The Secret Child & The Cowboy CEO(10)

By: Janice Maynard

Mac was aware of Trent’s burdens and complained to Bryn. “Can’t you slow him down? The boy works round the clock. If he’s not on the ranch, he’s holding conference calls with his staff and staying up half the night doing God knows what.”

“How am I supposed to stop him? Your sons would do anything for you, Mac, but it must be terribly difficult for a man like Trent to put his life on hold for a month.” Trent had built a highly successful company from the ground up, and his drive and intelligence had enabled him to amass his first million before he was twenty-five. Even without the financial largesse he would one day inherit from his father, Trent was a wealthy man.

Mac frowned stubbornly. “He would listen to you, Brynnie.”

“I don’t think so. You know he doesn’t trust me. He’s got lawyers flying in by helicopter almost every day with contracts to sign. He’s an important, high-profile businessman. He and I might have been close at one time, but I don’t even know him anymore.” The older boy she remembered—the young man who had seemed like the most wonderful person in the world to her—was long gone. The Trent of today operated in an arena that was sophisticated, intimidating and completely foreign to her.

The change in the man she had once been so close to made her sad.

Bryn wouldn’t have minded the distraction of helping out around the house, but with Mac’s revolving staff of cooks and housekeepers, she might as well have been staying in a four-star hotel. Any dirty laundry disappeared as if by magic, and her luxurious bathroom and bedroom were kept spotless.

For someone accustomed to caring for a child, working part-time and keeping up with school, she found herself at loose ends when Mac was resting.

On the third night after the uneasy trip to Jackson Hole, Trent encountered her in the kitchen chatting with the cook.

His expression was brooding. “I thought I might see if Mac is up to having dinner at the table tonight. What do you think?”

She nodded slowly, wishing she didn’t feel so awkward around Trent. “It’s a great idea. It would do him good to get out of that room for a change.” It was really more of a suite than a single room, but even the most luxurious surroundings could seem like a prison.

When the two men reappeared, Mac leaning on his son’s arm, Bryn was helping set everything on the table. The menu, by doctor’s orders, included as many heart healthy ingredients as possible, and the aroma was enough to tempt even the most uninspired appetite.

Mac picked at his food to start with, but finally dug in. Bryn watched, pleased, as he cleared his plate.

The conversation was stilted. But Bryn did her best. “So tomorrow’s the doctor’s appointment, right?”

Mac had his mouth full, so Trent answered. “Yes. At 11:00 a.m. I’ll take Dad. You can stay here and have some time off the clock.”

She frowned. He made it sound as if she were the hired help. “But I would be happy to go.”

Trent shook his head, his calm demeanor hiding whatever he might be feeling. “No need.”

And that was it. The oracle had spoken.

After dinner Mac and Trent played chess on a jade-and-onyx board that Gage had brought back from one of his trips to Asia. Bryn could tell by the quality of the workmanship that the set was expensive. And she wondered wryly what it must be like to never once have to worry about money.

She stood unnoticed in the doorway for several minutes, just watching the interplay between the two men. The Sinclair males had never been the type to wear their hearts on their sleeves, but Bryn knew they loved each other deeply. They were a tightly knit clan.

Unfortunately, she was still outside the circle.

The following morning, Bryn was shooed out of the sickroom so Trent could help his father get dressed and leave. Unbidden, her feet carried her upstairs to Jesse’s room. It was as far from Mac’s as it was possible to be in the rambling house. On purpose? Perhaps. Jesse would have wanted to avoid his father’s watchful eye.

A thin layer of dust coated everything. Mac paid a weekly cleaning service to come in, but they must have been given instructions not to enter this room. Nothing had been touched since the day Jesse died. Even the bed was still unmade.

Though it made her stomach hurt, the first thing she did was to gather a few items that could be used for testing…a comb that held stray hairs, a toothbrush, a razor. She couldn’t afford to be squeamish. This was why she had come.

Bryn continued to straighten the mess as her mind whirled with unanswered questions. She had seen the coroner’s report. Mac had laid it out in full view on the dresser in his bedroom. She suspected he wanted her to read it for herself so he wouldn’t have to say the awful words out loud: My son was a drug addict.

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