Marriage of Convenience by Katy Kaylee

Chapter 27

Chase

I was on a fucking high. When my father announced that me and my brothers wouldn’t get anything until we started a family, the last thing I wanted was a wife or a baby. Right now, they were all I wanted. The last few days of our trip, all I could do was spoil and coddle Sara. At first, she accepted my hovering, I’m sure to placate me, but by the end, she’d put her foot down.

“I have two legs and can walk, Chase. And two arms to get my own things.”

I’d never wanted to spoil a woman before. A part of me warned me that it wasn’t safe to give Sara so much of me emotionally, and yet, I couldn’t seem to help myself. She was so fucking beautiful carrying my child.

At the end of the week, we had to head home, but I intended to take many more trips there with Sara. I could even imagine making sandcastles on the beach with my son or daughter.

Sara slept on the plane ride home, and most of Sunday as she dealt with traveler’s fatigue. And growing a baby.

I considered extending our trip or my break, but I knew I needed to get to work. I had a wife and a baby to support after all. But I decided to move the daily meeting with my father to four-thirty instead of five each day. Hopefully that would put me home by six-thirty.

My brothers would certainly hassle me for putting so much importance on family or think I was ass-kissing my father, but I didn’t give a fuck.

The first thing I did when I arrived at the office Monday morning was call my lawyer, Tom, and asked him to come by ASAP. I’m sure he had other clients and appointments, and it was an asshole thing for me to pull rank, but I had things to take care of. I knew that the Raven name meant he’d be here as fast as he could.

“You look rested,” my father said from my doorway. It was rare that he’d come find me instead of summoning me to his office.

“It was a relaxing trip.” I wanted to tell him about the baby, but I knew that was something Sara would want to be a part of, so I held my tongue.

“And Sara?” he asked closing the door of my office behind him.

“She’s good.”

My father took a seat in one of the chairs at my desk, while I sat behind it. The reversal of our placement didn’t go unnoticed by me.

“Your mother would like her. She’d think she was a little young, but she’d like her.”

I nodded.

“That ass-wipe of a professor is on administrative leave pending an investigation. The college wants to talk to her, but I’ve put the kibosh on that. There are other young women he’s harassed, so I don’t think she’ll be needed. Besides, I don’t think she did anything with him.” My father tilted his head, as if he was asking my opinion.

“I know she didn’t,” I said.

He nodded and seemed pleased by my answer. “Other young ladies haven’t been so lucky. I’ve asked Alex to find any other interns we’ve had that were referred by him.”

“Good idea.” I’d still rather strangle the professor with his own dick, but getting him fired and maybe even arrested would have to do. Sara had more important things to think about now than that asshole.

“You haven’t, by chance, slept with other of our interns, have you? That could cause some issues for us,” my father asked.

“Fuck no.” I gave him an indignant look.

“Your brothers?”

“I don’t know. We don’t kiss and tell. You might want to talk to Hunter.” After all, my initial goal in taking Sara as was intern had been to keep Hunter away from her. At least that’s what I was still telling myself. “But even if he did, it wouldn’t be like the professor. He wouldn’t have offered her something in return. I don’t think he has trouble getting women that he’d need to bribe them.”

My father shrugged. “He’s still a Raven, and she’d have been an intern. Men in positions of power shouldn’t be sleeping with their staff or interns.”

I wasn’t sure if he was lecturing me about Sara, but since we were married, I decided it didn’t matter.

There was a knock on my door. “Mr. Raven, Mr. Lister is here,” Alex said poking her head in.

“Your lawyer?” My father quirked a brow.

“It’s nothing.” I stood. “Thank you, Alex, send him in.”

“You know I like you better now that you’re married,” she said to me.

My father laughed. “You know, so do I.”

Tom walked in the door as my father walked out. When the door closed behind him, he said, “That was fast, but I’ve got the divorce papers ready.”

“What? I didn’t bring you here to talk divorce.” I motioned for him to sit at my work table.

“Oh?”

I sat across from him. “This is between you and me, but Sara is pregnant, and I want to—”

“She can’t take the baby, Chase. As the father you have rights. Unless you’re not the father. After what was suggested in the paper—”

“What was suggested in the paper?” How as I losing control of this situation?

“Just something about sexual favors from a professor.”

“The one that will be losing his job for harassing his students?” I asked. “How hasn’t that detail reached the paper?” I shook my head wanting to get us back on track. “What I want is a trust for Sara and the baby. Can you manage that?”

“Yes, of course.” He studied me. “So, you’re going to keep going with this.”

“Yes.” I said in an exasperated voice.

“What about a paternity test?”

“Not necessary. I want to take care of her and the baby.” I decided to hold off on terminating the business contract until I could know for sure that Sara was on the same page as I was about this relationship. But whether she loved me or not, I’d take care of her and the child.

Once I got the logistics of the trust identified and sent Tom on his way to take care of the paperwork, I called Sara. If there was something in the newspapers, I wanted to give her a heads up. The call went to voicemail. I checked my watch, and it was conceivable that she was still sleeping, so I decided to call her later. For now, I needed to get back to work. I might be committed to being a good husband and father, but I wasn’t going to stop being a kick-ass businessman.

I worked for a few hours and then called Sara again. When it went to voicemail too, I had a niggle of concern so I called Mrs. Childs.

“She said she was taking a walk to the park,” she said.

“She was alright when she left?” I was a little annoyed she hadn’t let me know she was going out, but I supposed she’d let Mrs. Childs know.

“Yes. She looked fine.”

It was still weird that she wasn’t answering her phone. I shot off a text to her and then had to run to a meeting with the marketing department.

When I still hadn’t heard from her that afternoon, I cut the meeting with my father short and rushed home. Something wasn’t right.

“Sara,” I called as the elevator door opened to my apartment. I hurried through all the rooms, but she wasn’t there. “Where the hell are you?”

Starting to feel desperate, I called her phone again, leaving a terse message, and then feeling guilty about it because clearly something was wrong. Had something happened with the baby?

I started calling hospitals, but none had a Sara Raven or Sara Sheppard admitted. Worry was now turning to panic. I called Hunter.

“I need your help. Sara has gone missing.”

“She’s probably shopping and lost track of time,” he said.

“No. For one, she’s not a big shopper and two, she’d still answer her phone. She’s knows how important it is for me to know she’s safe,” I explained. I was certain we’d worked out that I didn’t want to control her, but that I needed to know she was safe from that moron professor and her ex.

“She probably doesn’t like you keeping her on a chain—”

“Fuck Hunter, something is wrong. Are you going to help me or not?” I wanted to reach through the phone and grab him by the neck to make him understand.

“Yeah, man. Calm down. I’ll be there in ten.”

I had no idea what to do for the next ten minutes. Was she hurt? Had that fucking professor come to exact revenge? Or maybe her ex?

It seemed way longer than ten minutes when Hunter showed up with another man.

“This is Jones. He used to be with the FBI but he’s private now,” Hunter said introducing me to the other guy. He looked like a regular Joe, not some former G-man, and I hoped he knew what he was doing.

“Does she have a regular schedule?” Jones asked.

Jesus, I didn’t know. “We’ve only been married a couple of weeks, and just got back from a trip. I’m not sure she settled into one yet. My housekeeper said she went to take a walk to the park.” I sank into the couch, as Jones took a chair across from me. Hunter remained standing behind him with his arms crossed looking like the badass I needed him to be.

“I can arrange to get surveillance footage to see if we can find her.” Jones said. “Was the marriage good?”

“Yes.”

Hunter cleared his throat. “It’s not a traditional marriage.”

I shot him a look.

“What do you mean?” Jones asked.

Fuck. “It was a marriage of convenience.” It didn’t feel like that now, but that’s how it started and it seemed like I needed to be honest to make sure nothing got missed.

“So, she was going to get some sort of financial compensation for marrying you?” Jones asked.

“Yes.” It didn’t seem relevant, but I was going to cooperate.

“Any chance she just ran off?” Jones asked.

“No.” I inhaled a breath. “She’s pregnant.”

Hunter eyes shot open wide. “That was fast.”

“Maybe she left and is going to use the child as leverage,” Jones suggested.

I jumped up from the couch as anger coursed through me. “No, no, no… she wouldn’t do that.”

“There was the thing with her professor,” Hunter said. I heard the hesitation in his voice, as if he knew I wouldn’t take it well.

I whirled on them. “Not long ago her ex was stalking her. I can’t believe you’re not going with that first, Hunter. And the professor thing … that’s on him, not her.”

“How can you be sure?” Jones asked.

“She was a virgin until me.” I was certain that was the type of information a woman didn’t want shared with a stranger, but I needed them to understand. Sara wasn’t a gold-digger. I remembered all the times she’d been annoyed and angry because people just saw a beautiful woman with a hot body, and not the person she was. I finally understood that as I tried to convince my brother and the FBI guy of her true character.

Hunter looked surprised while Jones just took the news in.

“She could have led him on—” Jones started.

“Or she could be hurt or kidnapped or lost… Jesus fucking Christ, both her ex and the professor hunted her down. What if one of them took her?” I let out a frustrated growl. “Can someone please find my wife?”

Hunter put his hand on my shoulder. “We’ll find her, Chase.” He put his other hand on my other shoulder. “But I don’t think you can rule out that maybe she set this up.”

I broke away, not wanting to believe it. I couldn’t go there. I couldn’t doubt her. I’d done that before and ended up looking like a fucking asshole.

“Just find her, would you?” I said. Were they going to make me beg?

“I’ll arrange to ping her phone. In the meantime, perhaps we can call her parents and that ex you talked about to see if they know anything,” Jones said.

“I can do that,” Hunter said.

“What can I do?” I felt so helpless.

“Wait here. She might come back or call. You need to be around if she does.”

I didn’t know how I was going to do that. Standing around and waiting seemed like a waste of time. Too much time to wonder what happened. Time that would let that niggle of doubt I was adamant I wouldn’t let in to fester.

She’d been happy on our trip. Happy about the baby. Was it act? She could have heard about my father’s plans from Alex that first week at her internship. She and her ex and or the professor could have set this up. With a baby on the way, she’d know that I’d pay the money even if I found out she was scamming me.

No. Just fucking no! I inwardly yelled at myself. That’s not Sara.

It seemed like forever when Jones and Hunter got off their phones and found me on the terrace going out of my mind.

“There’s no ping on the phone. It’s either dead or someone took the battery out,” Jones said.

“Her parents don’t know where she is either,” Hunter said, but there was an odd tone to how he said it.

“What?” I asked.

“They say they’ve disowned her because she’s living in sin.”

“What? She’s married.” I didn’t remember Sara ever talking about her parents. Had she not told them?

“They say her ex has been trying to find her and save her?” Hunter’s expression suggested he thought Sara was pulling a fast one on me.

“Living in sin?” Jones asked. “Are they ultra-religious?”

“I think so,” Hunter said. “They seemed to believe the story in the paper suggesting she’d seduced her professor.”

“Fuck!” I ran my fingers through my hair. “I don’t like that.”

Hunter shook his head. “I’m sorry man. I thought she was nice too—”

I whirled on him. “You met the ex, Hunter, what would he do if he found her?”

“What if they played us all?” Hunter said.

“And what if he’s not playing? You met him, Hunter. Is he capable of hurting her?”

Hunter blew out a breath. “Maybe. If what I saw was legit.”

“Find her!” I stalked off to splash water on my face. Whether Sara had run off and duped me, or had somehow been taken from me, I had to find her. I’d figure out whether she was a con or a victim later.

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