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Rebecca's Little Secret
By Judy Christenberry
Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.Copyright © 2004 Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.
All right reserved.
Chapter One"Rebecca, I found a job for you!" Vivian Greenfield exclaimed as Rebecca Barlow entered the house. Her fall semester had begun this morning at the university, but she was looking for a part-time job to bring in some money to help pay her tuition.
"You have, Vivian? What kind of job?" Rebecca had worked at the nearby mall all summer selling clothes, and she was hoping for something with a more flexible schedule now that she was back in school again. She hadn't taken classes since her life had been turned upside down when she'd discovered she was pregnant almost five years ago.
"You would be working in the law office of Murphy and Jenkins. They've been my legal representatives for a long time, and Harriet, the office manager, said she could use some help."
Rebecca didn't much like lawyers, especially since her son's biological father was one, but Vivian made it impossible to do anything but thank her. "Is it a large firm?" Rebecca asked after hugging and thanking Vivian.
"Heavens, no. That's what I like about it. Harriet said you could come in tomorrow for your first day."
Rebecca went upstairs to her bedroom. She'd moved into Vivian's Dallas house in May, after Vivian's husband, Will, had found her and her son, Joey, and insisted they leave Arkansas with him.
Rebecca had been so happy to have family at last. She not only found her blood sister, Vanessa, but she gained Vanessa's mother and stepfather. They were such warm, loving people. They'd made a major difference in Joey's life. So Rebecca felt sure that she could handle any kind of job, if only to please Vivian.
The next afternoon, when Rebecca arrived at her new job, there were no lawyers in sight.
"It's vacation time," Harriet Graham reported.
"Next week we'll be back hard at work. That gives you four days to learn as much as you possibly can."
Everything quickly fell into place for Rebecca. She went to classes every morning and worked with Harriet in the afternoons. Then she hurried to Vivian's home and spent her evenings with her beloved son. Joey would be four in October. He was already attending preschool and enjoying being with other children his age. He seemed happy and settled.... Unlike Rebecca's own childhood.
She and her siblings had been separated from one another. Some had been adopted, and some went into the foster-care system. Both Rebecca and her twin, Rachel, almost three years old at the time, had been adopted by different parents. Her brother David, five at the time, had been adopted by another family. Vivian and her first husband had adopted Vanessa, who was about three months old then. But Walter, seven, and James, eight, had been put in foster homes.
Will, Vivian's new husband, was the private investigator she'd hired to find Vanessa's siblings. Rebecca was the first they'd found. Vivian had taken her in as if she were a long-lost daughter. It was a welcome change in Rebecca's life after her adoptive parents had thrown her out when she discovered she was pregnant. She was thrilled to live in the house with Vivian, Will and Vanessa. She loved having a family to surround her son with.
Joey wasn't the only one to benefit from family. Rebecca did as well. She had talked to her adoptive mother a few times after Joey's birth, but the woman was too afraid of her husband to actually have a relationship with Rebecca. Having stood alone through her pregnancy and Joey's young life, it meant a lot to Rebecca to have family to rely on.
And the prospect of having even more family was just so exciting. Will was looking for her and Vanessa's siblings. He'd actually found James, but he was serving in the Middle East in his capacity as a marine. Rebecca's twin, Rachel, and their brother David had not yet been discovered. Their brother Walter, sadly, had lost his life in combat years ago.
So everything seemed to be moving along smoothly until Friday afternoon.
"Jeff just called. He and his fiancee will drop by this afternoon," Harriet announced with some pride.
"Who is Jeff?" Rebecca asked cautiously.
"He's our boss. Didn't I tell you?"
"Is he Murphy or Jenkins?" Rebecca held her breath, praying that Harriet would choose one of those two names.
"Neither one," Harriet said with a laugh. "Jeff was Mr. Jenkins's nephew, but his name is Jacobs. He worked with his uncle, Mr. Jenkins, for several years, until he died. Mr. Murphy died five years ago. Jeff's wonderful. You'll enjoy working for him."
Harriet was sorting through a file as she talked and didn't see Rebecca's face turn white. Rebecca abruptly sat down in a chair before she fell over. She couldn't believe it. Jeff Jacobs. She hadn't seen Jeff in five years, and now she'd ended up working for him? Impossible.
"His fiancee is very nice, too. You'll like her. She's the perfect wife for Jeff. She has great contacts in the area. She was a debutante, of course, and her family has lived here for four generations."
"How ... nice." Jeff was engaged. Well, that explained a lot. She should've expected it. He was handsome, charming and now a lawyer. He was sure to be chased by women.
"Oh, here they come now. He must've called on his cell phone. I didn't expect them this soon," Harriet said, all smiles. Obviously she adored Jeff.
Rebecca had hoped she could make up an excuse and leave before Jeff came in, but it was too late.
Jeff Jacobs entered the office with a smile on his face, holding his fiancee's hand. He bent over and kissed Harriet's cheek. "Did you miss me, Harriet?"
"Never," Harriet said with a cheeky grin. "Hello, Chelsea. You look very nice."
Rebecca didn't move, hoping Harriet would forget about her. She couldn't take her eyes off Jeff. After all, it had been five years since she'd last seen him. He hadn't changed much. His shoulders had broadened a little. Maybe he had a few new laugh lines, but they didn't detract from his looks.
"Where's our newest employee?" Jeff asked.
Rebecca rose from the chair she'd fallen into that had partially blocked her from their view. She had to. She wasn't a child. She wouldn't run and hide.
Excerpted from Rebecca's Little Secret by Judy Christenberry Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
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