‘I’m Jack Wolfe,’ Jack answered, as coolly as he could. ‘If you know anything about Wolfe Enterprises you know I have no need for money.’
‘Just because they gave you their name doesn’t mean they’re giving you their cash, though, does it?’ his father sneered. ‘So many of these things are just for the look of it. Softening the ruthless business empire image by adopting some druggie chick’s abandoned kid.’
‘My mother didn’t abandon me.’
She’d chosen his future. And his personal story hadn’t ever been in the press. The Wolfes had never tried to use their adoption of him for commercial gain.
‘No? She was addicted to cash and anything else I gave her. We were doing okay for a while, but then she told me she was pregnant.’ The man rolled his eyes. ‘How do I know you’re mine? She could’ve been screwing half the town for all I know. In fact I reckon she was. She’d do it with anyone who could get her a fix. She always dressed too tarty and talked too friendly. I had to sort her out.’
‘Sort her out?’ Jack asked icily.
The man admitted nothing more. He looked Jack over. ‘I told her to have an abortion, but she ran off.’
Of course she had. Because this bastard was a bully who’d probably threatened to beat her—to ‘sort her out’ again. And why had he taken it upon himself to ‘sort her out’? Because a man was the boss of a woman? A man decided what she did or didn’t do? A man decreed what a woman should and shouldn’t wear? Told her what to do with her body? With her baby?
His mother must have been terrified, given she’d run so far. And she’d never once looked back. She’d never returned to this country. And now Jack knew why. Now he knew part of the reason why she’d turned to artificial stimulants to help her get through her days.
Bile burned its way up from his gut, tasting foul in the back of his throat.
‘Thanks for your time.’ Jack turned and walked towards the door.
He refused to apologise for interrupting him.
Refused to apologise for being born.
Less than thirty seconds and it was all over. Every bit as bad as his worst imaginings.
Jack froze. He hated it that the man had called him by his first name. But he swivelled and looked back.
Darren had risen, a calculating gleam in his eye. ‘You’re really CEO of that travel book company?’
‘Yes,’ Jack said stiffly. ‘I really am.’
‘Huh…’ Darren tugged at his collar. ‘You know, you took me by surprise just then. Maybe we should spend some time together. Get to know each other.’
The man had no redeeming qualities at all. He was worse than Jack’s worst imaginings. Because not only was he a bully, he was also only interested in someone if they could be of benefit to him in some way—financially.
‘I don’t think we need to,’ Jack answered. ‘I think we’re done.’
He got out of the office and ran down the stairs before he fell down.
No wonder his mother had run away to the other side of the world—to Indonesia. Then to America. No wonder his parents had always claimed not to know anything. They’d wanted to protect him from that jerk of a man. A guy who wanted everything his way and didn’t care how he got it. And what did that mean for Jack? What had he inherited from the pair of them?
Nature versus nurture was a debate that had raged for years. But there was no doubting all those ‘separated twin’ studies that showed how dominant DNA was. Even though some of those twins grew up in families miles apart, in both distance and opportunities, so many still turned out similar.
Genetic predisposition was undeniable.
Jack paused just outside the building and looked over at the pastel yellow car.
Hadn’t he questioned Stephanie’s choice of clothing only the day before? Hadn’t he ordered freaking clothes for her? And hadn’t he given her few real choices?
He’d been beyond controlling. Hadn’t he effectively bullied her into staying with him?
He’d seduced her that first night, teasing her on the bonnet of the car until she hadn’t been able to say anything but yes. He’d wanted her. And he’d done everything he could think of to have her. He’d been thinking of nothing but himself—his own desires.
He’d been utterly selfish.
But she’d agreed. She’d stayed. She would have said no if she’d really wanted to, right?
But doubt clawed deep. Why else would she have stayed with him?
Because she wanted him to buy her blog.
Acknowledging the truth hurt. So much.
Stupid to have had hope. Stupid to have wanted to know. Stupid to let someone get close enough to hurt you.