His Lover's Little Secret

By: Andrea Laurence

One

“You’d better get on out of here, or you’ll be late to stand on your head.”

Sabine Hayes looked up from the cash drawer to see her boss, fashion designer Adrienne Lockhart Taylor, standing at the counter. She had worked for Adrienne the past thirteen months as manager of her boutique. “I’m almost done.”

“Give me the nightly deposit and go. I’ll stay until Jill shows up for her shift and then I’ll stop by the bank on my way home. You have to pick up Jared by six, don’t you?”

“Yes.” The day care center would price gouge her for every minute she was late. Then she had to get Jared home and fed before the babysitter got there. Sabine loved teaching yoga, but it made those evenings even more hectic than usual. Single motherhood wasn’t for wimps. “You don’t mind making the deposit?”

Adrienne leaned across the counter. “Go,” she said.

Sabine glanced quickly at her watch. “Okay.” She put the deposit into the bank pouch and handed it over. Thank goodness Adrienne had come by this afternoon to put together the new window display. The trendy boutique was known for its exciting and edgy displays that perfectly showcased Adrienne’s flair for modern pinup girl fashions. Sabine couldn’t have found a better place to work.

Most places wouldn’t look twice at an applicant with a nose piercing and a stripe of blue in her hair. It didn’t matter that it was a small, tasteful diamond stud or that her hair was dyed at a nice salon in Brooklyn. Even after she’d bitten the bullet and had the bright color removed and left the piercing at home, she’d been turned down by every store on Fifth Avenue. The businesses that paid enough for her to support her son in New York were flooded with applicants more experienced than she was.

She thanked her lucky stars for the day she spied Adrienne walking down the street and complimented her dress. She never expected her to say she’d designed it herself. Adrienne invited her to come by her new boutique one afternoon, and Sabine was enamored with the whole place. It was fun and funky, chic and stylish. High-class fashion with an edge. When Adrienne mentioned she was looking for someone to run the store so she could focus on her designs, Sabine couldn’t apply fast enough. Not only was it a great job with above-average pay and benefits, Adrienne was a great boss. She didn’t care what color hair Sabine had—now she had purple highlights—and she was understanding when child illness or drama kept her away from the store.

Sabine grabbed her purse and gave a quick wave to Adrienne as she disappeared into the stockroom and out the back door. It was only a couple blocks to her son’s day care, but she still had to hurry along the sidewalk, brushing past others who were leisurely making their way around town.

Finally rounding the last corner, Sabine swung open the gate to the small courtyard and leaped up the few steps to the door. She rang the buzzer at exactly three minutes to six. Not long after that, she had her toddler in her arms and was on her way to the subway.

“Hey, buddy,” she said as they went down the street. “Did you have a good day?”

Jared grinned and nodded enthusiastically. He was starting to lose his chubby baby cheeks. He’d grown so much the past few months. Every day, he looked more and more like his father. The first time she’d held Jared in her arms, she looked into his dark brown eyes and saw Gavin’s face staring back at her. He would grow up to be as devastatingly handsome as his father, but hopefully with Sabine’s big heart. She should be able to contribute something to the genetic makeup of her child, and if she had her pick, that was what it would be.

“What do you want for dinner tonight?”

“A-sketti.”

“Spaghetti, again? You had that last night. You’re going to turn into a noodle before too long.”

Jared giggled and clung to her neck. Sabine breathed in the scent of his baby shampoo and pressed a kiss against his forehead. He had changed her whole life and she wouldn’t trade him for anything.

“Sabine?”

The subway entrance was nearly in sight when someone called her name from the restaurant she’d just passed. She stopped and turned to find a man in a navy suit drinking wine at one of the tables on the sidewalk. He looked familiar, but she couldn’t come up with his name. Where did she know him from?

“It is you,” he said, standing up and stepping toward her. He took one look at her puzzled expression and smiled. “You don’t remember me, do you? I’m Clay Oliver, a friend of Gavin’s. I met you at a gallery opening a couple years back.”

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