The billionaires wife, p.5
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       The Billionaire's Wife, p.5

         Part #2 of An Heir At Any Price series by Holly Rayner
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  “I know. I did step in, every time,” she said, changing her story. “He’d turn his anger on me then, but I didn’t care, as long as he was leaving my baby alone. The last time he did it before we left, it crossed the line from a spanking to abuse and I had enough.”

  “Jake was physically abusive towards him?” My stomach ached just thinking about anyone laying a hand on that precious child. I still had a hard time imagining that someone being Jake though.

  “Yeah, he was on the verge of it.”

  “Did you go to the authorities?”

  “No, I didn’t want to put Mark through that. I just packed our things while he was gone at work and we left. I had a few thousand dollars I took from the safe, but that was it. The next day I went to the bank, Jake had frozen our accounts. I don’t care about the money though, I’ll find a job. If Jake calls you, please don’t tell him where we are. He’s going to give you some crazy sob story. I’ve found out that he’s good at that, presenting himself as this really nice guy. Don’t fall for it, please. Just look at Mark’s eyes, remember how fearful he looked at you at first today? That’s all Jake’s doing. Mark has issues getting close to people now because of him.”

  I looked over at Mark, happily digging in the sand. It was still hard for me to imagine Jake abusing anyone, much less his own son. I just couldn’t see any reason for Cecile to lie to me about something so terrible though. I know how much she loved Mark and as self-centered as I knew she could be, I couldn’t believe she would use her own son to get…what? My attention? She wasn’t asking me for anything else. She knew about Holly and Eric, so obviously she didn’t expect any more from me than that.

  “So where are you staying?” I asked her.

  “I rented us a little cottage near the water. It’s nice…kind of expensive…It’ll do for another month and then I’ll have to find a job and a cheaper place.”

  “Do you need money?”

  “I don’t want to take money from you Aiden. That’s not what any of this is about. I just want my son to have a good life. I can make that for him on my own. You know I have a business degree, even though I’ve hardly used it. I’ll find a job…eventually. You have your own family to support now.”

  I looked at her and said, “Cecile, you of all people know that I have more money than I could ever spend in a lifetime. I don’t want Mark to do without anything. I don’t care about money. It’s not important. If you need money, please tell me.”

  “Most of our assets are in Jake’s name. He set up the accounts and I had no reason to think we weren’t going to work out…”

  I pulled out my wallet and took out an American Express card. It was in the business name and it had some ridiculous limit on it that I couldn’t even recall at the moment. I really didn’t care; I just wanted Mark to be taken care of. I handed it to her and said, “Use this for now, I’ll get an account set up for you and get some money into it this week.”

  Cecile had tears in her eyes. She threw her arms around me and said, “Thank you so much Aiden. I can’t even begin to tell you how much it means to me that you would do this for us.”

  “For Mark,” I reminded her, taking her arms from around my neck. “I love my wife, Cecile.”

  “Of course you do,” she said with a smile.

  The rest of the day with Mark was as perfect as the first part. I went home happy, almost buoyant. That feeling lasted until I saw my wife and my other son’s faces. Then suddenly I felt a wave of guilt wash over me, like I had cheated on them somehow. I suppose I was cheating them, just by lying to Holly. I needed to tell her and soon, but the timing that night just wasn’t right. I just kept postponing it, waiting for the perfect opportunity. When that time came, I let it pass.

  The first night I was supposed to be home to tuck Eric in for over a week, I got called by Randall to go sign some contracts. I went into the office and when I was gone, Holly had found the business card with Cecile’s number on it. I guess she must have called it and Cecile answered. Holly didn’t know who she was talking to, so I assume Cecile didn’t either. But what it left Holly with was the idea that I was having an affair. That night, my beautiful, blunt, brutally honest wife waited up for me and when I got home, she looked me in the eye and said, “Are you having an affair?”

  I didn’t know about her finding the number and calling it yet. I thought it was about me taking off before putting Eric down so I said, honestly, “What? No, Holly, why would you ask me that? I’d never cheat on you. I was with Randall tonight. Here,” I told her, taking out my phone. “I’ll call him, you can ask him yourself.”

  “I believe you were with Randall tonight, Aiden. But, I’m wondering why there’s a woman out in Scarsdale somewhere who expected to hear from you tonight or tomorrow morning? She didn’t seem at all surprised that I was calling her and asking for you.”

  I should have told her right then. I should have just fessed up and given Holly the credit she deserved. But instead, out of fear that she would be angry and not let me see Mark, or worse yet, try and leave me and take Eric, I lied.

  I forced a laugh that I hoped sounded natural and I said, “Oh, that was Mrs. Lange.”

  “Who?”

  “Mrs. Lange. Remember how I told you I couldn’t reach my assistant earlier? Well, she’s been doing that for a while now and she’s really stressing me out. I got a referral from one of my executives for Mrs. Lange a couple of weeks ago. She works for one of the executives in my company who is planning to retire soon. He said she’s amazing. I haven’t had time to meet with her yet, but we’ve spoke on the phone a few times; I think I might just hire her. She comes highly recommended.” Once I’d opened my mouth to lie, I couldn’t seem to stop. They just kept coming out and I was digging a deeper hole with each breath. I felt sick to my stomach and I also felt a deep sense of self-loathing that I’d never felt before.

  Holly’s face turned red and I was even more ashamed because I knew she was feeling foolish. I had made her feel that way with my lies.

  “I’m so sorry,” she said. “I don’t know what’s gotten into me. I trust you, Aiden…I really do.”

  I smiled at her, feeling like a complete ass inside and passing up another perfect opportunity to tell the truth.

  “It’s my fault. I’ve been leaving you and Eric so much lately. This big deal is killing me, but I promise, it will get better soon, okay?”

  “Okay,” she said with one of the smiles I had fallen in love with. I had taken her into my arms and kissed her then, and she rewarded me for the horrible behavior she knew nothing about by making love to me for hours that night. I really am a disgusting ass.

  Chapter Four

  ~

  HOLLY

  I usually don’t miss working as a waitress but when I sit and watch the hustle and bustle, seeing how alive the café is in the morning, it gave me a little pang of regret that I didn’t get to spend my time with these people any longer.

  “I found an engagement ring in Joe’s pocket,” Rose was telling me.

  “What? Did you tell him you found it?”

  “No,” she said, looking embarrassed. “I really wasn’t snooping, I was looking for a pen and I found it by accident. Anyways, I got to thinking, what if he had some big, romantic plan…” My face must have given me away because she said, “Joe can be romantic.”

  Suppressing a smile, I said, “Of course he can.”

  “Anyways, I didn’t want to blow any of his plans.”

  “That’s sweet,” I told her honestly. She and Joe were both good people and they deserved to be happy at last. “Keep me posted,” I told her.

  “I will,” she said with another excited look. It was so cute; talking about it took twenty years off her face. She turned her attention back to Eric then and said, “He is getting big too fast. I don’t get to see him often enough.”

  She and Myra had been bugging me to bring him by for weeks now. The weather had been cold and he’d had a runny nose, so I’d been putting them
off. For the past few days he seemed to be all better though, so today I had bundled him up and taken him out.

  “I know,” I told her. “It’s harder going out with a baby than one might think. You have to consider the weather and then take inventory of everything he might need while you’re away from home…I don’t mean to hog him. It breaks my heart though that he’s growing so fast. I want him to stay little forever. Oh! I forgot to tell you, I think he was trying to say Mama the other day…of course Aiden said it was Da Da.”

  Rose smiled and said, “It’s good to see you so happy.”

  “I am. I love this little guy so much, Rose. I can’t even put it into words.”

  The new girl Joe hired when I left came over to refill our coffees. “He’s so darn handsome, look at those eyes.” My little man cooed and smiled at her like he understood exactly what she’d said.

  I smiled and told her, “You should see his daddy, and then you’d know why he’s so handsome.”

  “Oh, I see you in him too,” the girl said with a smile.

  When she walked away, I looked at Rose and asked, “How is she working out? She seems nice.”

  “She is a nice girl, and she’s doing really well. She’s not as personable with the old guys as you used to be or as pretty as you so the old devils that come in here every day are still missing you.”

  I rolled my eyes and said, “Thanks, Rose. I needed a compliment today.”

  “Why honey? Is something wrong? You just said you were happy.” I loved Rose. She looked like she was ready to beat up whoever was making me sad.

 
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