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Secret Baby with Brother’s Best Friend: Chapter 28


Orchard View came into view as the helicopter flew low over the trees. It was a grand estate. It had been years since I was back. I practically spent every summer here as a kid.

Mr. Peters and my father had been best friends and business partners. I remembered a few grand Christmas parties from when I was a kid. It wasn’t until I was a teenager that it seemed like I stayed here more than I did at my parents’ townhouse in the city. I think my mother wanted me to have a chance to run wild and be out of her socialite hair.

“Damn,” I said with a sigh as I realized, I had been sent here to be a distraction for John after his mother died. That explained why we had been tucked away at the same boarding school in Vermont. Even through the years we were at separate colleges, I returned here every summer. Orchard View meant summer vacation, swimming, horseback riding, sleeping under the stars if we wanted. And now it meant Gemma.

We approached from the east, over the stables toward the backfield. A solo rider struggled with their horse. As we flew in closer, I recognized the mop of blonde sticking out of the back of her riding helmet.

“Get control of that horse,” I muttered.

The horse reared and Gem fell.

“Get up,” I said. “Get up. Get up!” Suddenly I was yelling. “Get this bird on the ground now!”

My seat belt was off and I threw open the door before the helicopter had even settled on the ground. I jumped out and ran.

The horse stayed next to her, but I didn’t pay any attention to the animal beyond pushing it out of my way.

“Gem? Gemma?” She lay on her side, not moving.

I ducked my face close to hers. I felt her breath on my face. “Good girl, you keep breathing.”

I ran my hands over her body, checking to ensure that her limbs were not broken.

“Gemma, darling, can you hear me?”

I was rewarded with a groan. I unfastened her helmet and eased it from her head.

“Can you open your eyes for me?”

She was quiet. She didn’t even groan this time. I had her in my arms and rushed to the house. Mrs. Peters opened the door as I approached.

“Oh my God, Gemma! What happened?” she asked.

“Call a doctor now. Where can I put her?”

She rushed in front of me, leading me to a bedroom off the back pantry. Everything smelled slightly musty from lack of use. I held Gemma and watched her face for any flicker of eye movement as her mother pulled the covers off the bed and pulled the sheets back so I could place Gemma down. I didn’t want to, she needed to be safe, and she was safest in my arms.

I tended to Gemma, easing her boots off, and opening her jacket. As I unfastened buttons she mumbled and moved her arms as if she wanted to push me away.

Someone came into the room behind us. “How can I help?”

“I need you to call Dr. Williams. Tell him there’s been an accident. I’ll go get George to take care of the horse.” Mrs. Peters directed.

I looked up at her when I felt her hand on my shoulder.

“When I get back, you’ll explain to me what happened, and why you’re here, Chase.”

I nodded in agreement.

I sat staring at Gemma. Her hand clasped in my own. I willed her to open her eyes and smile at me or frown at me even. Anything, I wanted her to react and know I was there.

“Oh good, you made some coffee. Bring the doctor back as soon as he arrives. Thank you, Yana.”

I could hear Mrs. Peters giving directions.

Moments later a steaming cup of hot coffee was handed to me.

“Thanks.” I took a sip. I hadn’t had coffee in months, the flavor was stronger than I remembered.

She sat on the far side of the bed, across Gemma from where I sat.

“Would you care to explain what’s going on Chase? I haven’t seen you in years. It’s always a bit of a shock to recognize the children you knew as an adult.”

“It has been a while,” I admitted. “Since right after the funerals.”

“That’s about when John stopped coming home too,” she said with a nod. “It got very quiet around here without you boys. Why the helicopter, why not just drive up like a normal person?”

“I was in a hurry. I take it Gem, Gemma, didn’t tell you about us?”

“Us as in CP Manhattan, or us as in you’re the man she went away with?”

I took a long drink of coffee. The warmth helped soothe my frayed nerves.

Gemma groaned. I was on my feet. Mrs. Peters leaned in. Just as quickly, Gemma was unconscious again.

I ran my hands through my hair and began to pace at the end of the bed. The room was small, so I didn’t manage to go very far before I turned around again.

“Yes, you’re right. I am the one she went away with. I took her to my home in St. Maarten.”

“She said you broke up with her.” Mrs. Peters’ voice was stern, disapproving.

“That’s not exactly what—”

“Dr. Williams,” the woman Mrs. Peters had been directing said.

An elderly man followed behind her and into the room.

“Everyone out, this room is too crowded,” he ordered. “What happened?”

“She fell from her horse,” I said.

“Was she wearing a helmet?”

“Yes, she was.”

“Good, has she been unconscious the entire time?”

“She’s in and out,” Mrs. Peters said.

“Out, out,” he shoved us away.

A tinny crying sound came from Mrs. Peters’ backside.

“Amelia,” she said as she pulled a white baby monitor from her pocket.

“Can I help?” I asked. I needed to see my daughter.

“I’m not sure if I should let you. Gemma said you broke up.”

“That’s why I’m here. I’ve been looking for Gemma for a week. It took me that long to figure out that if she was still in the states that she’d be here.”

I followed her up the back flight of stairs to the bedroom hallway.

“How did you know she was thinking about leaving?”

“She stayed away once. It was only logical. Especially after the crap John said to her. After what I didn’t say.”

She opened a door and paused. “What didn’t you say to her, Chase?”

The crying stopped, and Amelia’s little voice asked, “Tace pay Mia?”

The smile on my face was happy and genuine. I swept Amelia up into my arms.

“Hi, princess. I’ve missed you.” I kissed her on the cheek, and she gave me a sloppy open mouth version of a return kiss on my cheek.

“Let me change her.” Mrs. Peters swooped Amelia out of my arms. I felt a sudden urge to fight to keep her. But the instant panic immediately subsided.

“Pay Tace,” Amelia complained.

“You can play with Chase in a minute,” her grandmother soothed.

I hovered in the background, my hands shoved in my pockets, looking at Amelia’s room. Someone had painted rainbow clouds full of magical creatures. Bunnies with butterfly wings hopped over clouds that blue whales with unicorn horns swam under. It was a magical room with twinkle lights hanging from the ceiling, and stuffed animals piled high in the corner. It was the kind of room I would have insisted she have.

Mrs. Peters handed Amelia back to me, and I felt at peace. A feeling of being complete I hadn’t felt since Gemma was with me in St. Maarten.

I couldn’t take my eyes off Amelia. Her eyes were dark like mine, but her hair was her mother’s. Her nose was straight like mine, but so little it looked like Gemma’s, and she had Gemma’s pointy chin. There was a healthy mix of both of us in the tiny, beautiful face.

“You really have taken to Amelia. She’s been asking for you all week.”

“Did Gemma tell you?”

Mrs. Peters raised her eyebrows and shook her head. “Tell me what? Gemma didn’t even tell me it was you she was seeing.”

“We should go downstairs, see if the doctor is done. I think you’ll want a cup of coffee for this.”

I carried Amelia and we returned down the back stairs into the kitchen.

With coffee in front of her and seated at a long table Mrs. Peters looked at me.

“Gemma never told you who Amelia’s father is, did she?”

Mrs. Peters shook her head.

“Did she tell you about the big blow-up in John’s office?”

“What are you getting at Chase? Gemma told me that John blew his top when he discovered her in his marketing department, and he had her fired. And that the man she was seeing broke up with her. She hasn’t told anyone who Amelia’s father is.”

I sighed. “I’m the father. Now that I look at her, I can see all the similarities. But I didn’t have a clue.”

Gemma’s mother covered her mouth with her hand. Her gaze bounced back and forth between Amelia and me. And then she began nodding.

“John figured it out before Gemma had a chance to tell me. Instead of running after her like I should have, I confronted John, defended her honor.” I swallowed and looked away. “I couldn’t stand hearing him talk about Gemma like that any longer. When I ran out to find her, she was gone.”

“When you didn’t follow her out, she must have interpreted that as you are choosing sides.”

“Yeah, I figured it must have looked like I was choosing John and the company over her and Amelia.” I tickled Amelia just to hear her giggle. “I was in shock. But I already knew that Gemma and Amelia were my family. I needed a second to adjust to exactly how much that was true.”

“So you admit to getting Gemma pregnant?”

“I admit to vaguely remembering a woman I think was Gemma at a party a few years back. I trust Gemma to remember who she slept with. I hope she can forgive me for not being as circumspect.”

“Are you going to insist on a paternity test? What will you do if Amelia isn’t yours?”

“For legal reasons, I’m sure a paternity test will happen. But know this Mrs. Peters, I fell in love with Gemma and her daughter thinking that, no, knowing that I wanted to be Amelia’s father. It’s simply more beautiful that I already am.”

Amelia awkwardly wiped a tear from my cheek. “Tace cry.”

I chuckled. “Yeah, princess, but that’s a happy tear.”

The doctor stepped into the kitchen and cleared his throat.

“Is she conscious? Is she going to be okay?” Mrs. Peters asked.

“She is a bit concussed. She is sitting up but resting. Gemma will be fine, and the baby has a good strong heartbeat so there’s nothing to worry about.”


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