Secrets of Desire
Coming September 19!
B & N: http://bit.ly/2cZ6RWr
I had never experienced such pain in all my sixteen years. Not even when my mother died. Pain in my body, but even more so, pain in my heart. I knew once I finished pushing, regret would fill every corner of my heart. Regret about my choices. Regret about the life I was giving up. Regret that I couldn’t give this baby everything it deserved. Deep down, I knew this was the best decision I could make, even if it broke me in the process. I was sixteen years old. What kind of life could I provide a baby? I was still a child myself.
Another contraction hit, and a scream ripped through me as I bore down, pushing with all my might. No sooner did the echo of my scream fade than the cry of a baby filled the room. I sank into the bed, exhausted in body and spirit.
“It’s a boy,” came the voice from somewhere in the room. I heard the hustle of activity as the nurses prepared my baby — no, not my baby, their baby — to be handed over to his adoptive parents. I tried to ignore the crushing agony threatening to overwhelm me. Now was not the time. I could grieve later.
“Would you like to see him?” the nurse asked me, even as I started to shake my head. No, I didn’t want to see him. I didn’t want to look at his beautiful face or count his little fingers and toes. It wouldn’t change a thing. It would do nothing but make my decision more difficult. I turned my head toward the wall and wished everything would just be over. I heard the nurse sigh softly in disappointment as she moved away. Before I knew it, the buzz of activity stopped and the quiet snick of the door closing sounded. I turned toward a soft caress against my cheek and immediately burst into heart-wrenching sobs as my father gently climbed into the hospital bed with me. He wrapped me in his comforting arms while we cried together as my heart shattered.
“I need your help.”
My whole body froze at the sound of the voice that haunted my dreams. Slowly, I raised my eyes from the papers scattered across my desk, schooling my features when I saw the stunning redhead standing at my office door. She fidgeted nervously in the doorway looking more beautiful than any woman had a right to. She was tall and all legs with enough curves to draw a man’s attention. Long red locks cascaded down her back to dust the top of her ass. Blunt bangs framed her heart-shaped face, and her long lashes made her chocolate brown eyes appear large in her face, but not big enough to disguise the dark circles under them.
She also possessed an energy about her that instantly put me on high alert. I never expected to see Bridget Carter fidget. She always exhibited a self-assuredness that made me envious. I’d never seen her less than confident and bold as brass. Until today. Today, the boldness she typically displayed was missing. Nervousness, and perhaps even a little fear, had taken its place. As the owner of one of the top security and protection firms in the city, this was an expression I saw far too often.
“Bridget, please, come in and have a seat,” I directed her as I rose from my chair. She closed the door behind her and made her way to the chair in front of my desk. I walked around the opposite side of my desk and propped my butt on it. She sat on the edge of her chair as if poised to flee quickly. It made me want to slay whatever demons were haunting her. And she definitely appeared haunted. “Now, tell me what you need my help with.”
Her breasts distracted me briefly when she inhaled deeply, causing them to rise toward me. I shook myself mentally and brought my focus back to where it needed to be. After a minute, she continued to remain silent. I resisted the urge to reach out to comfort her. Being able to touch her was not something I was ready for, because I knew one touch wouldn’t be enough. I typically used a soft, gentle voice when my cases brought me in contact with scared women and kids, but somehow, I knew I needed a different approach. I had observed Bridget often, and closely enough, at the BDSM club we both frequented, I knew how best to get her to respond. In my most firm Dom voice, I tried again. “Tell me what you need, Bridget. Now.”
She startled, seeming to forget I stood less than three feet from her. However, my command broke through her thoughts, because she began to speak although still not making eye contact.
“I have a son,” she said in a hushed voice, causing my mouth to fall open. Nothing Bridget said could have shocked me more. “Well, biologically, he’s my son,” she continued. “I gave him up for adoption years ago. I was only a kid myself, and I wanted him to have a better life than I would have been able to give him. I asked for an open adoption because, even though I couldn’t take care of him, I still wanted to know he was okay. They sent me regular letters and pictures, but I never initiated contact, and I rebuffed every attempt his adoptive parents made for any type of visitation.”
She fidgeted again, shifting slightly in the chair. Her voice quavered as she spoke. “Please don’t judge me. Seeing him in person and hearing him call another woman ‘mom’ would have pushed me over the edge. The decision to give him up almost killed me. But it was a decision I had to make, even knowing I’d only be a part of his life peripherally.”
She paused, as if gathering her thoughts, before she continued. “I left the option open that he be allowed access to my information when he turned eighteen. He’s only thirteen, so I assumed if he had any interest in contacting me, it wouldn’t be for another five years. Except two days ago, I received a phone call. It only lasted a few seconds, and I don’t even know if it was really him. I only heard, ‘I think you’re my mother. Please, help me,’ and then a scuffle in the background before the line went dead.”
Bridget stopped speaking and finally raised her eyes to meet mine. What I saw in them gutted me. Her long lashes made her chocolate brown eyes appear large in her face, but not big enough to disguise the dark circles under them or the tears that pooled in them. Unable to resist touching her any longer, I moved from my perch and knelt at her feet. I laid one hand on top of hers, which she had been wringing in her lap. Then, I reached up with my other hand to wipe away the lone tear that traced a path down her cheek. “I need you to tell me everything.”
I told my assistant to hold all my calls, and for the next hour, Bridget explained to me that, right before she’d turned sixteen she discovered she was pregnant. Her mom died when Bridget was young, so her father raised her. He worked two jobs to support them, and when she became pregnant she knew there was only one option. She located an adoption agency and found the perfect adoptive family. Immediately after the birth of the baby, Bridget turned him over to them without even seeing him, because she thought it would be easier not to become attached. The adoptive parents made multiple attempts throughout the years to initiate contact, but Bridget never felt ready. The only information she was able to provide were their names and the return address used on the mail she’d received from them. “Connor, what if it was Alex? Why would he be calling me and not his parents? Especially asking for help. He sounded scared. Please, can you help me? I don’t know where else to turn.”
I instinctively knew helping Bridget would test me like nothing before. Not only because I might be a little in love with her, but because something deep inside told me this case would bring forth demons I’d fought hard to bury. But this wasn’t about me. It was about Bridget, and God knew I would move heaven and Earth to find and destroy anything that threatened her or anyone she cared about.
* * * *
Once Bridget left, I sat in my office contemplating everything she’d told me. I started my own security and protection firm, Blacklight Securities, eight years ago after busting my ass to rise above all the bad shit in my past. I wanted to be in a position where I could help people who didn’t know where to turn. People like my mother. When I opened my doors for business, there were no employees beyond me. After the first year, the company had grown enough for me to hire a couple of associates. By the third year, over twenty men and women were in my employ. I continued to keep my employee list small, but on occasion, I hired an independent contractor for special cases.
I’m a member of an exclusive BDSM club called Club Eden where I met fellow Dominant, Donovan Jeffries. Donovan is a lawyer, and former military. He put me in contact with some of his sources in the government, and I lucked out in getting several high paying government contracts. Most of our cases involve protecting a visiting dignitary or his family, but on occasion, we’re hired for personal protection by wealthy businessmen.
My company is also known for taking on cases most other security companies have passed on. Mostly because they thought they were too dignified to be hired for what essentially amounted to high paying babysitting gigs. These jobs certainly weren’t ideal, but beggars couldn’t be choosers. Now though, we are able to pick and choose our own cases. I also do occasional pro bono work for one of the local battered women’s shelters. If only my mother could see me now.
Luckily, I’m currently in between cases. Not that it would have mattered. I would have dropped everything the second the words asking for help crossed Bridget’s lips. From here on out my main focus would be on Bridget and her son. Her son! I was still in shock by this bombshell she’d dropped. That she had a child was the last thing I would have thought she would tell me. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it yet, but it didn’t matter. I would have dropped everything the second the words asking for help crossed Bridget’s lips. The first thing I needed to find out was who’d made that phone call. And if it was Alex, where were his parents? And why did he sound desperate for help?