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The Bad Boy's Secret Baby (Part One) by Paige North (1)

1

Samara

Every time I see my son, I think of his father.

It’s early in the morning as I watch four-year-old Cody sleeping in his plush bed in a room that’s tucked away in the east wing of the mansion. Sunlight is just peeking through a slit in the luxurious damask curtains, slanting light over my son’s hair—light blond like mine—and his angel face. His blue eyes stay closed as I lean against the doorframe, my throat burning with emotion.

Cody reminds me so damned much of his real father, not my late husband Rex, the man he called Dad up until the day Rex died. Whenever Cody is awake, he’s got the same rebellious, raw spirit as the father he never knew, and someday, I’m so afraid that my son is going to make the same mistakes Dylan did—awful, life-changing mistakes that took him away from me when I was just eighteen and without any explanation from him.

But, wouldn’t you know it? Although Dylan has been away these past five years, he always manages to be here with me, killing me with every breath our son takes.

As Cody stirs, I cup my steaming coffee mug with both hands. I should get on with my day, changing out of my long white nightgown, showering, and then listening to Cody’s grandmother tell me what she’s planned for his upcoming birthday party after she comes down from her room and meets me for the strict breakfast she always insists on having with me with the food she thinks is best for me to eat. But my gaze catches on the framed picture on a table near Cody’s bed—an image of Rex, the good man who married me right after Dylan went to prison. Rex, the handsome yet dull guy who knew that, although I wasn’t in love with him and that I was already pregnant with the baby of an out-of-the-picture boyfriend I wouldn’t name, maybe I could learn to fall in love with him some day. Rex, the man who left me a widow a couple of years ago after dying in a car accident, never knowing who Cody’s dad really is but claiming my son and loving both of us just the same.

In the picture, Rex holds a laughing Cody and has his arm around me. I’m smiling, but there’s still a distance between my late husband and me. And you know what fills that space?

Dylan Marshall.

Always Dylan.

With my heart as heavy as it always is when I think of him—which seems to be every minute of all my days—I resist the urge to go to the bed and kiss my son. But it’s way too early to wake him up, so I start to head out instead.

Then I hear a thunking sound against the wall, and I pause. A shadow angles across the window, and I go to it.

As I look outside, I see some men dragging over scaffolding from trucks, and I grip my coffee mug tighter. Contractors? Since I run some of the household, I knew there was a team arriving today to begin renovations on my in-laws’ mansion, but with the workers getting here early, I’d requested that they start on a different side of the house, away from Cody’s room.

My son restlessly turns over in his bed, and I’ll be darned if I have to deal with an active, cranky boy who didn’t get enough sleep. Cody is the light of my life, but when he’s on a tear, he can test even the patience of a saint. Which isn’t a good description of me—not after I sinned so wonderfully and wickedly with Dylan when he was around…

Forcing Dylan out of my head once again, I tamp down the throb I feel in my pussy just by thinking of him. I rush toward the adjoining door that leads to my room, closing it softly behind me, and then I put down my coffee before I quickly grab my thin white robe. I tug it on, then look at my morning cup of French Roast, thinking that if I’m going to go out there and give the foreman some hell, I might as well offer him the coffee I haven’t drank yet to go along with the chiding.

I bust out into the gilded hallway so I can make my way to the grand curved staircase leading to the chandelier-and-marble foyer. On my way to the front door, I pass one of the maids.

“Morning, Tara,” I say.

“Morning, Ms. Childress.”

I smile at her as I head for the door. “Call me Samara,” I say, even though I’m in a hurry to get to those contractors before they wake Cody up and make my day harder.

I’ve been telling everyone who works in this house to call me by my given name every day for years, even back when I was married and went by “Mrs. Ford.” I grew up a lower-middle class girl, and my informality became a running joke between all of us. Now Tara only grins and keeps dusting the golden-framed, highly priced pre-Raphaelite paintings.

Then I’m out the door, modestly pulling my robe over me with one hand and carrying the mug with the other as I hurry. I approach the corner of the French-inspired limestone mansion with its fountains already splashing in the summer morning and its huge green lawn stretching to the woods. It’s by far the fanciest house in Dover, sitting on the outskirts of the small town. The biggest thing around here besides the mansion is the quarry, where a lot of the townsfolk are employed, and maybe the shopping mall that the Fords own, along with the land it resides on. They are aggressive business people who own a lot of real estate in Dover, and that’s why they have a mansion.

That’s why they can afford a trust that Rex lived off of. He was never rich himself, only drawing a modest salary for his work in the family business, and his real money and assets were controlled entirely by his parents. Even though I wish I could provide well for Cody on my own, it’s this trust that gives Cody such a good life. We can’t afford to move out and away, especially since my own family is financially strapped, more so than ever since my dad was just injured on one of his construction jobs and can’t work.

I round the corner of the mansion to find some men wearing hardhats who are dragging the scaffolding to a place right under Cody’s room, exactly where they’re not supposed to be yet. They’ll be doing some intricate masonry work, and I’m sure they’re good at it, even though they can’t follow instructions worth a crap.

I go right up to an older, salt-and-pepper-bearded tall guy in a hardhat who’s got the look of a boss. “Excuse me.” I keep my robe pulled around me and shield myself with the coffee mug. “But you’re in the wrong place. I requested that you start work on the west side this early.”

He turns to me and squints. When he sees my loose blond hair, he gets a look like most guys who like blond hair do—he smiles grandly. Then he looks at my face, and his smile dims. It’s not that I’m ugly, it’s just that I’m nothing special, rather plain except for my hair. I’m also what people would call “curvy,” which is a polite way of saying that I never really lost all the pounds I put on when I was pregnant with Cody. My mother-in-law Sherry is always telling me what to eat so I can be as country-club slim as she is, but I only smile and nod.

The man sticks out his hand. “We’ll take care of this, ma’am. I’m Tommy, the foreman.”

I use an elbow to keep my robe closed as I shake with him, wishing he would just call off his guys before Cody hears the ruckus. “Hi, Tommy, I’m Samara, the Fords’ daughter-in-law. Sorry about the misunderstanding, but all this activity is starting up right outside my sleeping son’s window. That’s why I requested that you start on the west side.”

“Shit. I mean, shoot, Mrs. Ford. I’m real sorry about this.”

“Please, I go by Ms. Childress now—Samara. If you get your workers to stop, I’ll give you this French Roast coffee. I’ll even bring enough for your entire crew.”

One of the guys drops some of the scaffolding, and it clatters.

I cringe. Damn. I hope Cody is still asleep.

“Quickly, please?” I say.

“You’ve got it.”

Tommy whistles at his crew, and they all stop what they’re doing. The nearest hard-hatted mason is just a foot away, sorting through a toolbox. He has his back turned to us, but that doesn’t hide how he towers over everyone. Even though I’m in a dither about the noise, my libido takes a moment to appreciate the muscles under the man’s t-shirt and the tight ass in those faded jeans. His arms are a thing of beauty, and I can see the hint of some tattoos trailing out of his sleeves. God, if I weren’t still hung up on Dylan—the last man I should be hung up on—I would appreciate men like this.

Then he turns around.

Lightning strikes me, shocking my brain, sending a breathless flare through my chest and splitting me the rest of the way down until my belly twists with something I haven’t felt in a long, long time. I startle so badly that my arm flinches, sending my coffee all over, including onto his shirt.

Dylan?

He doesn’t look at me as I nearly faint with shock. The love of my life…the father of my child—the man who practically destroyed my soul when he committed a horrible crime, turned himself in, went to prison, and broke up with me with only a short letter apologizing and telling me to forget he ever existed…

Tommy is brushing at his arm, where some of the coffee hit him, too, but Dylan only looks down at his soaked tee. Then he calmly levels his dark gray eyes on me. I’m a bundle of exposed, humming nerves. My heart is screaming, but it’s the rest of me that’s dying a little more each moment, because, even after all these years, I’m his. I feel it in my belly that’s knotting up so hard that I have to stifle a groan. My clit is aching, remembering what he used to do to me when I was only eighteen and he was nineteen. I would sneak out of my house to see him, a good girl swept away by a very bad boy who knew just what to do with her virginal body. He knew how to wake up every restless part of me, stroking my pussy with his fingers, teasing his tongue over my breasts, filling me with his hard, huge, stiff cock until I would cry his name over and over again.

Time seems to stand still as he looks at me with those piercing eyes that can either be so steely and dangerous or can provide a window to his very soul. Dark stubble surrounds lips that are sculpted and full, his cheekbones high, his skin tanned. Then my gaze travels down over the wet t-shirt that exposes his wide, muscle-rocked chest and those thick arms. I get soaked for him right then and there.

The last time I saw him, he was on the edge of becoming a man. Now he’s all man.

Dylan…out of prison. Back in Dover...

As I return to the moment, Dylan is just as cool and collected as I remember him always being, and he hasn’t made a move.

Did he know I lived here? Oh, God—has he heard anything about the marriage I rushed in to after he left? Has he heard about Cody and how he’s supposedly Rex’s son?

As questions swarm me, I somehow clear my way out of the chaos and pull my robe tighter around me.

“I’m so-so-sorry,” I stutter to him. It was always hard to talk around Dylan. It was like being around a guy who was made to be perfect, although there were so many fatal imperfections. But, while we were together that short time just after I graduated high school, I saw past all that. His flaws were what made me love him. But it was those faults and some horrifyingly bad decisions that eventually took him away from me.

Right now, I even wonder if Dylan remembers me because he’s so impassive.

“Not a problem, ma’am,” he murmurs. “It’s just some coffee.” Then, just like that, he takes off his hardhat to reveal the black, short hair that I remember so vividly. I used to play with that hair as he fondled me, brought me to slow ecstasy.

When he tugs his shirt up and whips it off, revealing all that tanned skin and bunched muscle, something in my belly coils. My clit throbs. He’s so powerful and hard-bodied, even when he’s just standing there. When I see his tattoos—two fierce, black-and-white ancient dragons breathing fire, one far rougher than the other—my eyes trace them from chest to arms to his flat, ridged belly. Back when I knew him, he only had one dragon. Now there’s another, and both tails disappear into the waistband of his jeans. I swallow, thinking about what else is down there.

That big, beautiful cock.

Now he’s staring right at me with that penetrating gaze as if he knows I’m remembering everything, and I want to burst into tears.

Gradually, I hear Tommy’s voice edging into my pain. “Ms. Childress, we’ll move to the other side of the mansion in a jiff. I’m so sorry about the inconvenience.”

“It’s okay. I’ll…” My voice is choked until I swallow again. “I’ll have someone bring out that coffee.”

“Much appreciated.” He turns to Dylan. “Marshall, bring the tools around after you get another shirt on.”

Tommy gives me and then Dylan a strange look, as if he senses all the agonizing tension, then signals to his crew to get moving. They pick up their materials then trudge away.

In the ensuing silence, I stand face-to-face with Dylan.

The man who betrayed me and never looked back.