The Millionaire Affair (Love in the Balance #3)


by Jessica Lemmon

PROLOGUE

Landon Downey clutched the baby name book From Abba to Zed to his chest and knocked on his girlfriend’s dorm room door. While he was certain he didn’t want to name their child Abba or Zed, he was also certain he couldn’t show up empty-handed. Not after the ugly way they’d parted last week. He should have shown up with something nicer than a book with a bent corner and a bouquet of half-dead flowers, but the twenty-four-hour convenience store on campus hadn’t offered many options.

He’d been an asshole. Rachel had come to him in full-on panic mode. Rightly so, considering the stick with two blue lines she’d carried in her hand. Landon had been severely hungover courtesy of a late party at Cliff’s house. At the moment she had burst into his apartment sobbing, he’d had two things on his mind: Where is the Tylenol? and I’m running late. Finals week had started with a bang.

While he’d hustled around the house looking for his books and swallowing a couple of pain relievers, Rachel had followed, irate by this bit of inconvenient news, angry because birth control was “supposed to work, dammit!”, and generally pitching a fit about how she had neither the time nor the patience to deal with a baby. “I won’t sacrifice my law career for a child I didn’t plan to have!” she’d said.

He’d hastily agreed while gathering his things—admittedly not the best thing to do—but he simply couldn’t focus on the huge, life-changing news she’d laid at his feet. Especially when he was running on only three hours of sweaty, post-drunken sleep and before he’d had a single drop of coffee.

Hindsight being what it was, he now knew what he should have done. He should have ditched class entirely. He should have stopped rushing and given Rachel his full attention. He should have reminded her they loved each other and they could work out whatever sharp curve life had thrown their way.

But he hadn’t done either of those things. Instead he’d agreed with her that yes, the timing was bad and yes, the birth control should have worked, and then he’d told her he’d see her after class. But he hadn’t seen her that night. Or the next. She’d managed to avoid him the entire week.

He knocked again.

Finally, the door opened and her roommate, Tina, blocked the doorway, her expression a mix of fury and protectiveness. “What do you want?”

Ignoring her tone, he held up the bouquet of flowers. “I need to talk to Rachel.”

“Maybe she doesn’t want to talk to you.”

“Yes,” came a small, tired voice from behind Tina. “She does.” Rachel patted her friend-slash-bodyguard’s shoulder and Tina stepped aside, shooting a final, wary look over her shoulder at him. He studied his girlfriend—probably now his ex-girlfriend given the way things were going tonight. Rachel was pale, her face splotchy, and looked like she had the flu. No, not the flu. Probably morning sickness.

His heart lurched in a not entirely uncomfortable way. A baby. He clutched the book to his chest, still hidden behind the sad bouquet of dyed purple and pink and royal blue daisies, and forced the words out of his throat. “Can I come in?”

She pushed a lock of long, brown hair away from her face and shook her head.

Okay. She was angry. But he could get past angry. He’d thought a lot about their predicament, about the unexpectedness of raising a child while they were in college—of getting married way, way sooner than he’d planned. She’d have to drop some classes as her pregnancy advanced, though he knew she’d insist on working after. Meanwhile, he’d hustle to finish his degree. He’d landed an internship at an ad agency in Chicago that sounded promising. The two-hour train ride from campus would be inconvenient, but he was willing to commute. When the internship turned into a career, she could finish out her degree and he could balance the rest. They’d make it work.

Rachel, like him, was far too logical and pragmatic to allow her future to be compromised. Besides, people dealt with unexpected pregnancies all over the world, all the time.

We’ll make it work, he told himself again.

“Come on, Rachel. Let me in. It’s one in the morning and I’m standing out here getting eaten by mosquitoes.” When she didn’t smile, he said, “We need to talk.”

“There’s nothing to talk about.”

Was she joking? There were fifteen things to talk about. He knew because he had a typed list in his back pocket. “Yes. There is,” he told her. “Plans need to be made. Plans for us.”

“There is no us,” she said, her face a placid mask.