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The American Heir

By:Gina Robinson

 (The Billionaire Duke Series Book 4)

A Jet City Billionaire Serial Romance

Chapter 1

Witham House, England

Riggins Feldhem, Duke of Witham

I never knew looks could kill in so many pointed ways. Until that   moment. Each one I received from the instant I watched the damned   entertainment news and stepped from the car until the last one on   Haley's face as I confronted her in our bedroom pierced my heart from a   different angle.

The smug, gleeful look of carnage on the TV show host's face as she read   the teleprompter: "Haley, Duchess of Witham, is pregnant, a close   friend of the duchess revealed exclusively to Entertainment Britain.   It's not official yet, but expect an announcement from the duke and   duchess soon … "

Not official? Hell. The purported father was as surprised as anyone. I   hadn't heard it from the duchess' lips. If there was any news to be   heard.

Denial is always the first stage of grief. No. Haley wouldn't. She   couldn't be. She wouldn't trick me. She would have told me. It's the   fucking tabloids again making things up to sell a story. Trying to be   salacious.

Though my mind couldn't quite make out why a woman having her husband's   baby was sensational. Unless you knew the truth of our situation.

The look on the face of the driver as he opened the car door in the   driveway of my home, my literal castle. If a man's home was truly his   castle, mine felt at that moment more like a dungeon. The driver's   expression clearly said, in its British way, Poor sod. He's been played   for a chump.

But what did he know? Certainly not the unconventional details of my marriage.

Gibson's was the worst. Or maybe it was mine, if I could have seen it. I   would have, if I'd bothered to look in any handy polished surface,   which abounded. I avoided it for good reason. I didn't need to see the   thunder and shock I already felt.

Gibson's was positively stoic as he opened the castle door to let its   returning duke in. "Your Grace. We weren't expecting you back-"

"No?" With roses and lingerie in hand, I felt ragged, searching. I   wanted the truth, damn it. Not gossip. And unfortunately, I was finding   the ugly truth bit by bit. "I should have let you know I was coming. My   apologies, Gibson. I wanted to surprise the duchess. Is she at home?"

She damn well better be at this hour of night.

He nodded. "She's in her room, sir. She's been staying in the duchess'   suite since shortly after you left. In Helen's old room. You'll find her   there."

"She's been feeling poorly?" I tried to keep the hardness and   inquisition out of my voice. Despite my best efforts, I hardly sounded   casual. Or sympathetically worried. And definitely not friendly.

"I couldn't say, sir." Gibson was hedging.

I cursed beneath my breath. His allegiance had clearly shifted to the   duchess. He was my employee. He was supposed to be loyal to me.

"More tired than usual?"

"Running this estate would wear anyone out, sir." He laughed as if he'd made a small joke.

There was no humor in me.

"Has she thrown up in any of my priceless vases lately, as the news is   claiming? Or even any of my cheap ones?" I pronounced vase in the   British way, without the long A and definite S.

Gibson clearly knew what I was referring to. "I'm not aware that you own any cheap vases, sir."

Gibson wouldn't give up with the attempt to divert me. Nor did he seem   inclined to make even a feeble stab at allaying my concerns. He wouldn't   be caught in the middle of a domestic crisis. Smart man.

Maybe he was right. Maybe there was nothing to worry about. I half   expected him to tell me not to listen to tittle-tattle. He wisely   refrained.

I nodded to Gibson and took the stairs two at a time with the bouquet   and gift box bobbing in my hands, trying to calm my nerves. Innocent   until proven guilty, that was the American way, wasn't it? Hadn't I been   a victim of gossip often enough to know not to listen to it, let alone   believe it?

I was going to go ahead with my plan. Tell her I loved her. Laugh with   her about the things the press made up. Things would be better than they   were before. I loved her. I had to tell her. That was the important   thing.

Until I threw open the bedroom door and found her sitting in bed   watching TV, with a Bible, of all things, next to her. And a tube of   digestive biscuits.   


Crackers in bed? Damn it. Damn it all. How terribly clichéd. All she   needed was a jar of pickles and a quart of ice cream to complete the   picture.

With her silvery hair slipping over her shoulders, she looked as pale as   milk glass. I knew every inch of her body. I'd memorized it before I   left and replayed the beauty of it in my mind over and over since. I ran   my gaze over her, meticulous in my study. Already her breasts looked   fuller and lush with impending motherhood.

My gut tightened. My heart was gripped in a vise of tangled emotions. My hands shook. I went cold.

The words of the newscast haunted me. The duchess is already   experiencing morning sickness and reportedly retched into a priceless   antique vase during a friend's very recent visit …

I asked the question I didn't want answered. "Is it true? Are you pregnant?"

I hadn't thought it was possible for her to go any paler, but she lost   all color, going so completely white her skin was almost translucent.

I'd been wrong. The look on her face was the worst look of all. It   pierced my heart straight on and straight through. She didn't even have   to speak. Her expression was more than enough.

We stood staring at each other, frozen in time. Frozen in emotion. Each waiting for the other to make a move.

She tossed back the covers and slid off the bed. For an instant, I   thought, I hoped, I prayed, she was coming to me. That she was running   to me to throw her arms around me and take me to her. Despite my outward   confidence, I was an insecure guy. I wanted unconditional love,   desperately.

She brushed past me almost defiantly, threw open the door, and ran into   the bathroom. The door shook and rattled, and bounced on the doorstop   behind her. The sound of the porcelain toilet lid banging open followed.   Next the violence of throwing up, that horrific vomiting noise that   brought the bile to my throat. I fought back my gag response.

Anger. Pain. Frustration. A toxic cocktail raged inside me. I dropped   the package on the dresser and smashed the bouquet against the wall with   all my might. Whipping the wall with it. Lashing out. Lashing  anything.  Again and again. Until the red petals spilled onto the floor  like the  blood of our relationship.

"Bloody, bloody hell!" I yelled, resorting to British curses.

I kicked the baseboard, fighting rage and hurt. When my anger was   finally spent, I leaned my forehead against the wall, trying to process   the shock and betrayal. Calm down, man. Just fucking calm down.

The sound of vomiting continued, more violent than it had been.

I could be a hard man at times. But I never could stand seeing other   people in pain. Hearing Haley losing her digestive biscuits with such   violence was almost more than I could bear.

I dropped the battered roses and went into the bathroom. Haley kneeled   in front of the toilet, pitifully trying to hold her hair out of the way   as she leaned over the bowl.

Despite the rage coursing through me, I gently took her hair from her   and held it back until, clutching her stomach, she broke into dry   heaves, took a shaky breath, and sat up straight on her knees. She was   still as white as if she'd seen our patron ghost in the Ghost Tower.   Sweat beaded on her forehead and nose. Even her lips were eerily pale   blue.

I dropped her hair and ran her a glass of water. My hand shook as I held   it out to her. "I take it this isn't the stomach flu." It would have   been an innocuous enough statement, if it hadn't been laced with the   venom of my hurt and anger.

She took the water and rinsed her mouth. But to my surprise, her eyes   were hard and fierce when she turned them back on me. "Congratulations.   You're going to be a papa." She emphasized the second syllable of  "papa"  in the British way, almost making it sound elegant rather than  lower  class and antiquated.

Her words would have been innocent, too, even celebratory, if her eyes   hadn't been snapping with that old throwing-daggers look. I hadn't   expected venom from her. Triumph, maybe. Joy, possibly. My heart   stopped.

The look on her face killed everything, including the words on my lips   and the happiness of knowing I loved her. That look nearly killed me.

"Bloody hell, duke!" The rancor of her words reverberated off the porcelain toilet. "What are you doing here?"