered a smile, "It was wonderful."
"Thank you for agreeing to be my, well date doesn't seem to be and appropriate word." He said, "Thank you for being my companion."
"I'll let you know when the piece will be published." She told him
"Oh, right, of course." He had almost forgotten the whole reason she was there, "I appreciate that."
"Well, good night, then." She opened the car door
"Good night, Ms. Edwards."