He and Sage couldn’t be more different. They’d come from two situations that were polar opposites. She knew how to “do” family, to love and be loved in return. To support and be supported. He adored Lachlyn but love and support had fallen by the wayside when held up against his desire to keep them off the streets.

“What do you remember about Connor, about the time when he and your mom met?”

Tyce jammed his hands into the back pockets of his jeans. “As I said, my mom worked as a cleaner at Ballantyne International and I remember her leaving for work in the late afternoon and coming home as I got ready for school.”

“Who looked after you?”

Tyce frowned at her. “What do you mean, who looked after me? I was seven, I looked after myself.”

Sage’s eyes widened. “She left you alone?”

“It wasn’t like she had a choice, Sage,” Tyce snapped back. “There wasn’t money for a babysitter.”

Sage laid a hand on her heart and looked horrified. God, they’d had such different childhoods. Sage probably hadn’t been able to sneeze on her own at seven.

“Did she ever try to tell Connor about your sister?”

Tyce shook his head. “No. After she died, we found a letter she left for Lachlyn, telling her the truth. She said that she could see that she’d already reached the end of the road with Connor. She knew he was going to dump her.”

“Connor didn’t do long-term relationships,” Sage said, her voice trembling. “It was just who he was... He felt trapped by people, by women. He never married or was engaged.”

He could relate. He’d had the odd affair that lasted longer than a hookup but his relationships never lasted long because he always ended up feeling trapped. Funny, he’d never felt like that with Sage, possibly because they parted ways before he started to feel claustrophobic. But he had no doubt that it would’ve happened, that he would’ve eventually felt like he was running out of air.

Getting back to the subject... “When I heard that Lachlyn was Connor’s daughter I tried to contact Connor but I couldn’t get beyond his personal lawyers. They told me that many women have tried to scam Connor, saying that they had birthed his child. They told me to subpoena his DNA but I had no grounds to do that, especially since Lachlyn’s birth certificate stated that my stepdad was her biological father. I couldn’t prove jack.”

“So you decided to buy Ballantyne shares.” Sage bit her bottom lip, her eyebrows raised. “God, Tyce, that must have cost you a fortune.”

Practically everything he had. “Yeah. But, at least, Lachlyn now owns a portion of what Connor created.” Tyce rubbed the back of his neck. This was the longest conversation he’d had in a long, long time. But he still had more to say. “We both understand that Connor left his assets to his kids. He didn’t know about Lachlyn and that’s the card life dished out. I dished another card and she now owns shares in his company. That’s enough for her, and me.”

“Seriously?”

“Seriously,” Tyce answered her, holding her eye. It was important that she realize he didn’t want anything from her or her family. All he wanted was for Lachlyn to have a chance to meet them. Anything that happened after that was in the lap of the gods.

It was raining outside; he could hear the ping of droplets on her roof. Soft light bathed her apartment in pinks and cream and made Sage look younger and softer. They were alone; he could feel his heart pounding against his rib cage, heated blood pumping through his veins. The hair on the back of his neck and his arms stood up as all that warm blood headed south.

God, he wanted her. He always did, would... Tyce looked at her and clocked the exact time when her mind moved from Lachlyn to the attraction arcing between them. Her cheeks turned pink, her mouth softened and he could see her pulse beating in that delicate vee at the bottom of her throat. She stroked the arm of the couch, her fingers gliding over the fabric as they’d once glided over his erection. She had no idea that she’d subconsciously lifted her chest, that her nipples were pushing through the fabric of her bra and T-shirt.

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