Claiming His Secret Heir(6)

By: Joanne Rock


“You belong here, Caroline,” he assured her. “Always.”





CHAPTER TWO

To keep her guilty conscience at bay, Caroline sank deeper into the thick cushions of the hanging daybed on the second-floor patio and thought about her son—her whole reason for lying her way into Damon’s home.

Lucas was safe with her sister, Victoria, in a carriage house Caroline had rented for them nearby. She’d paid in cash and used a fake name to ensure their father wouldn’t find them. She’d timed their trip to coincide with his business visit to Singapore, but she doubted their absence had remained a secret past the first forty-eight hours, which meant he could be learning about their defection anytime now. Would he guess that Caroline had run straight to Damon in Los Altos Hills? Would he be worried about their safety and send the police?

She had no idea, but she knew Lucas and Victoria would be safer in the carriage house than with her. Victoria swore that their father had purposely tried to keep her from seeing Caroline while she was recovering from her ordeal. Her version of events since Caroline’s return—so different from her father’s—had been the impetus to see Damon for herself. To find out if he loved her or if he’d only married her for expediency’s sake.

Still, she found it difficult to accept that her father coveted Transparent so badly that he would use her as a pawn. She’d been kidnapped, after all. How could Damon have kept that a secret from her family? Her father would have reported her missing if he’d known, but he said that her bills—cell phone, car payments, the mortgage on a small apartment she maintained in Manhattan—were being paid consistently, even during the times when she’d been a captive.

How was that possible? Someone was lying to her, or else she really was going crazy.

Caroline stared into the leaping flames in the stone fireplace and tried to relax before Damon returned. He’d started the blaze to ward off the late afternoon chill as the sun set over San Francisco Bay in the distance. The view was beautiful and the patio heater nearby sent bonus warmth her way. As if the blankets she burrowed under weren’t enough. Damon had dragged half the linen closet outdoors when she professed a desire to sit on the patio, extending her the courtesy he might give an invalid.

Which made sense, considering he thought she was suffering from amnesia. And she still did suffer from it, of course. Just not to the degree she pretended.

While she waited for him to return with their dinner, she closed her eyes and reminded herself this was absolutely necessary. She couldn’t think of any other way to find out if he had only wed her for material gain, or if he’d genuinely cared for her. And she refused to introduce him to Lucas until she knew for sure. For now, all she knew for certain was that her husband hadn’t come for her when she’d been kidnapped. Her captors said he didn’t pay the ransom and didn’t want her back. While she had no reason to trust them whatsoever, her father’s version of events supported this.

He’d sworn he hadn’t known she was missing until that fisherman discovered her. But something didn’t add up, and she knew her father would lie to further his own ends—of course he would. He hadn’t even breathed Damon’s name in his house when she’d still been confused about her ordeal and couldn’t remember who the father of her child was. How could her dad do that? He’d always been manipulative, relentlessly steering Caroline in the direction he wanted. But she’d drawn the line at allowing him to tell her who she could—and could not—marry.

She would learn all she could in the next two days, and then she would tell Damon the truth. Two days was her limit for being apart from Lucas. But if there was a chance she and Damon could have a future together, she would introduce him to Lucas personally and maybe they could be a family. If it turned out that Damon had never loved her and married her for self-serving purposes?

She would hire a lawyer and sue for full custody through formal channels. She had her own money, accounts solely in her name. She’d changed all the passwords on them last week after discovering someone might have accessed them to pay her bills while she’d been held captive. If necessary, she would hire a financial investigator to help her track what happened there. But her balances were still healthy from her years of nonstop work before she’d met Damon. And right now, she cared far more about her personal affairs than her bottom line.

“Caroline?” Damon asked quietly from the opposite end of the patio, a tray of food in his hands. He must have come up the outdoor stairs; she’d been so caught up in her thoughts, she hadn’t heard. She would need to be more careful, more on guard in the future.

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