He can give her anything her heart desires except the truth...
We're two weeks away from the release of Redeeming Gavin. I thought I'd give you a sneak peek into chapter one.
Gavin Callahan stared out of the large window of his corner office on a Thursday evening. It was good to be back in New York. It was even better to finally be a full partner at Callahan Industries. It was his birthright. Something his father had promised him before he died several years ago. Gavin had been too young and immature to help his half-brother Brody run the family business back then. Their father left the company to Brody with the expectation that he would eventually make Gavin his partner. Gavin had been bitter and mad that he wasn’t given half the company upon his father’s death but his dad had been right. He wasn’t ready then.
Brody gave him several opportunities to prove himself but he was too busy partying and being irresponsible to focus. That all changed two years ago. He realized it was time to grow up. He moved to Boston and helped run a satellite office, proving to his brother that this time he was serious. He was ready to be a Callahan in every sense of the word.
“Hey.” Brody tapped on the door. “Can you look these over?” He tossed two files on Gavin’s desk. “I want to submit them in the morning.”
“Sure.” Gavin loosened his tie. “I’m here for the long haul tonight.”
“You don’t have to work so hard.” Brody took a seat on the chair across from Gavin’s desk. “You’re doing a great job.”
“Thanks.” He stretched out his back, a sense of accomplish coming over him. “There’s just so much to do. How did you do it alone for so long?”
“I don’t know.” Brody laughed. “Autopilot, I guess.”
“I’m sure Claudia is happy you’re able to get home before seven a few nights a week.” He didn’t speak of his brother’s wife often because it didn’t feel right considering their past. They were cordial to one another. She was an architect at the company but they both did their best to stay out of one another’s way. It was easier to pretend that none of what happened between them had occurred at all.
“She’s happy to have a second set of hands when it comes to Jason.” Brody smiled. “He’s hitting those terrible twos.”
If Gavin didn’t speak of Claudia often, he really didn’t bring up Jason much. Part of the reason Gavin had stayed in Boston for as long has he had was so he could give Brody and Claudia time to bond as a family. The awkwardness of the three of them in the same room with the baby was too much, and Gavin decided it was better if he put some distance between them. Their situation was unique to say the least.
Gavin had a brief affair with Claudia before she was with Brody and she became pregnant. Gavin denied the child was his because he thought she was scamming him. He also had a girlfriend when Claudia turned up pregnant. Brody and Claudia ended up together and Gavin decided Jason would be better off with his brother raising him. But that was a story for another time. One that he tried to leave in the past.
When the company grew over the past year, Brody had no choice but to make his brother a full partner and they all knew that meant Gavin would have to return to New York. It had been a few months, but things seemed to be going smoothly.
“I can’t believe he’ll be two.” Jason was always on Gavin’s mind but he made the right decision. Brody was the boy’s father in every sense of the word. He stood by Claudia when Gavin rejected her. Gavin owed his brother more than he could ever repay.
“We’re celebrating his birthday in a couple weeks. Claudia and I were hoping you’d join us.”
“You missed his first birthday.”
“I was in Boston.”
“You’re home now.” Brody was seven years older than Gavin and often tried to replace their father when it came to Gavin. “I don’t want to pressure you but Jason likes when you’re around. I know it’s awkward but we don’t want to cut you out of his life.”
“You know I love the kid but it’s just odd, especially when my mother’s there.”
“Ah, yes, Angela. She has a way of making most situations odd.”
Brody and Gavin were half-brothers. They shared the same father. When Jason Callahan died, he left Brody in charge of the company, the estate, and all the money. Angela didn’t let Brody forget her displeasure over her late husband’s wishes. Brody did his best to keep the peace.
“I won’t force you to come to the party. I wanted you to know you’re welcome and we’d like to have you there but only if you’re okay with being there.”
“I’ll think about it.”
“That’s all I’m asking,” Brody said. “I’m glad you’re back.”
“Me too.” After his breakup with Mona, the woman he was with when he got Claudia pregnant, he threw himself into the company. He did his best to prove to Brody he was worthy of being an equal partner. “I’m glad I went to Boston. I learned a lot about the business there but it never really felt like home.”
“You did an excellent job out there. That office is thriving and they were sorry to see you go but I needed you here.”
“Have you heard from Mona since moving back?”
“No, but I didn’t really expect to.” He and Mona had made a go of things once he told her the truth about Claudia and Jason. Gavin thought she was the one. When he came clean about Jason’s paternity she tried to forgive him but couldn’t. He didn’t blame her. How could she trust him after he cheated on her?
“I’m sorry,” Brody said. “I know she meant a lot to you.”
“I just realized it too late.”
Justine Carlucci walked out of the apartment building dejected and alone. The misty rain sprayed her face as she put up her hood and headed to the grocery store. She tried not to think about the conversation she’d just had, but the check she’d shoved into her pocket would be a constant reminder of the mess she was in.
The news of an unplanned pregnancy was not the way she imagined spending her twenty-fifth birthday. A few days before Thanksgiving her doctor confirmed the news. She never thought the father of her unexpected baby telling her he wasn’t ready to be a dad and then offering her five thousand dollars to leave him off the birth certificate. Carson hadn’t been the most attentive boyfriend. That was part of the reason they had broken up two months ago. But she thought he’d do right by his baby. That was a huge miscalculation.
His classless ultimatum was all she could think about. If she cashed the check, he’d be out of their lives forever. What would she tell her child one day? She took a payout? She quickly wiped away the tears that formed in her eyes as she approached the store. She wasn’t sad for herself. Things had ended between the two of them a long time ago. When they finally broke up, it was for the best. She never expected that she was pregnant. She was heartbroken for her baby.
As she mindlessly wandered the aisles of the store, she tried not to think about her dilemma. She had a job, even though it didn’t pay that much it was still a job with health insurance. A roof over her head and a large Italian family consisting of caring aunts, uncles, and cousins. That was more than most people had. She lived with her dad who had some issues of his own but he was still there for her in his own way.
She only needed a few items, so she didn’t take that long. Milk, bread, and orange juice. She’d tossed in a few snacks too. As the cashier scanned the items, she rummaged through her bag looking for her wallet. Unzipping each compartment, she panicked when she realized her money wasn’t there.
“That will be $27.38,” the cashier informed her.
“Okay.” She tried to find her wallet but it was missing. It was probably on her bed.
She heard the buzzing from the people in line behind her. She had about three bucks and some change in the bottom of her bag. Could she at least get the milk? The rain was coming down harder. Once she was home she wanted to take a relaxing shower and cuddle under the covers with a good book.
“Miss?” the cashier said. “Cash or credit?”
“I’m sorry.” She continued to look inside her purse. “I forgot my wallet.”
“Come on,” someone mumbled from the back of the line.
“What would you like to do?” the cashier asked.
“I guess...” Justine kept rifling through her bag like the cash would magically appear but she was tired and upset, and she’d had enough of this crappy day. “I’m going to have to put that stuff back.”
“That won’t be necessary,” a deep voice said from behind her. “Just swipe my card when you ring my things up.”
“No.” She looked up to find a familiar face staring at her as he handed his credit card to the cashier. Gavin Callahan. The owner of the company she worked for. She’d seen him walk into the building several times for the past month in his designer suits and shiny shoes but she’d never realized how green his eyes were. “You can’t do that.”
“I already did.” He nodded to the woman behind the register who couldn’t stop ogling him. He was something to look at. “It’s a nasty night. Do you really want to come back?”
“Mr. Callahan.” She hadn’t dealt with him since getting the job at Callahan Industries. She’d met his older brother Brody, but mainly dealt with her supervisor. Gavin passed her in the lobby occasionally but most days he was already in the building before she arrived and left after she did. Running a company probably kept him busy. “I can’t let you pay for my groceries.”
“They were twenty-seven dollars but I’m more interested in how you know me.” He stared at her with those intense green eyes as the clerk bagged her items. “Have we met?”
“Not really.” She slung her bag over her shoulder. “I work at the security desk in the lobby of your building.”
“Oh.” He placed his fancy bottle of sparkling water and what appeared to be a wrapped sandwich on the belt to be rung up. “You do look familiar.”
“I’m Justine Carlucci.” Not that he’d ever looked in her direction before.
“Nice to meet you, Justine.” He picked up his items, smiling when the older woman behind the register winked at him. His jaw was strong, chiseled, and he had a subtle dimple in the middle of his chin. She’d never noticed that before. “I’m on my way back to the office. Can I drop you somewhere?”
“It’s after seven.” She took her two bags off the counter, wondering how she managed to spend almost thirty bucks on nothing.
“I’ve been meeting with clients all afternoon and now I have to catch up on paperwork.” He held the door open for her. “I’d be happy to have my driver take you home.”
“You’ve done enough.” She fumbled with the bags as she tried to pull up the hood of her jacket. “I’ll pay you back tomorrow.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“But I owe you money.”
“You can pay me back by letting Dominick take you home.” He nodded toward a tall man getting out of the shiny SUV.
“Mr. Callahan.” Dominick stopped in front of them with a large umbrella. “Are you ready?”
“I have another stop to make.” Gavin pointed across the busy Manhattan street. “Can you take Ms. Carlucci home and then just meet me back at the office later?”
“Of course.” Dominick took the bags from Justine. “I’ll put these in the trunk.”
“Oh.” Justine looked at Gavin and then to Dominick. This whole exchange was happening way too fast. “Thank you.” As the driver put her groceries in the vehicle, she said, “I guess I’m going with him.”
“You’ll be fine.” Gavin pushed his damp blond hair from his forehead. “He may be a big guy but he’s a gentle giant.”
“Thanks for bailing me out in there.” She pointed toward the store, still embarrassed that she didn’t have her wallet. “It’s been one of those days. I must have left my money at home.”
“Tell me about it,” he mumbled. “Maybe I’ll see you in the lobby.”
“I’m there all week.”
“I’ll keep that in mind. I’m not having the most ideal day either.” He grinned as Dominick opened the car door for her. “Have a good night.”
“It’s much better now.”
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