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Falling for the Billionaire Wolf and His Baby
Blood Moon Brotherhood
By Sasha Summers, Candace Havens
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2017 Sasha Summers
All rights reserved.
"Congratulations, you're the father." Hollis sounded like he was announcing time of death, not the birth of a child.
Finn stared blindly out the window, anger and frustration warring with utter disbelief. "You're sure?" He couldn't keep the razor-sharp edge from his voice. Hollis was just the messenger — one of the few people Finn could trust, one of the few that stood by him no matter what. He was the asshole who knocked up a long-forgotten one-night stand. How was the question. He was always careful. Extra careful when it came to sex. He had to be. "I met her four months ago, Hollis. Are you sure?" His grip on the phone tightened.
"I'm sure it's yours. A full-term, healthy baby. I can't guarantee much more." Hollis's voice remained calm, almost detached, as always. "Cara didn't make it. She has no family, no one to challenge custody of the baby."
Cara. She'd been so full of life, so hungry for the next big adventure. What they'd shared had been fast and furious. When they'd parted, it had been on good terms, no expectations or regrets. How could she be dead?
Hollis's words grabbed his attention. "Looking at the body — I'm not sure what happened."
"So, not a car accident?" Finn had wondered. Guilt and sadness kicked him in the gut.
"That would be the easy explanation. One that will be her official cause of death."
"But I think there's more to it." Hollis sighed. "There's always more to it when we are involved. I'm going to have a look at her records, see what needs to be taken care of. I hate to point this out but ... this isn't going to go over well with the others."
"No shit," Finn growled. "It's not exactly making my day, either." Hollis hadn't said it, but Finn knew the truth. Cara's death was on him. His fucking fault.
"No, I don't imagine it is." He paused, the silence loaded until he added, "As unfortunate as that is, he can't stay here."
"He?" Finn repeated, his brain already assessing damage control.
"Your son," Hollis finally snapped. "This is dangerous, Finn."
Because there was nobody or nothing like his ... son. This boy could jeopardize everything they'd been striving for the last ten years. Words wouldn't come. His son. He might be a baby now, but what the hell would he become? What would he be capable of? Self-loathing, hot and bitter, flooded Finn's mouth.
"Jesus, Finn, are you listening?" Hollis paused. "He can't stay in the hospital. I've been handling tests, all his bloodwork, but I can't be here twenty-four seven. You must come get him. He's your responsibility."
Hollis was right. And there wasn't a single thing he could do about it. "Fine." The word was clipped.
"Today," Hollis added.
Meaning Finn needed to work faster on finding help. The initial call from Cara's agent the night before had given him a heads-up, but he'd known the kid wasn't his. It had been too soon, an impossibility. Now ... He ran a hand through his hair, wanting to hit something. "Give me 'til noon. I'll be there." He sat in his tall-backed leather chair, slammed the phone onto the desk, and pressed his fingers to his temples.
What the fuck was he supposed to do? Babies weren't dogs — you couldn't put them in a kennel for the day. He wasn't equipped for this. His assistant, Marjorie, had pulled employee files for him last night — right before she'd quit. And this time, he didn't think she was coming back.
He'd met with two of the three assistants he deemed acceptable this morning. Neither was suitable. Nor did they act as if they could deal with the sort of surprises that might come with this baby. Contestant number three was his only hope. It's not like he could just call a nanny service, not yet. He'd have to wait a month. If this baby ... He sighed, rolling his head and easing the tension in his neck.
Hollis was right — this was dangerous for them. Too many unknowns, too many variables, to turn over to a stranger.
Not to mention the Others. They would not be happy about this new addition. What they did about it was the real question. All he could do was wait. And that wasn't how he rolled.
The intercom beeped. "Mr. Regatti and Mr. Martin are here," the receptionist announced.
"Fine." He had a business to run, several million-dollar companies, to be exact. People counted on him. This would wait until noon. "I'll be in the conference room in five minutes. I need a pot of coffee."
"Yes, Mr. Dean," she answered, clicking off.
Regatti and Martin were all about projections and forecasts. They were his advisors, the best in their field, the best at keeping him on the strongest financial path. Which meant they'd give him shit about his choices — like always — and he'd do whatever he wanted — like always. He valued their input, but his instincts had the final say-so. And while he respected their relentless pursuit of solid numbers, it was going to be one hell of a long meeting.
He stood, slipped into his jacket, and adjusted the cufflinks of his shirt, putting thoughts of everything non-work related out of his mind.
Regatti wasn't thrilled with the numbers on the new hybrid sportster launch, wanted to re-eval the marketing plan and spend more time on foreign markets.
Martin had a shit-fit over the money he was sinking into Robbin Pharmaceuticals & Research. They believed RPR was a lost cause, neither spearheading nor manufacturing anything that wasn't already available on the market. Finn knew the truth. Hollis Robbins's research was invaluable, to the masses and to a very specific population he had a personal interest in. Dean's investment was nonnegotiable, and he made that clear.
When they left, neither was happy.
Finn glanced at his watch. Ten thirty. His irritation returned with a vengeance. He could only hope Jessa Talbot was the right one for the assistant job. He didn't have time to find someone else. But his preliminary reading, and Brown's thorough background check, had suggested she was the most likely candidate. Educated, well-liked, with excellent references and reviews. According to Brown, no one had a negative thing to say about the woman. But two key things stood out to Finn: Jessa Talbot was the primary caregiver to four younger siblings, and she was struggling financially — desperately. Meaning Miss Talbot had hands-on experience and compelling motivation to accept his offer.
He strode into the waiting room of his office, tense and wary. A new scent reached him, sending his senses on high alert. He scanned the room, his attention locking on a woman staring out the floor to ceiling window.
Long blond hair twisted into a knot with a pencil stuck through.
The collar of her white shirt was worn, but the garment was pressed and clean.
Black skirt that hugged an amazing ass and killer legs.
Her pulse was rapid — agitated. There was a slight waver to her breath. He listened, far too intrigued. He closed his eyes, reining in the purely primal response she stirred.
The silver chain he wore beneath his dress shirt felt hot and heavy, the instincts he fought against daily rising in challenge. His wolf was waiting, demanding to know who she was. But deep inside Finn wasn't sure he liked the answer.
* * *
"Close the door, please." Finnegan Dean's voice was low, warm, but hardly comforting. She swallowed, hoping he couldn't see how completely rattled she was by this abrupt summons. "Miss Talbot?"
Jessa closed the carved wooden door, drawing in a long, slow breath to settle the anxiety tightening her throat. It wasn't every day she was called to Finnegan Dean's office. As the head of Dean Industries, time was a precious thing. Invariably, she worst-cased things.
Was she getting fired? Her siblings' future relied on her staying employed. Shelby and Harry's tuition was coming due, and Landon's college application fees were starting to roll in. Had she done something wrong? Yes, she'd come in late a few days, but she'd always made up for it — missing lunches or staying long into the night. She flexed her hands, smoothing her clammy palms along the seams of her fitted black pencil skirt. Surely not. It didn't make sense. After three years of sterling employee evaluations, he had to know she gave her all to his company. She could not lose this job. She turned, assuming as calm a demeanor as possible.
Finnegan Dean waited, his bright gaze steady, piercing — unapologetically intense. The longer he stared at her, the more concerned she became. His expression was blank, only the firm tick of his jaw muscle revealed stress. When his gaze returned to the papers on his desk, she could breathe again.
"Please, sit," his voice remained low, his attention never wandering from the document he was reading.
Jessa sat in one the large leather chairs opposite his heavy carved desk, feeling small and invisible. She tried not to stare at the man before her. He looked like a model. One of those ridiculously perfect-looking men. From a cologne ad, maybe. Perfect, chiseled profile. Clear, blue eyes. Dark blonde hair, tousled just so. He was big and broad — undoubtedly muscled and fit underneath his impeccably tailored suit — shrinking the room.
She stared at her hands, clasped tightly in her lap. But the agitated rhythm his long, tapered fingers tapped out on his desktop drew her attention back to him. Whatever he was reading, he seemed engrossed. His eyes narrowed briefly, the soft tapping stopped, and his brow arched. But then his features eased and he set the paper aside.
Cool, assessing eyes regarded her as he propped his elbow on the edge of the desk and rested his chin on his fist. Jessa prepared for the worst, every muscle tensing in anticipation. But, in a company this size, surely Mr. Dean wouldn't summon her into his office just to fire her.
"How are you, Miss Talbot?" He paused. "Do you enjoy your work as Miss Ramirez's executive assistant?"
She shifted in the chair, considering his questions. Miss Ramirez? Was this for her review? How to put it nicely? Eileen Ramirez wasn't the worst boss she'd had, but Jessa would be hard pressed to say much positive about her current supervisor. It was a job. A job that paid well. A job she could not afford to lose. "I'm well, Mr. Dean. I'm very happy working here and being part of Dean Industries. Thank you."
There. That was a safe answer.
From the tightening of his mouth and the narrowing of his brilliant blue eyes, he knew it, too.
He sat back in his chair. "I'll be blunt, Miss Talbot. I'm creating a new opening to be filled immediately. I need someone on the inside, someone I can trust with every facet of my life, no questions asked. Someone capable of troubleshooting in even the most ... unusual of situations." Tension rolled off the man in waves. "With absolute discretion, of course."
She blinked, her fear evaporating. A new position. Was he referring to Miss Ramirez? Or ... She swallowed, carefully holding her enthusiasm in check while asking, "Is this ... is this an interview, Mr. Dean?"
"Possibly." His attention wandered back to the file on his desk. "I'd like to discuss your résumé. Your bachelor's degree was in education? And much of your work during and before college was in educational settings?"
She nodded, confused by this line of questioning. "I'd planned on becoming a teacher."
"But then you went on to get your MBA?"
"I needed to be able to provide for my family. The wage disparity for teachers —"
"Is deplorable, yes." He paused, rubbing his chin with his knuckles. "Let me stress that this is a highly sensitive ... project. It runs approximately six weeks. In that time, I own you. You will eat, breathe, and sleep work." His blue gaze swept her face. "You've dealt with some of my most ... challenging employees and managed to come out unscathed. Your reviews are exceptional, mentioning your ability to think on your feet, take charge, and work tirelessly to ensure best results." He read aloud.
I own you. She swallowed, trying not to be distracted by the gravel in his voice. He was talking about a new job, reporting directly to him. Nothing more. And yet, his voice unleashed something molten in the base of her stomach. She cleared her throat, stiffening her posture. "May I ask a question?"
"Of course." He tapped his pen.
"You said six weeks. After that, what happens?" She waited.
He paused, watching her — closely. The hair on the back of her neck stood up. His eyes traveled over her face, lingered on her neck, then swept up to her eyes once more. He cleared his throat before going on. "Once this project is over, you will stay on with me as my executive assistant. If nothing else, this project will ensure we are compatible. My assistants need to be organized, focused — someone I can call on day and night." His smile was slow — and lethal. "I'm not going to lie to you — I'm a pain in the ass to work for. But I believe in promoting from within and, obviously, this would give you the opportunity to show me what you have to offer Dean Industries."
She smiled back then immediately regretted it.
His gaze sharpened, dropping to her mouth before locking with hers. "I believe this could benefit us both, Miss Talbot." He paused, shifting in his chair. "I know you've raised four younger siblings, as caregiver and primary provider. I also know that finances are tight."
She swallowed. How? She glanced at the papers spread across his desk. What else did he know? "We manage," her voice was tight. Barely. He had no idea how tiring it was. How many nights she'd crawl into bed wondering if they'd ever get ahead? If she'd ever stop worrying over their future. Or if she'd ever have a life of her own.
"It's safe to say you feel comfortable dealing with children? That you've experience with ... babies?"
It was impossible to miss the scorn in his voice. She frowned. "Yes. My parents died when Nate, the youngest, was a few months old." Since their aunt hadn't been the hands-on, kid-friendly type, Jessa had been mother and sister.
He nodded and sighed heavily, pinching his nose and closing his eyes. "Then, I have two questions for you. Are you willing to put in the substantial extra hours required, in a non-traditional work environment? And can I count on your complete and total discretion?" He glanced at her. "To start, I'll double your salary and give you a bonus that should cover the next tuition payments for your brother and sister. I will also help your brothers gain admission to the schools they want. Staying there will be their responsibility."
Her heart was hammering, the prick of tears undeniable. This was a huge opportunity. He had no idea what this meant to her — to her family. She might not have to refinance the house. Any concerns over how vague he was being faded away. How could she say no? "Yes."
"Good. If you've been working on anything else, tell Mrs. Daugherty. She can take over."
She waited, hoping he'd provide more information. This project ... Considering his line of questioning, it had something to do with children. Possibly an onsite daycare facility? Something that wouldn't fall within the parameters of his seemingly carefree, extravagant life — full of beautiful people and exotic adventures. At least, that's the way the papers portrayed him. To her, his life was all glamor and excitement — things that didn't exist in her world.
"May I ask about this project, Mr. Dean?"
His eyes slammed into her, searching ... He seemed hesitant to tell her. "Apparently, I have a son."
He had a son? She wasn't sure what to say or how to react. Or what, exactly, that had to do with her ...
"It's a surprise to me, too, let me assure you. We have a car to catch. I'll share the details on the way to the hospital." He ran a hand through his golden hair, a single curl falling onto his forehead.
"The hospital?" she asked, growing more perplexed.
"He was born yesterday morning," he clarified.
A million questions raced through her mind.
"Grab your things," he said. "I'll meet you in the lobby. We won't be returning to the office today."
She nodded, hurrying from his office and toward the elevators. She passed Lara, ignoring her friend's furious attempts to flag her down, and headed to her cubicle. In five minutes, she'd slipped into her coat, grabbed her bag, and was headed to the elevator, her questions settling into a more logical pattern. The one thing she wanted clarified: was his son her special project?
Excerpted from Falling for the Billionaire Wolf and His Baby by Sasha Summers, Candace Havens. Copyright © 2017 Sasha Summers. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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