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For Love And Family
By Victoria Pade
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter One"I don't have the time to explain it to you, mister. Eve Warwick - that's who I need. And come hell or high water, I'm going to see her and I'm going to see her now."
After a full ten minutes of going round and round with the Warwick butler, who was blocking the doorway of the sprawling Warwick family mansion, Hunter Coltrane had reached the limits of his patience. He had the man by the shirtfront, his face no more than an inch from the butler's nose.
Hunter could see that the much smaller man's features were tightened into a mask of abject fear. But at that moment the butler's fear was nothing compared to the fear Hunter felt, and he was too desperate to care that he was scaring the man. If scaring him was what it took, he'd terrify the guy.
"She's about to leave for an appointment and she'll fire me if I let you or anyone else delay her," the butler informed him in a strained whisper.
"Then how about if you don't let me delay her? How about if you just tell me where in this damn mausoleum she is and I go find her for myself?"
"What do you think you're doing?" a grating female voice demanded from inside the house just then.
Without breaking eye contact with the butler, Hunter recognized the speaker. That voice belonged to Eve Warwick. He ungently moved the other man out of his way, stepped across the threshold and went into the foyer of the imposing residence that he and his late wife had visited on only one occasion a little over four years ago.
Eve Warwick was standing at the top of a grand staircase that curved in a full half-circle sweep to the second level of the three-story structure. She looked as outraged as she sounded, but Hunter would suffer that outrage and anything else she wanted to dish out to get what he'd come for.
He consciously tried to calm the unusual flare of temper that frustration had raised and forced himself to speak civilly.
"I don't know if you remember me or not. I'm Hunter Coltrane," he said. "My wife and I adopted your baby -"
"I know who you are and you have no business here," Eve Warwick decreed imperiously.
"It isn't 'business' I'm here for. I'm here for Johnny. He's -"
"I don't care what you're here for. You just need to leave. Now," she ordered.
Hunter ignored it. "Johnny - that's what we named him - needs your blood," he informed her.
But not even blurting that out had an impact on the perfectly coiffed woman in the haute couture pink suit. Her only response was to transfer her gaze to the butler and say, "Pixley, call security."
"Just hear me out," Hunter implored. "Johnny is in the Portland General Hospital emergency room and he needs blood. Your blood. You know he has AB negative - your rare type. There was a bus accident yesterday and a whole family with that blood was hurt. They depleted all the blood bank had stored. But Johnny needs a transfusion in a hurry, so you have to come with me to the hospital. Right now!"
Hunter realized that his voice rang with his own worry for his son, but he didn't care.
"I did the open adoption through the Children's Connection to be sure the child went to the right people," Eve said. "Not so that I could be bothered by those people at any time afterward. If you'll recall, you signed an agreement to that effect. I'm sorry your son is ill, but it has nothing to do with me. So please leave."
She didn't sound sorry. She sounded cold, aloof and absolutely unconcerned.
"Did you not understand?" Hunter said, his voice raising an octave all on its own. "I'm not here to bother you and under any other circumstances I would have abided by that agreement and we wouldn't have ever seen each other again. But my son is in danger if he doesn't get the blood he needs. Immediately!"
Eve Warwick again turned a hard, demanding eye to the butler who was still standing where Hunter had left him. "Pixley?" she said snidely, "You can't call security as you were told to do if you're standing there eavesdropping."
"Yes, ma'am," the butler answered, pivoting on his heels and hurrying out of the foyer.
"Look," Hunter said, trying to reason with the woman. "I'm no happier to be here than you are to have me here. I guarantee that it was as much my goal as yours for us never to have contact again. But my son is in trouble and he needs your help. All you have to do is come with me to the hospital and give blood."
"I don't like needles," she said, raising her nose in the air. "And I have an appointment with my manicurist that I cannot miss. I'm sure you or the hospital will find someone else who can help. Portland, Oregon, is not the end of the earth, after all. There's bound to be someone else with AB negative blood."
"There isn't time to find someone else!" Hunter shouted, his frustration once again rearing its ugly head.
"There will have to be, because I'm not doing it, and that's all there is to it."
"That is not all there is to it," Hunter shouted so loudly his voice echoed in the marble-lined space and made the crystal chandelier overhead tinkle like a wind chime. "Whether you gave Johnny up or not, we're talking about your own flesh and blood! That has to mean something to you!"
"It means you're making me late for my appointment. That's the only thing it means to me. The child is yours. He's not my concern."
Hunter and his late wife had not thought highly of Eve Warwick when they'd met her for the interview after applying to adopt the infant she was to deliver three months later. She'd given the impression that the baby was just some sort of debris to be disposed of somehow. But he still couldn't believe what he was faced with at that moment. No matter how much money she and her entire family had, no matter how much social standing, no matter how glamorous the life she led, how could she possibly be denying blood to any child, let alone the child she'd given birth to?
"Please, just come with me to the hospital," Hunter said, thinking that if she wanted him to beg, he'd do it. He'd do anything for his son.
Excerpted from For Love And Family by Victoria Pade Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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