My Father's Best FriendBy: Fiona Davenport
My Father’s Best Friend
When Ethan Parker’s investigation leads him to Delilah Brooks, he hopes he’s finally found his best friend’s long-lost daughter. What he wasn’t expecting was to want her for himself—with an intensity that drives him to get her pregnant before her father finds out about the two of them.
Delilah falls hard and fast for Ethan. But she isn’t sure what to think when he confesses his connection to the father she’s never met. Or how her father is going to react when he learns she’s having his best friend’s baby.
I stared down at the cashier’s check, the white paper stark against the gleaming dark wood of the desktop. I could barely process what was happening. Holy cow. Apparently, getting rid of me was worth a whole lot of zeros. Despite my shock, anger rose to the surface and I glared at the stuffy man in the immaculately pressed suit sitting in front of me.
“I don’t know what makes you think I can be bought,” I said defensively. “But, I’m not with Sam for his money. We’re getting married, becoming a family, and raising our baby together.”
He laughed and shook his head, then smiled at me sympathetically. “Everyone has a price, Ms. Hart. Samuel isn’t the type to ever settle down. Much less at twenty-two. Do you think you’re the first woman who showed up claiming to be pregnant and demanding marriage?”
I gasped and recoiled in my chair. “I never once brought up marriage, it was Sam’s idea. He loves me.” Even I could hear the note of uncertainty in my voice. Sam had a reputation as a ladies’ man, but he’d settled down when he met me. We were in a committed, monogamous relationship. Weren’t we?
Sam was the most affectionate, loving man I’d ever known. He made me feel like I was the center of his universe. He was certainly the epicenter of mine. The last few months had been a dream and I clung to it desperately.
“Ms. Hart, I’m doing you a favor here. I have no doubt Samuel will marry you and stay married just long enough to be able to easily gain custody of your child when he eventually files for divorce.” He paused and pushed the check a little further towards me. “Take the money, go somewhere he won’t find you, raise your baby in peace.” His voice was gentle but I wasn’t fooled, the snake was poised, ready to strike any moment. “I’ll even help you change your identity so that he won’t ever be a threat to your daughter.”
At my continued hesitation, he sighed and pulled out a sheaf of papers, laying them on top of the check. “This is the prenuptial agreement he had drawn up. I can only imagine that he assumed you wouldn’t read it thoroughly.”
With shaking hands, I grasped the stack and lifted it to scan the contents. Pieces of my heart chipped away with every turn of a page. Until I reached the section that broke it altogether. It was buried in legal jargon, but I was smart enough to recognize the basic points. In the case of divorce, I had to prove my ability to provide for my child, in equal measure, what could be provided from her father. Otherwise, custody would default to the paternal parent.
I would receive a tiny settlement, but it wasn’t even in the stratosphere of what I would need to fight for my baby. There was more, but I couldn’t continue reading through my tears. It didn’t matter anyway, there was no way I was going to sign this document. I took a deep breath and calmly tore the packet down the center before flinging it on the desk.
Jumping to my feet, I threw my shoulders back, gathered my coat and purse, and snatched the check. Carefully, I smoothed over my face, leaving no expression. It was easy since I had no feelings to express, my heart had turned to stone.
“I’ll handle the details. I certainly don’t want anything more from you, or anyone associated with Samuel Wentworth.” Spinning on my heel, I marched out of the office and into the pouring rain. I stood for a moment, letting it cleanse me, while my hand rested tenderly on my belly. We’ll make a fresh start, baby. Just you and me.
Bonnie Hart (Hanna Brooks), age thirty-eight, passed away on June 3rd at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. At age twenty-five, she received her degree as an RN and spent her life caring for others, even after she was forced to stop working due to her cancer. She was a loving mother and loyal friend. Bonnie is survived by her daughter, Delilah Brooks.