The billionaires obsessi.., p.12
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       The Billionaire's Obsession, p.12
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         Part #1 of An Heir At Any Price series by Holly Rayner
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  He was silent again for a minute or two and then he said, “I sure do appreciate it, Frank. You know I wouldn’t steer you wrong. You’re gonna be thanking me. Hey, we need to get a beer and catch up. Yeah, I got your number now, I’ll call you.” He hung up and turned to me and said, “He’ll have your hiring paperwork ready when you get there on Friday.”

  I jumped up and threw my arms around his neck, “Oh thank you, Joe! You’re awesome, I love you! Thank you!”

  He laughed again. I loved the sound of it. Then he said, “I didn’t tell him nothing that wasn’t true. You got the job on your own merits, but I wish you’d been around for my last three marriages, you could a told ‘em how awesome I am.”

  “Well you call me before the next one. I’ll make sure she knows,” I said with a grin. Joe’s multiple marriages were a source of amusement for us around the café. He said he would, “Keep going through ‘em until he found Mrs. Right.”

  I left there feeling blessed to have such great friends, and for the first time in a while, looking forward to a new beginning. I’d saved enough money from my weekly pay that I should be able to get a place and pay for the first two months. I’d like to find a two bedroom and when Mom finishes her program maybe she’d like to stay with me and the baby for a while before going back to her own house. Me and the baby, it sounded strange, but amazing at the same time. I suddenly processed it…I’m going to be a mother.

  ***

  I took the train out to Scarsdale on Thursday morning. My mother was finally able to have visitors and I found myself anxious to see her. I waited nervously in the visiting room for her to come out. It was like a big, pretty greenhouse, full of plants and flowers and pretty vases. There were couches and chairs for visiting and a big pot of coffee and carafe of tea. This place was really nice.

  There were several other visitors there and I watched as the residents came in one at a time, looking for my mom. The first lady who came in was about Mom’s age and an older, tired looking man was waiting for her. They didn’t seem happy to see each other; they just looked like they were going through the motions. They had both likely been here before. Alcoholism was a sad disease and it destroyed many a family.

  Another resident came in, this one a girl that couldn’t have been much over eighteen. The visitors looked to be her parents and maybe a younger sister. They looked ecstatic to see her but the only thing I heard her say to them was, “Did you bring my phone?” Her sister handed her a mobile that they weren’t allowed to keep here. She took it and started scrolling through it. Then, she looked happy. I felt bad for her parents. I would imagine that being in their shoes with a child with an addiction would be even worse than having a parent with one.

  The lady who came in next was dressed in a pink jogging suit and her long brown hair hung down to her shoulders in shiny ringlets. Her brown eyes shone and her smile was bright. She was thin, but she looked healthy. She was my mother and I barely recognized her.

  “Mom, oh my goodness, you look amazing!” She smiled and blushed a little.

  “Thanks, my roommate let me use her curlers last night.”

  “Well, your hair looks fabulous, but it’s not just that. It’s you, all of you. You look so healthy. Your skin and your hair, you’ve put on weight. You look like your old self, only prettier.”

  “Thanks, it’s amazing what a little nutrition can do for you. You look pretty amazing yourself, but then again, you always do. You take after your daddy.”

  “Oh hush, I look just like you and you know it,” I told her. It was true. My dad had been a good-looking guy, but he’d had red-hair and blue eyes. I got the dark hair and eyes from my mom.

  “I know,” she said with a sly grin. “I was just fishing for a compliment.” We both laughed. Finding a cozy little couch in the back, we sat down.

  “So, all is still well here? You like it, they’re good to you?”

  “They are such nice people, and yes, they’re very good to me. All of the counselors are recovering alcoholics or addicts, so they really understand where we’re coming from. It’s sad, but it’s easier for me to hear that I’m an alcoholic from someone who has been there themselves.”

  “It’s not sad, Mom. We all need to hear things from people with experience. Otherwise it’s just an opinion, or an educated guess.” She smiled at me, and then nearly knocked my socks off by reaching over and putting her hand on my belly.

  “Speaking of things I’m experienced in, is there something you want to tell me?”

  “My belly is literally a pooch. How did you know I didn’t just gain a little weight?”

  “I can see it on you. Your body looks suddenly more like a woman and less like a young adult.”

  I wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not but I said, “You’re right. Are you ready to be a grandmother?”

  Her smile couldn’t have been broader, “I am so ready,” she said. “Are you ready to be a mother?”

  I smiled nervously and said, “I guess I have to be, don’t I?”

  “I’m guessing you were aware of your other options. Selfishly, I’m glad you chose this one. Is the daddy going to be involved?”

  I sighed; I suppose it was time I told her what was going on. She seemed strong enough to handle it at this point. I had kept it from her before because I didn’t want her mind muddled up with my problems when she had huge ones she was trying to deal with of her own. I began with Aiden coming into the café. I told her how he would just make casual conversation with me at first and then one day, he started asking more personal questions. That led up to the proposition and my acceptance and ended with him being drunk and me packing and leaving while he was passed out. She listened quietly before speaking.

  “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry I wasn’t around to help you through all of that. I know that I’m probably the last person you’re hoping for advice from but if you’ll indulge me, I do think I have one or two wise words left in me.”

  I put my arm around her. It was so nice to feel meat there. “I’d love to hear your advice,” I told her, honestly. It had been a long time since she had even wanted to offer it. That told me a lot about her state of mind right there.

  She took my hand and said, “First of all, I think you are going to be a wonderful mother. I can see a flicker of a doubt in your eyes when you talk about it. I’m not just saying that because you’re my daughter. You’ve stuck by me for ten years, Holly. Ten long, miserable years, and you’ve taken care of me in every situation. When you have a baby, it will be joyous and fun and awful and tiring, but you’ve already proven over and again that you have the stick-to-itness that it takes. You’re a much better woman than me, Holly Valentine.”

  “Thanks Mom, but please don’t put yourself down like that either. Look at you. I know you didn’t get back to yourself without working your ass off for it. Besides, I only did what family does for one another. You don’t walk away from your family.”

  “No, most people would have given up long ago, family or not. But, you never did and for that baby girl I am going to be eternally grateful. Without you I’d probably be one of those homeless women you see panhandling on the streets. I’m sure there are lots of reasons you’re going to Heaven, but I’m sure all of this would have earned you a place there on its own.

  Now, about this Aiden. I don’t know him, so I can’t speak to how he feels. But, I do know you and I can tell when you talk about him how you feel. You didn’t come right out and say the “L” word, but I can see it in your eyes, baby, and on your face. I also see pain and confusion. You’re telling me that he won’t open up to you. That he’s afraid and he’s built up walls. Don’t get mad at me for saying this, honey, but you’ve got a few of those walls up yourself. I know a lot of that is my fault and I’m so sorry. I know that you probably took one look at him passed out drunk and had a flashback of all the times you’ve had to deal with me in that condition…” (The scary part of that was that was exactly what happened). I didn’t say that
though. The last thing I wanted to do right now was hurt her. She went on to say, “But, you need to realize that if you want him to be open with you then you have to be open with him as well.”

  My mother could have been speaking in Chinese and it would have been just as fascinating to me. It had been so many years since I truly had a mother to offer me her advice and support, and here she was offering it and soundly. It was the best thing that could have happened, and at a time when I needed it the most. I hugged her tight.

  “For now, Mom, I’m resigned to doing this on my own. I know that I can. Aiden is a man with a lot of resources, and if he wants to find me, he can. If it’s meant to be, he will. If not I will always have a part of him.”

  “I believe you can do this too. And, I hope that I can be of some help to you while you’re doing it. It’s about time I started acting like the mom instead of the child.” She took both of my hands in hers and looked me in the face and said, “Holly, thank you for being there for me these past ten years. I’m so sorry for all I put you through. I’m going to do anything from now on forward to make it up to you.”

  “Thank you, Mom. I love you, and I always knew that you were worth standing by. I will never leave you, no matter what.”

  “I love you too, Holly. So very much.” She cupped my chin in her hand and looked directly at me as she said it.

  ~

  Chapter Fifteen

  ~

  AIDEN

  I hung up the phone after talking to Marley. She was the woman who would be carrying my child as long as she passed the medical assessment. Marley is married to one of my employees and I knew that she had been a surrogate three other times. She and my employee Jeff have two healthy, very beautiful children of their own. Jeff’s a highly paid executive so the money is not a big draw for her or them as a family. She does it because she says everyone has a right to have a child and it’s her way of “giving back.” I would still pay her handsomely and take care of all the expenses, but I decided this way would be a lot less stressful than the old fashioned approach that I’d tried to take with Holly. Women have a hard time with detaching the emotion from sex. I had been a bachelor long enough that I should have considered that before taking Holly into my house and going to her bed every night.

  Marley always did it the insemination route. She was twenty-nine and from what she told me, she was in excellent health. She would be going in for insemination weekly until she conceived. All of her others had been conceived quickly and I was really tired of waiting for this to happen. I am a patient man, but the debacle with Holly had taken a lot of my patience away. Marley did mention the possibility of multiple births doing it the insemination route, but I didn’t even care about that, as long as I got my heir.

  I had waited two months with Holly before she left, patiently, I thought. I could very well have taken advantage of her and had sex a lot more often than late at night. But I was a gentleman whether she believed it or not, and as mind-blowing as the sex was, I just didn’t think that would be right.

  She had been gone a little over a month now, and I had waited all of that time thinking she was going to come back. I should have moved forward with Marley weeks ago, but for some reason I couldn’t make myself believe that Holly was gone for good. I called her every day and left messages. She never called back. I talked to her friends and although I was sure they had to know where to find her, no one would tell me where she was staying. If this damned city wasn’t so big I would have gone hotel to hotel looking for her. One thing that made Holly hard to track was that she didn’t use credit at all. She paid for everything with cash.

  She never came back, nor did she even call me but for some crazy reason even as I hung up the phone with Marley, I was still holding out hope that she’d walk back in the door. My head seemed to hurt all the time lately and my heart felt like it was racing and I was also having a terrible time sleeping at night too. It was all out of character for me and it actually pissed me off to feel this way.

  One night when I couldn’t sleep I went into her room. I lay down on the bed and closed my eyes. It still smelled like her perfume and the fragrance filled my senses and lulled me to sleep. When I woke up later in the dark, I was disoriented at first and I thought she was there with me. The disappointment was bitter when I woke up enough to realize that she wasn’t. I thought about her all the time and it was driving me crazy. I realized that I’ve never felt this strongly about anyone, not even my ex-wife. When my she left me, I was angry with her and it hurt to find out that she hadn’t really loved me in a long time before it was over. Mostly though I was devastated by the loss of the boy that I thought was my son. But I still didn’t miss her like this. It felt like when Holly left she took a part right out of me with her and now I had this gaping hole in the center of my chest that ached continuously. I think I was falling in love with her, but that wasn’t supposed to happen. She was supposed to be just any other employee. I suppose the having sex with her part blew that, but it still wasn’t supposed to involve love. Before she left, I had begun to think she had those feelings for me as well. But you don’t just walk out of someone’s life if you love them. You stay and fight if you have to, but you don’t walk away.

  I grabbed my aching head and sat down on the sofa. I knew that I was contradicting myself. Her walking away had actually been in our contract. I’d expected it to happen a lot later than it did, after she’d had my child, but I was the one who had planned for her to walk away in the first place. Now I was the one whining because she did.

  I had to find a way to put Holly in the past where she belonged, and I thought the best way to do that would be to move forward with my life and my plans for an heir. I just needed something else to concentrate my energies on besides work. I had talked to Jeff about it and he was happy to talk to his wife. She was the one I’d been talking to the day Holly had overheard me. At that time, I’d just been thinking of her as a back-up plan and now, I’m glad I did. Like all of the other women in my life, Holly had left me. Like all of the other times, I knew that I would get over it and move forward, stronger than ever. Marley had just told me she met with the lawyer and signed the contracts today and I was ready to call the doctor to get things moving on the medical end.

  I dialed up Dr. Lewis. He came on the line sounding very jovial.

  “Well, Aiden! It’s been a long time. I was actually just thinking of calling you today.”

  “Really?” I asked, thinking it was curious that he was going to call me. “I guess great minds do think alike. Hey Doc, I need to arrange an assessment for a young lady named Marley. She’s agreed to be my surrogate and she is willing to do it by insemination. I believe that she is pretty healthy, and she’s done this before, so she understands it all very well. I want her assessed medically just to be sure though when you have the time please.”

  “You want a new woman assessed?” Dr. Lewis sounded surprised, or concerned.

  “Yes, is that a problem?” I asked him, confused myself now.

  “I’m sorry, I’m just a bit confused I suppose. I was planning to call you today to ask if things were okay with Holly. She was pretty excited about all of this the last time she was here; I’m surprised that I haven’t at least heard from her. She’s long overdue for her next appointment…”

  “Holly’s gone, doctor.”

  “Gone? Oh my, you mean she…?”

  He thought I was telling him that she died. I had an actual sick feeling in my stomach just at the thought.

  “No, no she’s not dead. She’s gone…she moved out, I have no idea how to contact her, and she’s changed her phone number…”

  “Oh, I see,” he said. I could tell there was more to it. He was acting very strangely. I had to wonder what he wasn’t telling me.

  “Doctor, when was the last time you saw Holly?” I was pretty sure I knew the answer because now that I really thought about it, that was when she started acting strangely as well.

  “Abo
ut six weeks ago,” he said. That was the last appointment. The one when she told me that she still wasn’t pregnant…

  “And how was she? Was everything normal?” I was starting to feel sick again. I didn’t want to believe that she’d lied to me.

  “She was…well, everything was…well,” he said. He was confirming my suspicions with his hesitancy.

  “Doctor, if you look in that chart I know you’re holding right now, you will see that she signed consents for me to obtain medical information about her. It’s part of the contract that she signed, and I was with her when she signed those as well.” He was silent and I heard paper shuffling.

  “Yes, Aiden, they’re here.”

  “Good, now, would you like to tell me what’s going on?”

  “Holly’s pregnant, Aiden. We’re you not aware of that?”

  “No, unfortunately she chose not to share that fact with me. I guess we’ll put a hold on the other assessment for now until I find out what’s going on. Doctor, how far along is she?”

 
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