His Forever Family: An Anthology

His Forever Family: An Anthology

by Sarah M. Anderson, Brenda Jackson

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Overview

His Forever Family: An Anthology by Sarah M. Anderson, Brenda Jackson

Found: one baby…and the boss's future bride? 

Tiny and helpless—the abandoned newborn that venture capitalist Marcus Warren finds during a morning run takes him by surprise. So does the sudden longing for his capable assistant, Liberty Reese, who reveals her tender side with the baby. 

But Liberty must resist her gorgeous boss's advances. Her secrets could destroy his trust, her career and the chance to care for the foster child they are both coming to love. Even so, she can't deny the heat between them—or the fear that her past will end their chance to create a forever family.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781488001505
Publisher: Harlequin
Publication date: 02/01/2016
Series: Billionaires and Babies
Sold by: HARLEQUIN
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 192
Sales rank: 37,774
File size: 357 KB

About the Author

Sarah M. Anderson won RT Reviewer's Choice 2012 Desire of the Year for A Man of Privilege. The Nanny Plan was a 2016 RITA® winner for Contemporary Romance: Short. Find out more about Sarah's love of cowboys at www.sarahmanderson.com
Brenda Jackson is a New York Times bestselling author of more than one hundred romance titles. Brenda lives in Jacksonville, Florida, and divides her time between family, writing and traveling. Email Brenda at authorbrendajackson@gmail.com or visit her on her website at brendajackson.net.

Read an Excerpt

"Come on, Ms. Reese," Marcus Warren called over his shoulder. "It's not that hot."

He paused in the middle of the jogging path to wait for his executive assistant, Liberty Reese, to catch up with him. He looked around, checking for any vans with dark windows that didn't belong. It was an old habit, keeping an eye out for danger. But as usual, aside from some other runners, he and Ms. Reese had the shoreline to themselves. Thank God. The past was in the past, he repeated to himself until his anxiety faded.

Man, he loved Lake Michigan. The early-morning light made the rippling water a deep blue. The sky was clear and warmed by the sun, which seemed to hover just about a foot over the surface of the water. Later today, the heat would be oppressive, but right now, running along the lakefront with a cool breeze blowing in from the water?

This was as close to free as Marcus got to feel.

He checked his Fitbit. His heart rate was falling. "You're not going to let the heat beat you, are you, Ms. Reese?" he teased, stretching out his quads.

Ms. Reese puffed up next to him. "May I take a moment to point out—again—that you're not taking notes while you run?" she said, glaring at him.

But he wasn't fooled. He saw the way the corner of her lips curved up as she said it. She was trying not to smile.

He kept stretching so she could catch her breath. "But I'm talking. That counts for something, right?"

She rolled her eyes and finished off the water. That made him grin. He was Marcus Warren, heir to his father's Warren Investments financial empire and his mother's Marquis Hotel empire. He was the sole owner of Warren Capital, a venture capital firm he'd started with his trust-fund money. He owned half of the Chicago Blackhawks and a quarter of the Chicago Bulls, in addition to 75 percent of the pro soccer team, the Chicago Fire. He was one of the richest bachelors in the country and possibly the richest one in Chicago.

People simply did not roll their eyes at him.

Except for Ms. Reese.

She tucked the bottle back into her belt. Then, her fingers hovering over the Bluetooth earpiece she wore at all times, she asked, "So how do you want to proceed with the watchmakers?"

Rock City Watches was a boutique firm that had set up shop in downtown Detroit and wanted a fresh round of investing to expand its operations. Marcus looked at his watch, made just for him. The 24-karat gold casing was warm against his skin. "What do you think?"

Ms. Reese sighed heavily and began to plod up the jogging path again. She was not a particularly graceful runner—plodding was the only word for it—but she kept up with him and took notes while they ran. It was the most productive time of day. He did his best thinking while they ran.

Which was why they ran every single day, in rain or heat. Ice was about the only thing that kept them indoors, but he had a treadmill in a room off his office. Ms. Reese could sit at a small desk and record everything and provide her opinion.

He let her get a few feet ahead of him. No, she was not terribly graceful. But that didn't stop him from admiring the view. Ms. Reese had curves—more than enough curves to give a man pause.

He shook his head, pushing all thoughts of her backside from his mind. He was not the kind of billionaire who slept with his secretary. His father had done that enough for both of them. Marcus's relationship with Ms. Reese was strictly business. Well, business and running.

He caught up to her easily. "Well?"

"No one wears watches anymore," she panted. "Unless it's a smart watch."

"Excellent point. I'll invest twenty-five million in Rock City Watches."

Ms. Reese stumbled a bit in surprise. Marcus reached out and steadied her. He didn't allow his hand to linger on her warm skin. "You okay? We're almost to the fountain." Buckingham Fountain was the point where they turned around and headed back.

She gave him a hell of a side eye. "I'm fine. How did you get from timepieces are a dead market to let's invest another twenty-five million?'''

"If no one wears watches anymore, then they become what they once were—a status symbol," he explained. "Only the wealthiest consumers can afford a watch that costs several grand. The timepiece market isn't dead, Ms. Reese. The mass-market timepiece market is. But the luxury timepiece market?" He held out his wrist. "It's a hell of a nice watch, don't you think?" This particular watch went for $4,500.

She nodded. "It'll be great PR, as well. Made in America and all that."

"But they need to accept the realities of the market." She nodded. "Such as?"

"Marketing and wearables. Let's get back to the Rock City Watch people with requests to see their marketing mock-ups. I also want to set up a meeting to discuss a hybrid device—a luxury watch that can slot wearable tech into the band."

They reached the fountain and she stopped, her head down and her hands on her knees as she took in great gulps of air.

"What else?" he asked.

"You have to make a decision about attending the Hanson wedding," she said in between gasps.

Marcus groaned. "Do I have to?"

"You're the one who decided you should go to this wedding," she told him flatly. "You're the one who decided you should take a date. And you're the one who decided to kill two birds with one stone by scheduling the meeting with the producers of Feeding Frenzy the day after the wedding."

Marcus allowed himself to scowl at his assistant. Her lack of sympathy was not comforting. Attending the Hanson-Spears wedding in Los Angeles had not, in fact, been his idea. Who the hell wanted to watch his former fiancée get married to the man she'd cheated on him with? Not him.

But his mother had decreed that Marcus would attend the wedding with a date and put on a happy face so they could "put this unfortunate event behind them." Of course, if his mother had had her way, Marcus would have married Lillibeth Hanson anyway because what was a little affair in the grand scheme of things? Lillibeth came from old money. Marcus came from old money and made new money. Together, his parents had reasoned, they could apparently rule the world.

Marcus didn't see the point. He'd refused to reconcile with Lillibeth and he'd thought his parents had accepted that decision. But then the wedding invitation came.

And the hell of it was, his parents were not entirely wrong about the effects the scandal had had on Marcus's business. To some, his inability to see the truth about Lillibeth until it was too late might also indicate an inability to make good investment choices. So his parents had strongly suggested he attend the wedding to show that everyone was on good terms. And they strongly suggested he take a date because it would be an admission of defeat to show up at your ex's wedding alone.

All Marcus had to do was pick a woman.

He looked at Liberty. "What are my options, again?"

"Rosetta Naylor."

Marcus cringed at the celebutante's name. "Too shallow."

"Katerine Nabakov."

"Too Russian Mafia."

Liberty sighed heavily. "Emma Green?"

Marcus scowled harder. He had actually gone out with Emma several times. "Really?"

"She's a known quantity," Liberty explained. "No surprises."

"Wrong. People would think that us dating again is a sure sign of wedding bells." Specifically, his parents.

Marcus had done many things to keep the peace with his mother and father. Hell, he'd come damn close to getting married to Lillibeth Hanson, all because they thought that was best.

He wasn't going to risk that kind of trap again. "The options are limited and time is running short, Mr. Warren," Liberty said in exasperation. She jammed her hands on her hips. "The wedding is in two weeks. If you insist on attending with a date, you need to actually ask someone to go with you."

"Fine. I'll just take you."

The effect of this statement was immediate. Liberty's eyes went wide and her mouth dropped open and, in a fraction of a second, her gaze dropped over his body. Something that looked a hell of a lot like want flashed over her face.

What? Did she actually want him?

Then it was gone. She straightened up and did her best to look imperial. "Mr. Warren, be serious."

"I am serious. I trust you." He took a step toward her. "Sometimes I think…you're the only person who's honest with me. You wouldn't try to sell all the details of a date to the gossip rags." Which had been a huge part of the scandal with Lillibeth. She had capitalized on her affair, painting Marcus as a lousy boyfriend both in and out of the bedroom.

Liberty bit at her lower lip. "Honestly? I don't think you should go at all. Why would you give her the chance to hurt you again?" Her voice had dropped and she didn't sound imperious at all. Instead, she sounded…as if she wanted to protect him.

It was a fair question. He didn't want to go. He didn't want to give Lillibeth the chance to cut him down again. But he'd promised his parents that he'd put a good face on it and make sure the Warren name still meant power and money.

"And for the record," she went on, "I think doing that Feeding Frenzy reality show is also a bad idea. The whole problem with Lillibeth was that your private life suddenly became public fodder. Going on television to bid on investment ideas? You're just inviting people to further make a commodity out of you."

"It's supposed to be a good way to build my brand."

Liberty rolled her eyes again, as if that was the stupidest thing she'd ever heard. "Seriously? You've built a successful venture capital firm without being a celebrity. You have plenty of people dying to pitch to you. Heck, I'm surprised we haven't been accosted by a 'jogger' lying in wait to pitch you his million-dollar idea yet."

He tensed at the idea of being accosted by anyone. But no—no suspicious vehicles with armed men were around. The past was in the past.

"But you know what?" Liberty took a step toward him, jabbing at him with her index finger. She could be a formidable woman in her own right. "You do this reality show, that's exactly what's going to happen. You won't be able to run along the lake without plowing through idiots in running shoes who want a piece of your time and your fortune. Don't feed the machine, Marcus. Don't do what 'they' think you should do. For the love of God, do what you want."

Marcus. Had she ever called him by his first name before? He didn't think so. The way her lips moved over his name—that was the sort of thing he'd remember. "Maybe I want to take you to the wedding."

It was hard to say if she blushed, as she was already red faced from the run and the heat. But something in her expression changed. "No," she said flatly. Before he could take the rejection personally, she added, "I—it—would be bad for you."

He could hear the pain in her voice. He took a step toward her and put a hand on her shoulder. She looked up, her eyes wide and—hopeful? His hand drifted from her shoulder to her cheek and damned if she didn't lean into his touch. "How could you be bad for me?"

The moment the words left his mouth, he realized he'd pushed this too far. Yes, Liberty Reese was an exceptional assistant and yes, she was beautiful—when she wasn't struggling through a summer run.

But what had started as an offhand comment about a date to a wedding now meant something else. Something more.

She shut down on him. She stepped out of his touch and turned to face the lake. "It's getting warmer," she said in a monotone voice. "We need to finish our run."

"Do you have any water left?"

She looked sheepish. "No."

He held out his hand. "Give me your bottle. There's a water fountain a couple hundred yards away. I'll fill it up."

She unhooked her bottle and handed it over. "Thanks," she said, sounding perfectly normal, as if he hadn't just asked her out and touched her face. As if she hadn't turned him down flat. Somehow, it made him admire her even more. "I'll wait here. Try not to get any brilliant ideas, okay?"

Marcus took off at top speed. He heard Liberty shout, "Show-off!"

He laughed.

The water in the drinking fountain was too warm. He let it run for a few seconds, hoping it'd cool off. As he waited, he looked around. There was a trash can only a few feet away, boxes and bags piled around it on the ground. Marcus scowled at the garbage. Why couldn't people take care of the park, dammit? The trash can was right there.

As he filled the water bottle and debated calling the mayor about the garbage pickup schedule, he heard a noise. It was a small noise, but it didn't belong. It wasn't a gull crying or a squirrel scampering—it was closer to a…a cat mewing?

Marcus looked around, trying to find the source of the noise. A shoe box on the ground next to the trash can moved.

Marcus's stomach fell in. Oh, no—who would throw a kitten away? He hurried over to the box and pulled the lid off and—

Sweet Jesus. Not a cat. Not a kitten.

A baby.

Two Breathing hard, Liberty admired the view as Marcus sprinted away from her. When he reached the water fountain, she turned her attention back to the lake. It wouldn't do to be caught staring at her boss's ass. Even if it was a fine ass. And even if the owner had just made one of himself.

Instead, she took the time to appreciate the gift that was this morning. She hadn't set foot in a church in a good fifteen years. But every morning she stood here and looked out on Lake Michigan and gave thanks to God or the higher power or whoever the hell was listening.

She was alive. She was healthy. She had a good job that paid for food and a safe apartment. There was even some money left over for things like running shoes and haircuts.

"Liberty?" Marcus yelled from the water fountain. "Liberty!"

Even though Marcus couldn't see her, she glared at him. What the hell had gotten into him this morning? One of the reasons she worked for him—aside from the insane salary he paid her—was the fact that he treated her as an equal. It was a bit of delusion on her part to pretend that she was on par with the likes of Marcus Warren, but it was her delusion, dammit.

And that delusion worked only because it was just her and Marcus on these runs, both in running clothes. The delusion didn't work when he was wearing a four-thousand-dollar suit and she had on the finest suit she could find on 80 percent clearance at Macy's. And the delusion sure as hell wouldn't work if she accompanied him to a three-day destination wedding extravaganza that no doubt cost more than she'd ever earn in her lifetime.

Someone would see through her facade. It'd get ugly, fast.

"Liberty!" He was even louder this time.

Was he not used to women saying no to him? Oh, whom was she kidding? Women didn't say no to him. Why would they? He was gorgeous, single, richer than sin and eminently respectable. "What?"

"I need you!" he yelled over his shoulder. "Hurry!"

Customer Reviews

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His Forever Family 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Jess_at_From_Me_to_You More than 1 year ago
4.5 out of 5 stars! Liberty learned at a very young age that the only person she could depend on was herself. So, instead of waiting around for someone to save her and rescue her from her life, she fought hard for what she wanted and carved out her own path. That path led her to being the best executive assistant Marcus, a billionaire businessman, could have ever asked for these past three years yet soon that all seems to change when on their typical early morning business run Liberty and Marcus find an abandoned baby. From then on feelings that both Liberty and Marcus had constantly held back come to the surface and life as they once knew it becomes nonexistent. But with “good meaning” relatives trying to keep them apart will they be able to keep the new future they both hope to keep creating together or will everything blow up in their faces? This novel is like a strong women’s fiction novel with a side of heavy romance. It captured my attention from the beginning with its magnetic characters and their formidable personalities. I was intrigued by both Liberty and Marcus’ pasts, along with how those pasts turned them into the people they were today. I just wish there was more of their story for me to read. Despite who his parents are Marcus is a caring man who sweeps the readers off their feet while you read of how he romances Liberty. Marcus just seems so genuine and you can tell Liberty means well while she cares for Marcus too, which made it easy to root for them together and root for them becoming a family. If they were truly real people, they would definitely be ones I’d like to get to know. I certainly recommend this novel to those looking for a diverse contemporary romance!! Review By: From Me to You ... Video, Photography, & Book Reviews -- read more of this review and a TEASER on my blog: frommetoyouvideophoto.blogspot.com --
Anonymous 4 months ago
Loved need more from them
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I was really enjoying this story until I found that the main character was passing. This is a real taboo in African-American citizen especially in this day and age. Could understand her background but did feel that was justifiable for passing which then made the story very disappointing.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read
InspirationalAngel531 More than 1 year ago
Title: His Forever Family - Billionaires & Babies Author: Sarah M Anderson Publisher: Harlequin Desire Published: 2-9-2016 Pages: 186 Genre: Contemporary Romance Sub-Genre: Family Life; Series ISBN: 9780373734382 ASIN: B01OLDKb36 Reviewed For NetGalley and Harlequin Reviewer: DelAnne Rating: 4.75 Stars Found: one baby…and the boss's future bride? Tiny and helpless—the abandoned newborn that venture capitalist Marcus Warren finds during a morning run takes him by surprise. So does the sudden longing for his capable assistant, Liberty Reese, who reveals her tender side with the baby. But Liberty must resist her gorgeous boss's advances. Her secrets could destroy his trust, her career and the chance to care for the foster child they are both coming to love. Even so, she can't deny the heat between them—or the fear that her past will end their chance to create a forever family. From the start you will be held captivated. A baby to capture your heart and a romance to make it beat faster. With characters that are witty, independent and fun to read about. The well thought out story runs smoothly and is short enough that it can easily be read in an afternoon. A light romantic read to warm your heart and brighten your day. My rating of "His Forever Family - Billionaires & Babies" is 4.75 out of 5 stars.
SusanFrank More than 1 year ago
Good book, something of a Cinderella story. Liberty has been Marcus's admin assistant for three years, even going so far as to run with him in the mornings. On this morning they discover an abandoned baby while on their run. Marcus is amazed by the different side of Liberty that he sees, and it awakens unexpected feelings in him. I mostly liked Marcus. He came from money, but branched out on his own and made his own fortune. He has tried to distance himself from his parents, who are self-absorbed and concerned only with appearances. His father is also known for having affairs with his secretaries, which is the main reason that Marcus has suppressed his attraction to Liberty. I loved the way that fulfilling Liberty's wishes about the baby becomes so important to him. I also mostly liked Liberty. She has worked hard to make a good life for herself, She grew up as the daughter of an African-American drug addict and hooker who ended up going to jail. Liberty then went from foster home to foster home. she thinks her father was white because she passes for white. She keeps her background very private, and has never told Marcus anything about it. Their mutual interest in the baby brings them together as they hadn't been before. I loved seeing Marcus fall so hard for Liberty. She falls for him too, but is insistent that she "isn't good for him". There is a fair amount of conflict because of what she sees as the vast gulf between them. Marcus doesn't care about it, he's secure in his world and doesn't really care what anyone else says about him. It's interesting to see him admit that he really has no idea how the other half lives, but it shouldn't matter to the two of them. Running through the story is a wedding that Marcus is supposed to attend. It is that of his ex-fiancee and his mother is insisting that he go and take a date, because it makes him look bad if he doesn't. He really doesn't want to go, and certainly not take any of the "suitable" women she suggests. I loved how Liberty tries to make him see that he doesn't have to cave in to her pressure. Instead he takes Liberty as his date because she's the one he wants to be with. There are rather nasty confrontations with the ex and his mother, but Marcus finally sees Liberty's point and grows a backbone when it comes to his mother. However, there are consequences that come out the next day, during a meeting that Marcus and Liberty attend. Marcus doesn't react well and Liberty gets all her fears confirmed. In her last words to Marcus, in a note, she told him "If there's one thing life has taught me, it's that you have to save yourself. No one else is going to do it for you." That is an eye opener and game changer for him, and I loved the effect it had on him. It was great to see him fight for Liberty and I loved his big moment at the end. I also loved the appearance of Trish Longmire from The Nanny Plan, and the part she had in Liberty's own epiphany. The ending was really sweet and made me like Marcus even more.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this story. Great read, enjoyed watching the main character come into his own!!!
alterlisa More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this romance. While the romance didn't blow me away, the story in it's entirety was quite enjoyable. I think I've gotten a bit tired of the billionaire/prince storylines, though the precious baby angle will always drag me in. While the vicious antics of the privileged rich never fail to amaze me, the love that the two main characters develop for this tiny soul is so wonderful. This is not your usual romance and Anderson's story has a complexity and gravity not usually found in a simple romance. Have no doubt, this is not a simple romance and it had me reading it from cover to cover in just a few hours.
BooksAndSpoons More than 1 year ago
The one line review would be - it surely was different. And that it is, in a positive way different. The billionaire stories are not normally my thing, so I was hesitant with this story, but I am glad I read it. Marcus is a different kind of billionaire, from many other stories. He was born into the money, from both sides of his family, and then made even more on his own. He comes off as a confident and bold person, but he seems to be run by his parents. Parents that are not that pleasant, especially his mother, but his biggest battle in life is to try to avoid them, trying to do his own thing, and not following his mother's iron fist. And just when I thought he managed to achieve that, do something he wanted, only for him, not to any other reasons, plot twist! Liberty is also trying to reinvent herself, after her disaster of a mother. They had that in common, at least! But she went even further, completely hiding her past, her mother's criminal past, even her race, and Marcus thought she was the only one he could really trust. Marcus and Liberty are fun together, they have a connection, and the special kind of equality between them, that is rare, especially in their position. The attraction between them was undeniable, the deeper feelings a bit more questionable at such fast pace. The story is thought provoking, made me think about the power we give to other people in our lives, and how we let them influence our thoughts and actions, or don't let them, in some cases. A delightful and lovely story, where past tries to steer the future, where characters have to go deep, to find what they really want out of their lives, and where little baby changes everything.. ~ Four Spoons
MADreaderMD More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. It's not the typical boss/secretary romance. Even though there are some Pretty Woman moments, the characters have real depth. The differences in their backgrounds was sure to lead to a rocky relationship, but I was pulling for Marcus and Liberty to find a way to work it out. And the baby is precious, of course! I laughed, I was spitting mad, and I cried. This story had it all. The bonus short story by Brenda Jackson was a great story too. A couple who are about to be divorced get stranded at a remote cabin during a blizzard. Maybe now they can finally talk about what went wrong.