Expecting His Secret Heir

By: Dani Wade

Moving along the edge of the parking lot, she attempted to get closer to the ruined buildings. Her high-quality camera had some amazing close-up capabilities that she was eager to test. The piece of equipment was a luxury she couldn’t afford—but her employer could, and he was pulling out all the stops to ensure she got the information he needed. She should feel dirty for accepting the camera, but it was the one thing—the only thing—she didn’t regret in her current situation.

If Zachary knew the truth, he’d make sure she deeply regretted ever coming back here. He wouldn’t rage or get physical. He wouldn’t need to. That dark stare and hard features would be enough to make his point. At least, that was the Zachary she’d known—or thought she’d known.

Would he be the same now?

Turning to the smoking ruins, she focused on the things she knew. Angle, lighting, depth, perception. Her circumstances had prevented her from pursuing photography at a professional level, even though she’d had a few photographs published, thanks to a friend. But if her life had been different, with fewer obligations, maybe she could have followed her own dreams instead of lying awake at night wondering how her family would all survive.

Lost in her art, she’d almost blocked out her surroundings until a masculine voice spoke near her. “Ma’am?”

For just a moment, her heart jump-started. Had Zach finally spotted her? But she turned to find a generic security guard by her side. “Yes?”

“If you’ll come with me, please?”

Though it was a question, his firm gesture in the direction he wanted her to go brooked no arguments.

After ten steps she had no doubt where he was leading her. Desperate to delay the inevitable, she paused. “Excuse me? Could you explain what happened here?”

Possibly fooled by her innocent expression, the man stopped, too, and cocked his head to the side. “You aren’t from around here, are you?”

She shook her head. “No. I’ve visited before, and really wanted to come back. But I didn’t think I would find the quiet place I remembered in such an uproar.”

That was the truth. The single hotel in the area had been booked full. Sadie had managed to get the last room in the last B and B with an opening. From the types of people she saw coming and going, most of the influx consisted of firefighters and construction crews. From the looks of the half-full parking lot, quite a few of those guys were out here today.

“I kinda guessed, based on the accent,” he said with a smile.

Yep. No matter how she tried to tame it, her Texas breeding colored her every word.

The guard went on, “Well, the admin building on this side of the plant had a bomb go off in it.”

Sadie made herself look surprised, even though she’d picked up this tidbit of information around town already. “Really? Who would want to do that? This is the main source of employment for the town, if I remember right.”

“It sure is,” the man said, shaking his head. “They say they have a suspect in custody but haven’t released any names yet.” He stared up at the building for a moment, looking confused. “I have no idea why someone would want to ruin the mill, but after all the bad stuff that’s happened around here in the last year—”

“Steve,” Zach barked from over a dozen feet away.

“Oops. Better get movin’,” the guard said.

Each step felt like a final walk down death row, but Sadie forced herself to move. After all, making contact with Zach was the reason she was here. She needed to spend as much time with him as possible—and she hoped their previous one-night stand might give her a bit of an in, even if the fact that she’d disappeared after it wouldn’t make it a positive in.

Zach still had a group of workers around him who parted as she drew near. She expected them to skedaddle now that the boss had new business, but no. Not a single one moved away.

Her petite five-foot-five stature had been the bane of her existence ever since she’d realized she wouldn’t be growing anymore, and being surrounded by a bunch of six-foot-tall men did not set her at ease. She felt like David approaching Goliath against his will.

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