Home > Lost and Found Family(8)

Lost and Found Family(8)
Author: Jennifer Ryan

She couldn’t quite make out the mixed emotions in his eyes, but she appreciated the hint of sympathy.

She unmuted her call. “George, could you go over the quarterly figures with everyone. I want the latest numbers.” She kept her gaze on Luke as she addressed her CFO and he recited the company’s financial information.

She yawned and the sympathy in Luke’s eyes turned to concern.

She muted the call again. “Please, just go. I’ve had a really long day and it’s going to be a long night.” Overwhelmed by Margaret’s hostility, Luke’s attention and need to know her intentions and digging into her past, along with the cleaning she had to do, feeding the boys, and running her company, she couldn’t take it all at once and not feel the burdens taking more than she had to give right now.

“Margaret should have at least been hospitable and grateful you brought the boys to see her.”

Yeah. It would be nice if they could be civil and Margaret hadn’t left more work for her.

She gave him a weak smile, but had nothing to say before she unmuted her call and forged on with work because that took precedence to making a stranger like her. “George, those figures are off from the projections. What’s the difference? And how did it affect our profits?” She listened to George’s explanation and scrubbed the sink and counter, all the while watching Luke watching her in the mirror.

Held in his uncompromising stare, she felt like he was looking for something within her.

He wouldn’t find the woman Margaret described to him.

The boys pounded their little feet up the stairs and appeared in the bathroom doorway next to Luke.

“Can we see your horses?” Jack asked, his eyes pleading with Luke.

Since she was distracted listening to the financials George rattled off, Luke got the jump on her. “Sure you can. In fact, your mom can bring you over to the ranch tomorrow at eleven and we’ll go riding.”

“Yes!” Jack smiled from ear to ear.

Nick’s eyes filled with excitement, though he was too shy to say anything to Luke.

She met the challenge and amusement in Luke’s eyes with her own frustration.

She muted her call again and redirected the boys so she could have another minute alone with Luke. “Go check out your room. After this call, we’ll have dinner.”

Jack sighed and gave her a sad frown. “I thought you were going to be on vacation.”

“I’m sorry, little man. I promise I won’t work the whole time.” Jack might not understand what it was going to be like the next six weeks, but Sarah anticipated a lot of phone calls and late nights at the computer.

The boys ran into the other room.

She kept her voice low so they wouldn’t overhear. “Why would you do that?”

“Because I want to get to know you.”

“Why? So you know just how to attack and misrepresent me in court?”

“If you’re not the woman Margaret described, what do you have to lose? Prove her wrong,” he challenged, then turned and walked away.

Of course, she couldn’t back out. The boys would throw a fit. Having grown up on a ranch, she really loved horses and would love to teach the boys to ride. And though she shouldn’t care what Luke thought, she wanted to show him that she wasn’t the monster Margaret probably made her out to be.

Plus, she felt oddly sorry to see Luke go and she wasn’t quite sure why, except she really did want him to like her.

It shouldn’t matter whether he did or not, but it upset her that maybe he’d believe Margaret without even giving her a chance.

Still, did he invite them over to find things to use against her, or because he really did want to get to know her?

 

 

Chapter Six

 


Luke found Margaret gazing out the window in the breakfast room, her eyes filled with sadness. She looked a little lost.

Her watery, grief-filled gaze turned up to him. “Nick looks just like Sean.”

Luke agreed, remembering his childhood friend fondly. “All the photos in the room you gave Sarah reminded me of that, too.”

“Not just his looks, he has his mannerisms, his shyness as a boy. Sean grew out of that and became a charismatic man. I’m sure Nick will, too. Just looking at him brings back all the memories.” She smacked her open hand on the table. “I hate her! She took him away, and then she robbed him of his future. He’ll never see those boys grown. Sooner or later, they’ll forget him.”

“It sounds like Sarah tries to help the boys remember him. She encourages Nick’s dreams.”

She rolled her eyes. “Children grow out of such things.” Her lips pressed tight. “Sean was just a means to an end. She got the business and the kids. The only thing Sean got was a greedy wife and dying before his time, thanks to her.”

“Isn’t that a bit harsh? She brought the kids to visit just like you asked.”

Margaret gave him a dirty look for siding with Sarah. “Harsh! No. The boys told me she’ll be working from here, rubbing it in my face that she owns Sean’s company.”

“Take that time to get to know the boys while she’s out of your way,” he suggested, trying to get her to focus on what was important.

Margaret’s eyes went bright. “That’s what I like about you, Luke. You always find the silver lining. Maybe the boys will open up about what it’s really like at home and we can use that in court to make sure she lets me see them whenever I want.”

“That’s not what I meant.” He wanted Margaret to accept her victory. The boys were here and she should focus on them, not her battle with Sarah, who seemed all too willing to put their arguments on hold. “I really don’t think she wants to keep the kids from you.” Sarah seemed more than reasonable.

“Just wait. In no time, you’ll see what I see. Her true colors will come out. She can’t hide who she really is.”

He’d found that out the hard way with a few of the women he’d dated. “Regardless, I think you should give her a chance.” He planned to do just that. “It’s been a long time and people change.” As a defense attorney, he often saw the worst people could do to each other. Surprisingly, he wanted Sarah to be more than he initially expected.

“She’s self-centered and selfish.” Margaret’s bitterness and resentment held her hostage in her anger and grief.

“I invited her and the boys over to the ranch tomorrow to see the horses. Come with them.”

She dismissed that with a frustrated frown and a telling rub of her knee. “You know I don’t have the energy for walking all over that huge spread of yours. I’m sure the boys will have fun. Just make sure she doesn’t burn the place down while she’s there.”

That spiked his interest. “Why would I have to worry about that?”

“I told you yesterday she was a troubled teen. She burned her uncle’s property to the ground. Luckily, no one got hurt.”

There had to be a story there.

His gut tightened at the vindictiveness of it. But his heart softened at the thought there had to be a reason, because she didn’t come off as callous or cruel.

He’d met his fair share of ruthless criminals.

Tired of hearing all these terrible things about Sarah that didn’t ring wholly true anymore, he tried not to put too much stock in Margaret’s accusations. He may have just met Sarah, but something wasn’t right. He didn’t think she was a bad person. After all, the boys seemed very attached to their mom, and she to them.

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