Bringing Emma Home(8)

By: Stella MacLean

“Did he say what he wanted?”

“No. Just that he needed to talk to you as soon as possible. There seems to be some sort of emergency.”

He exchanged surprised glances with Grace. “But Lucas looks after our clients in Spartanburg. Did you tell him that?”

“I did, but he said it’s a personal matter, that he needs to speak to you directly.”

“Okay, put him on,” Aidan said with a sigh, pulling Grace closer as he settled in to hear what the man had to say.

“Hello, is this Aidan Fellowes?” a deep, gruff voice inquired.

“It is. What is so urgent that you need to speak to me today? I’ll be back in the office on Monday and we can talk then.”

“I’m afraid that won’t work. I have to ask you a few questions,” the man said.

“Who is this?” Aidan said, annoyed at the man’s presumption that he could dictate to him.

The phone was silent for a few moments. “It’s Larry Knowles. I’m the attorney for Deidre MacPherson.”

“I’m sorry,” Aidan said, his mind scrambling over the possibilities. Deidre had never attempted to contact him after their long-ago weekend together. “Why are you calling me? I have no connection to that person.”

“Ms. MacPherson was killed in an automobile accident on Thursday. According to her will, you are sole beneficiary of her estate with the proviso that you become the legal guardian of her daughter, Emma.”

Aidan swung his legs over the side of the bed and sat up. “You’ve got the wrong person. This is a mistake.”

“Not according to what I’m reading here.” He could hear the rustle of pages and a short pause. “She states that you are Emma’s father. She wants you to be her daughter’s guardian and to adopt her as soon as possible. When you do, you will receive the total of her estate worth over five million dollars. Her will is very clear on this point. Did you have no idea that she’d done this?”

It wasn’t possible. He couldn’t be the father of Deidre’s child. They’d spent a weekend together. Nothing more. He’d tried unsuccessfully for years to get his wife pregnant. What was the likelihood that he’d fathered a child with another woman?

This story had to be a lie. Obviously, Deidre had decided to make him responsible for a child he’d never met and couldn’t possibly have fathered. He took a deep breath. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. I think this conversation has gone far enough,” he said forcefully, his eyes meeting Grace’s anxious expression as she snuggled under his arm, the gentle touch of her hand offering him her support.

“No. It hasn’t. Not until you agree…” More paper shuffling. “I have here a document, a DNA test that Ms. MacPherson had done on her child and you. You are the father of Emma Leigh MacPherson. We need to talk. When can you be in Spartanburg, Mr. Fellowes?”

“There has to be a mistake. I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Aidan said, the lie slipping so easily off his tongue.

Aidan’s stomach rose against his chest as his mind raced over the words this man had spoken. Something was wrong. This couldn’t be happening. It had been years ago, another lifetime, and none of it had meant anything to him. Grace knew nothing about that weekend, had never questioned any of his business trips.

His wife was a Christian who believed that the truth was a guiding principle in life. He believed it, too. He hadn’t wanted to lie to her about that weekend, and so had pleaded a heavy workload in Spartanburg.

He didn’t want to lie to her now, but he had no choice. If she found out that he’d fathered a child while they were trying to get pregnant, she would be devastated. He had no doubt that she would leave him. He couldn’t let that happen. Not over a mistake he had always regretted.

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