“How’d it go?” she asked.
Gavin settled Jared in his arms and turned to her. “Well, I think. They were surprised. Okay, more than surprised. But we talked a lot, and they’ve had some time to process it. Now I think they’re excited at the prospect of their first grandchild.”
It was too early for Sabine to feel optimistic. She was about to reply when she heard a woman’s voice from inside the apartment. “Are they here? Ohmigosh, look at him!”
Sabine was expecting his mother, but instead, the face of a younger woman appeared over Gavin’s shoulder. She had long, dark brown hair like his, but her eyes were a steely gray color. It had to be his sister, Diana.
Gavin turned toward her, showcasing his son. “This is Jared. Jared, this is your auntie Diana.”
Jared played shy, turning his face into Gavin’s shirt when Diana tried to coax him to say hello. More voices sounded inside with footsteps pounding across the floor. How many people were in there? A crowd of four or five people gathered, all fussing at Jared and Gavin at once.
“He looks just like you did at that age!”
“What a handsome boy!”
Sabine was happy to stay safely in the hallway and play spectator for the moment. It was easier. She always knew they would accept Jared. He was their blessed heir. The vessel that brought him into existence was another matter.
She could feel the moment the first set of eyes fell on her. It was Diana. She slipped around Gavin into the hallway, rushing Sabine with a hug she wasn’t anticipating.
“It’s so nice to finally meet you,” Diana said.
Sabine patted weakly at the young woman’s back and pulled away as soon as she could. “Finally?”
Diana smiled and threw a conspiratorial look over her shoulder. “Gavin had mentioned you to me when you were first dating. He just went on and on about you. I’d never heard him do that about another woman before. And then it ended and I was so disappointed. When he called and asked me to come over today to meet his son, I was so happy to hear that you were the mother.” She grinned wide and nudged Sabine with her elbow. “I think it’s fate.”
Sabine tried not to laugh at the young woman’s enthusiasm. She couldn’t be more than twenty-two or twenty-three. She still believed in all that. And since Diana was the beautiful only daughter of a billion-dollar empire, Sabine was pretty certain no man had the nerve to break her heart. At least, not yet.
Diana snatched up Sabine’s hand in hers and tugged her over the threshold of the entryway. The polished parquet floors were too slick for her to resist the movement and before she knew it, the door was closed and she was standing in the apartment of Byron and Celia Brooks.
Okay, apartment was a misnomer. This was a mansion slapped on the top of an apartment building. In front of her was a grand marble staircase with a gold-and-crystal chandelier twinkling overhead from the twenty-foot ceilings. On each side of the doorway were large urns filled with bouquets of fresh flowers that were nicer than the arrangements at some people’s weddings.
That was all she could see with the press of people, but it was enough to let her know she wasn’t in Nebraska anymore.[email protected]@@@[email protected]@@@@=======
“Everyone, you remember Sabine Hayes. She’s Jared’s mother.”
Sabine’s chest tightened instantly, her breath going still in her lungs of stone. Every eye in the room flew from Jared to her. His father’s. His mother’s. His brother Alan’s. She tried to smile wide and pretend she wasn’t having a panic attack, but she wasn’t certain how convincing she was.
His mother stepped forward first. She looked just as she had the last time. Sabine and Gavin had run into them at a restaurant as they were going in and his parents were leaving. It had been an accidental meeting really, given their relationship hadn’t called for the meeting of the parents yet. Sabine had been struck by how refined and effortlessly elegant his mother was. Today was no exception.
Celia’s light brown hair was pulled back in a bun like Sabine’s. She was wearing a gray silk dress with a strand of dark gray pearls around her neck and teardrops with diamonds from her ears. The dress perfectly matched her eyes, so much like Diana’s. Her gaze swept quickly over Sabine from head to toe but stopped at her eyes with a smile of her own. “It’s lovely to see you again, Sabine.”
“Likewise,” she said, politely shaking the woman’s hand. Every description Gavin ever gave her of his mother had built an image of a cold, disinterested woman in Sabine’s mind. Their meeting before hadn’t been very revealing, but today, she instantly knew that was not the case. There was a light in her eyes that was very warm and friendly. Celia Brooks had just been raised well and taught early the rules of etiquette and civility that a woman of her class needed. Yes, she could’ve been a more hands-on mother and let her children get dirty every now and then, but that wasn’t how she was brought up.