The american heir a jet.., p.1
The American Heir: A Jet City Billionaire Romance, p.1Gina Robinson
The American Heir
A Jet City Billionaire Serial Romance
Also by Gina Robinson
About the Author
Copyright © 2016 by Gina Robinson
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Publisher’s Note: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Locales and public names are sometimes used for atmospheric purposes. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or to businesses, companies, events, institutions, or locales is completely coincidental.
Cover Design: Jeff Robinson
The American Heir/Gina Robinson. — 1st ed.
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The Billionaire Duke Series
Part 1—The Billionaire Duke
Part 2—The Duchess Contest
Part 3—The Temporary Duchess
Part 4—The American Heir
The Switched at Marriage Series
Part 1—A Wedding to Remember
Part 2—The Virgin Billionaire
Part 3—To Have and To Hold
Part 4—From This Day Forward
Part 5—For Richer, For Richest
Part 6—In Sickness and In Wealth
Part 7—To Love and To Cherish
The Billionaire’s Christmas Vows
Gina Robinson’s Contemporary New Adult Romance Series
The Rushed Series
These standalone romances can be read in any order. But it’s more fun to read them all!
Book 1—Rushed, Zach and Alexis’ story
Book 2—Crushed, Dakota and Morgan’s story
Book 3—Hushed, Seth and Maddie’s story
The Reckless Series
Ellie and Logan’s love story begins one hot August night. This series should be read in order.
Book 1—Reckless Longing
Book 2—Reckless Secrets
Book 3—Reckless Together
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 emotion
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?"
"I wanted to surprise you." There was no love in my voice.
Her voice broke. "How long have you known?"
I frowned. "That you're pregnant?" I hitched my thumb, indicating the great outdoors and the circular drive below our window. "Since about five minutes ago in the car."
"Don't play dumb with me."
I'd never heard her sound so angry. She was a different person. Under other circumstances, I would have offered her a Snickers, hoping it would turn her back into herself and lighten the mood. Even though she'd just tossed her cookies, hunger wasn't why she wasn't herself.
"What are you talking about?" I was supposed to be the one who was upset here. I was the one who'd been trapped into fatherhood. I had the right to be indignant, not her. Did she not want this baby either? Did that make me feel better? Or worse?
"How long have you known that the Dead Duke is my great-grandfather, not my great-something uncle by marriage?" She wiped her mouth with a piece of toilet paper, looking up at me both beautiful and terrible.
My mouth went dry. My head spun.
"The DNA test," she said. "My unusual results? Were you comparing my DNA to the Dead Duke's? Is that what took so long?"
My mind stumbled. "You asked not to tell you the results," I said, confused. And still edgy and angry. "You begged me not to tell you—"
"I"—she tapped her chest—"I am the rightful duchess. The rightful heir to this dukedom. Not just the great-great-niece of a former duchess. But the direct descendant of the duke. I am the American heir.
"It's all spelled out in that letter I found in the Dead Duke's mother's Bible. When were you going to tell me? Ever?"
My hands shook. "I don't know what the hell you're talking about." I pointed to myself. "I'm the rightful heir of this place. Me. And no one else."
She cupped her still flat abdomen. "And this baby."
I glared at her. "Only if it's a boy." I turned on my heel and took a step toward the door.
"Troglodyte!" she screamed at me. "A girl may not be able to be duke. But she can inherit this estate. She will inherit this estate. The entailment is broken, Riggins. You can leave the estate to whomever you want. And it damn well better be this baby!"
I stormed out, shaking with rage and hurt. Ignoring the shattered rose petals and the gift box of diamond lingerie I'd left on the dresser. I raged all the way to the master suite, the lord of the castle's room, and banged the door shut so hard I swore the whole castle shook.
I collapsed on the bed, elbows on my knees, head in my hand. What the fuck am I going to do now?
I let Riggins go. Just let him walk. While I sat on the floor, trembling, leaning against the toilet bowl, trying to calm my stomach and my nerves. Clutching a toilet for support. This had to be a new low. Damn him. Just damn him.
I blinked back as many tears as I could and wiped the ones that escaped with the back of my hand. I'd gone on the attack intentionally.
I was angry with him. And my feelings were hurt. Which fueled my wrath and made it easier to lash out. But more than that, I couldn't let him say that he didn't want this baby. I couldn't. I wouldn't. There were things he'd never be able to unsay. Accusations that could never be rescinded. Lines I couldn't bear for him to cross.
Bounds he'd never forgive himself for stepping over.
Oh, I wasn't stupid or blind. I knew what he was thinking. It had been written plainly on his face. He thought I'd tricked him into marriage by pretending to comply with his wishes and gotten pregnant on purpose to get my hands on more millions. To make a land grab for the estate I was so clearly completely in love with. That I had schemed to be the dowager duchess and mother of a future duke forever. To gain control of a generous trust fund and have lasting influence over the estate for my lifetime.
He gave me more credit for cunning than I probably deserved. I was many things. But conniving generally wasn't one of them.
But he thought all of these things, and probably more, in the black, curling smoke of his dark thoughts. Thoughts that blinded him to the joy. To the solution to his problems.
He was too angry and hurt right now to see reason. And I was too weak to make him. Or even try to convince him.
It was one thing not being naïve. One thing to know he was thinking these things. But a completely different situation
It would break my heart irreparably if he said them aloud. Eventually, it would break his, too. And it would break us apart.
There were very few things I was certain of in this world. But among them were these—my baby would have a present and active father. Riggins wasn't going to abandon this baby. Not as long as I had breath in my body. And I wasn't going to abandon my family ancestry. I wouldn't let the Feldhem legacy die. I was a Feldhem. A real, true Feldhem. Feldhems had held this land for centuries. I wouldn't be the duchess who let it go. And Riggins wouldn't be that duke, either.
I was going to have my duke, my baby, and Sid was going to be cured. I wasn't giving up on any of it. We were all going to live happily ever after if it killed me.
I stood up shakily and leaned against the bathroom counter. Riggins had come home to surprise me. That gave me hope. I had to believe whatever had driven him here hadn't been murdered by this temporary setback.
My parents dying when I was young. Sid's health problems. All the tragedies of my life had made me tough. Made me a fighter. Molded me into an eternal optimist. What alternative did I have?
I felt weak as I made my way into the bedroom and discovered red rose petals littering the carpet just inside the bedroom. The smashed remains, bare stems now, forlornly wrapped in florist's paper, lay on the dresser next to a prettily wrapped gift box from an expensive lingerie store in Seattle.
I ignored the dead roses, grabbed the box, which was surprisingly heavy for lingerie, and lifted the lid. Inside, the gift was wrapped in pink tissue and sealed with a gold embossed sticker. I peeled the sticker away, pulled back the tissue, and gasped. Sparkling back at me was the sexiest jeweled bra I'd ever seen and a tiny pair of matching thong panties. I wasn't going to fit in these for long. I suddenly regretted the pregnancy only in the sense these lovely things deserved to be worn often.
I pulled the bra from the box and held it to the light, where it sparkled like the crown jewels. It was heavy, and covered in what were either real gemstones and diamonds, or very good-quality crystals. I wasn't a trained eye, but I voted for real. Short of the Neiman Marcus catalog or the annual Victoria's Secret diamond fantasy bra, I had never seen anything like them. Certainly not in person.
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