The Rebel's Own (Crimson Romance) (3 page)

BOOK: The Rebel's Own (Crimson Romance)
13.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Kennedy blinked as the words registered, and her eyes ran down the list of the other players and the other girls, all outcasts at Charleston. Like she was. She quickly ran out of the room, the laughter of her classmates following her. Even worse were the looks of pity that people shot her.

She was an idiot. Hate, anger, and bitterness flooded through Kennedy. She was going to hate Ryan Carville for the rest of her life. And if God had any mercy on her, she would leave this earth without setting her eyes on him ever again.

She made it home and ran into her mother’s arms. Her father looked on, worry lines marring his already exhausted expression.

“Mama, I’m so sorry. Mama, I’m pregnant.”

Kennedy was carrying the quarterback’s baby.

Chapter One

Kennedy Bailey woke up from the same nightmare she had been having for the past six years. It didn’t help that she had spent the night staring at her tormentor. Ryan Carville was now a Boston Rebel, the first-string quarterback for their local NFL team, called back home only months after he graduated from Oregon State. He had been the youngest recruit in the team’s history, thanks to a sudden injury for the team’s previous quarterback. Kennedy frowned. She wouldn’t put it past Ryan to be the cause of that injury. She had learned long ago that he looked out for himself.

“Mommy!” A loud shrill pulled her out of her trip down self-pity lane.

With a groan, she dragged herself out of bed, waiting for her overzealous and melodramatic son to come running down the hallway to drag her to the kitchen for breakfast. But the sound of little running feet thudding against the hardwood floors didn’t come, and the next call wasn’t as strong as the last one. Kennedy ran down the hallway when she heard her son’s feeble attempt at calling her once more, her heart racing as her blood pumped loudly in her ears.

When she reached her Riley’s bedroom, he was halfway out of bed. He lay back facing the ceiling, seemingly immobile apart from shakes his little body made. Kennedy rushed to his side and picked him up. Immediately his hot skin burned hers, his usually toffee skin pale. He seemed disoriented.

“Mama!” Kennedy called as she rushed out of her son’s room. It was just the three of them now. Ever since her father died, her mother had made a home with Kennedy and her son.

“What is it?” Her mother, Rebecca, appeared from the kitchen, apron on and spatula in hand. She had a smile on her face that immediately dropped when she saw the little limp body in Kennedy’s hands.

“Something’s wrong! We need to get him to a doctor,” Kennedy said as she handed her son to her mother. “Take him to the car. I’m going to grab my purse.

“You better put some shoes on, while you are in there,” Rebecca pointed out.

Kennedy looked at her son and thought about forgoing everything else and running the little boy to the hospital in her bare feet. Her hand on her chest, she forced herself to take a calming breath. It wouldn’t do her or Riley any good to panic.

“Please, please, please,” Kennedy pleaded five minutes later with her tin can of a car when it refused to start. A nervous tear escaped and rolled down her cheek when it stalled the second time. Resting her head on the steering wheel, Kennedy let out a sob. “Don’t do this to me, not today.”

“Let’s just call Kevin,” Rebecca suggested. “I’m sure he wouldn’t mind picking us up.”

Kennedy hesitated but then nodded in agreement, as she dialed the number of her co-worker. For the longest time she had tried to avoid interacting with Kevin on a personal level, since it was obvious to her that he had feelings for her. Ever since her run in with Ryan Carville, Kennedy had been happy to live a life of celibacy. But if she had to risk the attentions of a man to get her son to the hospital, she would.

• • •

“What’s his name?” The doctor asked as he took her boy from her.

“Riley Ryan Bailey. He is, um… He’s, uh…” Kennedy’s mind stopped working when Riley reached for her, but the nurses moved him away. She wanted to go to his side, hold him in her arms, and kiss all the pain away.

“He is five years old,” her mother picked up, “He was fine yesterday and he hasn’t been sick before this morning.”

“And you are?” the doctor asked.

“Rebecca Bailey. I’m his grandmother.”

“You will need to sign a few papers to permit us to run a few tests on him.”

Kennedy nodded as he spoke, her eyes not leaving her son’s. Riley was everything that she knew she wasn’t: strong, determined, beautiful, and brave. She guessed he got all that from his father, along with the jet black hair and the piercing blue eyes. Those eyes are what earned him Ryan as a middle name. Sometimes she thought all that she contributed was the light tint to his skin and this weakness that she was now witnessing.

“I’m being punished,” she whispered as her heart clenched from Riley’s loud cry for her. She could sense his fear from being alone with strangers, and somehow it increased her fear of losing him.

“Why do you think so?” Her mother hugged her as she whispered into her ear.

“I kept him from his father.”

“I don’t think you would be punished from keeping Riley away from that jackass,” her mother swore.

A throat-clearing noise interrupted them. “I’m sorry. I hate to run out on you, but I’m going to have to leave for work now.”

Kennedy turned her attention to her savior, Kevin, who had gone unnoticed for the past couple of minutes.

“Oh! Sure. Thanks again, Kevin.”

“No, problem,” he said, with a smile. “If you need anything else, call me. I’ll let the supervisor know that you won’t be coming in.”

Kennedy waved goodbye as Kevin walked away, and scowled when her mother said, “Why don’t you go out with him? I’m sure he would be a wonderful father to Riley.”

“I don’t doubt it. But there’s just one problem.”

“What is that?”

“He’s a man,” Kennedy retorted. “Besides, we have bigger problems, Mama. What do you think this hospital will do when they realize my insurance won’t cover shit? I probably won’t even be able to afford the medicine they’re gonna give him!”

“Then I think it’s time you visited a certain Boston Rebel.”

“I’d rather slit my wrists first,” Kennedy swore unthinkingly, making her mother flinch. How could she be so insensitive? Kennedy had tried to block out the memory of her high school overdose. She’d been trying to kill herself, kill the baby. She was a teenager, and she couldn’t handle the disappointment in her parents’ faces each time they looked at her.

Looking away from her mother’s pained expression, Kennedy breathed a sigh of relief as she saw the doctor approaching them. He had a grim look on his face that told Kennedy to bear down.

“He’s dying?”

“No, no, but he is quite ill,” he replied. “We have to wait for further test results to confirm my diagnosis, but I’m afraid your son might have leukemia.”

Kennedy actually stumbled back as the weight of the word hit her in the chest. She felt like she was caught in a soundless slow motion clip as everything around her kept rolling in real time. She watched as her mother and the doctor talked, as patients and nurses rushed past her. But her mind registered nothing but the fact that her son was probably going to die.

“What do we do now?” a feeble whisper escaped her lips.

“Well, you need to get tested as a possible bone marrow donor. His father should get tested too, and all your relatives.”
His father
, Kennedy closed her eyes. She had sworn that she would rather die than see Ryan Carville again. Death would have to wait. She had to save the life of her little boy. Still, she wouldn’t relish seeing him again.

“Is there any other way?” she blurted. “I mean, is there anything else that might help?”

“Well, an infant’s cord blood can be an even more effective source for stem cells than bone marrow, especially a sibling’s cord blood. If you were pregnant…”

The wheels in her mind started to turn even before the doctor finished talking. It took Kennedy only a split second to decide what she was going to do. She was sure she could get Ryan to get her pregnant without revealing the existence of their son. It would mean deceiving him, but after what he did to her, she certainly didn’t feel any guilt or remorse.

And Ryan definitely shouldn’t have a problem with sleeping with her.

Chapter Two

Kennedy knew she was stalking him at this point, but she was determined to talk to Matt Brown at whatever the cost. She had endured being kicked out of functions by his security and cozying up to his many “girlfriends” to find him today. And since Matt had been part of the original problem, he was going to come up with a solution for her.

“Hey Matt!” Kennedy yelled, as she stepped out of her car. She could see immediately that he didn’t recognize her, but the look of desire in his eyes did not escape her.

“Hey sweetheart,” he said, as he walked towards her, a sly grin on his lips.

Kennedy felt her body cringe as he sized her up, probably wondering if he could take her home. His pungent cologne nearly choked her when he got closer. Ignoring the repulsed tremble of her body, Kennedy put a smile on her face and pulled Matt in for a hug.

“If you don’t want me to go to the press, you will walk me into that café and talk to me,” she whispered in his ear.

She felt his body go rigid as he took a step back. Matt studied her once more, this time probably trying to size up exactly what kind of a threat she was. “What is this about?”

“My name is Kennedy Bailey, though you might remember me as the
prom sacrifice
.” Kennedy smiled in victory when the suspicious sneer on his face dropped and a worried frown replaced it. “This is the thing: I need to get to Ryan. He and I have some business to settle.”

“You must be crazy,” he growled, as he took a step back, his fingers running through his hair.

“Maybe I am,” Kennedy said coldly. “But I have a copy of your old score sheet. If you don’t get me access to Ryan in the next twenty-four hours, TMZ and every single gossip column I can find will also have a copy along with all the despicable details of your little United Tastes game.” She breathed a little easier, having done her research, and smiled sweetly at him. “And since I know you are about to sign a major deal with Adidas, I wouldn’t want to ruin that for you.”

He blinked, clearly taken aback. “I- I don’t understand. Is it money that you want?”

“No, I am more interested in a life. And I don’t care who I have to destroy to get it.” Kennedy couldn’t help the smirk on her face. For a second she wanted Matt Brown to feel just as helpless as the more than thirty girls that they had taken advantage of in high school. She felt a pang of regret that she hadn’t blown their game wide open back then; it was Kennedy’s fault that the United Tastes had been kept on the down low. But she had to think about Riley first—then and now. That’s why she was taking this risk. “You can either come quietly, or the next time I see a swarm of reporters around Ryan, I’m going to tell them the type of man he really is. I’m quite sure a family company like Adidas would rethink having him as their brand ambassador.”

“What do you want?”

“Let’s start with a cup of coffee.” Kennedy held the door open for him. “Shall we?”

Kennedy could see murder in his glare. But Matt had worked too hard to lose what he already had and what he was bound to make from his best friend’s success. She knew she had him by the balls. Taking a window seat, she ordered herself a cup of coffee and a piece of chocolate cake. Kennedy hadn’t realized how hungry she was. She smiled at Matt while he scowled at her.

“Tell me what you want, Kennedy.”

“I want my coffee and cake first.” Kennedy smiled at the waitress. She was about to dig her fork into her chocolate cake when Matt pulled it out of the way. “Patience, Matt. Try to exact the same kind of patience you and Ryan had when you hunted me like a pack of hyenas before taking me down. Question: did you watch as the star quarterback of the Boston Rebels deflowered me?”

Keep your voice down!”
Matt hissed through clenched teeth.

“Then give me back my cake,” Kennedy cooed. She knew the more pleasant she sounded, the more she irritated Matt. He shoved the cake in her direction. Kennedy moaned with pleasure with each bite.

“I’m sorry about what happened. But that was so long ago. I know you were hurt when you found out. But it was high school. Years have passed; you have to move on,” he pleaded. “What do you want from him?”

“That’s none of your business. I just need to run into him at a function or something. I don’t want it to appear as if I was tailing him. You’ll arrange all that for me, won’t you Matt?” Her question was met by silence. “You want to keep wearing that Armani suit, don’t you? Keep the money rolling in for your star client?”

“Fine, give me your details. But if you hurt him—”

“Like you guys hurt me? Don’t worry, I’m not out for revenge. After I get what I want, I’ll disappear from your lives.”

Kennedy wrote down her number. She could see the conflict in Matt’s eyes. The man was loyal to a fault, at least. Not that it mattered.

She was determined to be in and out of Ryan’s life before he realized what was going on.

• • •

Kennedy stroked Riley’s back, her fingers following the stripes in his pajamas. His temperature had finally gone down and it hadn’t taken the hospital but a minute to escort them out when they found out about her insurance situation. Kevin had explained her situation to her supervisor. But the old goat had never liked Kennedy because she turned down his advances. He had finally gotten his excuse to fire her. It was a sad state of affairs today, when hospitals prioritized money over saving lives.

“Why are you doing this?” Rebecca stood, arms crossed, at the door. The scowl on her face told Kennedy that her mother disapproved of her method. Ever since she had explained her plan and told her about her visit with Matt Brown, Rebecca had shown her disapproval each chance she got. Her mother still believed she was the high school girl who had been bewitched by Ryan’s dazzling smile.

“I need to get Riley a stem cell transplant.” Kennedy buried her nose in her little boy’s hair and inhaled, the soothing scent of his baby shampoo spreading through her body. “You heard what the doctor said; I need cord blood for him. The only way I can do that is if I have another baby with Ryan.”

BOOK: The Rebel's Own (Crimson Romance)
13.99Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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