Sherryn Allbright is the envy of her peers. She is a wife, mother, and successful business woman, but her life turns topsy-turvy when a woman leaves a child on her doorstep, claiming her husband is the father. Denial is useless, for the boy resembles Reece too closely not to be his offspring.
Sherryn is ready to end their marriage and blames Reece’s problems on his old neighborhood—a Kingston ghetto. If he’d sever ties there, he wouldn’t be caught up in baby-mother drama.
When the boy’s mother is murdered, Reece becomes the prime suspect and things go haywire for the Allbrights, whose lives will never be the same.
Sherryn wanted to close the door on the proof of her husband’s infidelity, but there was no going back.
She avoided looking at the child in front of her, whose cupid’s bow of a mouth and tawny eyes confirmed that he shared the same genes as her children. But the similarity ended there—his ashy skin, underweight body, and wash-worn clothes pointed to a lack of concern for his well-being and appearance. The woman with him smiled—a smug grimace that deepened Sherryn’s suspicion.
She didn’t hide her distaste at the sight of the snug tank top holding in a belly about to surge out of control, or the denim skirt that did little to cover a pair of lumpy thighs. A lustrous, blonde weave complemented the woman’s caramel complexion, and false eyelashes emphasized the spite in her gaze.
A quick scan tagged her as the stereotypical product of one of Kingston’s ghettos. For timeless seconds, Sherryn felt as though she was stuck in an early 1900s silent film. The wind stirred the flowers and shrubs in the front yard, dried leaves blew over the lawn, and a car drove by, but she heard nothing.
Then the dancehall queen look-alike pushed the little boy forward, dragging Sherryn back to the unthinkable scene unfolding on her doorstep. “Tell Maurice him can have him pickney.”
Sherryn suppressed a shiver by pulling her shoulders back. She stood tall, squeezing the doorknob as a shipwreck victim might cling to a life-saving piece of flotsam. After a glance at the boy, she whispered, “Oh no, you’re not leaving him here.”
“You ca’an decide dat. Since Maurice won’ take care of him, him can keep him.”
The woman dropped a knapsack, and spun away with an exaggerated wiggle of the hips and the jangling of gold-plated jewelry, to saunter down the driveway to the gate, where a marked taxi waited.
Ghetto rat! Why leave her child on my doorstep like unwanted baggage?
The boy’s bottom lip trembled and he blinked hard several times. Sherryn’s chest heaved, and she struggled to slow her breathing. It wouldn’t help either of them if she fell apart. Pressing her lips together to keep her focus, she picked up the threadbare knapsack and touched his shoulder. “Come with me.”
She left him sitting on the sofa inside Reece’s office.
Over the years, Maurice had been shortened to Reece. The inane thought reminded her that she had spent half her life with a man she doubted she would ever really know, and here again, was proof.
The purpose for leaving the boy in Reece’s study was twofold. First, he was hidden from her, as if he didn’t exist and second, Reece’s world would spin off its axis—just as hers had—to find his secret tucked away in his private space. She hoped the experience turned out to be as gut wrenching and devastating as hers.
In the living room, she perched on the edge of the settee and hugged herself. She tilted her head back and stared at the high ceiling. Then she skimmed the familiar paintings, family portraits and oddments, absorbing all that meant home and family.
Everything she’d invested in her relationship with Reece lay in invisible pieces around her like shattered glass.
Cold and sterile on the inside, she sighed, forced herself to get up and climb the stairs to their bedroom. Once there, she lay down and allowed the tears to fall, searing her sinuses and then her eyes. Other than anxiety over her children when they were ill, and tears shed while watching sad movies, no drama had touched her life.
And now this.
She wasn’t sure how much time passed before she heard Reece’s Land Cruiser throttling in the yard. He was home on one of his afternoon stopovers. Her heart thumped painfully at the confrontation to come.
J.L. Campbell is an award-winning, Jamaican author who writes romantic suspense, women’s fiction, new and young adult novels. She has written thirteen books, six novellas and two short story collections.
Her novels include the Island Adventure Romance series, which currently has five exciting, stand-alone stories and features feisty women and determined men. Campbell’s mission is to write stories that entertain and educate readers. She is a certified editor, who also writes non-fiction.
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