The billionaires obsessi.., p.10
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       The Billionaire's Obsession, p.10
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         Part #1 of An Heir At Any Price series by Holly Rayner
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  “It’s just what I think, honey. I don’t know any of this for a hundred percent. But if you decide to walk away be very sure that you can live with that, okay? Otherwise it will be your emotional health in jeopardy.”

  I nodded. It was good to finally have someone to bounce things off of. I needed to say so much of it out loud. I left there that day still unsure of what to do, but at least feeling like my soul was lighter. I went to the boutique where Aiden has an account and got my dress and shoes for the opera. I decided on the way home that I would let us have tonight to enjoy and tomorrow I would tell him. I would also talk to him about all of my concerns and from there, decide what to do.

  ***

  I was dressed in my beautiful, black designer gown and heels by the time Aiden got home. He looked at me and let out a low whistle.

  “Wow, Holly…you’re gorgeous.”

  “Thank you,” I said, blushing. “I’m looking forward to tonight.”

  “Good, I’m looking forward to it, too,” he said. “I’ve seen a few, but not this one in particular. Let me shower and dress and then we’ll go.”

  On the way, Aiden told me that the opera “Macbeth” that we were going to see was composed in 1847. He wanted it to reflect modern times, and times in Europe at that point were very dark. He wanted me to know that the sets and staging would be dark and ominous.

  “It sounds fascinating,” I told him, honestly.

  “Yeah, it does,” he said with a grin. “I like your enthusiasm for life, Holly,” he said, catching me off guard.

  “You think I have a lot of that?” I asked him. I didn’t really see myself that way.

  “I do, and I enjoy being around it. I feed off of it even at times.”

  I laughed and said, “Well then, I’m glad I have it too.”

  We of course sat in one of the private boxes once we’d gotten to the opera. One of Aiden’s business associates and his wife were seated in the box behind us and Aiden introduced me to them as his “girlfriend.” I found it strange and thrilling at the same time. It gave my imagination fodder for more hope that he’d somehow come around to wanting more out of our relationship. When the curtain came up and the lights went down, he even reached over and took my hand in his…this led me on further.

  I tried to concentrate on the show. The lead soprano…Lady Macbeth was a gorgeous woman with a big, big voice. Aiden whispered at one point that Verdi had wanted her to be hideous. With this one, he would have been disappointed. She was so pretty, it was hard for even me to look away.

  When she wasn’t on stage however, I found much of it to be very dark as Aiden had said it would be, and had to keep myself focused on it. I was wondering about his “girlfriend” comment, and the fact that he was holding my hand, and all of the things Myra said earlier. I was practicing in my head how I would tell him that I was pregnant…and I was wondering if he would still want to make love to me once he knew we’d been successful.

  After the opera was over we had dinner at a cozy little steakhouse. I was feeling a warm glow by the time we got home, and was more than ready for Aiden’s amorous advances. We kissed and touched and got each other worked up out on the couch and then we played down the hallway, finally falling into my bed and into each other’s arms. Our lovemaking seemed different to me somehow. It was still mind-numbing but it seemed that Aiden was moving slower, savoring it a bit more. When I fell asleep in his arms that night I wished that I could wake up in the very same position.

  Imagine my surprise when I did. The first thing I normally do is roll over and stretch out on the big bed. This day though I didn’t want to move. I was afraid of waking him up and breaking the spell. My whole body felt warm from the inside out. I could feel his steady breaths on the side of my face and his lips brushing lightly against my skin. I thought about the baby growing inside of me and I had another silly fantasy that Aiden would wake up and decide that we should raise him together. I was lost in these thoughts when he did wake up.

  He looked around the room, disoriented, and when he realized where he was he pulled back and away from me and I knew without asking that he had fallen asleep by mistake and not because he couldn’t stand the thought of leaving the comfort of my arms. After he stretched, he did look at me and smile. It was a forced smile, but I suppose I should give him credit for trying.

  “Do you want some breakfast?” I asked him.

  “What were you thinking?”

  I don’t know if it was the pregnancy already or if it was all the sex, but I was craving pancakes. “How about pancakes…and eggs.”

  “Mmm, sounds sweet and tempting. I’ll take it,” he said. “I’m going to shower while you fix them if you don’t mind.”

  “Sure,” I told him. I hate to admit it, even to myself but I was hoping for a kiss before he got out of bed. Unsurprisingly, I was disappointed. He jumped up and headed out of the room and back to his for his shower. I got up and slipped on my robe and slippers and after brushing my teeth and hair I went out to make the breakfast.

  I had a griddle of pancakes set and got ready to make the eggs when I realized that I’d forgotten to ask Aiden what kind of eggs he wanted. Padding down the hall towards his room, I was stopped short by the sound of his voice. I figured that he must be on the phone and I turned to go back to the kitchen so he didn’t think I was eavesdropping. Then I heard the word “fertility” and I stopped in my tracks. Like a criminal, I crept to the door and stood quietly next to it. My stomach began to churn and I could feel the bile rising to the back of my throat as I heard him speaking.

  “So you’ve had three and it only took two inseminations for the first one and one for the next two? That’s amazing! I’ve been trying with my surrogate for over two months and nothing yet. I haven’t decided just yet if I’m ready to give this one up, but I thank you for calling me back and I’ll be getting back to you soon. Okay, you too, thanks.”

  I swallowed the vomit I wanted to expel and all but ran back down the hall. By the time he came out I had his breakfast on the table and I didn’t care if he liked his eggs scrambled or not. I told him I wasn’t feeling hungry and I was going to shower. Once inside my own room I was finally able to cry. I sat against the door and bawled my eyes out, telling myself how stupid I’d been. Aiden had no feelings for me at all. I was a “baby-maker” to him and that was all, easily traded out if I wasn’t getting the job done to his specifications. I had to get up in a hurry and run to the bathroom, finally expelling the vomit. I felt so stupid and worse than that, physically ill. I sat on the bathroom floor for a long time. I’m not sure how long it was, but I jumped when I heard a knock on the door.

  “Yes!” I said, trying to keep the tremor out of my voice.

  “Holly, I’m going to the office for a bit. I’ll be home for dinner.”

  “Fine,” I said, formulating my own plan for the day in my head. As soon as he was gone, I showered and dressed. Then I packed a little overnight bag and called a cab. Then I called the Best Western near the café and made myself a reservation for the night. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do from there, but I did know that today and tonight, I couldn’t be in the penthouse…I couldn’t look at Aiden.

  ~

  Chapter Thirteen

  ~

  It might make me somewhat of a masochist, but I was glad that I’d overheard that conversation. It made me aware of who I was really dealing with and what this whole arrangement really meant to him. He’d sounded so businesslike, so professional, talking to another woman about her fertility. He was thinking about cancelling my “contract” without even discussing it with me first. I had to stop on my way to the hotel and buy a bottle of tums. My stomach was still churning over it all.

  Before I left the apartment I’d cleaned up the breakfast dishes and sat down to compose a note for my “boss.” I wasn’t sure at first what to say, but I decided to just let the words in my heart pour out through my pen:

  Aiden: I wanted to let you know that I
won’t be home for dinner tonight. I regret to tell you that I overheard your conversation this morning about replacing me. I know to you this is all about business. I have something you need, a womb. Apparently, that womb is not performing up to par. I’m taking too long to conceive and you’re having to endure my miserable company in the process.

  I’m so silly. I somehow convinced myself that you had come to enjoy my company and that perhaps you might come to regret me walking away in the end as much as I have. I’m thinking that perhaps I should do it now instead. You obviously have another fish on your hook and you don’t absolutely need me for anything at this point. I’m going to take a night off and do some thinking. I’ll be back tomorrow to let you know what I decide. Maybe you could fill me in on your plans for letting me go then?

  I spent the rest of the day arguing with myself about whether or not I should go back and what I should do. I needed to take my mind off of all of this at least for a second. It was Sunday, family day at the facility where my mother was. She couldn’t have visitors for one more month, but she did get phone time. I called and told the receptionist who I was and who I’d like to talk to. There is a list for each patient of those who are allowed to call or visit. I was the only one on hers.

  “Hi Mom! How are you doing?” I tried to sound upbeat…it was hard.

  “Hi baby girl. Your mama is doing okay. I got almost two months under my belt. I’ve gained a few pounds, my hair stopped falling out and my skin looks awesome.”

  “That’s great, Mom. I’m so glad to hear that you’re acclimatizing there. How is the staff? Are they nice?”

  “Yes they’re really nice and Holly, I’m glad you made me do this.”

  I laughed, “Mother, you did this; I didn’t make you do anything. All of this hard work is on you.”

  “I would have never done it if not for your urging. Most adult kids would have taken off by now and let me sort it all out, or drink myself to death, whichever came first.”

  “I love you, Mom. I’m not ready to lose you.”

  “I love you too, Holly. Thank you again for sticking by me.” I was getting teary eyed again.

  “Okay, enough mushy gushy stuff. Tell me about the facility. What is your day like?”

  “They keep us really busy. Holly, I can’t even imagine what you had to pay for this place. You must be working double time. I’m so sorry…”

  “Mom, happy stuff, remember?”

  “Okay,” she said with a chuckle. “Well, we’re on a pretty tight schedule Monday through Friday. On Monday I have my one on one therapy. My therapist is so nice, and she’s been in recovery for ten years herself. She really knows what she’s talking about. Then I have a few groups and on Tuesday and Thursdays I do yoga and Friday, acupuncture. I get a massage on the weekends and they let us go on outings to the beach. I can’t believe you’re paying for all of this…”

  “Oh Mother, hush. I want to pay for it. It seems like a great place. I’m so glad that they’re helping you out.”

  “They are, honey. I’ll probably always crave it but they’re teaching me how to push those cravings aside and move forward.”

  “That’s great, Mom.”

  “How’s your work coming along?” she asked me. I didn’t tell her about Aiden, or about not working at the café any longer. I would get around to it. I rubbed my hand across my still flat belly and thought the time will come when I won’t be able to hide it any longer. For now, I didn’t want to worry her.

  “It’s going fine, Mom. You know same old…”

  We talked for a while longer and after a while, I felt myself feeling better, calmer somehow. My mother hadn’t had that effect on me since I was a kid so it was definitely a good thing. That night when I lay down to go to sleep I had decided to go talk to Aiden the next day before my doctor’s appointment. Maybe he had an explanation…

  ***

  I got up early the next day and the first thing I did was check my phone. I was really surprised that Aiden hadn’t called. Was I just fooling myself again? Did he really care that little that the fact I’d left didn’t faze him at all?

  I took a cab to the penthouse and was greeted warmly by the doorman as usual. When I got upstairs, I could tell that something was wrong as soon as I walked in. For one thing, all of the curtains were drawn. It was the middle of the day but it was as dark as night inside the apartment. I switched on a light and was greeted by the grumpy and annoyed voice of my “employer.”

  “Shut it off!”

  “Aiden? Are you okay?”

  “I said, turn it off!” I did as he asked, or demanded I suppose.

  “Why are you sitting here in the dark?”

  “Why are you back?” he said, his words slurred. He sounded drunk.

  “I was hoping that we could talk,” I said. I moved closer as my eyes adjusted to the dim light. When I got close enough I could see that he was still in the same clothes he’d left the house in yesterday morning. His collar was open and his tie was askew. His hair was disheveled which it rarely ever was and he had a ten o’clock shadow on his face and an almost empty bottle of bourbon sitting next to a glass on the table next to him. “You’re drunk,” I said. It just came out because I was so surprised.

  “I’m an adult, I can get drunk if I damn well please.”

  I sat down next to him. “Aiden, this isn’t like you. What’s wrong?”

  “How do you know if it’s like me or not? Maybe this is what I do. You don’t know me Holly; you only think that you do.”

  “Okay,” I said, still trying to stay calm and avoid a drunken confrontation. “I should have said that I’ve never seen you like this. Did something happen?”

  “Maybe it’s not about what happened, but what didn’t happen. We’re two months into our “contract” and nothing is happening. I’ve had my fertility checked, Holly. My swimmers are fine. Maybe I should have had yours checked too. That was a failure on my part.” He sat forward and with a shaky hand he poured what was left in the bourbon bottle into his glass. Picking it up and sloshing some of it over the sides on the way, he brought it to his mouth and drank until it was empty.

  “So you’re ready to give up?” I asked him. “You’re ready to call it quits because I’m not pregnant fast enough for you?”

  “I was ready to explore a back-up plan. You’re the one who walked out. You did what all women do, you left.” He could barely hold his eyelids open and I wondered how long he’d been sitting there like that. I felt angry at him and sorry for him at the same time. I decided we weren’t getting anywhere this way however. I wasn’t going to win an argument with a drunk. I started to stand up when I felt his hand on my wrist.

  “Leaving again?” he said, angrily.

  “Let go of me, Aiden. I’m trying to forgive your behavior because you’re roaring drunk, but you don’t want to take this any further.”

  “Why, Holly? What are you going to do? Walk out? Haven’t you already done that?”

  “I just needed some time alone, to think, Aiden. I came back to talk, but I can’t talk to you like this. Let go of me.”

  He did and I stood up. I looked at him and hardly recognized the man that I saw. I felt another surge of pain in my chest for him, but at the same time I was disgusted. It was a familiar feeling, the same one I got when I looked at my own, drunken mother. I could tell that he was hurting, but I needed him to talk to me before I could help.

  “Aiden, do you want to tell me what’s wrong? I understand you’re upset with me, but surely that’s not all there is to this?”

  He had his head down on his chest and I couldn’t see his face. His breathing seemed heavier and I wondered if he’d fallen asleep. “Aiden?” I said, again.

  He didn’t answer and then suddenly I heard a big snort. He had passed out. I stood watching him sleep for a few minutes knowing that I couldn’t leave my baby with this man. He was so cold sometimes that he was practically sterile and now I find out how he deals with his problems -j
ust like my mother.

  I packed the things that were mine, the ones that I’d brought with me or bought with my own money since I’d been here. I didn’t want anything he’d paid for like the pretty dresses or shoes he’d bought for me to wear out. Once my bag was packed I sat down and wrote him another note:

  Aiden,

  As you’ve probably already figured out, this is not going to work. I struggled with putting aside my personal feelings and everything I’d always believed about being a parent. I think I did a pretty good job, and in spite of any emotions left inside of me, I was still willing to uphold the contract. Yet all along, you had some kind of silent timeline that you hadn’t let me in on. When I heard you interviewing a new surrogate on the phone, it made me physically ill. I needed to think, I needed some time and space alone to figure all of this out. I thought I had, and then I get here to find you drunk and obnoxious, unwilling to talk to me about what is bothering you. I don’t want to bring a child into the world that will have a father who looks at the world as one giant business deal. A child who is either an inconvenience or a tax write off for a father who handles his troubles by looking at them through the bottom of an empty bottle. I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors Aiden, and thank you for everything you’ve given me thus far.

 
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