The billionaires wife, p.7
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       The Billionaire's Wife, p.7

         Part #2 of An Heir At Any Price series by Holly Rayner
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  Rose stood up and said, “Now wait a minute…” She looked like she wanted to tear into him. I put my hand up.

  “It’s okay, Rose. I have this.” Then I looked back at Aiden and said, “You weren’t there. You have no idea how frightened I was when this happened. As usual, you weren’t there. You’re never there anymore.” I knew this wasn’t the time or place for that discussion, but the stress was wearing on me and I felt like I was losing it. Before I said anything else though, Aiden’s phone rang.

  He looked at it and said, “I have to take this.”

  He walked out of the room right in the middle of our conversation. For the second time that afternoon, I was appalled. He stepped out and I felt Rose’s reassuring hand on my shoulder. I smiled at her, I was sincerely grateful she was there.

  Within a few minutes Aiden came back in and went over to where Eric was. He kissed the baby’s face and said, “Daddy loves you, Sport. I’m glad you’re okay.” Then he looked at me and said, “I have to go back to the office. I’ll be home this evening, probably late.”

  “Aiden…” Before I could say anything more, he was gone. I was furious with him, and embarrassed by the fact that he would virtually call me a bad mother in front of all of these people. Is that what he really thought?

  Rose watched him leave. She looked shocked and said, “I see what you mean about his absenteeism.”

  Chapter Five

  ~

  AIDEN

  Cecile couldn’t have worse timing. She’d called me as soon as I walked into the room to see Eric to say that she was hung up at her doctor’s appointment in the city and asked if I could “send a car” to pick Mark up from school in an hour. Mark was in a private school in Scarsdale and it would take just about an hour to get there from where I was right now. I thought about how frightened he’d been of me that first day and I couldn’t bear the thought of sending a stranger to pick him up. Eric was okay, no thanks to his mother who I really thought should have been paying closer attention. I decided that I’d run out and pick up Mark and take him home. Hopefully it wouldn’t be too long before Cecile got there because I still had a lot to do at the office.

  I told her to let the school office know that I’d be picking him up, just in case I hit a lot of traffic and was a few minutes late.

  “Oh, thank you, Aiden. I guess I never realized how tough these sorts of things can be when you’re a single parent.” Cecile’s parents lived on the West Coast. I knew that she didn’t have any family that lived close by, and I believed her when she said I was the only one she trusted with her son. I was actually glad she felt that way. I liked knowing that if I couldn’t be there, Mark was at least being taken care of very well and not being left alone with strangers.

  “It’s not a problem,” I told her. “I’ll take him for an ice cream or something.”

  Mark was surprised to see me when he came out of his class, but he looked happy about it. We went for an ice cream and took a walk in the park while we ate it.

  As we walked, he said, “Aiden, why aren’t you and my mom still married?”

  That was one of those questions kids asked that you hoped you’d never have to answer.

  “Um, well, sometimes people fall out of love, Buddy. We both love you very much though.”

  “I didn’t see you for a long time. Why?”

  “Ah, that’s a hard one, Buddy. I wanted to see you, every day I thought about you. Sometimes grown-ups forget to act like grown-ups though and your mother and I made some bad decisions along the way. She thought it would be better for Jake to raise you since he’s your real father.”

  “Yeah, I don’t really understand how that happened,” he said. I was holding my breath, hoping he wasn’t going to ask me. Luckily he changed tracks a bit and said, “I don’t see my dad anymore either.”

  “Do you miss him?” I asked him. It was the first time I’d heard Mark mention Jake.

  “Yeah,” he said. “He was teaching me how to play baseball…” I was trying to reconcile the image of that with the one Cecile had put in my head about Jake being abusive when Mark said, “Maybe you could teach me?”

  My heart was touched that he would ask me and I said, “Of course. One of these days when we get together, we’ll work on it.” He seemed satisfied with that answer and moved on to talk about some of his friends at school and what he had for lunch and the fact that his teacher wears a wig. The teacher is a man and Mark found that really strange. I loved listening to him. The sound of his voice and especially the sound of his laughter made me happy.

  By the time we got back to Cecile’s cottage, she was home from her appointment.

  “Hey Buddy!” she said to Mark. “How was the day?”

  “Good,” he said with a smile. “Aiden picked me up!”

  “I know,” she said, ruffling his hair. “I asked him to.”

  “Thank you! We had ice cream and next time Aiden comes we’re going to go to the boardwalk where they have rides and everything!”

  Cecile laughed, “That’s great, Buddy. I’m glad you had such a good time. Get started on your homework now.”

  “I’m going to take off,” I told her.

  “Oh, you don’t have time for a cup of coffee with me?” she asked.

  “No, I really don’t. My baby had an accident this morning and I got called to the hospital right before you called.”

  “Oh no! What kind of accident? Is he okay?”

  “He’s fine. He got hot coffee splashed on him.”

  “Oh dear. How did that happen? Where was his mother?”

  “I wasn’t there, so I don’t know,” I said. Then I thought, finally, someone who actually gets it. You have to watch your children all the time. Something in Cecile’s face seemed to shift then. It was almost like she was enjoying the fact that she could tell that I was annoyed with Holly. That thought made me feel instantly disloyal. I knew that Holly was a good mother, and I also know that accidents happen. I was an ass at the hospital, and am an even bigger ass to say anything negative about my sweet wife to my ex-wife. Damn! I’d bet a million dollars that Holly already felt guilty, and all I had done was made it worse. I’m batting a thousand with her lately. “Anyways,” I told Cecile, “I better get going.”

  “Okay, thank you again for picking Mark up, and Aiden…I’d keep an eye on that situation with your son if I were you.”

  “Anytime, about Mark,” I told her. “And don’t worry about Eric. Holly is a good mom. Things happen.”

  “Sure,” she said. “Of course they do.”

  She walked me all the way out to my car even thought I told her she didn’t have to, and then watched me drive all the way out to the road. I could see her just standing there in the driveway in my rear-view mirror. I thought that was strange.

  HOLLY

  I was asleep that night when Aiden got home. The stress of the day had worn me out, but I went to bed early mostly, because I didn’t care to talk to him. The more I thought about what he’d said and how he’d acted the more upset I’d gotten. How dare he accuse me of not watching our child, when that was all that I did. Not that it was a chore for me. I would pick being with Eric over any job in the world, but I thought it was awfully nervy coming from a man who rarely even saw his own son lately.

  Eric had been such a little trooper since we got home from the hospital. He was such a good-natured baby. He was exhausted too though and fell asleep earlier than usual. I got a text from Aiden a few hours after we got home from the hospital asking how Eric was doing. The text made me mad, he should be here, or he should have at least called.

  I replied, “Fine.”

  He text back, “Good. How are you?”

  “Fine also,” I’d said.

  “Good,” was his reply to that. I didn’t hear back from him after that. He didn’t even call or text to let me know when he’d be home.

  He didn’t wake me when he got home that night, nor in the morning before he left. I saw when I checked on Eric that
he had changed his diaper and probably given him his binky which he had in his little mouth. I tried not to be too touched by that. I wasn’t ready to stop being angry with him just yet. I kept going over in my head what he’d said to me and then the way he’d just left us there. I couldn’t imagine how anything at work could be more important than your child sitting in the ER.

  When I went out to make my coffee I found a dozen red roses and a note.

  “I’m sorry I was an ass. I love you.”

  I guess I should have been happy about that, but why didn’t he wake me up if he was so sorry? Why was he having such a hard time communicating with me lately? He couldn’t just say terrible things and then send flowers and make it all better. By noon, I was fuming again because I couldn’t stop thinking about it all, and I promised myself that when Aiden finally did make it home, we were going to have this out. I couldn’t just keep stewing about it or I would explode.

  On a positive note, Eric’s little arms were turning back to pink by the next day and he was so good when I put the cream and the wrap on each time, he didn’t even cry. I looked at him sometimes and could hardly believe that I loved him so much. It consumed me, and it made me shudder to think that I’d almost given him up. I couldn’t imagine my life without him now. That made me think about Aiden and the way his ex-wife had taken his son, or the boy he thought was his son, away from him. I know that experience had colored the way he saw things but we couldn’t keep using it as an excuse for his bad behavior.

  Those terrible thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the front
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