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Authors: Christina Tetreault

The Teacher's Billionaire

BOOK: The Teacher's Billionaire
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The Teacher's Billionaire

By Christina Tetreault

 

www.christinatetreault.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2012 by Christina G. Tetreault

 

 

All Rights Reserved

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.

Chapter 1

 

 

After one more good stretch Callie Taylor tucked a loose strand of dark hair behind her ear and began to pack her materials back into her large tote bag. She was almost finished when an unexpected knock at her apartment door sent her Border Terrier, Lucky, bolting off the living room couch and across the kitchen's tile floor.

Without a second thought Callie followed the dog, and pulled open the door. She fully expected to find another one of the local children selling candy bars for school on the other side. Already several children from nearby homes had come by, and she’d bought candy from each of them. She just couldn't say no to them. At this rate she would have enough candy to last her until next spring. However, the person knocking wasn’t another child.

“Mrs. Lee! Come on in.” Callie greeted her mother's closest friend. Although she’d spoken to the older woman many times over the past few months, she hadn’t seen her since her mother’s funeral three months earlier.

“How many times do I have to tell you? Call me Helen. Mrs. Lee makes me feel ancient.” Although her voice was stern, Mrs. Lee’s mouth formed her usual warm smile.


I'm sorry. I'll try. Promise.” Callie closed the door behind her guest. “Ignore the mess. I've been working on school stuff. Do you want something to drink? Some tea or coffee?”

“Hot tea sounds perfect.” Helen answered pulling out one of the colorful mismatched wooden chairs at the table.

After putting the teakettle on the stove, Callie finished putting away her school materials and waited for her visitor to speak. She couldn’t even begin to imagine why Helen Lee was there. A sweet old-fashion lady, Helen believed in calling before a visit. But Helen remained silent at the table, which was unusual for the woman. She was normally the energizer bunny of conversation. She just kept going and going.

Without saying a word Callie placed a cup of tea in front of her visitor and took the scarlet red seat across the table from her.

“You’re probably wondering why I’m here,” Helen said breaking the uneasy silence. “I would have called first, but I feared I’d change my mind again before I got here. I got halfway here early last month and turned around.”

Callie watched as Helen nervously folded and unfolded one of the napkins she placed on the table. The woman's cryptic words were only increasing her curiosity.

“A few days before your mom died she asked me to do her a favor once she was gone. Ruth wanted me to mail out a letter she wrote.” Mrs. Lee kept her eyes focused on her tea as she spoke. “I finally mailed out the letter Monday morning.”

She'd never heard of such an odd request, and Callie couldn't help but wonder what the letter had been about. Or why her mom hadn't asked her to mail it. “Oh? Who was the letter for?”

Helen remained silent for several seconds, and Callie thought she wasn't going to answer. “Helen?”

Reaching across the table Helen took hold of Callie's hands. “Before I say anything, I need you to understand that Ruth loved you more than anything. She made the decisions she did because she wanted to protect you.”

A growing sense of dread crept through her body, and Callie could only nod at Helen's odd statement.

“She didn't even tell me the truth until she gave me the letter to mail.” Callie could hear the hurt in the woman's voice. Her mom and Helen Lee had been friends almost their entire lives, and she couldn't imagine them keeping secrets from each other.

After taking another deep breath Helen continued. “She even made me promise not to say anything to you. But now that I've mailed the letter, it doesn't seem right that you don't know.” Again Helen paused and Callie wished she would just say whatever was on her mind. Obviously, she found it distressing.

“Callie your father is alive. The letter Ruth asked me to mail was to him. Your mom never told him she was pregnant.”

Callie heard the words but her brain just wouldn't let her process them. It couldn't be. “You must have misunderstood her. Mom told me my dad died in a car accident before I was born.” Callie's voice grew louder with each word. Her mom wouldn't have lied to her about that. If her father was alive her mom would've told her.

Helen squeezed Callie's hand. “I didn't misunderstand, Callie. Your father is alive. And by now he has gotten your mom's letter and knows that you're his daughter.”

Pain exploded in her chest as anger and betrayal sliced through Callie's heart. How could her mom kept this from her? Yanking her hands away, she came to her feet and walked away from the table. Without warning tears began to flow down her face and her body started to tremble as Helen's words reverberated in her head. “Why...” Callie asked as confusion and pain washed over her. “Why didn't she tell me? Why didn't she tell him? And why bother now?”

Helen walked over and embraced Callie in a motherly hug rather than answer right away. At her show of affection, a fresh round of tears erupted. “She wanted to protect you. She thought that if you knew you would try to contact him. And she was afraid you wouldn't be accepted in his world.” Helen's voice was soft and loving much like it would be if she was speaking to her own daughter.

Callie pulled away to find some tissues. “Who is he, and why didn't she tell him when she was pregnant? Why bother telling him now?”

Sighing Helen moved back to her chair and sat down. “At the time she wanted to protect him. Sometimes people make bad decisions concerning those they love.” Helen paused and took a sip of tea. “Sit down and I'll tell you everything your mom told me.”

***

Dylan Talbot loosened his tie as he climbed the wide mahogany staircase his footsteps muffled by the thick Persian runner. He didn’t know what to expect when he walked into his stepfather's study. Earlier that afternoon his mother called insisting he come to the family estate in the Hamptons as soon as possible and talk some sense into her husband. Something she’d never asked him to do before.

Both his mother and stepfather, Warren Sherbrooke, sat in Warren’s study when Dylan entered. After placing a kiss on his mother’s cheek, he moved to the leather wing-backed chair across from the matching leather sofa.

His mother didn’t waste any time getting to the point. “I’m glad you’re here. Maybe you can get Warren to see reason. He won't listen to me.” Elizabeth Sherbrooke sat uncharacteristically wringing her perfectly manicured hands. She was normally a cool and collected woman. For something to get her so riled, it had to be serious.

Dylan focused on the man, who was like another father to him. Warren had treated him just like a son from the moment he had married Dylan's mother after his parents divorce when he was six. And if he’d ever had any doubts about how his stepfather felt about him they’d disappeared when Warren handed the reins of Sherbrooke Enterprises over to him when Warren had decided to enter politics. In addition to come charitable foundations, Sherbrooke Enterprises controlled the Sherbrooke Hotel Chain which was one of the largest hotel chains in the world.

“Will one of you tell me what’s going on?” Dylan asked when Warren remained silent.

“I received this in the mail yesterday.” Warren handed Dylan a pale pink envelope. “It’s a letter from a woman I knew a very long time ago.”

His mother wasn’t jealous, was she? Everyone knew that Senator Warren Sherbrooke loved his wife. Theirs was one of the few true love marriages in D.C.

“She claims that her daughter is Warren’s child,” Elizabeth added when her husband didn’t continue.

His mother’s announcement rendered Dylan speechless. People might call his stepfather many things, but an unfaithful husband wasn’t one of them.

Curious Dylan pulled out the handwritten letter and scanned its contents. “Whoever this woman is she must be lying. She must be after something.” He fully expected Warren to agree, but instead his stepfather shook his head.

“Ruth Taylor wouldn’t lie about something like this.” The conviction in his stepfather's voice rang out loud and clear.

“People change, Warren. You haven’t spoken to this woman in over thirty years.”

“If she was after something, Elizabeth, she would have come forward long before now. I don’t know why she waited to tell me about this, but I plan on finding out.”

Dylan leaned forward in his chair and rested his elbows on his knees. Despite what Warren said, he had to agree with his mother. In his personal opinion, Warren put too much faith in people. While he wouldn’t disagree that there were good honorable people in the world, he didn’t think there were many of them. At least he hadn’t met many in his thirty-five years.

“Perhaps she waited for the most opportune time,” Dylan suggested. “When she learned you’d decided to run for President she might have decided this was the best time. Maybe she thought you’d be willing to pay her to keep quiet rather than let the media get a hold of this information.”

Warren pulled a single white sheet of paper out of the priority envelope on his desk. “This note came with Ruth’s letter. According to it, Ruth passed away three months ago. She left the letter you’re holding with a friend. Her friend mailed it to me.” He passed the second letter to Dylan. “So Ruth has nothing to gain by telling me now.”

“I’m assuming mom’s upset because you want to meet this supposed daughter.”

“I am not upset because he wants to get to the bottom of this. Just that he wants to do it now. If the media or Richardson gets a hold of this information it could hurt his campaign. And it might not be true.”

Now he understood why his mother was so adamant about stopping her husband. Even before Warren had announced his intention to run for President, the media and public had scrutinized the Sherbrooke family. As a family that had originally amassed its fortune in the 19
th
century while rubbing elbows with the Vanderbilts and the Astors, it gained additional public notice when Warren’s grandfather joined the political arena in Washington. Warren, himself the son of a famous actress and a business tycoon, drew even more attention to the family when he’d married Dylan's mother, the daughter of an English aristocrat.

“I think it would be better to wait until after the election in November. It has been this long already, so a little longer won't matter. Don’t you agree, Dylan?”

Nothing like being put on the spot.
For a moment, Dylan remained silent mulling over how to reply. “You have a tight schedule for the next several months. It might be wise to wait and in the meantime hire someone to learn more about this...” Dylan glanced down at the letter again. “Callie Taylor.”

Warren tapped his fingers on the desk. Something he did when he was deep in thought.

“My mind’s made up. I’ve already put a call into Marty to see about re-arranging my schedule,” Warren explained, referring to his campaign adviser, Marty Phillips. “I know you're all against it, but this is something I need to do. I need to know the truth. I won't be able to let it rest until I do.”

 

Dylan stood and walked to the large bay window which provided an excellent view of the perfectly manicured lawn. Dylan knew when Warren made up his mind about something changing it was nearly impossible. So convincing him it would be better to wait until November to make contact with this woman was unlikely. That didn’t mean however that he couldn’t intervene and help defuse the situation.

“Instead of going to see her yourself, why don’t you have someone arrange a private meeting?” Dylan suggested turning back around to face Warren. “Maybe she could meet you here or at one of your other houses. Then there would be much less of chance of someone seeing the two of you together. And virtually no chance of the media or Richardson getting wind of this.”

While not ideal, the plan was better than Warren's.

BOOK: The Teacher's Billionaire
8.07Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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