Adrian Matsakis is a successful businessman with terrible luck in personal relationships. His ex-wife wrecked him, and when he tried again with Jessie Brandt, she too betrayed him.
He is shocked and outraged to learn he has a son with her and is determined to take custody. He’s never forgotten Jessie but can’t forgive her, especially now.
Forewarned of Adrian’s intent, Jessie preempts him by inviting him to co-parent, and he reins himself in. He can’t resist reminding her of her perfidy, however, just as she continues to maintain her innocence.
They struggle against the chemistry—and more—sparking between them, and when Adrian double checks the facts around Jessie’s supposed betrayal, he’s staggered to learn the evidence was planted.
He sets out to make amends, and Jessie must decide if she’ll allow him back into her heart, and give Adrian a place to finally call home.
We believe you know Jessie Brandt. Please see the attached picture. Come for dinner tonight. Mikhail
Adrian Matsakis shoved back from his desk with such strength the back of the chair hit the wall, and the resulting shudder made his teeth clack together. The distance from his computer monitor didn’t make it less true. The attachment he’d clicked on nearly filled the screen with a picture of a sturdy, little toddler, laughing up at a woman who crouched beside him, holding an enormous balloon.
It was like looking into a mirror of his youth, pictures of him as a child festooning most available surfaces, compliments of his doting mother. She’d been unable to have other children, and thus lavished every maternal ounce of her being upon him. His father created a balance, or Mama might have driven him crazy.
Maybe he was crazy, seeing something in that image that was wishful thinking. It couldn’t be. Rolling back to his desk, he clicked to reread the email from Mikhail. Nothing changed.
After opening up the image again, he soaked in the two faces featured there, noting how little Jessie had changed over the three years since he’d last seen her, the golden-blonde hair and laughing brown eyes, clear, ivory skin, long, slender hands, and a lithe body with all the requisite curves.
His son—for he had no doubt the child was his—was still exhibiting baby roundness, but his arms and legs were long like Adrian’s, and the riot of black curls that would be the bane of his existence unless fads changed, and maybe even then, waved wildly about the boy’s head. Olive skin set off the tiny white teeth visible in the wide smile. He thought his son’s eyes were gray like his own, but perhaps they were a velvety brown like Jessie’s.
Adrian finally allowed the cacophony of emotions churning in his gut to be labeled. He was furious, firstly. Furious to learn he had a child after all this time, and curious about the boy. Elated too. He wouldn’t deny it. He had badly wanted a child, children, and learning that his ex-wife Sharon terminated not one, but two of his babies still sent shards of agony throughout his being.
But he now had a child, and it must be love, if not intense affection flooding his system as he stared at the little boy. He purposely narrowed his gaze, keeping it directly on the toddler, because he didn’t want his confused emotions toward Jessie to spill over, even within his own head, onto his son.
His son. Why hadn’t she told him? Contacted him as was his right? Especially when she knew how much he wanted children? Because I threw her out. He shook the vaguely remorseful thought away.
He’d thrown her out for good reason. She’d been lucky he hadn’t pressed charges, although she’d challenged him to do so even as she accepted his edict and marched away down the hall, her spine erect and her head held high.
Out of sight, out of mind. He’d made certain she left with nothing. Except she left with something. And if she’d really wanted my money, then why hadn’t she used the child? He decided to ignore that inconvenient niggle as well.
He shot an email to Mikhail, accepting the dinner invitation when what he really wanted to do was phone the man and demand an explanation. But he hadn’t climbed to where he was in his business by flying off the handle. He’d attend the dinner tonight armed with all possible information and pool it with what his friend knew. And plan.
He closed down his computer after carefully saving and printing several copies of the toddler and then obtained the number of an experienced investigative agency. He’d head out and pick up some wine and flowers for the hostess—and begin the plan of retrieving his child. Anything this important would take great care and strategy.