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His Lover's Little Secret Andrea Laurence 2022/8/3 13:54:30

Her words hit him hard. He didn’t have bad parents, but he did have busy ones. Gavin knew how it felt to be the lowest item on someone’s priority list. How many times had he sat alone on the marble staircase of his childhood home and waited for parents who never showed up? How many times had he scanned the crowd at school pageants and ball games looking for family that wasn’t there?

He’d always sworn he wouldn’t do that to his own children, but even after having seen his son, the idea of him wasn’t quite a firm reality in Gavin’s mind. He had only this primitive need to claim the child and its mother. To finally have someone in his life that couldn’t walk away.

That’s why he’d rushed out to Brooklyn without any sort of plan. But she was right. He didn’t know what to do with a child. His reflex would be to hand him off to someone who did and focus on what he was good at—running his family business. He couldn’t afford the distraction, especially so close to closing his latest business deal.

And that was exactly what she was afraid of.

She had good reason, too. He’d spent most of their relationship vacillating between ignoring her for work and ignoring work for her. He never found the balance. A child would compound the problem. Part of the reason Gavin hadn’t seriously focused on settling down was because he knew his work priorities would interfere with family life. He kept waiting for the day when things at BXS would slow down enough for him to step back. But it never happened. His father hadn’t stepped back until the day he handed the reins over to Gavin, and he’d missed his children growing up to do it.

Gavin didn’t have a choice any longer. He had a child. He would have to find a way—a better way than his father chose—to keep the company on top and keep his promises to his son and Sabine. He wasn’t sure how the hell he would do it, but he would make it happen.

“If I put in the quality time, will you let me help you?”

“With life, Sabine. If you won’t marry me, let me get you a nice apartment in the city. Wherever you want to live. Let me help pay for Jared’s education. We can enroll him in the best preschool. I can get someone to help around the house. Someone that can cook and clean, even pick up Jared from school if you want to keep working.”

“And why would you want to do that? What you’re suggesting is incredibly expensive.”

“Maybe, but it’s worth it to me. It’s an investment in my child. Making your life easier will make you a happier, more relaxed mother to our son. He can spend more time playing and learning than sitting on the subway. And admittedly, having you in Manhattan will make it easier for me to see Jared more often.”

He could see the conflict in Sabine’s pale green eyes. She was struggling. She was proud and wouldn’t admit it, but raising Jared on her own had to be difficult. Kids weren’t cheap. They took time and money and effort. She’d already sacrificed her art. But convincing her to accept his offering would take time.

He knew Sabine better than she wanted to admit. She didn’t want to be seen as one of those women who moved up in social status by calculated breeding. Jared had been an accident, of that he was certain. Judging by the expression on Sabine’s face when she opened the door to her apartment, she would’ve rather had any man’s son but his.

“Let’s take this one step at a time, please,” Sabine said, echoing his thoughts. There was a pained expression on her face that made him think there was more than just pride holding her back.

“You’ve gone from having no kids to having a toddler and very nearly a fiancée in two hours’ time. That’s a big change for you, and for both Jared and me. Let’s not uproot our lives so quickly.” She sighed and gripped his hand. “Let’s get the DNA results in, so there are no questions or doubts. Then we can introduce the idea of you to Jared and tell our families. From there, maybe we move into the city to be closer to you. But let’s make these decisions over weeks and months, not minutes.”

She glanced down at the screen on her cell phone. “I’ve got to get inside and set up.”

“Okay.” Gavin got out of the car and came around to open her door and help her out.

“I have tomorrow off. If you can make an appointment for DNA testing, call or text me and we’ll meet you there. My number is the same. Do you still have it?”

He did. He’d very nearly dialed it about a hundred times in the weeks after she’d left. He’d been too proud to go through with the call. A hundred people had drifted in and out of his life, but Sabine leaving had caught him by surprise and it stung. He’d wanted to fight, wanted to call her and convince her she was wrong about them. But she wanted to go and he let her.