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Little Secrets: Claiming His Pregnant Bride

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She blinked at him. “Is that because of you?”

The short answer was yes. Ron had been furious that Kate had driven off with his limo—apparently it was his most expensive ride. He’d already fired the driver for dereliction of duties.

Ron’s temper burned hot, but it always fizzled out quickly. Ron had been buddies with Billy Bolton for years and Seth had seen him in action plenty of times. He had to blow his top, and then he could be reasoned with.

Seth had waited until Ron finished blustering and then had convinced the man not to fire his driver—who had reasonably thought he’d had another hour before anyone would care about the whereabouts of the limo—and to inform the police that no theft had been committed.

But that’s not what he told her. Instead, Seth said, “Ron’s a great guy. He understood.” Kate notched an eyebrow at him—clearly she wasn’t buying that line.

But that was his story and he was sticking to it. Kate had already had a terrible day. The prospect of being arrested and booked for grand theft auto would only make everything a thousand times worse and he didn’t want that, especially now that she’d calmed down.

He hadn’t lied when he’d told her he’d keep her safe. This pull he felt to protect her—from the consequences of taking a limo, from Roger, from her thoughtless parents, from the harsh realities of life as a single mother—it wasn’t something that made sense on a rational level. He didn’t know her. He had no claim to her.

But by God, he wasn’t going to cast her to the winds of fate and call it a day.

“Okay,” she finally said, exhaling heavily. Which did some very interesting things to her chest. “Then what do we do next?”

“We ride.” The color drained out of her cheeks. “Have you ever been on a motorcycle before?”

She shook her head, her tilting hair bobbing dangerously near her left ear. He reached up and tucked it back in place as best he could. He managed to do so without letting his fingers linger, so there was that.

“I’ve been riding for years,” he assured her. “All you have to do is hold on. Can you do that?”

“I...” She looked down at her dress. “Um...”

She had a point. He eyed the confection suspiciously. The skirt was a full ball-gown style, layered with ruffles and lace. It spread out from Kate’s waist in a circle that was easily five feet in diameter.

Ron had made it clear—Seth wasn’t driving the limo. But Kate in that dress on the back of the chopper was a recipe for disaster. He could just imagine the wind getting underneath her skirts and blowing that dress up like a balloon.

“Is there any way to reduce the volume?” He tried to think back to what his aunt Stella had taught him about women’s fashion. “An underskirt of some kind that we can remove?

Her face got redder. “I have on a structured petticoat. It’s separate from the dress.”

“Can you get it off?”

Kate’s hands went to her waist. “I’m... I’m wearing a corset. I can’t bend at the waist very well. And the skirt is tied on behind.” She sounded unsure about the whole thing.

Seth mentally snorted to himself. Because if there was one thing a groom enjoyed on his wedding night, it was fighting through complicated layers of women’s clothing. Petticoats and corsets—what was this, the 1800s? “How did you get into it?”

“I had help. My bridesmaids...”

Seth realized that if he wanted to get her on the bike anytime soon, he was going to have to play lady’s maid. Which was not, he mentally reminded himself, the same as undressing her. At no point was he getting her naked.

No. Definitely not undressing a beautiful woman he wanted to pull into his arms and hold tight. Just...removing a few unnecessary layers of clothing. So that she could safely sit on his bike. That was all.

Trying to keep his mind focused on the task at hand, he eyed the bodice of her dress. “Do you need to take the corset off?” he asked reluctantly, because that seemed less like removing layers and more like just stripping her completely bare.

She shook her head quickly. “I was able to drive in it, apparently. If we can get the petticoat off, it should be fine.”

Of all the things Seth thought he’d be doing today, falling to his knees in front of a runaway bride and lifting the hem of her skirt over the voluminous petticoat was not something that had made the top ten. Or even the top one hundred. But that’s what he was doing. He lifted the satin of her dress, rising as he moved the fabric up.

There should have been nothing sensual about this, lifting her skirts. She was still completely dressed. The petticoat stood between him and her body. God only knew how many layers were built into it, because she was still shaped like an inverted top. So this should have been nothing.

But there was something erotic about it.

Focus, Bolton, he scolded himself. This was just an action born of necessity. He had to get her someplace safe, where people she knew could step up and take over. Taking care of a pregnant runaway bride was not in his skill set, and besides, it wasn’t like he was attracted to her anyway.

Sure, she was beautiful—more so now that she’d calmed down. And yes, he was curious about what she looked like without the overdone hair, makeup and dress. And fine, he did feel a protective pull toward her. But that didn’t add up to attraction any more than helping her adjust her outfit to ride on the bike was undressing her.

And that was final.

After a few snags—the petticoat was huge—he succeeded in getting the skirt up to her waist. He handed the bunched-up fabric to her and eyed the next layer. He could just see the bottom edge of her corset—white satin trimmed in baby blue. It appeared the waistband of the petticoat was underneath the corset.

This just kept getting better, because if he had to undo the corset, he’d have to remove the dress completely. He hoped it wouldn’t come to that. If he were going to properly undress this woman, it sure as hell wouldn’t be at a roadside pull-off.

He could see her chest rising and falling quickly. Did she feel the tension, too? Or was there something else?

He managed to pull his gaze away from her chest and found himself lost in her eyes. Her pupils were wide and dark and damn if she didn’t look like a woman who was being undressed by a lover.

He put his hands on her waist, just below the bunched fabric of her skirt. Her waist felt right under his hands, warm and soft—and a little hard, thanks to the corset.

Who was he to talk about instincts? Yeah, she shouldn’t get married when her instincts told her to run. But his were telling him to pull her against his chest and tuck her into his arms and not let go. And fighting that instinct only got harder when she lifted her gaze to his because she took his breath away.

“Turn around,” he told her because he needed not to get lost in her eyes.

He needed to keep a cool head here—among other body parts. She was not for him. Only a complete asshole would take advantage of a woman in this situation. Seth was many things, but he didn’t think he was an asshole, complete or otherwise.

She turned in his arms, and Seth forced himself to step back and assess the situation. Luckily, the corset didn’t ride as low in the back as it did in the front. He could see where the petticoat was tied—in a knot.

Of course it was knotted.

He was tempted to just cut the damn thing off her body, but then a shiver raced over her skin. Brandishing a blade wasn’t the best way to keep her calm, so Seth gritted his teeth and got on with it. It felt like it took forever, but after only a minute or so, the knot finally gave. “Now what?” he asked as the waistband sagged down around her hips.

She didn’t answer for a moment. “I had to step into it and they pulled it up because...” She swallowed. “Because it’s so structured, it won’t fall on its own. So I guess you’ll have to push it down and I’ll step out of it.” Her voice shook.

Just for the ride, Seth repeated as he grabbed the waistband of the petticoat and worked it over her hips. Structured must mean able to stand upright on its own, because the damned fabric had no give in it at all. What kind of fresh hell was this, anyway?

The petticoat slipped over her skin, and he had to bite back his groan. He barely knew this woman and he wasn’t even sure he liked her. But as he revealed the frilly lace of the white thong and the bare cheeks of her bottom, liking had nothing to do with it. His mouth went dry and his hands started to shake.

His instincts—they were pushing him past protective and into raw lust. He was strong, but how strong did one man have to be? Because he wasn’t sure he could handle the way that thong left her bottom completely exposed.

Then it only got worse as he wrestled the petticoat down and revealed inch by creamy inch of her legs and bare skin. Why couldn’t she be wearing those supportive bike shorts that some women wore instead of this scrap of lace? Why couldn’t she be wearing a simpler outfit? Why couldn’t she be someone who didn’t inspire this reaction in him?

It only got worse when he hit the top of her thigh-high stockings and the blue garter on her right leg. Of course it matched the blue trim on her corset.

Roger, Seth concluded, was an idiot to let this woman go. Because Seth was pretty sure that he was going to have fantasies about this moment for the rest of his natural life.

He struggled not to touch her skin—but his hands shook even harder with the effort of it. Although he had to fight all that “structure” for every damned inch, he managed to get the petticoat pushed down to the ground, which meant that he was at eye level with her bottom. And it was perhaps one of the nicer bottoms he had ever seen. Firm and rounded and begging to be touched.
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