Welcome, everyone! This is my June 2012 release THE TYCOON'S SECRET DAUGHTER.
It's an interesting story about how a father's mistake can mess up the lives of his two sons. This is Max's story and in August his younger brother Chance gets to tell his side of the story!
Exiting the elevator in the lobby of Mercy General Hospital, Max Montgomery glanced up and did a double take. The woman leaving the coffee shop looked exactly like his ex-wife.
Petite as Kate had been, wearing blue jeans and a little flowered top that was her style, with thick, shoulder-length sable-color hair that swung when she moved, she had to be Kate.
He shook his head, telling himself that was nuts. His wife had left Pine Ward, Pennsylvania almost eight years ago and he hadn’t seen her since. She’d divorced him through lawyers. Hadn’t answered the letters he’d sent to her parents’ home. Hadn’t even returned to visit as far as he knew. Not even at holidays. That couldn’t be her.
He made his way to the wide glass exit doors and they automatically parted, but curiosity turned him around before he could step out.
The woman now stood in front of the elevator he’d exited, her back to him.
Sensation vibrated through him, the radar he’d always had with her. He’d always known when she was within twenty feet. Always known when she was about to walk into the room. Always known.
It had to be her. The radar never failed.
He took a few cautious steps toward her, but stopped. Even if it was her, why would she want to see him? What would he say? Sorry I screwed up our marriage, but I’m sober now.
Actually, that wasn’t such a bad idea. Of all the people on his twelve-step list, people he needed to make amends with, he’d contacted everyone but her. The person who most deserved his apology.
If it wasn’t her, he’d simply apologize for the mistake.
Either way, he’d be apologizing. No big deal.
He sucked in a breath, crossed the small space between them and tapped on her shoulder.
His heart stopped then sped up again. It was her.
His mind flew to the day he’d met her at a pool party at a friend’s house. She’d worn a green bikini that matched her eyes. But though her looks had been what caught his attention, it was her personality that hooked his heart. Sweet. Fearless. Funny. In one short conversation, she’d made him forget every other woman he knew. And now she was here. In front of him.
His heart stumbled. His knees weakened.
But when she realized who’d tapped her, the happily surprised expression on her face crumbled and was replaced by something Max could only describe as a look of horror.
A lump of emotion lodged in his throat. More of their life together flashed through his brain. The way they’d talked till dawn the day of the pool party. The first time they’d kissed. The first time they’d made love. Their wedding day.
He’d thrown it all away for the contents of a bottle.
He cleared his throat. “Kate.”
She motioned with her coffee. “I…Um…I need to get this up to mom.”
This time when his heart up-ended it was with fear for her. “Your mom is here? As a patient?”
“No. No. She’s fine.” She glanced around nervously. “Daddy had a stroke.”
Was that any better? “Oh, my God. I’m sorry.”
“He’s okay.” She looked to the right again. “The stroke was reasonably mild. Prognosis is good.” She tried to smile. “I’ve really gotta go.”
It was the worst moment of his life. Eight years ago, she would have turned to him in this kind of tragedy. Today, she couldn’t stand to be around him. In some respects, he didn’t blame her. But he’d changed. He’d been in Alcoholics Anonymous for seven years. He was sober. And he did realize what he’d lost. But more than that, apologizing, admitting his faults, was part of his twelve-step program.
When the elevator pinged, he caught her arm to prevent her from turning. Electricity crackled through him.
Their gazes caught. His heart swelled with misery. God, how he’d loved her.
She swallowed. “I’ve really gotta…”
“Go. I know. But I need a minute.”
Hospital employees walked out of the elevators behind them. The gathering crowd waiting for the elevator loaded inside.
She glanced around nervously.
Pain skittered through him. She couldn’t even stand to be seen with him. He thought back to the times he’d embarrassed her and the pain became a familiar ache. He’d disappointed so many people.
But that was seven years ago.
And today was today.
He pulled her a few feet away from the elevators. “I have to tell you that I’m sorry.”
Her face scrunched with confusion. “Have to?”
“Yes. It’s part of the program.”
Her eyes lit with recognition. “Oh, twelve steps.”
She looked at him differently now, closely. “You’re sober.”
He finally let himself smile. He’d wanted to be able to tell her that for seven long years. “Yes.”
Her voice softened. “I’m so glad.”
His chest loosened a bit. Breathing became easier. “I am too.”
An awkward silence stretched between them. He understood. There really wasn’t anything for them to say. He’d ruined their marriage. She’d left him to save herself.
She showed him the two cups of coffee again. “I should get this to my mom before it gets cold.”
Pain radiated out from his heart to his entire body. He’d had this woman. She’d loved him and he’d loved her. She’d been everything to him and he’d driven her away.
Don’t dwell on the past. Focus on the future.
He stepped back. “Yeah. Sure. I’m sorry.”
The bell for the second elevator pinged. The doors swooshed open. Kate turned to get inside, but a little girl raced out.
“Mom! Grandma sent me to find you. She thinks you’re making that coffee.”
His knees that had been weakened began to shake. The little girl’s hair might have been the same sable color as Kate’s, but those blue eyes … they were
Pain morphed into shock. Could this be his child? His daughter?
“And who is this?”
Kate’s gaze flicked to his. Her hand fell protectively to the little girl’s shoulder. “This is Trisha.”
His body went stock still. “Short for Patricia?” His beloved grandmother’s name? Why name the little girl after his grandmother if she wasn’t his?
She smiled weakly. Her eyes filled with tears. She whispered, “Yes.”
He had a child. A daughter. And Kate had kept her from him?
He looked at the little girl again. Pain, wonder, curiosity simultaneously burst inside him. Everything in him wanted to touch her. To examine her. To see the beautiful child he’d made.
But anger warred with longing and both of them were wrapped in confusion. Was this why she’d left him? Because she was pregnant? Because she didn’t want him to know his child?
Fury rose, hot and eager for release, but thank God his common sense had not deserted him. With this beautiful little girl standing so sweetly innocent in front of him, he couldn’t out-and-out ask Kate if this was his daughter.