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His Lover's Little Secret Andrea Laurence 2022/8/3 13:54:27

An icy surge rushed through Sabine’s veins. She smiled and nodded, trying not to show any outward signs of distress. “Oh, yes,” she said. She shifted Jared in her arms so he was facing away from his father’s best friend. “I think I spilled champagne on you, right?”

“Yes!” he said, pleased she remembered. “How have you been?” Clay’s gaze ran curiously over the child in her arms. “Busy, I see.”

“Yes, very busy.” Sabine’s heart began pounding loudly in her chest. She glanced over her shoulder at the subway stop, desperate for an escape. “Listen, I’m sorry I can’t stay to chat longer, but I’ve got to meet the babysitter. It was good to see you again, Clay. Take care.”

Sabine gave him a quick wave and spun on her heel. She felt as if she was fleeing the scene of a crime as she dashed down the stairs. She nervously watched the people joining her on the platform. Clay wouldn’t follow her. At least she didn’t think so. But she wouldn’t feel better until she was deep into Brooklyn and far out of Gavin’s sphere of influence.

Had Clay seen Jared closely enough? Had he noticed the resemblance? Jared was wearing his favorite monkey T-shirt with a hood and ears, so perhaps Clay hadn’t been able to make out his features or how old he was. She hoped.

She leaped onto the train the moment it arrived and managed to find a seat. Clutching Jared tightly as he sat in her lap, she tried to breathe deeply, but she just couldn’t do it.

Nearly three years. Jared was fewer than two months from his second birthday, and she had managed to keep their son a secret from Gavin. In all this time she’d never run into him or anyone he knew. They didn’t exactly move in the same social circles. That was part of why she’d broken it off with Gavin. They were a world apart. Unsuitable in every way. After she split with him, he’d never called or texted her again. He obviously wasn’t missing her too badly.

But Sabine had never allowed herself to relax. She knew that sooner or later, Gavin would find out that he had a son. If Clay didn’t tell him tonight, it would be the next time she bumped into someone Gavin knew. Sitting in the park, walking down the street...somebody would see Jared and know instantly that he was Gavin’s son. The bigger he got, the more of a carbon copy of his father he became.

Then it was only a matter of time before Gavin showed up, angry and demanding. That was how he worked. He always got his way. At least until now. The only thing Sabine knew for certain was that he wouldn’t win this time. Jared was her son. Hers. Gavin was a workaholic and wouldn’t have a clue what to do with a child. She wasn’t about to turn him over to the stuffy nannies and boarding schools that had raised Gavin instead of his parents.

As the train approached their stop, Sabine got up and they hurried to catch the bus that would take them the last few blocks to her apartment near Marine Park in Brooklyn, where she’d lived the past four years. It wasn’t the fanciest place in the world, but it was relatively safe, clean and close to the grocery store and the park. The one-bedroom apartment was growing smaller as Jared grew older, but they were managing.

Originally, a large portion of the bedroom was used as her art studio. When her son came along, she packed up her canvases and put her artistic skills toward painting a cheerful mural over his crib. Jared had plenty of room to play, and there was a park down the street where he could run around and dig in the sandbox. Her next-door neighbor, Tina, would watch Jared when she had her evening yoga classes.

She had put together a pretty good life for her and Jared. Considering that when she moved to New York she was broke and homeless, she’d come quite a long way. Back then, she could live on meager waitressing tips and work on her paintings when she had the extra money for supplies. Now, she had to squeeze out every penny she could manage, but they had gotten by.

“A-sketti!” Jared cheered triumphantly as they came through the door.

“Okay. I’ll make a-sketti.” Sabine sat him down before switching the television on to his favorite show. It would mesmerize him with songs and funny dances while she cooked.

By the time Jared was done eating and Sabine was changed into her workout clothes, she had only minutes to spare before Tina arrived. If she was lucky, Tina would give Jared a bath and scrub the tomato sauce off his cheeks. Usually, she had him in his pajamas and in bed by the time Sabine got home. Sabine hated that he would be asleep when she returned, but going through his nightly routine after class would have Jared up way past his bedtime. He’d wake up at dawn no matter what, but he’d be cranky.