At His MercyThe Buchanan's Baby

By: Alexx Andria

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Nolan Buchanan, one of the three owners and CEO of Buchanan Enterprises, stared at the scrawl on the paper in his hand, openly perplexed and rapidly growing agitated. Was it possible? Was this some sort of trick? There were plenty of people who wanted a piece of a Buchanan, but only an idiot would stoop to something so easily disproved…unless it was no ruse and they had the DNA to back up their claim. Sweat dampened his brow and he wiped it away as he dropped the paper to the table and stalked away, needing a moment to collect himself.

“You look as if you’ve just seen your past flash before you and you’re about to fall over in a faint,” his twin brother Vince joked as they passed in the expansive hallway of their family home. When Nolan didn’t offer a rejoining quip, Vince double-backed and followed him with a subtle frown. “What’s wrong?” he asked. “Is it Penny? Oh, shit. It’s Penny, isn’t it? Where’s Dillon? She’s not due for another month! I warned Dillon she was doing too much in her delicate state but he didn’t listen — ” Just as Vince started to jabber about Penny’s recent mad dash to repaint the nursery for the third time as if he were the father instead of Dillon, their older brother, Nolan gripped his arm tightly and shook his head.

“It’s not Penny; she’s fine,” he assured his twin, still not able to fathom the gravity of the situation if it were true. He lifted his gaze to Vince’s and said, “You’re not going to believe this — frankly, I’m having a hard time believing it myself, but…I just got an anonymous note in the mail saying that I’m a father.”

Vince’s eyes widened then he shook his head in disbelief. “No way. It’s a shake-down for money,” he said. “Father to whom? And who is the alleged mother?”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought, too,” he agreed. “What do you think I should do?”

“Was there a name attached to this supposed baby mama?”

“No. Just that I’d find her working as the sports trainer for a minor hockey league team called the San Jose Juggernaut.”

“There was no contact information?”

Nolan shook his head. “Should I just ignore this and see if it’s a hoax? Maybe it’ll just go away if I don’t give it any attention.” Vince’s dubious expression mirrored Nolan’s gut instinct and he sighed, knowing what he had to do. “Looks like a trip to San Jose is in my near future,” he said.

“I could go with you,” Vince offered. “I could use a change in scenery. Besides, I’m jumpy as a long-tailed cat in a room filled with rockers with Penny waddling around, changing this and changing that when she ought to put her ass in a chair and relax. I don’t know how Dillon deals with her right now.”

Nolan nodded but his mind was moving too quickly in a myriad of different directions to add his opinion on their stubborn, very-pregnant sister-in-law when he was fighting the urge to lose his lunch on the Italian tiles.

A child?

“It’s probably a hoax,” Vince said, trying to ease his fear but it wasn’t working and worse, Penny herself appeared from the living room, munching on one of her repulsive ice cream, corn chip, and mustard concoctions that she swore was delicious.

“What’s a hoax?” she asked, around a spoonful, looking to the twins for an answer. She rubbed her round belly and groaned, causing both Nolan and Vince to rush to her side in case she needed help but she swatted them both away with open irritation. “You’re both as bad as Dillon. I’m not going to break. You treat me like glass. I’m fine,” she assured them with a smile. “This baby is not coming anytime soon. Now, answer my question. What do you think is a hoax?”

Nolan shot Vince a look, reluctant to tell Penny just yet but he could tell she wasn’t going to let him off the hook without an answer so he simply cut to the chase, saying, “I’m fairly certain it’s a ruse to shake me down for some money but someone sent me an anonymous note saying that I fathered a child.” Just saying the words made his knees shake a little. He cleared his voice and straightened, “But I’d have known if I’d fathered a child. I mean, I’m always careful.”

Penny narrowed her stare at him and he shifted under her assessing gaze. The thing about Penny was, she wasn’t simply his sister-in-law — she’d once been his and Vince’s lover, too. Long story. They didn’t talk about it anymore — Dillon had already threatened to remove their eyeballs if Nolan or Vince so much as dared to gaze in memory at her lovely breasts — but in that one look, Nolan saw a wealth of knowing and he flushed. “I always check to make sure protection is used in some form or another,” he said in a low tone. “I would never be so foolish as to play without a safety net.”

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