Billionaire Baby Dilemma

By: Barbara Dunlop

One




Lucas Demarco was a man who liked certainty. He liked concretes, and he liked control. What his cousin Steve Foster was proposing lacked every one of those essential elements.

“Primarily Brazil,” Steve was saying. “But East Palites is a free trade zone for all of South America. Pacific Robotics would be in on the ground floor for high tech.”

Lucas hoisted his dripping wet sea kayak and paddle over his head and started back up the short path from the family’s private dock on Puget Sound to their boathouse. “The political situation is far too unstable.”

“They’re not going to nationalize the high-tech sector,” Steve countered, as he followed along in business suit and a pair of loafers. “That would be suicide.”

Lucas flipped the kayak onto the grass outside the boathouse and uncoiled a garden hose. “Right. Because lunatic dictators always make rational decisions.”

“If we don’t do this, Lucas, somebody else will.”

“Let them,” said Lucas, unzipping his life jacket and slipping it off over his wet suit. It was a warm May evening, but the ocean temperature was still cold enough to turn a person hypothermic. “I don’t mind being second into a market like that.”

Steve’s hands went to his hips, wrinkling his dark suit jacket. “This isn’t your decision.”

“It isn’t yours, either. And a stalemate means we stick with the status quo.” And that was fine for this particular stalemate. But Lucas knew they had to resolve the situation around his orphaned, baby niece Amelia, and they’d have to do it very soon.

He and Steve each owned forty-five percent of Pacific Robotics, making Amelia’s ten percent the key to the corporation.

Lucas knew it, and Steve knew it, and so did several dozen lawyers, company executives and competitors. Whoever controlled Amelia was the swing vote in every Pacific Robotics corporate decision from here on in.

Both Lucas and his brother Konrad had put their hearts and souls into the billion dollar corporation. As long as Konrad was alive and in control of his daughter’s shares, both Amelia and the corporation were safe. But with Konrad’s death, Lucas needed permanent guardianship of the baby girl in order to have deciding control. It was the only way to protect her from outside corporate vultures who’d try to use her, and the only way to ensure the future of Pacific Robotics.

“You son of a bitch,” growled Steve.

Lucas shrugged and spun the outside tap, pointing the stream of water at the kayak’s deck to hose off the salt. “Lucky my mother’s not alive to hear you say that.”

“I’ll fight Granddad’s will,” Steve vowed, raising his voice. “Don’t you think I won’t prove what Konrad did.”

“Konrad got married and had a baby,” said Lucas, squelching the shot of pain that came with uttering his dead brother’s name. By fathering Amelia, Konrad had met the conditions of their grandfather’s will and secured the family inheritance for the Demarco side of the family, instead of the irresponsible risk-taking Fosters, who were more interested in jet-setting vacations than annual reports and balance sheets.

Though Lucas had his own concerns about the speed with which Konrad had fallen in love and married Monica Hartley, he’d never share them with Steve. And he was confident that Konrad had at the very least been well on his way to loving her when they got married.

In any event, it was a moot point. As the firstborn, Amelia was their grandfather’s heir. Steve had already insisted on a DNA test, and it had proven Konrad was Amelia’s father.

Lucas flipped the kayak over and began hosing down the bright blue hull.

“So, when’s the temporary guardianship hearing?” asked Steve, the change in his tone putting Lucas on alert.

Monica had died in the light plane crash along with Konrad, and her sister—Devin Hartley—was fighting Lucas for guardianship of Amelia.

“Next week,” Lucas answered, glancing up.

Steve nodded, a calculating look entering his eyes. “And, if Devin wins?”

Bingo. There it was.

“You stay away from Devin,” Lucas warned, sending Steve a dark look. Not that he intended to lose. Not that he expected Devin to be a factor in the long term.

Steve’s gaze wandered to the sun setting over the mountains of Bainbridge Island. “It’s a free country,” he mused in a calculating tone.

“I mean it,” said Lucas, cranking off the tap. “It is not open season on Devin Hartley.”

She seemed like a decent woman, a little bohemian and flighty, and definitely more emotional than Lucas would have liked. Still, he couldn’t help remembering there was something inherently sensual about the way she moved and the way she smiled. Her blue eyes had sparkled that night at Konrad’s wedding, as if she were hiding a secret, and he found himself wanting to discover it.

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