For the Sake of His Heir(10)

By: Joanne Rock

“I have a son to think about. His future is more important to me than any job, passion or hobby.” The intensity in his expression was unmistakable. She used to see it, to some degree, when he worked on a restoration project. But this was different.


“I understand that.” Truly, she did. “I admire it tremendously given the careless way other people parent their children.” Drawing a breath, she ventured closer to her point. “But what if you teach your son that success can be found in things that make you happy?”

Air blew on her from the vents overhead, giving her a sudden chill. Or maybe it was caused by the look on Gabe’s face.

“Do I want to teach Jason that it’s okay to walk away from responsibilities to pursue any self-centered shot at happiness just because it’s shiny and different?” He smoothed the sleeve of his jacket, his forearm resting on the white leather chair between them. “His mother already turned her back on family for a chance at fame. I’ll be damned if I make the same selfish choices, too.”


Talk about a conversation fail.

Two hours into the flight to New York, Gabe cursed himself for allowing emotions he normally kept in check to bubble to the surface with Brianne. But her words had reopened a wound he’d been determined to ignore. He refused to let thoughts of his ex-wife ruin his relationships—not with Brianne, and most especially not with his son.

Brianne had slipped past his defenses in other ways, too, stirring to life an attraction he’d had on lockdown since they met. And that had given rise to an outrageous idea. Instead of arguing with her, he needed to use this flight to talk to her about working together to help further one another’s interests.

There was still time to reevaluate his strategy, of course. He could keep the scheme brewing in his head to himself and simply escort her to Brooklyn as they’d agreed. In light of the disconnect they had after boarding the plane, maybe that would be the best solution. Except his plan wasn’t just about helping himself. It would offer her a face-saving solution to aid her grandmother. It was a way around Brianne’s prickly pride to deliver assistance she would otherwise never accept.

He felt Brianne’s fingers brush the sleeve of his jacket—the barest of touches to capture his attention. Turning, he found her curled sideways in her seat, facing him. Shoes off, she had her feet tucked under her in the wide leather armchair. At some point during the flight, she had taken her hair down from its ponytail, and the silky dark waves spilled over the lightweight gray wrap she’d pulled around herself like a blanket. In the lamplight, he could see the spatter of golden freckles over the bridge of her nose.

“I’m sorry.” She let her fingers linger on his sleeve for just a moment, lightly rubbing back and forth across his wrist, before the touch fell away. “I have no business telling you what’s right or wrong to teach your son. I’m so wound up and worried about Nana, I’m not thinking straight.”

He set aside his phone, where he’d been scrolling through messages, including a text from Theresa’s personal assistant scheduling an “appointment” to have Jason at the photographer’s studio in Nashville for the Valentine’s Day photo shoot. As much as he wanted Jason to have time with his mother, a magazine spread wasn’t what he had in mind. And he worried about Jason’s future if Theresa decided to pop in and out of his life. Their son needed stability.

Shoving the troubling thoughts aside, he turned briefly to check the private compartment behind them. No sounds had come from Nadine or Jason in the last hour. Confirming that Jason was all settled, he turned back to Brianne to give her his undivided attention.

“You have nothing to apologize for.” He tipped his head against the seat rest and stared up at the jet’s contoured ceiling. “You had no way of knowing my concerns for Jason’s future.” He debated how much more to say about it. But if he was going to propose his new plan to Brianne, he would need to share more with her about his personal life. “You couldn’t have possibly known how much time I spent trying to convince Jason’s mother to make room in her career so that she could be there for her family.”

The old resentment was still fresh.

Brianne tilted her head to one side. “So you want Jason to have more opportunities because Theresa saw only one for herself, and it cost her her family?”

“I don’t want my son to ever feel so locked in to one life choice that he can’t compromise for the sake of love. Family. Personal relationships.” Gabe had offered Theresa so many possible ways to make a family work while she pursued her dream, but she hadn’t seriously considered any of them. Stardom and family didn’t mix, apparently. She wanted to be “free” to travel as much as she chose without worrying about returning home to the needs of an infant.

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