“We can do so many things now, children. Anything I want.”

Chapter Eighteen


Brent knocked frantically on the door before him. Behind it was the woman he loved, and the woman he’d fight for, no matter what. If he had to beg, bribe, or swear anything to Fran Vance to let him talk to Jessica again, then he would. And Brent wouldn’t leave until he explained everything about cutting off his father, about how he wanted to do whatever it took to create a life between them. He was serious about that, and he’d brought all the proof he needed to convince the woman he loved that he meant it more than anything.

He just had to get through her mother first.

The woman who answered the door looked so much like Jessica, albeit older, that it tore into him. He hadn’t seen Fran since the divorce, but she’d aged well, and her dark hair and haunting chestnut brown eyes were just like Jessica’s. The frown and fury in her eyes also matched her daughter, at least the last time Jessica had talked with him.

Okay, mostly screamed at him, but the same idea.

“I know Jessica’s here. Carl told me.”

“Carl needs to decide if he’s more loyal to Allen or to you,” she said coolly, crossing her arms over her chest. “Then again, I can see that bruise on your jaw, and I’m hoping Allen figured everything out and gave you what for.”

Brent sighed and rubbed at his still sore jaw. “Yeah, he did. Maybe more than once, if you want to know the truth.”

“Good. I would punch you myself, but I don’t think that’ll get me what I want.”

“What’s that?”

“I want my daughter happy. I think, deep down, that you might do that for her. She would only be this gutted if she were truly in love with you.” Fran surprised him then by stepping aside and letting him in. “I hope my woman’s intuition isn’t wrong this time.”

“It’s not. I love Jessica. I truly love her, and my daughter, Cara, adores her. Fran, I swear, I feel about her every bit the way I felt about LeeAnne.”

Fran’s eyes crinkled with concern. “You really mean that, don’t you?”

“I do. I never thought I could be happy after LeeAnne died. I never thought I’d live again, not outside of being happy for Cara, but I am. And Jessica’s the reason. I love her and cherish her, and I’ll do anything to make this right.”

“Then I suggest you do,” Fran said. She sighed and patted his shoulder. “I am sorry about LeeAnne; she really was a remarkable woman. Such a shining light.”

“I see that in Jessica, too, and I know more than anyone how rare that really is. Please, may I see her?”

“She’s upstairs, first door on the left.”

He nodded and stampeded up the stairs. It had only been a couple days, but it felt like an eternity without Jessica in his life. As he approached the closed door, he heard her whimpering through it. Frowning, he charged through and found her tossing and turning in her sheets. While Jessica was mumbling incoherently, it was clear that whatever was going on was a nightmare. Her brow was streaked with sweat, and she kept flinching, even under her covers. It broke his heart to see her this upset, to see her struggle so.

Brent couldn’t fucking stand it.

Kneeling by her bed, he leaned over and kissed her deeply, tasted the hint of vanilla and mint on her sweet lips.

Jessica woke up instantly and frowned at him. “You can’t be real. You’re a dream, too.”

“I’m not,” Brent replied. He stood up and then sat on the edge of the bed. “I might have been a complete asshole, but I’m not a dream. Carl, at the company, helped me find you, and your mom believed how sincere I was. Please, I need to talk to you.”

Tears welled up in the corners of her eyes. “I missed you already. I… We missed you.”

He frowned. “I don’t understand.”

Jessica pushed herself up against the headboard and looked into his eyes. Her brown orbs seemed to be tinged with concern and fear, which was stupid. He was the one who’d fucked up here. Besides, there was nothing she could do that would ever make him mad at her. Nothing.

“I’m pregnant.”

His heart sped up. After LeeAnne’s death, he’d never thought of expanding his family. He wasn’t even sure how Cara would feel about all of this, but he’d never dared to hope. His penthouse was even so cavernous that it felt empty with just him and his daughter… so he’d once in a while wished he could have had the large family he and LeeAnne had planned years ago. This couldn’t be happening, could it?

Jessica mistook his silence for anger. “They’re yours, you know? I haven’t slept with anyone else. I… I was a virgin when I met you. You have to know you were my first.”

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