Baby Benefits(4)


Instantly any regret she felt was swept away by a wave of confusion.

“What are you doing with a baby?”

Derek’s expression shifted and for an instant he looked as baffled as she felt.

“She’s mine.”

Raina’s hand clenched involuntarily on the freshly printed letter of resignation, crumpling the crisp white paper. “Your baby? That’s impossible.”

“Normally I’d agree with you. But the results from the paternity test say otherwise.” Derek’s lips twisted into a grimace.

Someone who knew him less well might mistake the action for a wry smile, but Raina knew better. Derek never smiled. She felt as if the building had just been subjected to a mild earthquake. She could only imagine how he felt.

“Is that Isabella?”

“It is.”

She stepped forward a few faltering steps, only to sink to the chair opposite Derek’s desk.

“I don’t understand. I thought she was Dex’s child. The mother—Jewel or Lucy or whatever she was calling herself. She told me so herself.”

“She lied.” Almost as if she sensed she was the topic of conversation, Isabella began to squirm nervously in Derek’s arm. He crossed to his chair and sat. “Jewel and Lucy are twins.”

“So which one is Isabella’s mother?”


Raina sank back into her chair, trying to make sense of what little Derek was giving her. “So the woman I met last week, the woman Dex was so interested in, that was…”

“Lucy. Isabella’s aunt. When Jewel abandoned Isabella on my doorstep, Lucy devised this crazy plan to get her niece back. She pretended to be her twin sister because she thought Dex would just let her take Isabella back.”

“But Dex isn’t really her father.”


“And you are?”


“So you and Dex slept with the same woman.” Derek’s only response was a tight, uncomfortable nod. “That’s weird.”

“Not as weird as the fact that Dex has asked Lucy to marry him.”

Raina cocked her head to the side and considered Derek. If he thought it was weird, then he must never have seen Lucy and Dex together. Raina had only seen them together once, but it had been obvious to her that they were well on their way to falling in love. At the time, it seemed only fitting, since they already had a child together. But if that child wasn’t theirs, but was Jewel’s and Derek’s…

“So you slept with Jewel?” Distaste curdled her stomach. Jewel had been a Messina Diamond’s employee over a year ago. She’d spent her entire, brief employment throwing herself at Derek. It had never occurred to Raina that Derek might have given in to the temptation Jewel presented.

For years, Raina had worked side by side with Derek and during that time, she’d fallen in love with his strength and loyalty. With his sheer determination to do the right thing by his family and company.

In all that time, he’d never given her any indication he saw her as a woman. Never glanced at her legs. Never let his touch linger on her hand. Never gazed into her eyes with the slightest hint of sexual curiosity.

She’d always told herself it was only because she was an employee. She’d comforted herself with the knowledge that he was honorable. That he would never, ever sleep with someone who worked for him.

To find out now that he’d slept with Jewel felt like a crippling betrayal. Apparently, he wasn’t too honorable to sleep with an employee. No, it was only Raina that he didn’t want.


Derek watched Raina from where he sat. She looked nearly as shocked as he felt.

This infant was his. This tiny sleeping child that he held awkwardly in his arms was the result of his stupidity. His mistake.

A sort of grim determination settled over him. He was going to make this work. And Raina would help him. They’d been through tougher things than this together.

“First off, I’m going to need you to clear off my schedule for the next two weeks.”

Raina’s head snapped up. “Clear off your schedule? Whatever for?”

Her frown of confusion didn’t faze him. “I need to learn to be a father.”

“Ignoring for a moment that you can’t possibly learn to be a father in two weeks, there are several things on your schedule that can’t possibly be moved.”

“Anything that can’t be moved either you or Dex will have to take care of. As for learning to be a father, Dex did it in two weeks. So can I.”