He was able to spoil little Daniel when he wanted, have his baby boy visit him during weekends and then get Carly to take him back when he had other plans. It was an ideal setup, and it had never occurred to him to question the status quo until he had impulsively decided to drive up to Carly’s house. He had intended to surprise Daniel with a visit, but he had been the one who ended up stunned.
Carly’s three-story mansion, which she was only able to afford because of his monthly paychecks, appeared to have served as a lavish playground for the rich and famous. It was where the junkies went whenever they needed a private haven to indulge their vices, and for those with highly particular sexual appetites, the mansion also functioned as a bordello, with Carly willingly procuring the necessary participants for the right price.
And on the night he had visited, he had caught Carly just about to hand over their own son – their baby boy – to an aging old sheikh in exchange of a hundred million dollars.
“She swore to me that Danny had never been involved before that night,” Nicholas said harshly. “But even though the FBI and the investigators I had hired corroborated her story, a part of me couldn’t stop thinking that she had to be lying. That everyone was lying, and I was too late—”
Tears falling down her cheeks, Bee threw her arms around him, whispering, “I’m so sorry.”
“I had nightmares about it for years,” Nicholas said tonelessly. “And I don’t think I’ll ever forgive myself for what happened.”
She tightened her hold around his neck. “I’m so sorry, Nicholas.” And now, the words that Danny occasionally and fleetingly mentioned, words that used to puzzle her – they all made sense to her now.
I’m not saying my dad’s uncool or anything, but he takes most things seriously.
Sometimes, I get the feeling he’s still punishing himself.
He doesn’t find it easy to trust people, so you need to be patient with him.
Bee bit her lip hard, but it was no use, her tears only falling faster as she found herself unable to stop imagining the way he must’ve felt, seeing his seven-year-old son almost lose his innocence in the hands of a pedophile.
She ached to help him, but she didn’t even know where or how to start, and never had she felt more painfully insecure than she did at that very moment. She was nothing but a high school dropout, with not even looks or a nice job to speak of. She didn’t even have any experience to speak of, something that would at least allow her to connect to Nicholas as another parent.
Bee felt Nicholas brush his lips against the top of her head. “No more tears, sweetheart. It’s all in the past now.”
“I just wish…” Her voice caught. “I just wish I knew how to help you.” Because the more she thought about it, the more terrified she was…
Could it be possible Danny had made a mistake in choosing her?
“Good morning, h-husband.”
Nicholas opened his eyes at the giddy, breathless sound of Tabitha’s voice. She was on her knees on the bed, wearing his shirt, and her dark hair cascading down one slim shoulder. He saw right away that she was obviously tickled pink to call him the H-word…and equally made obvious by her pink cheeks was how she had mustered all her courage to actually say the word out loud.
Bee let out a gasp when Nicholas, in one sudden move, had reversed their positions, and she found herself lying on her back while her husband – oh my gosh, this man was her husband – loomed over her with a rakish smirk.
“Good morning, wife.” He half-expected himself to choke on the word, but instead it rolled smoothly down his tongue like he had always been destined to say it. To her.
He watched her lips part in surprise at the words, and then her face blossomed with a smile that threatened to make his heart do something stupid like skip a fucking beat.
This was getting out of hand, dammit.
But somehow he couldn’t make himself regret it.
Bee let out another gasp when Nicholas (her husband, her mind kept chanting) swept her up in his arms and off the bed.
“Where are we going—oh.”
He had carried her to the en-suite bathroom, and instead of lowering Bee to the floor, Nicholas had deposited her right in the middle of his enormous wooden barrel bathtub.
Did that mean they were about to share a bath together?
The thought had a series of racy scenarios immediately popping up in her mind, and Bee’s cheeks heated up. Some of her favorite mail order romances included this exact scene, too, and oh, if even just one of those things were to take place…
When Nicholas turned to face Tabitha, he caught her with her hands on her flushed cheeks mid-pinch, and he laughed. “I wonder what has you excited now,” he murmured wickedly.