Page 39 of Rags to Riches Baby

That just left Oliver and Lucy with him for the time being, as Harper was out of town. Although Oliver had initially been thrown off by Lucy’s request to come with him to the hospital, she’d been a lifesaver today. She’d brought them food from the cafeteria, magazines from the gift shop, and she even had a phone charger in her purse when their phones started to die from the constant calls and texts. Having her here had been nice. Nicer than he wanted to admit to himself.

Waking up with her, sharing breakfast together, even weathering a crisis together…every moment he spent with Lucy made him want to spend more and more. This was going to be a problem.

“Can I have a popsicle?” Danny asked. He was sitting up in his hospital bed with pillows propped up under his arms and a thin blanket thrown over his legs. He looked so small in that bed, even smaller than the seven-year-old usually looked.

Oliver got up from the chair, relieved to have a quest to occupy his mind. “I’ll go see what I can do. Are you okay to stay with him?” he asked Lucy.

She nodded from her perch at the end of his bed. “We’ll be fine.”

Oliver went down the hallway in search of a popsicle. The pain medicine was making Danny queasy, so he wasn’t much interested in the food they were bringing him. If his baby brother wanted a popsicle, Oliver would find him one. The nurses didn’t have any, just pudding and gelatin cups, so he headed downstairs in the hopes of finding something in the cafeteria or gift shop that would make Danny smile. He’d hit a street cart if he had to.

He scored a Bomb Pop, finally, and carried it back upstairs after about twenty minutes of hunting. As he neared the doorway to Danny’s hospital room, the sound of voices made him pause. Danny wasn’t normally much of a talker, but the pain medications had him chatting up a storm. He and Lucy were talking and Oliver was curious about what the two of them would discuss without anyone else around.

“The nurses cut off my favorite shirt when we got to the hospital,” Danny complained. “It hurt too much to pull it over my head.”

“I bet your daddy can get you another shirt just like that one.”

“Yeah, but it won’t be the same. My mother sent me that shirt for my last birthday.”

Oliver froze in place. He’d never heard Danny mention his mother. He hadn’t even known she was in contact with her son until now. Dad hadn’t said anything about it. For a moment, Oliver wasn’t sure if he should be happy she was involved or mad for stringing his brother along.

“Did she?” Lucy asked in a polite voice that didn’t betray what she knew about Danny’s mother. “That was nice of her.”

Oliver leaned forward until he could see around the corner of the door frame. Danny was still sitting up in bed. Lucy was sitting at the end of the bed, turned toward Danny with interest.

Danny shrugged on reflex and winced with the movement. “Not really. She sends a package on my birthday and at Christmas, but that’s it. A good mom would do more than that. A good mom would’ve stayed around or taken me with her. Or at least visit every once in a while. That’s what people say when they think I’m not listening.”

He could see Lucy stiffen awkwardly in her seat. What did you say to something like that, knowing it was absolutely true but not being able to fix it?

“I’m sorry to hear that. Not having both parents around can be hard. You know, my daddy left when I was young, too.”

Danny perked up. “Why did yours leave?”

Lucy sighed. “Well, I was small, so I don’t know all the details, but my mom said he met someone else and started a new family. I never saw or heard from him again.”

“Do you have more brothers or sisters?”

“Yes. Someone told me that I have two little sisters somewhere. I don’t know their names.”

Oliver couldn’t believe how little he actually knew about Lucy’s past and her family. What little he did know had come from the file on her the private investigator gave him. She never really talked about her life before she went to Yale and met his sister. Now he knew why. Being a single parent was hard. His father had enough money to get help when he needed it, never having to worry about bills or childcare, but the average mother on her own had no one to depend on but herself.

He imagined that drove Lucy to work even harder at everything she did. Getting into Yale was no easy feat, and getting a scholarship to cover most of the sky-high tuition was near impossible. He knew that having to drop out when she couldn’t afford the tuition had to hurt. Being the companion of a wealthy old woman probably hadn’t been her goal in life, but then again, that detour could very well make her richer than any Yale degree ever could.

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