The billionaires obsessi.., p.13
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       The Billionaire's Obsession, p.13
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         Part #1 of An Heir At Any Price series by Holly Rayner
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  “About six weeks at that check-up so that would put her at about eleven weeks now.”

  I dropped the phone. My head was suddenly pounding. I was immediately thrust back to the day when Cecile, my ex-wife walked out with my son in her arms. He was reaching for me and crying. My heart felt like it was going to explode, my chest hurt so badly. It hurt all over again now. Holly lied to me, just like Cecile had and then she stole my baby and I just let her walk away.

  I suddenly had to run to the bathroom and vomit. I didn’t think I was going to stop. When my stomach was finally completely empty of both food and stomach acid I pulled myself up to the counter and looked at my face in the mirror. I wondered what it was about me that made women lie to me and made them think I would be such a terrible father. One was bad luck; two meant that I was doing something wrong by choosing the women I chose.

  I stood there, holding onto the counter until my breathing was back under control. Then I splashed cold water on my face and brushed my teeth. I was beginning to not even recognize myself. I had dark circles underneath my eyes and I wasn’t taking care of myself the way I usually did. I finally tore myself away from my sallow appearance and stopped wallowing in self-pity. Action was what I needed now. Taking my cell phone into my den I pulled up the name and number of a private investigator I’d used once before and called him. I wished I’d thought to do it sooner.

  “Hey Zack, it’s Aiden Scott.”

  “Aiden, hello. How are you?”

  “I’m not great, Zack. I need your help if you’re available?”

  “I’m sure I have the time to help you out. What do you need?”

  I didn’t tell him the whole sordid story, but I did tell him that Holly was pregnant with my child and made sure he was aware that we’d had a contract so he didn’t just think of me as a creepy stalker. He took as much information as I had on her and told me he’d be back to me as soon as he could.

  HOLLY

  I started working at the restaurant not long after my meeting with Frank that day. I’d been there about a month and a half now and I really liked it. The people I worked with were becoming my friends and my bosses were great. I’d found a cute little two-bedroom apartment not far from where I worked. Most days if the weather was good, I would walk to work.

  Mom was staying with me now. She’d gotten discharged from her facility with a gold star. A week or so before she discharged I was allowed to take her out on a day pass. I took her to the Jersey shore. It made me a little sad, remembering the day I’d spent there with Aiden. That was the first day he had opened up to me about anything and I will always cherish those memories no matter what happened. It would be one of the stories I told his son or daughter about him when they got older.

  Mother hadn’t been there in decades she said, and it was a beautiful day to just lie on the beach or search for shells along the shore. We talked and bonded and I didn’t feel like I had my mother back, I felt like I had the mother I’d always wanted. As we sat and looked out at the water my thoughts once again turned to Aiden. For some reason I said, “Aiden has his own island.”

  My mother smiled and said, “Wow, that’s impressive. From what I’ve heard about him, it almost seems that he is his own island.”

  I hadn’t really thought about it like that before, but she was right. He was fond of showing the world that he didn’t need any of us. He tolerated us because he had to but he was essentially an island that the rest of us occasionally floated by but were never allowed to moor to.

  Mother and I had a great time together that day and I hoped it was just one of many new memories to come. Soon I would have a child, and mother a grandchild to make new memories with. I was at the point where I really couldn’t wait. I smiled every time I thought about holding my own baby in my arms. It was strange, because I’d never really had strong maternal desires before. When I was growing up, I played with dolls and assumed someday I would be a mother, but after I got into high school, that desire had all but gone away. I’m sure it had something to do with taking care of my mother, and a lot to do with having my own flesh and blood growing inside of me. I guess sometimes biology does change everything.

  After my mother’s discharge, she attended AA meetings every day and when I came home from work, she would have the housework done and dinner on the table. I knew she was trying to make up for lost time, and it made her feel good, so I let her. We kept her house in the city, the one I’d grown up in and my father had sweated to pay for and fix up, but for now we were content to be together and rediscover each other. The difference in her now and six months ago was amazing and I had to thank God for putting Aiden in my life, if only for the money he paid me that paid for my mother’s rehab. Although I really did hope that he’d send me an accounting of what I owed him. If he didn’t I would send him a little each week anyways. I didn’t want him to have another opportunity to accuse me of being after his money.

  Mom was also helping me fix up the baby’s room. Neither of us had much money these days, so on the weekends, we would hit as many yard sales and flea markets as we could find. We had furnished the entire room that way and also found some other really amazing things like a high chair and a car seat, all almost brand new. I was getting more and more confident about being a single mother, especially with my own mother by my side.

  Rose and Myra threw me a surprise baby shower at Tagus. Frank and a few of the waitresses I worked with there had been in on it and I ended up with a lot of nice things for the baby. I wasn’t even fully five months along yet and I had all the essentials. I needed to remember to count my blessings indeed. The best part was the closer it got to my due date, the more excited I became. I was in love with the baby now and I was feeling guilty and wondering how I could have ever agreed to walk away. The day that I got to see the baby on the ultrasound I was astounded that I could create something so beautiful and so perfect. I had the little picture under a magnet on my refrigerator and every time I looked at it, I smiled.

  I regretted taking the baby completely out of Aiden’s life. I would have much preferred that at the very least, we co-parented the child from different homes. A child needs its father, and Aiden had a right to know them. But, I knew that if I told him about the baby he would want to fight me for custody. He’d want to talk about the “contract.” I hated that contract and I’d like to rip it to shreds.

  I was brought out of my thoughts by two of my most adorable regulars, Mr. and Mrs. Wilson. He was waving me over and she was staring at my belly again. They’d never had children of their own and I don’t know the circumstances of that, but every time I saw her she wanted to touch my belly.

  I went over to see what he needed and when I got close enough, Mr. Wilson said, “Is the breakfast steak tender?” I suppressed a smile. This couple came in every day for the month and a half that I’d been working at Tagus Ranch and asked me the same questions every day. He told me that his false teeth didn’t “stick so well” so he had trouble chewing things that weren’t tender. I told him that they were very tender the first time he’d asked. He’d ordered it that day and raved about how good it was. Since then, he’d ordered the same thing every day and asked me the same question every day.

  “Yes Mr. Wilson, it’s very tender.”

  “I’ll take that then,” he said.

  “And what can I get for you Mrs. Wilson?” I waited for it and she didn’t disappoint.

  “Is your melon fresh?”

  “Yes ma’am, Frank goes over to the Farmer’s Market every morning.” The same thing I told her every day.

  “Okay,” she said with a satisfied smile. “I’ll take the cottage cheese and fruit plate then.”

  “Marvelous choices,” I told them. As I gathered the menus Mrs. Wilson touched my apron clad belly. She rubbed her paper-thin hand across it.

  “When is the baby due, honey?” she asked. It was another question she asked every time.

  “He’s due in about four months,” I told he
r.

  “Oh, it’s a he?”

  “Yes ma’am. At least that’s what they tell me. I hope they’re right or all of that blue in the nursery was money down the drain.”

  She laughed and said, “I think you’ll make a wonderful mother dear,” she said. I thanked her and went to put their order in. I stood with my back to the counter for a minute and stretched. My back had begun to ache after a few shifts in a row. My feet were also swollen and sometimes my hands. But, for the most part I felt good, and excited for the future. My new doctor said all was well with me and the baby. The aches and pains were normal growing pains considering I spent a lot of time on my feet.

  “You really shouldn’t be working in your condition, should you?” The voice was a familiar one and I had chills down my spine before I turned around and looked up into Aiden’s intense and somewhat accusing gaze.

  ~

  Chapter Sixteen

  ~

  I could feel the heat from his gaze. His eyes slipped down to my swollen belly and for a flash of a second his expression changed. It was…charmed, like he at least appreciated the way I looked pregnant, if not the fact that I didn’t tell him. I wasn’t surprised that he was there; I knew he would find me eventually.

  “Hi Aiden,” I said, for lack of a better opener.

  “Hi? That’s what you have to say for yourself?” My hands were shaking and I was starting to feel a little light headed. He looked so angry. I reached forward and held onto the counter just as Frank came out of the back. He looked from Aiden to me.

  “Holly, is everything okay?”

  “Yeah, I’m fine Frank. I’m getting back to work right now. I’m sorry.” I started to move and suddenly felt off balance. I had to reach for the wall this time to keep from hitting the floor.

  “You don’t look fine, Holly. You’ve worked here for almost two months and you haven’t been so much as a minute late ever. Take the rest of the day off. Get some rest. You look like you need it.” Then he looked back at Aiden and in a protective, father-figure voice he said, “If there’s anything else you need me to do…”

  “No, Frank. It’s really okay. I’ll take you up on the time off this afternoon though if you really don’t mind. Thank you. I think the lunch rush is pretty much over now. The other girls should be able to handle it.”

  “No problem. If you need to call off tomorrow just let me know, okay?”

  “I will, thanks.” Frank was as nice to work for as Joe. I looked at Aiden then who hadn’t moved or spoken and I said, “Give me a second to get my purse.” He maintained eye contact but he didn’t as much as flinch. I tore my own eyes away and went to get my purse. When I reached into my locker I felt dizzy. I laid my head against the cool metal door. Frank appeared again.

  “Holly, is that guy bothering you?”

  “No, he’s upset with me, but he has good reason. He won’t hurt me though, not physically.”

  “Okay, I just had to be sure. It’s hard for me to imagine that you would do anything to make anyone angry.”

  I smiled and said, “Thank you, it’s nice to be looked after. And believe me, I have my moments.” I got my purse and as bad as I didn’t want to, I headed back out front.

  Aiden was still standing in the exact spot where I had left him. He still had that smoldering look in his eyes as well. I found myself once again wishing that he wasn’t so damned good looking.

  “Do you want to go get some coffee down the street?” I asked him. “We can talk there.”

  “Sure Holly,” he said, looking down at my belly again. “It looks like we have a lot to talk about.”

  I led him out of the restaurant and down the street to a little coffee shop that had some nice bistro tables out front where we could have a private conversation, but not private enough that our emotions could get too out of control. I looked at Aiden’s face and hoped anyways. Our walk was quiet and uncomfortable. Neither of us looking forward to the confrontation, I think.

  We got our coffees and Aiden looked satisfied when I ordered mine decaf. We took them and had a seat at one of the tables outside. Aiden’s silence was beginning to make me really uncomfortable. I wondered if he was plotting my demise…that was a joke, I think.

  Once we were seated I decided to break the ice.

  “Aiden, I’m sorry that I didn’t tell you I was pregnant…” He stopped me there by holding up his palm. It was the rudest gesture, but I suppose since I quit talking it had its desired effect. He reached into the little briefcase he was carrying and pulled out a pile of paperwork. He tossed the papers onto the table in front of me. All it took was a glance for me to recognize them as our “contract.”

  “You remember these papers?” he said.

  “Of course,” I told him.

  “Oh, because I thought perhaps you’d forgotten that you signed a legal document that said when that child is born you’re to hand it over to me and disappear. This contract expressly states that child you’re carrying is mine, and mine alone. You didn’t not only fail to tell me you were pregnant, you lied right to my face. I never would have pegged you for a liar, Holly…obviously.”

  “I’m not a liar, usually,” I said, not intimidated. “But you’re right, I did lie in this case, and I shouldn’t have. I just decided that I wasn’t capable of leaving a child in the hands of someone so emotionally damaged.” I was trying to keep a stiff upper lip. I wasn’t scared or intimidated, but I was shocked at how cold he could be.

  He smiled, but it wasn’t humor I saw in his eyes, “You find me emotionally damaged? Perhaps I am, but I would have to give the credit for that to women like you. And by the way, you are more naïve than I thought if you think you can just change your mind and walk away from a legal commitment. Did you not realize this was a legally binding contract?”

  “I’m sure that you’re not going to allow me to just walk away, Aiden, but I’m prepared to fight for my child. I will go to court and do that. I made a mistake when I agreed to give him over to you, and I’m sorry my mistake hurt you. But I’m not going to sacrifice him to keep from hurting you.”

  “Him?” he said, I wasn’t certain, but it seemed like his eyes may have softened just a touch. “Do you just call it that, or do you know for sure?”

  “Yes, it’s a boy,” I told him.

  He almost smiled…almost. Then he remembered again why we were here.

  “So, you want a court battle that could drag on for years? Are you financially prepared for that, Holly? Unless you have some big money socked away that I’m not aware of, I don’t think you are. It would ruin you, probably after the first two or three rounds.”

  He sounded so arrogant. He was making it all about money again. If it wasn’t business, it was money. Did he have any human emotions left at all? I was angry now.

  “I will do whatever I need to do for my child.”

  With gritted teeth he said, “So will I, but you forget that it’s my child. I have that in writing.”

  My head was pounding and I knew that we were getting nowhere.

  “Aiden, I’m not feeling very well. Can we do this later?”

  “How much later?” he asked. I could tell he was torn between saying no, that we needed to finish this now, and being worried about the baby. I guess he is human after all.

  “How about you come to dinner at my apartment tonight, around seven?”

  Aiden stood up. It was like he could hardly bear to look at me any longer. He took out his phone and said, “1120 Wyndcliff Rd.” I tried not to look perturbed that he’d had me investigated. I should have known that he would, especially once he found out that I was pregnant. I suppose that I may have done the same thing. It was ironic that we were both fighting so hard for the same child, yet working against each other instead of together.

  “Yes, that’s it,” I finally told him. He gave me another look of smoldering disgust and then glanced down at my belly once more. It was incredible to watch the change in his face from one look to th
e next.

  ~

  Chapter Seventeen

  ~

  I made a simple dinner of spaghetti, salad and bread. I didn’t think I’d be able to eat, my stomach was so full of butterflies there wasn’t room for anything else in there. I asked my mother if she could go to a meeting or to one of her new “sober” friend’s homes for a couple of hours. I didn’t want her to have to witness what I was sure would be another fight. I was not afraid of Aiden, not physically anyways. But no matter how hard I tried not to let him intimidate me, he just had that way about him when he was angry.

  I had just finished setting the table when Aiden rang the bell. When I opened the door he was standing there with the same look he’d had on his face earlier. I took a deep breath and invited him inside. I hoped that this wasn’t going to be just another mud-slinging fest. I would do whatever I could to fight for my baby, but he was right, I didn’t have the resources to do it in court. I was really hoping that we could do it this way.

  “I made spaghetti,” I said.

  “I’m not hungry. Holly, this isn’t a social call.”

 
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