Bringing Emma Home(9)

By: Stella MacLean

It had nothing to do with their life now. Grace’s happiness meant everything to him. He glanced furtively at his wife, seeing a look of confusion on her face, wishing he could end the call and it would all simply go away.

“What is going on?” she asked, sitting up straighter, slipping away from his side.

He had to do something to save the situation before he was forced to use words that would cause Grace to be suspicious. “Look, Mr. Knowles. We can discuss this on Monday. I’m sure there is some misunderstanding. We’ll clear it up then.”

“That won’t work. This child, your daughter, is living with her nanny, but arrangements need to be made for her. There is no immediate family, and if you don’t take the little girl, other arrangements will have to be made. I need to see you tomorrow. I’ll be in my office. What time can you be here?”

“I can’t drop everything just because you want to meet,” Aidan said, trying to make sense of this, but even more, trying to absorb that he was supposedly the father of a child he’d never known existed.

He scrubbed his face in disbelief. If this proved to be true, how was he going to tell Grace? He pressed the bridge of his nose, concentrating on regaining control of the situation. Whatever was going on with this Mr. Knowles, he would not let it spill over into his life with Grace.


AT THE SUDDEN change in Aidan’s voice, a chill ran through Grace. Something was horribly, terribly wrong. She’d never seen Aidan look so awful, so confused and uncertain, in all the years she’d known him. “Honey, what is it?”

Grace watched his anxious expression as fear wrapped around her heart, blocking the air from her lungs. Had someone been hurt? Was it a friend? Someone at work? Lucas? Her body quaked at the thought. It couldn’t be her brother, could it? The way Aidan’s gaze moved around the room, never connecting with hers, was terrifying. Unable to help herself, she reached up to put her arms around his shoulders, needing to learn more with each passing minute. “What is going on, Aidan? What is it?”

Clutching the phone tighter to his ear, he turned away from her. “If you insist, I will be there tomorrow afternoon. Not a minute before. Whatever is going on here, I’m as anxious as you to get to the bottom of this.”

Relief whistled through her at his words, the strict business tone he used. From what he said, it was clear that no one was hurt or in trouble, at least, no one she knew. Yet the soft light from the window exposed the pallor of Aidan’s skin. “What’s wrong?” she whispered urgently.

“It’s nothing, a misunderstanding that needs to be cleared up, that’s all,” he said, hanging up.

“What sort of misunderstanding?” she asked, as her nails bit into his shoulders.

“Someone died and I’m needed in Spartanburg tomorrow.” His tone was matter-of-fact, his expression grim, adding to her concern. She’d never known Aidan to respond to someone’s death with such anger. It was as if he didn’t believe what he’d been told.

“That’s awful. I’m sorry. But why did they call you? If it’s about business, why didn’t they call Lucas?”

He shook his head, still holding the phone as he rose from the bed and went to the window.

Grace went to him, wanting to comfort him. Taking his hand, she said, “Whatever is going on, I want to be there with you. Tell me who died.”

“It’s someone…I knew… A client.”

“Someone you knew? In Spartanburg?”

Aidan turned away, moving closer to the heavily draped window, his shoulders slumped.

She waited. He didn’t turn back to her, seek her out the way he did when something was bothering him. He’d been like that since the day they’d met. She could always rely on him to share his thoughts, whatever they were, good or bad.

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