Authors: Olivia Jaymes
Tags: #Romance, #Military
CAVIAR AND COVERT OPS
Copyright © 2015 by Olivia Jaymes
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.
All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.
To all the servicemen and women who leave behind loved ones to serve their country.
Women are only attracted to Dane Braxton because of his money and movie star looks. At least that’s what he thinks. He’s sure the single mother he’s secretly investigating isn’t any different. Females are all the same.
Lily is a tired, overworked, and underappreciated single parent living paycheck to paycheck. It makes for a hard, lonely life but as long as her son is happy and healthy it’s worth the sacrifice.
So when Lily meets handsome attorney Dane in the park, she falls head over heels for his intelligent wit and caring nature. He’s everything she’s wanted and more.
Dane feels the same about Lily. She’s nothing like the other women he’s dated and he can’t wait to plan a future with her.
There’s just the little matter of telling her who he really is…
ane Braxton ushered
the elderly family attorney into a chair and then sat down at his own desk in the law firm he shared with his two best friends. Dane’s office wasn’t as luxurious as the older man’s but that had never been the kind of law Dane wanted to practice. He could have easily joined any number of top firms in Tampa, but for the most part he tried to stay out of the rarified air his family took for granted.
Honestly, he’d been dreading this meeting since finding out his recently deceased cousin had named Dane as the executor to his estate. He hadn’t been all that close to Brandon in the last several years, so it – and Brandon’s untimely death – had come as something of a shock.
“Thank you for seeing me today, Dane.” Arthur Fieldsworth had been the Braxton family attorney for as long as Dane could remember, handling their personal affairs, not their business. Silver-haired, the man was easily pushing seventy-five but still had a confident air about him that made him look ten years younger. The dark Armani pinstriped suit and expensive diamond cuff links didn’t hurt. Dane had heard at some barely tolerable cocktail party that Arthur had a fortyish mistress that he kept in opulent style. But then Dane’s own father kept a mistress or two tucked away, as did most of the men in Dane’s family.
“Not a problem,” Dane said. “I know that we need to talk about Brandon’s estate. I’m not really sure why he chose me, to be honest.”
The older man shrugged his shoulders philosophically. “Who knows why he did anything? He was always unpredictable, especially at the end. His drinking and partying was way out of control. It was really only a matter of time before he self-destructed. But he liked you. He always said you weren’t the typical Braxton.”
Brandon Donovan had perished in a fiery car crash on a winding, mountain road in Greece. The young woman with him had also died and the story was they were eloping at the time. Dane doubted the rumors as Brandon had never been the marrying type, although he certainly might have told the young woman he would.
“I’ve gone through his finances and he had precious little despite his lavish lifestyle,” Dane observed, flipping open a file folder. “He spent every cent of his trust fund and then some.”
Arthur stiffened slightly, his blue eyes icy at Dane’s implied criticism. “It was not my place to opine on your cousin’s financial decisions. My job was to disburse the funds of his trust on the first day of the year, every year. He spent to his limit but never asked for more.”
Dane sat back in the chair and flipped through a few more pages. “But you were aware that Brandon was obtaining loans against his trust?”
“There was nothing in the trust to stop him. As I said, that was his business.”
Dane closed the folder, done with this meeting and with Arthur. As far as Dane was concerned, Arthur Fieldsworth was as cold and soulless as Dane’s own father. Neither of them deserved his time or attention.
“I’ve spent the better part of the last two weeks sorting out Brandon’s financial mess, using what was left of his trust and the few assets he owned to pay his creditors. I’ve organized an estate sale company to take possession of the art pieces and furniture and they’ll be put up for auction. Long story short, he won’t die owing anyone. As for sullying the Braxton name—well, he pales in comparison to some of our ancestors.”
Dane stood, the meeting at an end but the older man shook his head and waved Dane back into his seat.
“There is one more possible creditor. Your cousin gave me a copy of an email he received a few years ago for safekeeping. Now I’m giving it to you. What you do with it is your business.”
Frowning, Dane sat back down and held out his hand. “Another creditor? I thought I had all the pertinent paperwork.”
Arthur shook his head. “This isn’t paperwork, Dane. This is a letter and it concerns Brandon’s personal life. I’m leaving it with you. It’s from a woman.”
The attorney handed Dane a single sheet of paper folded into thirds. “A woman? Did Brandon have a secret wife somewhere?”
“I don’t think he ever married her. The fact is, I don’t think Brandon ever answered that email. He read it. I know that for sure, but I don’t think he ever did anything about it. Whether you want to is up to you.”
Dane held up the paper. “Why did he give it to you and why are you giving it to me?”
Arthur stood and rebuttoned his suit jacket. “I think Brandon was scared. He asked me to hold on to it while he figured out what he was going to do. As far as I know he didn’t do anything. Now I need to get back to my own office. Congratulations on the law firm, Dane. Your father is very proud of you.”
Dane doubted that, but then his father’s opinion hadn’t mattered to him in a long time.
“Ann will show you out.” Dane stood and walked Arthur to the office door. “Thank you for stopping by today.”
The attorney left and Dane shoved the paper in his breast pocket before heading down the hall to the small kitchen for another cup of coffee. Whatever Brandon had gotten himself into was probably a clusterfuck and now Dane was going to have to somehow fix everything. He’d load up on caffeine and then give this letter a read to see what Braxton family mess he was going to have to clean up this time.
Christian, Dane’s friend
and law partner, signaled the waitress for another round. After Dane had told them he needed their advice they’d hit the local sports bar at the end of the day. The letter had sat on Dane’s desk for the last several hours constantly pulling his attention from everything he should be concentrating on. But the words he’d read simply wouldn’t leave him in peace.
What had Brandon been thinking?
“So read it again.” Chris pointed to the paper that Dane had spread out on the table. “Do you think it’s real?”
“I think we have to assume it’s real until we know otherwise,” Seb interjected. “We don’t have any evidence that this person was pulling some sort of hoax.”
“Or scam,” Dane offered, his bullshit radar on full alert. He’d seen too many women try and scheme their way into money. “Brandon wouldn’t be the first rich man taken for a ride.”
“Except that he didn’t have any money.” Seb thanked the waitress as she set down three new beers and a tray of appetizers. “You said that yourself.”
“She might not have known that. Brandon kept up a pretty good smokescreen. He had money in January. A lot of it. But by July he’d spent every dime.” He lifted up the letter. “I can read it again but I don’t think we’re going to see anything we haven’t the last two times I read it or the six times I read it before we got here.”
Dane cleared his throat.
This is the last letter I’ll send to you. You didn’t answer the last two, and if you don’t answer this one I will assume that this means nothing to you.
Nicholas Michael Emery was born at 11:32 PM weighing seven pounds, 3 ounces. He has my hair and your mouth and nose. His eyes are blue but I’m told that all babies have blue eyes so they might not stay that way. I can already tell that he’s smart by the way he quietly watches everything going on around him.
As I said in my last two letters, our relationship is over and I honestly think it’s for the best but Nicholas needs some sort of father figure in his life, even if only part of the time. He’s going to need a good role model as he grows up. When I hold him in my arms and look at him I can’t help but wonder who he is going to be and I worry about his future. I’ve never been a mother before and I want to do this right.
Mom and Dad are going to let me have the rental unit permanently and I’ll be home tomorrow. You could come by and see him. I know once you do you’ll fall in love with him as quickly as I did.