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His Lover's Little Secret Andrea Laurence 2022/8/3 13:54:28

Gavin’s hands curled into tight fists at his sides. She’d had years to prepare for this moment and she’d done her homework. He knew she was right. The labs probably wouldn’t process the results over the weekend, so it would be Monday at the earliest before he could get his lawyer involved and start making parental demands. But once he could lay claim to his son, she had better watch out.

“I want to see my son,” he said. This time his tone was less heated and demanding.

“Then calm down and take your thumb off your lawyer’s speed dial.”

Gavin slipped his cell phone back into his pocket. “Happy?”

Sabine didn’t seem happy, but she nodded anyway. “Now, before I let you in, we need to discuss some ground rules.”

He took a deep breath to choke back his rude retort. Few people had the audacity to tell him what to do, but if anyone would, it was Sabine. He would stick to her requirements for now, but before long, Gavin would be making the rules. “Yes?”

“Number one, you are not to yell when you are in my apartment or anywhere Jared might be. I don’t want you upsetting him.”

Jared. His son’s name was Jared. This outrageous scenario was getting more and more real. “What’s his middle name?” Gavin couldn’t stop himself from asking. He suddenly wanted to know everything he could about his son. There was no way to gain back the time he’d lost, but he would do everything in his power to catch up on what he missed.

“Thomas. Jared Thomas Hayes.”

Thomas was his middle name. Was that a coincidence? He couldn’t remember if Sabine knew it or not. “Why Thomas?”

“For my art teacher in high school, Mr. Thomas. He’s the only one that ever encouraged my painting. Since that was also your middle name, it seemed fitting. Number two,” she continued. “Do not tell him you’re his father. Not until it is legally confirmed and we are both comfortable with the timing. I don’t want him confused and worried about what’s going on.”

“Who does he think his father is?”

Sabine shook her head dismissively. “He’s not even two. He hasn’t started asking questions about things like that yet.”

“Fine,” he agreed, relieved that if nothing else, his son hadn’t noticed the absence of a father in his life. He knew how painful that could be. “Enough rules. I want to see Jared.” His son’s name felt alien on his tongue. He wanted a face to put with the name and know his son at last.

“Okay.” Sabine shifted her weight against the door, slowly slinking into the apartment.

Gavin moved forward, stepping over the threshold. He’d been to her apartment before, a long time ago. He remembered a fairly sparse but eclectic space with mismatched thrift store furniture. Her paintings had dotted the walls, her portfolio and bag of supplies usually sitting near the door.

When he barely missed stepping on a chubby blue crayon instead of a paintbrush, he knew things were truly different. Looking around, he noticed a lot had changed. The furniture was newer but still a mishmash of pieces. Interspersed with it were brightly colored plastic toys like a tiny basketball hoop and a tricycle with superheroes on it. A television in the corner loudly played a children’s show.

And when Sabine stepped aside, he saw the small, dark-haired boy sitting on the floor in front of it. The child didn’t turn to look at him. He was immersed in bobbing his head and singing along to the song playing on the show, a toy truck clutched in his hand.

Gavin swallowed hard and took another step into the apartment so Sabine could close the door behind him. He watched her walk over to the child and crouch down.

“Jared, we have a visitor. Let’s say hello.”

The little boy set down his truck and crawled to his feet. When he turned to look at Gavin, he felt his heart skip a beat in his chest. The tiny boy looked exactly like he had as a child. It was as though a picture had been snatched from his baby album and brought to life. From his pink cheeks smeared with tomato sauce, to the wide, dark eyes that looked at him with curiosity, he was very much Gavin’s son.

The little boy smiled, revealing tiny baby teeth. “Hi.”

Gavin struggled to respond at first. His chest was tight with emotions he never expected in this moment. This morning, he woke up worried about his latest business acquisition and now he was meeting his child for the first time. “Hi, Jared,” he choked out.

“Jared, this is Mommy’s friend Gavin.”

Gavin took a hesitant step forward and knelt down to bring himself to the child’s level. “How are you doing, big guy?”