For the Sake of His Heir(6)

By: Joanne Rock

He wanted to fix this. To keep her happy and comfortable in a life she seemed to thrive in. Something about the gardens and Brianne was forever connected in his mind. She had a healthy vibrancy that was reflected in her work and he knew somehow the hotel wouldn’t be the same—nothing would be the same here—if she left.

“I’m taking the next available flight.” Her fingers stilled on the phone as she scrolled through screens, her dark eyes meeting his. “That is, I hope you understand I’ll need some emergency time away from work.”

“Of course, that’s a given.” He didn’t want her to worry about her job. Although selfishly, he hoped her family wouldn’t somehow convince her to relocate to New York. He wanted her to return to Martinique eventually since this was his permanent home. He hadn’t realized how much he looked forward to working with her every day until he considered the proposition of not seeing her cutting fresh blooms for the lobby desk each morning. “Your position here is secure.”

“Thank you.” She nodded, long bangs catching on the thick fringe of her eyelashes. “I need to pack in case I can catch something on stand-by tonight.” Backing toward the door, she shoved the letter in her pocket. Her cargo pants momentarily pulled tight across her hips.

What was the matter with him that he noticed all the wrong things on a day she needed his friendship? She’d been a rock in his world. He wouldn’t allow her to deal with this family emergency on her own when she was clearly upset.

“Don’t fly stand-by.” He wanted to help her. She never asked for anything and worked hard every day to make the hotel a more beautiful place. She’d been a source of laughter and escape during the hellish weeks after his separation from Theresa.

And he couldn’t let her go this way.

“Gabe, I have to.” The passion—the vehemence—in her voice surprised him; he’d never heard her use that tone. “She’s hurt. Someone hurt her. She’s eighty years old and she gave me everything I have.”

Just like that, he knew he wasn’t going to let her go alone. Not when it was this important to her and she was so upset.

“And you shouldn’t figure all of this out on your own when you’re so distracted and worried.” He didn’t want her driving when she was still shaking. Or hiring a car from the airport that would take her the long way to Brooklyn because she was too rattled to notice. “I was planning to go to New York anyhow.” It made far more sense for them to go together. “I’ll take you there myself on my family’s jet. Tonight.”

“You can’t do that.” She lifted her arms in the air, exasperated. A long section of dark hair escaped the ponytail to tease against her cheek and she blew it aside impatiently. “You have a son to think about. You can’t disrupt Jason’s schedule to fly at the last minute.”

Brianne gave the boy a tender look, her expression visibly softening as she stroked the back of her knuckle along the baby’s arm.

Through the window Gabe spotted Camille, Jason’s caregiver, walking up the planked path. He was glad she was back so he could focus on convincing Brianne to travel with him.

“My grandfather has been trying to entice my brothers and me to spend time in Manhattan for months,” he explained, pulling Jason out of his high chair and giving the boy a kiss on his head. “I can move up my departure date. My half brother Cam gave me the number of a local pilot who can have a flight plan filed with an hour’s notice. If you want to go to New York tonight, I’ll call him to take us. It will be faster than navigating the airport crush.”

As Camille entered, he passed her the boy and asked her to pack the child’s clothes for a two-week trip. He planned to stay longer than that, but would buy more things once they were settled. Camille cooed at Jason and gave Gabe a nod to indicate she’d heard him while he ushered Brianne out of the kitchen and into the afternoon sun outside.

“Gabe, I could never begin to repay you—”

“Why would you have to?” he interrupted, unwilling to let her think in those terms. “I told you, I need to be in New York anyhow so it makes sense for us to travel together. I owe you more than I’ve paid you, Brianne, if it comes right down to it. But you never hear me complain when you work long hours and contribute more to this place than anyone else. Now it’s your turn to accept something extra from me.”

She seemed to weigh this, her lips pursing as she visibly wrestled with the idea of arguing. But in the end, she put up both her hands in surrender.

“You know what? For Nana Rose, I’m just going to say thank you and go pack.”

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