Love's Secret Baby Page 1

Author: Ella Goode

Genres: Romance

Chapter 1


My grandmother is ninety-two and sharper than ninety-nine percent of the people alive, which is why she is still the chairperson of Willits. My father tried to stage a coup when he was fifty and Gran was eighty-five. He lost and was banished to run a small conglomerate in Utah. We see each other only at Thanksgiving, which is a holiday Gran hates and so it is a date that does not exist in her world. My older sister has never wanted anything to do with the company, leaving me as the Willits heir. Everyone is waiting for Gran to die so I can take over and start running the company less like an imperial dictatorship and more like some kind of benevolent democracy. Little do they know—I hate Thanksgiving, too.

I hitch up my pants and take a seat at the breakfast table. It’s a fifty thousand dollar antique made of red lacquer and mother-of-pearl that once sat in the palace of the empress of China. It should be in a museum instead of sitting in front of a bank of windows overlooking a manmade pond that houses two black swans. I haven’t sat at the table for nearly two years.

A maid dressed in black comes up silently and pours me a cup of coffee. She steps aside and is replaced by another maid, who pours a tablespoon of cream into my coffee. I wave her hand away when she attempts to stir it. When Gran sees me, she presses her lips together in a sign of slight disappointment. The Willitses may not have been born into royalty, but we have made our own kingdom where our rule is absolute.

“You have staff for that,” she says when I place the small gold spoon on the side of the saucer.

“I also have hands.”

Her lips grow thinner. “Your hands exist to do important tasks and stirring your own coffee is not one of them.”

“If I don’t use them, they probably won’t be able to do any of those important tasks.” I sip my coffee and wait. She’s called me here for a purpose and it’s not to discuss whether I should be allowing someone to fix my coffee. This is an official state visit. It’s not as if the queen opens her doors and shares her breakfast table with just anyone—not even the heir to the throne. For the past two years, I’ve been in Hong Kong adding to the Willitses’ treasure chest. Gran called me home. It was time, she said. For what, though, I have some dread.

“You’re thirty-three.”

And there it is. I’m not surprised. What good is an heir without children? The name will die with me and then everything the old woman has worked for will be for nothing. “I am. You threw me a very classy birthday party last week.”

It was on a yacht, which she said was my present. She had it delivered to the Hong Kong harbor. All the locals were impressed but I already have a boat. It’s a small one with only one bedroom instead of three and only two decks instead of five and, most importantly, mine doesn’t have a helicopter pad. That was an intentional oversight because I get on my boat to escape from being a Willits. Distance does not make Gran happy. If you’re part of her inner circle, she wants you a finger’s length away. The fact that I have my own penthouse thirty minutes away is infuriating. The existence of my boat that has no satellite or landing space is unspeakable.

“I should have had more children so I would not have to rely on you.”

“I can’t help you with that, but I’m here. What can I do for you?”

“You know what you can do. You can find a bride and have some children. I think five is a good number.”

I place my now empty cup back onto the table. It’s full before I can tell the maid I’m done. “I’m not getting married,” I reply. “We’ve had this discussion every year for the past three years.”

“I cannot believe you are still mourning that Harris girl. She wasn’t worthy of you anyway.”

“I guess we’re done here.” I get to my feet. A sharp claw whips out to grasp my wrist.

“Wait.” It’s more of plea than a demand and the plaintive note in her voice makes me pause.

“What is it?”

“I’m very tired. I sense my time is near.” Her head lowers as if the weight of it is too much for her neck to bear. “I need to know that my empire is safe with you.”

“I’ve been the ostensible head since I was twenty-eight. Since then, I’ve doubled our revenues and our operating profit.” I try to gentle my tone because she is my gran and she is very old. “You know that it is safe with me.”

“It’s not secure unless you have heirs. Look at me. I had two sons and one turned out to be gay and had no children and the other turned out to be a faithless traitor with only one son. I know you don’t like me. You refuse to live in my home. You come only when I threaten you but like it or not, you are my blood and my only heir. I have to leave my empire to you. If you do not wish to turn out like me, then you must have many children and a large family so that you will have options. If you do not start now, it will be too late.”

I wrap my fingers around her frail digits and squeeze lightly before pulling out of her grip. “I told you three years ago that I would not marry. If you don’t like that, find a new heir.”

“Why?” she cries. “Why her? She’s gone and it’s time for you to move on.”

Three years ago, if she’d said the same things about Darby Harris, I would’ve upended the table—maybe thrown it through the windows. But time has dulled the pain. The loss of my fiancée is a daily ache that I’ve learned to live with, but that doesn’t mean I will ever replace her. “She has never been found and so there will be no moving on. And even if she was found and we had to bury her, I would still not move on. There is and always will be only one for me. If that’s a problem, then you should make other arrangements.”

There’s a tinkling sound of glass crashing against lacquer but I don’t turn around to see what she’s broken. Her temper tantrums are tiring. She should take her own advice and move on because I never will.



Chapter 2




I blow a raspberry on Jax’ cheek, making him giggle. “You’re getting too big for me to carry.” I sigh as I readjust him on my hip. He rests his little head on my shoulder. I know he’s sleepy. Time had gotten away from us at the park and I promised him a candy bar. At least it was our Friday. For most everyone else it is Tuesday. We’ll get to sleep in tomorrow and snuggle. I try to enjoy those days with him, knowing he won’t stay young forever.

“I a big boy,” Jax agrees but doesn't make a move to get down. I have to admit that I’m a sucker for when he lifts his hands, asking for me to pick him up. I’m basically the worst at telling him no. He is such a good little boy though. We are already over the two year benchmark but I don’t see the terrible twos anywhere in sight. I know every parent thinks their kid is an angel, but Jax truly is.

“Not too big.” I kiss the top of his head. The past two years have gone by in a flash. When I was pregnant, it felt as though time was in slow motion. Then Jax came into my world and nothing seems slow anymore. Everything is always busy and moving. I don’t know how I got so lucky to have gotten him. I don’t know where he came from, but he is my angel. I may not remember my life before him but it doesn’t matter. I can’t imagine anything being as special as him. As long as I have him, we’ll always be okay. He is my life. We are a team.

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