Home > Shopping for an Heir (Shopping for a Billionaire #10)(5)

Shopping for an Heir (Shopping for a Billionaire #10)(5)
Author: Julia Kent

Now here she was, standing outside the Westside Center for the Arts, struggling to get up the courage to go inside. Damn it. She’d been able to command a team in Afghanistan, and now she couldn’t do a simple inheritance delivery.

This was all about strategy. Do it in public. Do it somewhere she could escape from easily. Do it in a place where Gerald would be preoccupied and unable to follow her.

Not that she thought he would. The guy dumped her, after all. Ten years of questions, ten years of self-doubt, ten years of pain.

Ten years of heartache.

So why did a tiny part of her wish he would follow her?

“Pah!” she exclaimed, impatient with herself. “Just go in.”

The building was ancient and smelled like chalk and burning hair, the scent of old educational institutions with radiators and structural problems. As she walked down the hallway, following the signs to the office, she smelled paint, turpentine, and heard children laughing. A quick peek in one classroom showed parents sitting behind toddlers, hands immersed in clay, all of them smiling.

Her heart tugged.

That should be her.

Squaring her shoulders, she shoved her emotions into a locked box and strode with purpose. Find the office. Locate Gerald. Serve the papers. Walk away.


“Excuse me?” she asked, striding into a cluttered little office with desks that looked like something issued to an Afghanistan mobile unit. Suzanne paused. Nah.

These were older. Much older.

A fresh-faced blonde teenager looked up from her crouch, her face flushed with exertion, a pile of textured paper in her arms. “Yes?”

“I’m looking for Gerald Wright.”

“Gerald’s, um, teaching right now.”

“Which room is he in?”

“Three thirteen.”

“Thank you.”

“But you can’t just go in there!” the girl called out as Suzanne made her way to the stairs, mind nothing but the loop of the number, over and over.

Just keep moving forward.

“Miss!” the young girl said. “It’s a closed class! Only enrolled students can go in there!”

Suzanne ignored her.

By the time she was at the top of the stairs, the girl had given up. One less obstacle. Who cared about enrolled students? Suzanne wasn’t there to learn how to make a pear or form a horse head out of modeling clay. She knew Gerald must be teaching sculpture. The man lived for his art.

And those hands.

Oh, those hands of his.

“Stop it,” she muttered to herself, pinching her wrist. “That will only get you into trouble.”

Three eleven... three thirteen. She peered in through the wire-mesh-filled window and saw a packed class. Good for Gerald. She knew from a quick Google search (ok, more than a quick Google search...) that he worked in security for Anterdec, protecting the McCormick family men at Boston’s famous Fortune 500 company. The art teaching must be on the side.

Standing before the door, she braced herself. Her legs began to tremble and below the calves, blood turned cold. She was wearing a work suit, heels, and had retouched her makeup before coming over.

None of that mattered if she couldn’t move.

No one in the classroom talked. The angle of the door made it so she couldn’t see Gerald, and there was a large curtain separating a small platform. She wondered what the subject was.

Should she knock?

No. Just do it. Be bold.

And so she was, opening the door, the creeeeeak of the un-oiled hinges announcing her arrival.

“Excuse me. Are you enrolled?”

Her knees melted. Gerald’s voice could do that to her after all these years.

“Ah, no,” she said, still unable to see him. All of the students whipped around in their seats, staring at her.

One step at a time, she told herself. Just one at a time.

“Then I’m afraid we’re full, and—”

Gerald’s words stopped as she came into view.

There is a point where looking at someone is like having all of the insides of your soul poured out onto an endless terrain of eternity, as if they use their eyes to pick you up and shake you hollow, all the pieces of yourself shining under an unrelenting sun without shadow.

Suzanne felt that once, ten years ago.

And again, now.

The point of contact between her and the man she’d loved so fiercely wasn’t a tangent. There was no touch. Just eyes, the direct path of visual connection, the moment explosive and calm, like the eye of a tornado.

All the chaos inside her went impossibly still when he looked at her.

Just like that.

“Jesus. Suzanne? What are you doing here?” Gerald’s voice went impossibly soft, his hands on his hips, a clipboard resting crooked in one hand, jutting out from his waist. Decorum said that gasping aloud at the sight of his chiseled form, the clay-smeared shirt conforming to the ridged muscle of his chest and belly, his faded jeans hanging on hips like they’d won a coveted spot, would not be the best approach right now.

And she was trying her best. Really.

He still shaved his head, and in that strange way that time changes when the mind needs it to, she wondered if he’d ever grown it out even as she knew she should say something. Anything. But her mind decided to take a detour, and she didn’t have an emotional GPS that would reroute her appropriately right now. She was along for the ride.

Suzanne had seen pictures of his natural color, a wiry blond mane the color of ashes mixed with turmeric. But in their years together, she’d never run her hands through his hair, deprived of the simple luxury so casually taken for granted in most relationships.

Those eyes. As she moved beat by beat, time lost to emotion, she finally found herself looking at his face, the bones the same, his fierce handsomeness baked a bit by life. His nose was still crooked, broken long ago in his teen years. That nasty scar along the right side of his face, from earlobe to jaw, plagued her. She remembered when it was a fresh wound, the result of shrapnel from an IED. Now it was a thick white line marking time.

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