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Billionaire Bachelors 8 : Unexpected Treasure

By´╝ÜMelody Anne


"I can't believe the way the grandchildren are growing like weeds. Little Jasmine is already fifteen, and boy, is she a beauty," Joseph said.

Sitting on the back deck with the morning sun streaming down upon them, Joseph and his brother George were enjoying light breakfast pastries and coffee while catching up on news about the kids and their week.

"I know, Brother. Little Molly is ten years old now. It feels like it was only yesterday that Trenton was fighting tooth and nail not to get married and settle down, and now he and Jennifer have a beautiful family with two kids. Not to mention their rowdy dog, Scooter, and feisty cat, Ginger."

"Don't forget that dang goose. Last time I was there, the rascal got me right in the tush. I need to take my hunting rifle with me the next time that I visit," Joseph threatened.

"If you'd just bring him some cracked corn like I do, he wouldn't chase after you," George said, not even attempting to hide his amusement.

"I'm not bribing a damn bird, and I'm certainly not running from one!"

"Ah, simmer down, Brother. I have a feeling the goose won't be the end of you - it's not as if you have a fundamental problem here, and you haven't hit bottom. So forget that cheeky critter and put the incident behind you" he guffawed, gleeful at making Joseph the butt of his joke. He tended to go a lot over the top when he found something so amusing.

Joseph mumbled something very unbrotherly under his breath, but he let go of his wrath against both George and the animals at his nephew's home. He had far more important issues to discuss, such as what they were going to eat that night.

"What are the plans for today?" George asked. "With Katherine and Esther out shopping, we can sneak away. I'm sick of golfing. Why don't we race go-karts again? That was a thrill."

"I think you're trying to kill me off, George. You slammed me against the wall the last time we went," Joseph huffed.

"You're acting like an old man, Joseph. We still have lots of life left in these old bones."

"True, George, very true. Fine. I'll give go-kart racing another try, though I hope that these old bones don't become these old broken bones. Let's see how many of the grandchildren we can gather up to go with us."

The men continued their morning meal as George pulled out the newspaper and flipped to the business section. Though George's son Trenton was now in charge of Anderson and Sons Incorporated, George still liked to keep up on what was going on in the Seattle area. 

Joseph looked up just in time to see George gasp for air, his face white. Frozen with fear for a few endless seconds, Joseph felt his legs finally start working again and he jumped up to help his brother.

"George! What's wrong? Are you choking? Is it your heart? Speak to me, Brother," he urged as he leaned over to see what he could do. They'd had enough health scares to last them a lifetime and Joseph didn't think he could handle another near-death experience in his beloved family.

Just as Joseph began moving to race for the phone, George gestured wildly at the newspaper. Joseph stopped in his tracks and read the largest headline and subheadline on the page: "Billionaire buys flailing computer tech firm: Richard Storm sells East Coast shipping business, brings thousands of jobs to Seattle."

It wasn't the article that had Joseph turning as white as his brother. It was the photograph of a man who appeared to be their age - and who looked almost identical to the two of them, just a different hairstyle, some added wrinkles around the eyes, and a short beard covering his face.

"What is this?" Joseph gasped as he sank down in the chair next to George.

"I don't know. The picture just startled me - that's all. I'm sure it's nothing." George tried to reason it away, but he couldn't stop staring at the still eyes of the man gazing into the camera. It was like looking into a mirror.

"Well, read the dang thing," Joseph nearly shouted as he regained his voice. He pointed to a paragraph in the middle of the first column.

"Storm, who was born in Seattle, moved to the East Coast with his adoptive parents when still a baby. He says he owes his hard-work ethic to his father, who was a doctor in Seattle for 25 years before moving his medical practice to Portland, Maine. Storm was orphaned at age 18, when his parents died in a boating accident, and he used his modest inheritance to become a shipper of historic relics, mainly hard-to-find European artifacts from the 15th century. By the time he turned 30" - the newspaper gave a date - "he was worth more than $10 million - almost $60 million in today's dollars - and he continued to increase his fortune dramatically. Storm is a now a billionaire several times over."

"He was born here on the same day as we were? This can't be a coincidence."