Page 11

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

Now he could kick himself for not manning up and telling her he wanted her and didn’t care what others thought about it. That he would make the time for her. Maybe then he would’ve been there to hear his son’s heartbeat in the doctor’s office, his first cries and his first words. Maybe then the mother of his child wouldn’t look at him with wary eyes and laugh off his proposal of marriage like a joke.

He made a point of pulling out his phone and confirming it so she wouldn’t think he knew for certain. “I do.”

Sabine nodded and slowly started walking backward across the grass. Even after all this time apart, it felt awkward to part like strangers without a hug or a kiss goodbye. They were bonded for a lifetime now, and yet he had never felt as distant from her as he did when she backed away.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, then,” she said.

“Tomorrow,” he repeated.

He watched as she regarded him for a moment at a distance. There was a sadness in her expression that he didn’t like. The Sabine he remembered was a vibrant artist with a lust for life and experience. She had jerked him out of his blah corporate existence, demanded he live his life, not just go through the motions. Sabine was nothing like what he was supposed to have but absolutely everything he needed. He’d regretted every day since she’d walked out of his life.

Now, he regretted it more than ever, and not just because of his son. The sad, weary woman walking away from him was just a shadow of the person he once knew. And he hated that.

The outdoor lights kicked on, lighting the shimmer of tears in her eyes. “I’m sorry, Gavin,” she said before spinning on her heels and disappearing through the doors of the community center.

She was sorry. And so was he.

Gavin arrived at the office the next morning before seven. The halls were dark and quiet as he traveled to the executive floor of the BXS offices. The large corner office had once belonged to his father and his grandfather before him. Gavin’s original office was down the hallway. He’d gotten the space when he was sixteen and started learning the business and then passed it along to his younger brother, Alan, when Gavin took over as CEO.

Opening the door, he walked across the antique rug and set his laptop bag and breakfast on the large wooden desk. The heavy mahogany furniture was originally from his great-grandfather’s office and was moved here when BXS upgraded their location from the small building near the shipping yards.

His great-grandfather had started the company in 1930, Depression be damned. What began as a local delivery service expanded to trains and trucks and eventually to planes that could deliver packages all over the world. The eldest Brooks son had run the company since the day it opened. Everything about Brooks Express Shipping had an air of tradition and history that made it one of the most trusted businesses in America.

Frankly, it was a bit stifling.

Despite how he’d argued to the contrary with Sabine last night, they both knew this wasn’t what he wanted to do with his life. The Brooks name came with responsibilities. Gavin had been groomed from birth to one day run BXS. He’d had the best education, interned with the company, received his MBA from Harvard... Each milestone putting him one step closer to filling his father’s shoes. Even if they were too tight.

Sabine had been right about some things. He had no doubt his family would assume Jared would one day be the corporate successor to his father. The difference would be that Gavin would make certain his son had a choice.

He settled in at his desk, firing up his computer. He immediately sent an email to his assistant, Marie, about setting up a lab appointment for their DNA testing. With it, he included a note that this was a confidential matter. No one, literally no one, was to know what was going on. He trusted Marie, but she was friendly and chatty with everyone, including his father, who she used to work for. Gavin had barely come to terms with this himself. He certainly wasn’t ready for the world, and especially his family, to know what was going on.

Marie wouldn’t be in until eight, but she had a corporate smartphone and a long train ride in to work. He was certain she’d have everything handled before she arrived.

That done, he turned to the steaming-hot cup of coffee and the bagel he picked up on his way in. The coffee shop on the ground floor of the building was open well before most people stumbled into BXS for the day. Gavin spread cream cheese on his toasted bagel as he watched his in-box fill with new messages. Most were unimportant, although one caught his eye.

It was from Roger Simpson, the owner of Exclusivity Jetliners.