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My Father's Best Friend

By:Fiona Davenport

 When Ethan Parker's investigation leads him to Delilah Brooks, he hopes  he's finally found his best friend's long-lost daughter. What he wasn't  expecting was to want her for himself-with an intensity that drives him  to get her pregnant before her father finds out about the two of them.

Delilah falls hard and fast for Ethan. But she isn't sure what to think  when he confesses his connection to the father she's never met. Or how  her father is going to react when he learns she's having his best  friend's baby.





Prologue


Bonnie


I stared down at the cashier's check, the white paper stark against the  gleaming dark wood of the desktop. I could barely process what was  happening. Holy cow. Apparently, getting rid of me was worth a whole lot  of zeros. Despite my shock, anger rose to the surface and I glared at  the stuffy man in the immaculately pressed suit sitting in front of me.

"I don't know what makes you think I can be bought," I said defensively.  "But, I'm not with Sam for his money. We're getting married, becoming a  family, and raising our baby together."

He laughed and shook his head, then smiled at me sympathetically.  "Everyone has a price, Ms. Hart. Samuel isn't the type to ever settle  down. Much less at twenty-two. Do you think you're the first woman who  showed up claiming to be pregnant and demanding marriage?"

I gasped and recoiled in my chair. "I never once brought up marriage, it  was Sam's idea. He loves me." Even I could hear the note of uncertainty  in my voice. Sam had a reputation as a ladies' man, but he'd settled  down when he met me. We were in a committed, monogamous relationship.  Weren't we?

Sam was the most affectionate, loving man I'd ever known. He made me  feel like I was the center of his universe. He was certainly the  epicenter of mine. The last few months had been a dream and I clung to  it desperately.

"Ms. Hart, I'm doing you a favor here. I have no doubt Samuel will marry  you and stay married just long enough to be able to easily gain custody  of your child when he eventually files for divorce." He paused and  pushed the check a little further towards me. "Take the money, go  somewhere he won't find you, raise your baby in peace." His voice was  gentle but I wasn't fooled, the snake was poised, ready to strike any  moment. "I'll even help you change your identity so that he won't ever  be a threat to your daughter."

At my continued hesitation, he sighed and pulled out a sheaf of papers,  laying them on top of the check. "This is the prenuptial agreement he  had drawn up. I can only imagine that he assumed you wouldn't read it  thoroughly."

With shaking hands, I grasped the stack and lifted it to scan the  contents. Pieces of my heart chipped away with every turn of a page.  Until I reached the section that broke it altogether. It was buried in  legal jargon, but I was smart enough to recognize the basic points. In  the case of divorce, I had to prove my ability to provide for my child,  in equal measure, what could be provided from her father. Otherwise,  custody would default to the paternal parent.

I would receive a tiny settlement, but it wasn't even in the  stratosphere of what I would need to fight for my baby. There was more,  but I couldn't continue reading through my tears. It didn't matter  anyway, there was no way I was going to sign this document. I took a  deep breath and calmly tore the packet down the center before flinging  it on the desk.

Jumping to my feet, I threw my shoulders back, gathered my coat and  purse, and snatched the check. Carefully, I smoothed over my face,  leaving no expression. It was easy since I had no feelings to express,  my heart had turned to stone.

"I'll handle the details. I certainly don't want anything more from you,  or anyone associated with Samuel Wentworth." Spinning on my heel, I  marched out of the office and into the pouring rain. I stood for a  moment, letting it cleanse me, while my hand rested tenderly on my  belly. We'll make a fresh start, baby. Just you and me.





Chapter 1


Ethan


Bonnie Hart (Hanna Brooks), age thirty-eight, passed away on June 3rd at  the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. At age  twenty-five, she received her degree as an RN and spent her life caring  for others, even after she was forced to stop working due to her cancer.  She was a loving mother and loyal friend. Bonnie is survived by her  daughter, Delilah Brooks.

Services will be held...

I read the obituary twice more before reclining in my desk chair. My  head fell back and I stared at the white ceiling, contemplating my next  steps.

It was about fucking time.         

     



 

I'd been waiting ten years for this, for the moment when the name Bonnie  Hart was flagged on my system. Obviously, I didn't expect her to be the  only woman with that name, but this time, things lined up. The ages  matched. The picture printed with the obituary resembled the picture  Samuel had given me the day he hired me to continue his search for her.

Even the fact that her daughter didn't share her name fit the  circumstances, since it was likely she changed her name before the baby  was born. But. . . Delilah. It was Samuel's mother's name.

Bonnie had disappeared without a trace, her cold trail leaving me no  clues. I'd basically had nothing to go on when I started my search for  the love of my best friend's life. I questioned why she was being buried  under her real name for half a second, then decided to forget it and  take the win.

Samuel and I had grown close over the years-eventually becoming best  friends-and I'd watched his hope die bit by bit until there was nothing  left. He became convinced that she hadn't loved him after all. But, I'd  seen the photos of them together, heard the stories he'd shared about  her. It sounded to me like Bonnie and Samuel had walked right off the  set of a sappy, romantic, chick-flick.

I didn't think she just simply up and left. Samuel was a hard man to  fool. I found it hard to believe he'd been so wrong about the woman  who'd stolen his heart. I couldn't give up completely. Something went  wrong, and I was determined to find out what.

In all these years, this was the first time I felt that niggling  sensation I get when I'm grasping at just the right straw. I needed to  get to New York.



I stood back, away from the graveside and shadowed by a crop of trees. Waiting.

Even though I'd never met Bonnie, I knew the girl was her daughter. Her  long, silvery-blonde hair was pulled back from her stunning face in a  low ponytail that hung down to her waist. She wore a black wrap dress  that showed off a pair of gorgeous legs and clung to her curves, causing  my eyes to linger on them for far too long. I imagined my hands running  over those soft hills and valleys, those legs wrapped around my waist  as I drove deep inside her.

Whoa! Shut that shit down right now, Parker.

I shook my head to dispel the daydream. She was barely fucking legal,  having only turned eighteen three days before her mother died. Not to  mention the mental sucker punch I gave myself for forgetting that she  was my best friend's daughter. For fuck's sake, I was almost twice her  age. Seventeen fucking years older than her, Parker.

Samuel had only just inherited his father's investment firm when he met  Bonnie. After she left, it took him years to realize how badly their  security team had dropped the ball on the search for Bonnie. He'd wanted  someone to give it another go. A mutual friend steered him in my  direction.

It didn't take long for us to develop a friendship. We had similar  backgrounds, both of us trust fund babies who grew up to be  irresponsible playboys. I'd gotten myself into all kinds of shit, and  I'm positive there were times my parents despaired that I would even  reach the age of twenty-one. My juvenile record was quite colorful. From  what he told me, his wasn't far off from mine.

We'd both attended Harvard, though five years apart. His wild reputation  practically made him a legend. However, he'd cleaned up his life after  meeting Bonnie, going on to graduate and keep his family's company  successful. It took me a little longer to get my college career on  track. My parents died my freshman year and I'd gone a little off the  rails. Partying, drinking to excess, and never fucking the same woman  twice.

Maturity crept in there somewhere though and I managed to graduate, a  stipulation for accessing the rest of my inheritance. I took the money  and opened Parker Security and Investigations. I left behind most of my  vices, but I still never found myself sticking with a woman more than  one night.

I hadn't looked too deeply into the reasons behind my lack of  commitment, and it was actually Samuel's determination to find  Bonnie-eight years after losing her-that was my wake up call. Though,  the lesson learned could have easily been not to give your heart, I  ended up learning something else. I wanted what they'd had, with a  different final outcome, of course.

Samuel remained alone until a year ago when he met his fiancée, Lola.  After I realized what I wanted, I'd dated for a few years, but no one  ever kept my interest. I hadn't even bothered in quite some time. Some  time, meaning at least six years. This is what I blamed my runaway  thoughts and suddenly hard cock on.

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