Hightower Affairs 1: More Than a Millionaire

By: Emilie Rose


“D efine unfortunate incident,” Ryan Patrick ordered the director of the Lakeview Fertility Clinic from the visitor’s side of the ornate walnut desk.

The director’s leather chair creaked, revealing each nervous shift of the man’s body. “One of our trainees neglected to cross-reference the lot number on your sample. He only checked the names and those were reversed. I want to assure you, Mr. Patrick, this is an unusual circumstance. We have many checks and balances in place to—”

“What does this mean? To me. Specifically,” Ryan cut in impatiently. He unclenched his fingers from the arms of the chair, but it was hard to relax when the man in front of him looked like he was about to have a heart attack at any second.

The director inhaled a long, deep breath. “Your contribution was given to the wrong woman.”

Ryan’s abdominal muscles tensed. That would only be a problem if—

“Her pregnancy was confirmed two weeks ago,” the director added.

Problem. One that jeopardized Ryan’s goal of proving to his father that he’d settled down and was ready to take over the reins of the Patrick architectural dynasty. But Ryan was a master troubleshooter. He wouldn’t have climbed this far up the ladder of success if he’d thrown in the towel at every obstacle.

Too bad his father couldn’t see that.

“Two weeks ago? Why am I just now being informed? And what about my surrogate, the woman I hired?”

“We discovered the situation yesterday when she came in for her appointment. She wasn’t inseminated since at your insistence we only had the one vial.”

They’d only had one vial because with the reputation of this place he’d expected them to get it right the first time.

“And you’re certain this other woman is pregnant with my child?”

“Yes, sir.”

Ryan tamped down his frustration. Once he’d decided to take the surrogate route he’d spent months interviewing to find the right candidate—one with looks, brains and good genetics. One who wouldn’t get emotionally attached to the baby she hosted in her womb for nine months and change her mind about handing over his child.

And now the wrong woman was carrying his baby.

“Who is she?”

“I’m not at liberty to release that information, sir.”

Ryan exploded to his feet. “You’re not at liberty to tell me who’s carrying my child?”

“Yes. Confidentiality—”

Ryan intended to get the information one way or the other. He braced his fists on the desk and leaned forward.

“Don’t make me bring a platoon of lawyers in here. Not only will that be financially costly for you, the negative publicity will knock you right off the list of top fertility clinics in the country. This is my kid, and I have the right to know who and where its mother is and whether she’s qualified for the job. I want everything you have on her.”

The director’s face flushed dark red. “Mr. Patrick, I’m sure you understand the privacy of Lakeview’s business—”

“I want her name and contact information now. Otherwise my legal team will be all over you like a bad rash before lunch.”

The man stiffened and swallowed then fumbled with a folder on his desk. “I’m sure that won’t be necessary. Ms. High—our other client seems like a reasonable, understanding woman. Once I explain the situation to her—”

“I’ll handle it. You’ve screwed up enough. You can cover up your mistake with words like incident, circumstance and situation, but the truth is you’ve committed malpractice and negligence.”

Sweat beaded beneath the man’s receding hairline. Ryan eyed him without blinking. Once the man paled, Ryan knew he’d get what he wanted without the aggravation of lawyers. Good. He did not want his father to catch wind of this disaster.

“Ahem. I’ll get you the information, sir.”

Ryan settled back in the chair when the director hustled out. Next on his agenda: find this woman and convince her to give him his baby—the way the surrogate he’d chosen had agreed to.

She would be the best aunt her baby could have.

And it would be enough. It had to be.

Nicole Hightower rubbed one hand over her unsettled stomach and reached for a cracker with the other. She was finally going to have Patrick’s baby.

And Beth’s.

Her fingers spasmed around the stylus of her PDA at the reminder that her dream wasn’t going exactly as she’d once planned.

She shoved the bland whole-wheat cracker into her mouth and tried to focus on the calendar in front of her. She needed to schedule the client’s pilot, crew and plane maintenance for the next three months. She usually loved keeping her customers happy and their travel stress-free, but today her private life kept distracting her from the workload on her desk.

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