Chapter 21 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 22 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 23 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 24 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 25 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 26 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 27 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 28 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 29 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 30 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 31 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 32 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 33 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 34 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 35 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 36 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 37 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 38 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 39 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 40 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 41 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 42 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 43 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 44 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 45 (#litres_trial_promo)
Chapter 46 (#litres_trial_promo)
“What else have you lied about?”
Kate Grayhawk Pendleton wished she could simply walk away from the imposing older woman dressed in a black St. John knit suit and Chanel tuxedo heels standing across from her. Unfortunately, she was still bedridden after waking a week before from a fourmonth-long coma.
She readjusted the pillows behind her on the hospital bed, then tugged awkwardly at her cotton hospital gown. She needed time to decide how she was going to answer the angry question posed by her mother-in-law, Texas governor and presidential hopeful Ann Wade Pendleton.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Kate said warily.
“I’m asking who you bedded down with after you married my son. I’m asking who got you pregnant, because it sure as hell wasn’t J.D.”
“What makes you say such a thing?” Kate replied. “Lucky and Chance—”
“Are somebody else’s brats. Don’t bother lying. While you were in that coma, Lucky injured himself on a broken window and needed a transfusion. The twins’ blood type proves they aren’t my son’s children.”
Kate blanched. She’d kept her secret for nine long years. She hadn’t told a single soul that her eightyear-old twin sons, Lucky and Chance, had been conceived with a man who was not her husband.
“If I’m going to get myself chosen by the party as the next Republican presidential nominee, I need to know what bats might come flying out of the belfry,” Ann Wade said, her voice as sharp and cold as ice. “I can’t afford to have some cretin come forward in the middle of my campaign and name himself as the father of my grandsons.”
Kate realized that Ann Wade wasn’t upset that she’d cheated on her husband. Wasn’t even upset that her grandsons possessed none of her blood. What had made Ann Wade so furious was the fear that Kate’s misstep might interfere with her political career.
Kate felt sick to her stomach.
She’d allied herself with the Pendleton family as a nineteen-year-old, still wincing from the stunning rejection she’d received from the man she really loved, Texas Ranger Jack McKinley. When Jack had married his high school sweetheart, J.D.’s admiration had been a balm for her wounded soul.
She’d looked at J.D. Pendleton with stars in her eyes. What she’d seen was a University of Texas football hero with wavy blond hair and striking blue eyes.
She hadn’t known J.D. was a man without honor, a spoiled child of privilege, who would cheat on her within a month of their wedding. Hadn’t known she was marrying a man who would fake his own death, desert his military post and flee to South America after blackmailing his own mother.
Kate pictured the twins’ biological father in her mind’s eye, a tall, rangy man with silver-streaked black hair and steel-gray eyes. Remembered exactly how and why she’d gone to bed with him.
She felt her face flush anew with the hurt and humiliation she’d felt on that long-ago night when she’d caught her husband in their hotel room with another woman in flagrante delicto and he’d told her, “Get the fuck out! Can’t you see I’m busy?”
In a daze, her chest aching, she’d taken the elevator downstairs to the bar at the Austin, Texas, Four Seasons. She’d walked up to a perfect stranger, taken his large hand in hers and said, “Come with me.” She’d led him to the registration desk and said, “We need a room.”
He’d supplied his black American Express card and took the key card the pretty desk clerk handed him. As they’d walked away he’d asked, “Are you sure you want to do this?”
“I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life.”
He’d been gentle and tender, more so than J.D. ever had. She’d been embittered and impassioned. The sex had been excoriating. She’d cried for half an hour in his arms afterward as he smoothed her long black hair behind her ears and kissed her forehead.
She’d had to live the past nine years with the consequences of her rash act of defiance. She’d never told her lover that he’d become a father that night. It wasn’t until she’d seen him on Channel 12 News that she’d realized who he was. And the horror that might haunt them all if the truth were ever known.