The Secret Child & The Cowboy CEO(6)

By: Janice Maynard

For the first time, she understood something that had never before been clear to her, especially not as an immature teenager. When Mac’s flighty young wife abandoned her family years ago, the damage had run deep.

The Matthews family had come along to fill in the gaps. For more than a decade, Bryn and her mother had been the only females in an all-male enclave. And Bryn had assumed that trust was a two-way street. But when Jesse swore that he had never slept with Bryn, Mac and Trent had believed him. It was as simple as that.

Bryn chose her words carefully. “I don’t lie. Maybe you’ve had bad luck with the women in your life, but I can’t help that. I told the truth six years ago, and I’m telling the truth now.”

He curled his lip. “Easy for you to say. With Jesse not here to defend himself.”

She tamped down her anger, desperate to get through to him. “Jesse was a troubled boy who grew into a troubled man. You all spoiled him and babied him, and he used your love as a weapon. I have the scars to prove it. But Jesse’s gone, and I’m still here. And so is my son. He deserves to know his birthright—his family.”

Trent leaned back against his wall, the hard planes of his face showing no signs of remorse. “How much do you want?” he said bluntly. “How big a check do I have to write to make you leave and never come back?”

The bottom fell out of her stomach, and her jaw actually dropped. “Go to hell,” she said, her lips trembling.

He grabbed her wrist as she headed for the door. “Maybe I’ll take you with me,” he muttered.

This time, there was no pretense of tenderness. He was angry and it showed in his kiss. Their mouths battled, his hands buried in her hair, hers clenched on his shoulders.

At eighteen she’d thought she understood sex and desire. After Jesse’s betrayal, she’d understood that his love was an illusion. As was Mac’s…and Trent’s.

Now, with six years of celibacy to her credit and a heart that was being split wide open with the knowledge that she had never stopped loving Trent Sinclair, she was lost.

The kiss changed in one indefinable instant. She curled a hand behind his neck, stroking the short, soft hair that was never allowed to brush his collar. His skin was warm, so warm.

She went limp in his embrace, too tired to fight anymore. Her breasts were crushed against his hard chest. Her lips no longer struggled with his. She capitulated to the sweetness of being close to him again. A sweetness tainted with the knowledge that he thought she was a liar. That she had tried to manipulate them all.

Gradually, they stepped away from a dangerous point of no return. Trent’s expression was closed, his body language defensive.

She nodded jerkily toward the desk. “I’ll use the computer later. I’m sure you have work to do.”

When he didn’t respond at all, she fled.

Trent was not accustomed to second-guessing himself. Confidence and determination had propelled him to success in the cutting-edge, fast-paced world of solar and wind energy. When he’d received the call about his father’s heart attack, Trent had been in the midst of an enormous deal that involved buying up a half-dozen smaller companies and incorporating them into the already well-respected business model that was Sinclair Synergies.

Except for some start-up cash that had long since been repaid, he’d never relied on his father’s money. Trent was damned good at what he did. So why was the CEO of said company cooling his heels in Wyoming shoveling literal horseshit?

And why in the hell couldn’t he read the truth in a woman’s eyes? A woman who had stayed in his heart all these years like a bad case of indigestion.

Had Jesse lied? And if so, why? Mac, Sloan, Gage and Trent had doted on the little boy who came along three years after his one-after-the-other siblings. Jesse had suffered from terrible bouts of asthma, and the entire family rallied whenever he was sick. So, yeah—maybe Bryn was right. Maybe they had catered to Jesse’s whims, especially when their mother bailed on them. But that didn’t mean Jesse was a bad person.

Heroin overdose. Trent shifted uneasily in Mac’s office chair. Going through the books was proving to be more difficult than he’d anticipated. Jesse had never been a whiz at math, so God knows why Mac put him in charge of the finances. His youth alone should have been a red flag. And his inexperience.

Already, Trent was uneasy about some ways money had been shifted from one account to another. A heart-to-heart with Mac was in order, but until the old man was a little steadier on his emotional feet, Trent would hold off on the questions.

Which brought him back to Bryn. What was Mac thinking? Why had he brought Bryn back to Wyoming?

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