Authors: Eve Jordan
The Reluctant Heir
by Eve Jordan
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright © 2015 by Eve Jordan
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced, scanned, or distributed, in any manner whatsoever without written permission from the author.
From afar, Landen Shaw watched as the people trickled slowly out of the white church and wondered if any of them actually mourned his grandfather's death.
He'd never met the man himself, but he'd heard enough from his dad and aunt to know about the kind of man he was.
And yet he was here.
He hated himself for his weakness, but he'd always been interested in his grandfather. A self-made man, he’d started out with nothing and had ended up becoming one of the most prominent lawyers in the city.
It wasn't until Landen was older that his parents explained why he’d never met the man.
A small crowd began to form off the side of the church. His eyes narrowed when he saw that a petite brunette was in the center of it all.
Was this his latest mistress?
She couldn't be more than twenty five!
His lips thinned as he took in her luscious curves and long legs. She had the alluring combination of being both sexy and demure and it was too easy to see how his grandfather could've fallen for her.
She wore a black dress that wasn't indecently cut anywhere and yet, it clung deliciously to her small waist and showed off legs that seemed to go on forever.
Person after person approached her with what looked to be sincere condolences and she accepted them all with teary eyes. He felt like laughing. They were all playing their parts quite well, especially her.
She must've gotten quite a tidy sum from his grandfather.
His eyes narrowed at the man who was talking to her right now. The man seemed too friendly in his “comforting.” Landen was tempted to interfere, but stopped himself. He didn't even know the woman and she obviously knew what she was doing. Hell. That man might even be her next victim.
Groaning, he forced himself to look away. He should just find the solicitor who had called him and find out what she wanted. Not stare at this beauty and wonder if her lips were as sweet as they looked.
“Call me if you need anything, Rebecca.”
Unease swept through Rebecca's body as Carl kept a steady grip on her hand. Instinctively, she wanted to tug her hand back, but she didn't want to be rude. “Thank you. That's-”
Feeling as if she were being watched, she looked up and was surprised when she saw Landen standing a few feet away from her, looking right at her. She was about to wave before she remembered that they had never actually met before.
She smiled wryly. After hearing so much about him from his grandfather, she felt as if she already knew him.
“I'm sorry, Carl. I have to speak with Mr. Shaw's grandson.” She quickly moved past him before he could stop her and headed towards Landen.
As she got closer to Landen, she couldn't help noticing how handsome he was. She'd often seen his picture in the magazine, but nothing prepared her for seeing him in person.
Jet black hair, strong cheekbones and eyes so deep she felt as if she could get lost in them.
“Mr. Shaw,” she said, offering her hand when she had reached him. “I'm Rebecca Kingsley. We spoke on the phone.”
Shivers of awareness coursed through her as he shook her hand.
“You're the solicitor?”
“Trainee,” she corrected. “But I'm the will's executor.” She gestured towards the church. “I have the paperwork inside.”
He frowned. “Paperwork for what?”
“For the will. Since you're Mr. Shaw's only living relative, he's left you the majority of his assets.”
His jaw hardened. “Is this some kind of a joke?“
“No. Of course not,” she blurted, surprised at his vehemence.
“I've never seen the man in my life. Why would he leave me anything?” He nodded towards her. “Why didn't he give it to you?”
“You've never seen him in your life?” she asked, stunned.
“Of course not. I wouldn't betray my parents like that. And what's this about being his only living relative? His children and my cousins are all still alive.”
Dumbfounded, she wondered if she had made a mistake before rejecting the idea. Mr. Shaw had often shown her newspaper clippings of his grandson and this was the same Landen Shaw.
“I understand him not wanting to leave his children anything,” Landen continued. “But how about the rest of his grandchildren?”
Her throat suddenly dry, she looked back at those fiery eyes, speechless. Mr. Shaw had more than one grandchild? The whole time she had known him, he'd only talked about Landen.
“He didn't mention them,“ she began uneasily. “I didn't even know-” She pursed her lips. Perhaps, they had been adopted? She couldn't see Mr. Shaw as the kind of guy who would keep his grandchildren out of the will just because they were adopted. but it was the family home...
“He didn't leave them anything,” she started hesitantly. “But if you sell the house, you could split the proceeds with them, along with the company shares and the money.”
When he didn't say anything, she cleared her throat. “Would it be all right if I picked up a few things at the house?”
Since it was his property now, it hadn't felt right to go without his permission. Besides, she hadn't wanted to go into that big house all alone. Just knowing that Mr. Shaw wouldn't be there to greet her had her heart churning.
He nodded. “Sure. I'll follow you.”
“Thanks. I haven't been-” The words choked up in her throat as she broke eye contact to look unseeingly at the road behind him. She didn't want to cry in front of the man.
“I'll just get my stuff in the church,” she forced out. Before he could see her tears, she quickly turned around and headed towards the church.
Rebecca's throat tightened as the steel metal gate doors opened to an empty driveway.
Though it had only been a month since Mr. Shaw had been transferred to the hospital, it looked as if no one had lived in the house for ages.
The water fountain that had once attracted beautiful birds had dried up. The carefully landscaped garden had lost its color without the proper maintenance. Except for the hum of her car's engine, the whole place was completely silent.
Landen parked his sleek black car behind her and she couldn't help noticing how the car seemed to amplify the house's lack of upkeep.
“The gardener and maid haven't been called in after the attack,” she explained as she got out. The house had always been a symbol of wealth for her, something she could attain if she worked hard enough. She hated to see it like this, so empty and bare.
He threw an uninterested look towards the house. “Maybe if his tastes weren't so expensive, he could've gotten something that required a little less maintenance.”
Her back straightened. “As the size of your inheritance shows, he was perfectly capable of taking care of the house.”
“And just how much is this inheritance?”
“Including the firm's shares, around ninety million pounds.”
His eyebrows rose. She guessed even to a billionaire, ninety million pounds was nothing to scoff at.
She got the key from her bag and handed it to him. He unlocked the door and let her in first. The familiar scent of cinnamon and cedar assaulted her senses as she walked in.
She closed her eyes and for a moment, it was just like old times. Mr. Shaw was in his office, working as the sound of jazz music filled the air.
But when she opened her eyes to the empty house, she sighed. Everything looked the same and yet it was so different.
Fighting off the urge to cry, she turned around and saw Landen looking at her strangely.
“I'll just get my stuff in my room and then I'll be out of your hair.”
Landen's stomach coiled when he saw Rebecca take a blue shirt out of the cabinet.
He'd fooled himself into thinking that the relationship between Rebecca and his grandfather had been innocent, but it had obviously been wishful thinking.
His eyes slowly took in her shoulder-length hair, her beautiful face and tempting lips. He couldn't fault his grandfather here. The man had excellent taste in women.
Watching as she stuffed another shirt into the bag, he wondered why she only had one bag. By the way everyone had acted earlier, she must've been with his grandfather for quite some time.
Had she already picked everything up earlier?
She had said that she hadn't been back to the house, but it could've been a lie.
She could've come anytime. She had a key. In fact, she could've stolen something from the house and he would never even know.
He frowned when he saw the white shirt she took out. It was just a simple cotton shirt. Definitely not the silk negligee he would've dressed her in if she was his. In fact, none of the clothes she was taking out were of the lingerie sort.
He could easily imagine her in a flimsy red lace, her alabaster skin contrasting deliciously against the red fabric as he peeled them off...
Shaking his head, he cursed himself. It wouldn't do to keep fantasizing about her when all he wanted to do was wash his hands free of his grandfather.
He still didn’t know why the man had decided to leave him everything. Had the man wanted to create some kind of connection to him because he was rich?
Over the past few years, Laden had gotten used to people coming out of the woodworks after reading about him in an article or seeing him on the telly. Perhaps his grandfather had been trying to do the same.
As if sensing him, Rebecca turned towards him. “Oh. I didn't see you.” She zipped up her bag.
“Are you mad that he didn't give you the house?”
He was caught off guard when she blushed. Did people still blush?
Though he shouldn't have, he couldn't help but think how becoming it was on her and where else she could blush.
“He's given me so much already,” she said simply, snapping him out of his reverie and he frowned. Exactly how much money had his grandfather given her to make her not care about the house?
She got some papers from her purse and handed them to him. They were the will documents.
“Just send me them to me when you can.”
Since he didn't want anything to do with his grandfather or his estate, he considered giving it all to her before he thought about his father and aunt. Though he doubted that they would want it either, it was probably best to ask.
On her way out of the door, Rebecca stopped in front of him. She smelled like fresh strawberries and he fought the urge to grab her and to see if she tasted as good as she smelled.
“I know you two weren't close,” she murmured softly as she raised those beautiful brown eyes to his. “But he always kept track of you.”
She hesitated before continuing. “There's a binder in his office with a bunch of newspaper clippings of you over the years. He was just so proud of you.”
She smiled softly and walked out of the room. He’d been so busy watching the way those lips moved, imagining how she tasted, that it took him a few seconds to register what she had said.
He didn't know how to feel about the fact that the grandfather he’d never known had been keeping tabs on him, but what he did know was that he wasn’t about to let this beauty get away so quickly.