* * *
Erik sat on the couch with his elbows resting on his knees. Stanley, his English bulldog, sat between his legs, looking up at him as if he knew that Erik’s world was falling apart. Erik hadn’t moved from this spot since yesterday. Thank God, after Piper had dumped her bombshell on him Christina had promptly left in a huff, screaming at him for being the worst lay ever. Cami had left the following morning, giving him a weird look, obviously having heard of his lack-of-performance status, but he didn’t care. When Phillip left for his meeting with Elli, he asked if everything was okay, but all Erik could do was shake his head. He was still in shock. Something wasn’t clicking, something wasn’t registering. He was sure that what had happened with Piper was all a dream, but he could still smell her perfume.
It was her favorite scent. He remembered watching her spray herself with some after they got out of the shower. He remembered running his nose along her collarbone, inhaling the soft fragrance. It had turned him on so much that he had picked her up and placed her on the sink before ripping her towel away to have his way with her. Was that when they conceived their child?
Shit. He never wanted children; he never wanted a wife or a baby momma. He was completely happy with the way he was living his life. That was why he cut it off with Piper. She was a forever type of girl, while he was a wanderer. He knew that if he stayed with her, he would end up like his father and that was not something he wanted. He didn’t want to be a drunk that hit his kid. He didn’t want to be so caught up in a girl that nothing mattered. He wanted to be Erik Titov. He liked who he was and didn’t want to change. At all. Even if there was a chance that he would be more like Cooper, his adoptive stepfather, he couldn’t take that chance.
God, what were Cooper and Alla going to think? They didn’t save him from hell so he could go out and f**k up his life. He should have known two years ago with only one glance that Piper Allen was going to be trouble. She was too beautiful, too sweet. She mesmerized him with those seductive blue eyes, a playful gap in her teeth, a banging body. And if she was holding a precious little baby in her arms? He should have ignored her from the start but he was completely ensnared by her. He needed to know her. Her likes, her dislikes, anything, he just wanted to know—fuck-shit-fuck! What the hell was wrong with him?
Yeah, she was trouble from the beginning.
That was why he had stayed clear of her. But then that night six months ago, Piper was standing in a “fuck me stupid” dress in the middle of Wanna B’s club and Erik was a goner.
What had he done? He should have never trusted her when she said, “I’m on the Pill.” He was never unprepared, but before going out, he had forgotten to refill his wallet. If it was anyone else, he would have had the cabbie stop at the store, or better yet, would have run for the hills, but no, he stayed and made sweet love to Piper for hours. To make matters worse, he had told her things he had never told anyone; he had exposed himself. It was like he was completely out of his mind that night. She had bewitched him and he had shared his innermost secrets, things he’d never shared with anyone, but he shared it with Piper. He shared everything.
For f**k sakes, he was f**ked.
Damn it. Leaning his head against the back of the couch, he let out a long breath. Stanley must have taken that as an invitation and promptly jumped up into Erik’s lap. Erik shook his head, running his hands down Stanley’s soft white fur.
“What am I going to do, buddy?”
Stanley raised his ears as if he didn’t know, either. He must have thought a big juicy kiss would make the situation better because that was what Erik got. Smiling at his pooch, Erik leaned his head back again and closed his eyes. He needed to talk to someone, and the only person he could think of was his brother. Reaching for his phone on the table, he dialed his brother’s number.
“Hello?” Jakob answered on the first ring.
“Hey, bro,” Erik answered, looking up at the ceiling. “What’s up?”
“You don’t want to know. We have a situation.”
Erik opened his eyes. “What’s wrong? Are Harper and Ally okay?”
“They are fine; it’s Piper.”
Erik paused. “Oh?”
“She is pregnant,” Jakob said, “and won’t tell Harper who the dad is. She won’t tell anyone. I’ve even tried calling her to see if I can get her to tell me. She’s being difficult, and everyone is freaking out because we all know she can’t take care of a baby by herself. I mean, you know Piper, she’s not that responsible. Harper thinks she is pregnant by some loser, so she is ready to find the guy and kill him. You know how tough my lovely wife can be.” Erik could hear the humor in Jakob’s last comment. Harper was one strong woman.
But this was an interesting turn. Why was Piper not telling anyone who the father was? What did that mean? Was he going to be able to get away with this? Did he want to be able to get away with this? And what the hell was Jakob talking about? Why couldn’t Piper take care of a baby?
“Wow, yeah, that sucks, but why couldn’t she take care of a baby on her own? She takes care of your kid all the time.”
Jakob paused. “Well, I’m just saying she doesn’t stay employed for long periods of time, and you’ve seen how she is; she doesn’t stick to things. But Harper and I are just a phone call away so we’re here to help. Harper is worried that Piper is going to be completely alone. Get this: The dad wants nothing to do with her or their child. What kind of man does that? This is their child, their blood, and he wants nothing to do with it? That’s a sick man, you know?”