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His Lover's Little Secret Andrea Laurence 2022/8/3 13:54:39

“Please, come in and meet everyone. You remember my husband, Byron, and this is my other son, Alan.”

Sabine shook each of their hands and was amazed at how much alike the Brooks men looked. Thick brown hair, eyes like melted dark chocolate, strong builds. Just one glance and Sabine could tell exactly how Jared would look when he was twenty-five and when he was fifty-five.

“Nora has refreshments set up for us in the parlor,” Celia said, ushering everyone out of the hallway.

The farther they went into the apartment, the more nervous Sabine became. Not because of his family, but because of their stuff. Every item her eyes lit upon looked fragile and priceless. “Do not put him down,” Sabine whispered to Gavin.

At that, Gavin chuckled. “Do you have any idea how many things my siblings and I have broken over the years? I assure you, if it’s important, it’s not sitting out.”

“Oh, yes,” Celia insisted. “Don’t worry about a thing. It has been quite a while since we had a youngster here, but we’d better get used to it, right?” She got a wistful look in her eye and glanced over at Jared. “A grandchild. What an unexpected and wonderful surprise.”

Sabine wasn’t quite sure what to say. She expected the other shoe to drop at any moment. But time went on, and it didn’t. They chatted and nibbled on treats their housekeeper, Nora, made. His family asked questions about her with genuine interest. Jared was turned loose and managed not to break anything. To her shock, Byron, the former CEO of BXS, got on the floor and played with him and his dump truck.

She had made herself sick worrying about today. Thinking they would hate her. That they’d never accept her or her son. But as time went by, she found herself to be incredibly at ease with his family. They were polished and polite, but not cold and certainly not blatantly rude like Viola. It was nothing like she’d expected.

It seemed Sabine was as guilty of prejudice as she worried they would be. Just as she feared they would look at her and make snap judgments, so had she. She had this idea of what rich people were like. Gavin’s stories of his distant, workaholic family had only reinforced the image in her mind.

But she was wrong. And it made her angry. People like Viola had made her believe that she could never have Gavin. That she would never fit in. She was angry at herself, really. She was the one who was too afraid to find out if their wicked whispers were true. She pushed away the only man she’d ever loved, deprived him of his son for two years, because she was certain they could never last.

She was wrong. At least in part. They might never truly be together as a couple again, but they could be a family and make it work.

Sabine had wasted so much time being afraid. She wasn’t about to make the same mistake twice.

“You don’t have to keep trying to take me out to dinner, Gavin.”

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” Gavin smiled and helped her out of the car and onto the curb outside a restaurant.

“You didn’t fail the last time.” Sabine slowly approached him, pressed herself against the length of his body and wrapped her arms around his neck. “I seem to recall that evening ending in quite a...spectacular fashion.”

“Spectacular, eh?” Gavin growled near her ear. “I’m glad you seemed to think so. But—” he planted a kiss on her neck and whispered to her “—we never actually ate.”

“That was okay with me.” She looked up at him with her wide green eyes and a wicked smile curling her lips. “We could have the same thing tonight, if you’d like.”

He smiled and let his hands roam across the silky fabric of her dress. She was trying to lure him back to bed, but he wouldn’t let her. Couldn’t let her. At least not tonight. “Well, as tempting as that is, I’ll have to pass. You see, I brought in reinforcements to make sure this meal was a success. We can’t stand up our guests.”

Sabine frowned at him, her nose wrinkling. “Guests?”

She pulled away from Gavin and turned to find Adrienne and Will behind her. “Adrienne? Will? What are you two doing here?”

Adrienne leaned in to give her a hug with an amused smirk on her face. “Gavin invited us to have dinner with you tonight. Did he not tell you?”

“Uh, no, he didn’t.” Sabine looked over her shoulder at Gavin, who appeared appropriately admonished, at least for the moment. “How did you even know how to get in touch with either of them?”

“Gavin and I have been acquaintances for several years,” Will said. “We play the occasional game of racquetball together.”