He clicked on the Next Page link, and what seemed like a scanned document started loading.
A document that appeared to be…
Nicholas swore under his breath when his worst fears were confirmed.
His lawyer answered at the second ring, and Nicholas didn’t waste time with small talk. “I need you to check something for me,” he said tightly.
Sensing the urgency in his client’s tone, Joe silently waved for his secretary to leave and waited for the doors to close before reaching for his pen, saying, “Give me the basics, and I’ll get to it right away.”
“I think I’m married.”
“Without my knowledge,” Nicholas interrupted.
“My son might be involved.”
And it just kept getting shittier, Joe thought as he started scribbling. “I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.”
An email arrived at Nicholas’ inbox exactly seventeen minutes later, with several documents attached. The first one was a marriage contract…between him and one Tabitha Sandler, and with his own eighteen-year-old son standing for him in proxy.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
It became instantly clear to him that Daniel had forged his signature on the documents as well as committing dozens of other crimes along the way. Joe’s email showed that Daniel had put up a dating firm called Hearts’ Match, and it didn’t appear to be a coincidence at all that his son’s company could be easily mistaken for Heart’s Match, the matchmaking agency that Nicholas’ childhood friend Charlotte owned.
Joe’s third set of documents was a contract brokered by Daniel’s company, and specified in it was a list of conditions that both Nicholas and Tabitha had to meet. One party failing to do so would be sufficient grounds for divorce, with Nicholas apparently agreeing to transfer half of his fortune…to Tabitha’s name.
When Nicholas called his lawyer for the second time, Joe appeared to be expecting it, having picked up the call before the first ring had even ended.
The older man also beat him to speaking, saying heavily, “If you don’t want to risk Ms. Sandler suing your son for fraud and God knows what else, your best bet is to play it safe and keep your new wife happy while I try finding you a loophole.”
“You’re not paying me a fortune to lie to you.”
Nicholas’ fist clenched against the urge to punch a hole into the nearest wall. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Why the hell would Daniel do something asinine as this?
“How long do you think it will take you to get me out of this mess?”
“It will help if you can track your son for me—”
“He’s vacationing in Tahoe—”
“I know that’s where he’s supposed to be,” Joe said almost apologetically, “but I’ve already checked, and your housekeeper told me she hasn’t heard a peep from him.”
“I’ll personally work on this, Nick, but I’m no miracle worker, so in the meantime…” Joe cleared his throat. “You saw that first condition, didn’t you? It shouldn’t be hard—” Nicholas started cursing up a storm, and the lawyer’s words came into a halt.
What in the world was wrong with Nick? Joe had seen photos of the girl, and while she was no headturner, she wasn’t all that bad either. She had a nice smile, and an even nicer figure. How bad could it be?
Faint footsteps had Bee turning away from the corral, and she unconsciously straightened when she saw Nicholas striding towards her. She tested a smile at him, and while he didn’t smile back, he at least didn’t snap her head off and look at her like she was insane.
Which was how he had been looking at her, she thought ruefully, ever since meeting her at the bus stop.
Nicholas didn’t know what to make of himself as he came to stand next to the girl—
Tabitha, he reminded himself.
He might still have a hard time thinking of her as his wife, but he could at least stop thinking of her as just his son’s friend.
His son, Nicholas thought, whose age was likely to be closer to Tabitha’s than his.
“I hope you don’t mind me coming here.” Tabitha’s words drew him out of his thoughts, and he saw her gesture to the heifer peacefully sleeping in the corner, a padded bed cushioning her hefty frame. “I thought it would be nice to finally see Petula in person.”
Nicholas didn’t bother hiding his surprise. “You know her?”
“Danny told me she’s the best birthday gift you’ve ever given him.”
“As it should be,” he said evenly. “A sportscar would’ve cost me less money than his sudden decision to turn one of my finest stocks into a damn house pet.”
Nicholas’ disgruntled tone made him seem a lot more human, and it had her relaxing enough to speak more freely in his presence. “I think it’s cute that you spoil him so,” she confessed. “I’d do, too, if I had a son like him.”
“But you can’t. Can you?”