Claiming His Brother's Baby

Claiming His Brother's Baby by Helen Lacey

Book: Claiming His Brother's Baby by Helen Lacey Read Free Book Online
Authors: Helen Lacey
Tags: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
was.
    “Tanner?”
    A soft voice said his name and he turned. Cassie stood by his parents’ headstone, her hands clasped together. In her kitchen he’d almost kissed her beautiful mouth. And he was certain she wouldn’t have stopped him. Which meant one thing.
    Complicated.
    He stepped back, leaning heavily on his uninjured leg and moved beside her. “I thought I’d come and pay my respects,” he said quietly.
    She nodded. “I usually stop by on my way back from seeing my grandfather.”
    “How is he?”
    “Granddad?” She stepped closer. “He’s had a bad week and didn’t know me today.”
    Tanner saw the pain in her expression. “That must be difficult.”
    She shrugged. “Yeah...but he’s eighty-two and has lived a full life. Not like...”
    “Like Doug?” he queried when he noticed her gaze flick to the headstones. “Or my parents? Or your parents?”
    “Yes, exactly.” She pointed south. “They’re down that way.”
    “Shall we visit?”
    She frowned a little and looked at Doug’s grave. “You don’t want to stay here?”
    “I’ve said my goodbyes.”
    She lingered for a second and then nodded and, as she turned, the scent of her perfume caught on the breeze. It didn’t take long to reach the spot where her parents were and Tanner hung back while she stood at the foot of their graves. She remained there for barely a minute and then turned back to him.
    “I’ve had enough now,” she said and started moving away.
    “It’s hard for you to be here?” he queried as they walked down the path.
    She shrugged. “I guess I don’t want this place to be how I remember them. No one’s life is defined by their headstone.”
    “You’re right,” he said and moved in step with her. When they reached their vehicles and she’d flicked the lock mechanism on her sedan he opened her driver’s door. “If it’s okay with you I’ll see you back at the house. I went to the lawyer today and there are some things we need to discuss.”
    Her small smile faded. “My friend Mary-Jayne is at home looking after Oliver and she always stays for dinner on Wednesday night, so now is probably not a great time.”
    “I met her,” Tanner said and grinned. “I dropped in earlier. Colorful girl.”
    Her smile returned. “She’s a straight shooter. And she never liked Doug much, if that’s what you mean.”
    “She didn’t call him anything he didn’t deserve,” he said drily. “So, how about you play hooky for an hour so we can talk?”
    She frowned a little, but then pulled her phone from her bag. “I’ll call M.J. and say I’m going to be late. Where would you like to go? Perhaps Ruthie’s? Or we could go to the beach and sit on one of the tables near the kiosk.”
    “The beach,” he answered quickly, thinking he didn’t want to talk to Cassie beneath Ruthie Nevelson’s interested eyes. “We can grab coffee from the kiosk if you like.”
    “Ah...okay. See you there.”
    The Crystal Point beach was an idyllic spot where the Bellan River met the sea. There was a surf club near the holiday park and a kiosk that catered to the locals and tourists. It was off-season, so the park was mostly vacant and the kiosk quiet. Tanner parked outside and waited for Cassie to pull up beside him. He got out, locked the car and met her by her door.
    Five minutes later he’d bought take-out coffee and they were making their way along the path that led to the beach. They stopped before they reached the sand and took a seat at a concrete picnic table.
    “So,” she said, getting straight to the point, “what did the lawyer say?”
    Tanner took a steady breath. “He confirmed what we already knew. There’s a mortgage and some credit card debt. The insurance covered some of the debt but there’s still a sizable amount owing.”
    She wrapped her hands around the foam cup. “And you have to sell the house?”
    “Yes.”
    Her breath came out heavy. “Well, that’s not exactly unexpected. I’ll start seriously

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