Fucking perfect, he thought as he took Jamie’s hand and walked her to the door. She’d barely finished pressing the doorbell when the door was practically ripped open and an older woman in her fifties with dark brown hair, a tad too much makeup and designer clothes grabbed Jamie and pulled her into her arms.

Nick looked over in time to see dozens of cameras go off while several more men and women ran to the sidewalk to join in the feeding frenzy. When he turned around he noted that the woman was still holding on to Jamie even though Jamie was rigid in the woman’s arms. He also noted the smug smile on the woman’s face as she watched the paparazzi go nuts.

Having had enough drama for one day thanks to this woman whom he was assuming to be her “mother”, Nick smoothly pulled Jamie away and waited for the older woman to invite them in. With a fake smile the woman did just that. As soon as the door was closed behind them the smile was gone and a look of utter disdain took over the woman’s features as she gestured for them to follow her.

He gave Jamie’s hand a squeeze as they followed the woman through the foyer to a room with double doors. When the door opened he spotted an older man with graying red hair sitting on small sofa, sipping a glass of what appeared to be whiskey as he spoke with a younger man and woman who was obviously this woman’s natural daughter judging by her coloring and pinched expression when she spotted Jamie. When her eyes shifted to him they widened in surprise before they turned calculating.

The woman was beautiful, classically so with her partisan look and it wasn’t too hard to see that the woman had been pampered every day of her life.

Remembering how his little recluse used to look it wasn’t too difficult to figure out that Jamie hadn’t been and the reason behind it. Her mother wanted her real daughter to have all the attention and she’d made damn sure of it at Jamie’s expense.

He looked over at the man at her side just in time to see his expression when his eyes landed on Jamie and did a double take. His eyes lit up when he spotted Jamie and Nick didn’t appreciate the way the man ran his eyes over his little recluse. The smile he sent Jamie’s way also didn’t please him.

“Jamie,” the man said, getting to his feet and walking over to greet her, “you look great.” When the man pulled Jamie into a hug he barely stopped himself from shoving the ass**le aside and telling him keep his hands to himself. Something in his expression must have given away his feelings on the matter because when the man looked at him he noticeably blanched and stepped away from Jamie.

“I don’t believe we’ve met,” he said, reaching out to shake Nick’s hand. “I’m David, Caitlyn’s husband.”

“Nick, Jamie’s boyfriend,” he said before he realized what he was saying, but once it was out he decided that he rather liked it, especially if it let this ass**le know that he had a claim on Jamie.

David noticeably startled as he looked between him and Jamie as if he just couldn’t believe it. The looks the other women were sending their way pretty much said it all. They didn’t think very highly of Jamie. The fact that her father and sister didn’t greet Jamie also said it all.

He took Jamie’s hand into his and entwined their fingers. It was then that he realized that she was trembling and that her hand was ice cold. Without waiting for an invitation, he walked Jamie over to the love seat across from her sister and sat down, pulling Jamie into his side. He put his arm around her as he tried his best to give her the support that she needed, but he wasn’t sure what to do.

This was the first time he ever tried to be there for a woman and he didn’t want to mess this up. Jamie needed him and normally that thought would have scared him, but he had to admit that he rather liked being there for her. He didn’t think he would, but he liked being needed by her. Any other woman and he wouldn’t bother.

“I suppose you’re here because of the story,” her father said instead of acknowledging his youngest daughter.

“Yes,” Jamie said firmly. “As much as I would like to know why you leaked the story to the press instead of talking to me about it I’m more interested in my mother.”

He noticed the older woman didn’t protest or get mad that she referred to another woman as her mother. Then again it was more than obvious that Jamie was just a means to get attention at the moment. He didn’t need to be a psychic to know that it had been this woman’s idea to leak the story. She probably felt the attention was owed to her for raising her husband’s unwanted bastard child.

“We really don’t know much about her,” Jamie’s father said, taking a sip of his drink before he reached into his jacket and pulled out an aged envelope and handed it over to Jamie. “She left when she was just a few months pregnant with you. Then when you were four she left you on our doorstop with only a copy of your birth certificate.”

“She didn’t leave a reason why she left me?” Jamie asked, sounding hurt but trying not to show it.

“I’m afraid that’s all we know,” her father said, sighing heavily.

“Henry, you should tell her,” Mrs. Harris said, earning a glare from the man.

“Tell me what?” Jamie asked, shifting in her seat anxiously.

“Barbara,” Henry said tightly in warning.

“She has a right to know,” Barbara said, carefully smoothing her hands down her blouse and skirt as she turned her attention to Jamie. “I’m afraid when we searched for her we discovered that she’d passed away.”

He felt Jamie’s reaction like a physical blow. “Did she have any family?” she asked in a hoarse whisper.

“No,” her father said with a firm shake of his head. “I’m afraid that she was all alone in this world.”

Like Jamie.

Like him.

No, he realized a moment later. That wasn’t true. He had a great job and good friends that more than made up for what he lacked in family and Jamie had him. At least for now. But he’d make sure that she was taken care of even after his feelings for her faded. She was a great woman and deserved better than this.

“Is there anything else I should know?” Jamie asked, looking both hopeful and weary.

Her father didn’t even hesitate when he said, “No,” causing Nick’s bullshit meter to go off the charts.

Chapter 20

“I love you,” Jamie sighed heavily as she settled back against the hill of pillows she’d piled on her bed and hugged the pint of double chocolate, caramel and fudge swirl ice cream to her chest.

Tags: R.L. Mathewson Hollywood Hearts Young Adult
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