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Billionaire Love Story
The Billionaire's Secret
The Billionaire's Bargain
The Billionaire's Game
The Billionaire Boss
The Billionaire's Gift
The Billionaire's Caregiver
The Billionaire's Wish
The Billionaire's Desire
The Billionaire's Addiction
Second Chance Romance
(15-Book Billionaire Romance Series)
The Billionaire's Secret
The Billionaire's Bargain
The Billionaire Boss
The Billionaire's Game
The Billionaire's Gift
The Billionaire's Caregiver
The Billionaire's Wish
The Billionaire's Desire
The Billionaire's Addiction
Second Chance Romance
Amelia Randolph was fuming. Her grandmother was sick again, and it had to be the water. She paced the room in the hospital where she watched her grandmother sleeping. Nothing had been right in a long time, not since that cocky billionaire, Jacob Montgomery installed that new water filtration equipment.
She had her suspicions for a long time, but then they tested it, and she knew she had to be right. She called, prodded, and attacked everyone she could. It wasn’t that she couldn’t be a lady, she could. Her grandmother was the most important person to her, and there was no way she could just stand by and wait for things to get worse.
Friday, she would get her chance, but until then, she was doing her best to keep calm. If she went too crazy beforehand, she may not be able to state her case, and she had to. She looked over at the woman nestled into the bed that seemed to swallow her up in its massive size
“ I'll, fix it Nana, I will.” She whispered the words to herself. Her grandmother had been asleep for an hour now and a sounder sleeper you would never meet.
She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror near the doorway. Her normally tamed head of hair was a jumbled mess. She was an average-looking, at least she thought so. At 5’7 she was taller than many girls, she had dark green eyes, and was in pretty good shape. She wasn’t perfect by any means. She filled out her clothes nicely and was curvy. She was far from the model stick thin types most men preferred. Her hair was naturally curly and hung down past her shoulders.
There must have been 4 different shades of red mixed in there. Today, what she needed most was some conditioner and a pony tail. She glanced over at the table where lunch had been placed and noticed a rubber band, it would have to do. With a shrug, she wrapped her hair in a tight bun, and at least managed to contain the wild mess.
She took a seat by the large window in the room and opened a book. Reading calmed her and had always been a favorite pastime. There was something magical about being swept away into someone else’s fantasy world. It made things easier, especially when times got dark. She gave her Nana another look over. She had saved her life, literally. She owed her everything, and wouldn’t stop short of giving her as much back. She would fix this mess, or die trying.
It had been twelve years since her life changed for the better. At 26, there wasn’t a day that went by that she didn’t remember, and take time to appreciate the life she had now. Her mother was an angry, bitter woman. That’s pretty much all she could remember about her. She had Amelia young, and they could have been sisters really. Her life was hard and full of everything negative. Amelia could remember being hungry and cold, more often than not.
Her mother was always entertaining one man or another. Whatever money she made prostituting, she would spend on drugs, throwing her son and daughter a crumb or two from time to time. When Amelia turned 10, things got even worse.
She felt the sadness well up in her, even now. Her brother’s name was Evan. He was always a sweet boy, and often sick. He was younger by five years and Amelia tried her best to protect him. He never hurt anyone in his whole life and he could have been something wonderful. The day he disappeared was the longest day of her life.
Her mother was running late as usual, and they were starving. She was only 10 years old, and she knew they could go to the neighbor’s house and Miss Sinclair would help them. She was always giving them bread and candy. She had specifically told Evan to stay at the house. She tucked him into the cot in their corner of the room and told him to wait, and she would get them some food.
He smiled up at her and she hugged him before going. It was the last time she would ever see him. Miss Sinclair wasn’t home, but on her way back to their house, someone had seen her, had followed her. He was a big man, he smelled of whiskey and smoke.
He grabbed her by the arm and refused to let go despite her kicking and screaming. With a kick to the groin, she finally broke free and she ran, probably faster than she ever would again in her life. She made it home, and Evan was gone. She frantically looked for him, but there was no sign of him.
When her mother finally made it home, she told her, but was ignored. Her mother just told her he was probably off playing somewhere. She felt helpless and lost, and she never wanted to feel like that again. Her thoughts were always with Evan, even now. Not long after, the county came and took her away. Amelia couldn’t save Evan, but she could do something about her Nana.
There was something special in the air the day Lenora Randolph came to Bakerstown Girls Home. It may have been because her birthday was the day before or it may have been the way it was supposed to snow that week, which rarely happened in South Carolina. Whatever it was, you could almost feel it. Amelia had lived there for 2 years, and in her mind it was wonderful.
She had her very own bed and clothes and they always had food. When the people put her here she was scared, but over time, she realized that it was wonderful. She didn’t sleep at night for a long time, but gradually, she stopped having nightmares, and now she felt more like everyone else.
There were always people coming there, looking to adopt a girl to love as their very own, but she never thought much about it. Babies and young girls were always the ones chosen. That was something she was fine with. Out there, you never know who will come around, or who will hurt you. Here, she was safe. She knew everyone who worked there and she also knew they locked the doors every night. Inside the girls home, she didn’t have to worry. It was a shock to her when a nice lady came around to greet all of the older girls in her wing.
It was a rare occurrence, and while everyone was putting on their best clothes, she just went about her normal routine. Eventually, the lady asked her what her name was, and the conversation they had that day changed her life forever.
“ What is your name young lady?” The lady smiled at her as she sat down on the bed beside her.
“ Me? My name is Amelia. How do you do?” she had thrust her hand out like she saw them do on television and the lady shook it in return.
“ How are you doing today? I hear there is snow in the forecast.” The lady had leaned over and smiled at her as they talked. Amelia smiled back, she was nice and she smelled like cookies.
“ I’m okay. I guess. Sure is getting colder, that’s for sure, but I like it. I used to hate it when I lived out there and I didn’t have heat. Now, I hope to see some snow soon.” She went back to making her bed.
“ It sounds like you've done a lot of things in your life, Amelia.”
“ I guess so, you see how everyone is running around and trying so hard to be their best? I just don’t understand that at all. I just want to be me all the time, so I don’t make anyone sad when they find out who I really am. That’s why I ain’t dressed up in my Sunday clothes. I hate to be a pest Ma'am, but could you stand up? I just have to get this bed made so I can get to breakfast. I'm always hungry and I sure like to eat.” Amelia gave her a grin as the lady jumped up quickly. She made her bed and gave the lady a hug before she headed down to the lunch hall.
“ You sure smell nice, lady.” Amelia skipped her way out of the room and thought nothing more of the situation and the lady she left upstairs.
Later that day, the nice lady asked her if she wanted to come live with her, and at first she said "no". The lady sat back on the chair in the library and watched Amelia for a moment before asking her why.
“ It’s not you, lady. You seem real nice, honest. The thing is, there are a lot of bad people out there. Here, they lock up the doors real tight and it’s safe. I guess, I just don’t know how you do things. I don’t want to get hurt like I did before. I don’t want them to take me like they did Evan.”
“ Who is Evan, dear?”
She had leaned over and whispered. “I’m not supposed to talk about Evan. No one believes me about him. He was my brother and one day someone took him.”
The lady frowned for a second and told her, “Amelia, I can assure you one thing. I lock my house up every night, just like they do here. I'm all alone in there and sometimes I want someone to talk to. I had a nice man who I was married to. His name was Harold, but he died, and is in Heaven now. I can’t promise you won’t ever get hurt again, the world is full of hurt, but I can promise I’ll be there with you to help you through it.”
She frowned as she thought over what the cookie lady just said. She had locks, and she was sad too. Plus, she would have someone to help her and it was nice to hear someone say that. She would miss her friends here, but maybe she should go, the lady seemed real sad and maybe she could help her.
She smiled her best smile and agreed to go. She gathered up her small bag of things, and with a deep breath she walked out of the children’s home and into the arms of her loving Nana. Her life had changed for the better, and Nana was the reason. She owed her so much and it was killing her to see her sick like this. Everything that she had gone through, Nana had made it better, even if it was just a hug when the boy at school was mean to her or helping her get through a panic attack.
Even now, she still had panic attacks, when she couldn’t be in control. Either way, her Nana fixed everything for her, so she would do the same for her now. She glanced up at the clock in the room and sighed. She needed to work because that always helped keep her mind occupied. After another glance at her Nana, she left to get some work done.
Jacob Montgomery worked hard and he deserved the nicer things in life. He wasn’t cocky or overly confident. He didn’t think he was some gorgeous stud that all the women wanted. He did, however, think he was a good man, and he tried hard to do the right thing. It was the reason the mess he was in was so difficult.
He looked down at the picture in his hand and sighed. Amelia Randolph was becoming a problem he didn’t want or need. He put the picture of the plant back down and raked his hand through his dark hair. Ever since the water had tested positive for some abnormal chemical content, she was blowing up his office day and night.
It wasn’t that he didn’t care. In fact, he was just as concerned as she was. The problem was that she was a screeching, loud, demanding woman and he wasn’t relishing the idea of having a meeting with her at all. There were steps that needed to be put into place, and he was only part of the board.
For whatever reason, she felt like somehow, it was all his fault. He tried to call her back, only to get her voicemail, which in turn, had led to the meeting they were having on Friday morning. He wanted to give her the good news, for her grandmother’s well-being, and to get her to stop leaving long winded, potty-mouthed voice mails on his phone at work. He glanced out the long window in his office. It took a lot of hard work to get to this place.
At age 31, he achieved more success than any other Montgomery before him. His great-grandfather started this business, and since then, it grew by leaps and bounds. It was passed down to each Montgomery until now, when it rested on him. He could remember as a child watching his father work the phones at night, and then spending the rest of his evening picking out his clothes for the next morning.
There was something about a great suit that made a man. Having something tailored to you was one of the luxuries he enjoyed as the CEO. He didn’t drink, or do drugs, and he worked effortlessly putting in long hours to make the business a success, and well, he liked nice suits. It gave him that extra push to do well and added to the confidence of representing the company. It started with his grandfather, and one day he would pass this entire empire down to his children. That is, if he ever got married.
Jessalyn crossed his mind and he smiled. She was a wildcat if there ever was one. The wealthy daughter of a fashion designer, they crossed paths on occasion, and he had been taken in right away. She was a leggy blonde, and her features were almost too perfect, most likely due to a random number of surgeries. Despite the insincerity of her looks, he liked her inquisitive nature and they had enjoyed each other’s company for the last two years.
More often than not, he would call ahead when he would be in town and she would make time for him, and vice versa. She was often away for modeling shoots and he was away for some business deal or another. On the rare occasion that their calendars would sync up, they would get together and try to be “normal.” She knew his world and the demands of it, but never complained.
They never took things any deeper than a mutual respect and a great sex life. The last time he saw her was three months ago when everything changed. Somewhere along the way, she fell in love with a model named Brutus, and she couldn’t meet for a rendezvous anymore.
He tried to gauge his feelings on it. He was stuck somewhere between relieved and lonely. He didn’t have time for anything serious, and yet he hated never having anyone to spend time with. One of the benefits of that was that he had more time to focus on the task at hand, the water treatment system his company had installed a few towns over that could be making people sick. That brought his thoughts back to Miss Randolph and he cringed. It was going to be a long week, and an even longer Friday.
The weather in South Carolina is unpredictable. The winters would range from snow and ice to a mild 50 degrees. There was no understanding it. The winter would fade easily into spring without much distinction and until you looked at a calendar, there was no telling what month you were in at any given moment. Today was one of those chilly days where you wanted to go outside and take the day off, all bundled up.
Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be for Amelia. She loved her job. That wasn’t the issue. What she loved more was her Nana, and truth be told, she didn’t feel like she was doing much good. She loved the freedom her job gave her. She was a guardian and legal consultant for D.S.S. She traveled all the time. She would often spend her days in Charleston then it was off to Myrtle Beach.
Sometimes, she would have a chance to go north for a few days. Wherever her work needed her, she would go. She loved working on each case, and was always thrilled when she felt like she was really helping a family. So many children were left scared and alone. She could never go back, but she could move forward with change.
Today, she was in Myrtle Beach meeting with a family, two children and abusive parents. It never got any easier when she met them for the first time. It just helped when they gave her a smile. She took a deep breath and went through the double doors to the lobby where she would meet the children and the attorneys. He felt like he was somehow responsible for the entire mess. Each board member was currently looking down their respective noses at him across the table.
“ Look Jacob, we understand this is a ...um... situation, however we have to follow protocol. I’ve managed to get with the investigation team and they are looking into the mess. I’ve heard you have a meeting with the Randolph family and I think you need to reel that in for us.”
The comment came from Brandon Workman. He had been there as long as his father had.
“ Listen, Workman I get what you’re saying, I’m just not sure why I am the only one dealing with P.R. Do we not have a team for that? I have my own business issues to work out with the Landowe project.” A few of the people at the table glanced at each other and then to the table.
“ Well, I’ll be honest with you Jake, you’re the spokesperson for these types of situations. You’re the charmer, the good-looking guy. A situation like this takes finesse and strategy.” He had the decency to blush slightly.
“ Let me get this straight, I am the CEO and I am also a part-time playboy who schmoozes the ladies in my off time?” He sat back in a huff.
Workman looked around the table at the other members before settling on Jacob again. “Well, yes, so to speak. Your father was the same way before you. You both have that ability to put people at ease.” He smiled slightly, the noisy throat clearing around the room didn’t go unnoticed either.
“ You mean with the women.” He gave Workman a half smile. He was the voice of reason around here after all. “Fine I’ll go at it alone, but I need some real results from the testing site before I walk into whatever mess comes with the Randolph lady.”
Amelia stared at herself in the mirror in her old room. Today was going to be a long day. She was certain of that, and not much else. She had taken great care to look nice. Her hair was twisted up on the back of her head, her make-up was subtle and effective and she wore a nice suit and skirt. It fit her just right. She wore pumps, something she rarely did and she had a firm set to her jaw. Today she would get some answers. She stood and squared her shoulders and took a few deep breaths.
It was just like going into a new home. She would listen, make her assessment and they would go from there. She made her way down to the car and drove into town. It was a 25 minute ride into Charleston, just long enough that she could take in some deep breaths along the way and try to stop her heart from beating out of her chest. It would serve no purpose if she lost her temper, no matter what she had to stay calm.
She climbed the front stairs of the building and looked up at the massive structure. She shook her head. Who needed that much space for anything? It was all too much really. She entered and gave her name to the guard who patted her down with a wink and she was finally in the elevator going up. She heard a shout and she noticed a man running towards her so she thrust her hand out to stop the elevator. He slid into the elevator and took a deep breath.
“ Wow, I barely made it that time, thanks.” He glanced over at her. She was beautiful, her hair was a jumble of colors wound up tightly with the appearance that it would break free at any moment.
“ Sure, no problem.” She tried not to stare at him. He was reeking of sexiness. He had dark hair slightly unruly and blue eyes that felt like they could look a hole right through you. He was tall, very tall and impeccably dressed. She self-consciously ran her hands down over her skirt. She could feel him watching her and she finally turned to look at him.
“ Is there something on my face or something?” She noticed his surprise and then the grin that slid into its place.“No, not at all, you’re just beautiful, that’s all.” It was his turn to get a rise out of her. He saw the blush creep up her neck and into her face.“Whatever.” She rolled her eyes and stared back at the elevator, watching intently as it made its slow accent to the top floor.“You are, but I have to say it is refreshing.”
He failed to elaborate as the doors opened and he stepped out. “I hope to see you again.” He whistled as he strode away from the elevator, leaving her wondering what he was talking about.
Men were crazy, that much she was sure of. Finally the elevator climbed the last few floors and she exited it into a massive waiting area. There was a coffee bar on one end of the room which looked like a small café. She couldn’t believe the excess that people used. She made her way to the receptionist desk and gave her name.
“ Randolph, you said Miss?”
“ Yes, that’s right.” She noticed the receptionist glance around a bit before buzzing back to Mr. Montgomery’s office.
“ Yes, ok, yes that’s fine, I’ll let her know.” She had glanced up at Amelia a few times before hanging up.
“ Mr. Montgomery is on his way here now and as soon as he arrives I’ll send you back.”
With a huff, Amelia made her way over to an overstuffed chair in the lobby. He wasn’t even there yet. The whole thing was ridiculous. He was probably on some yacht somewhere while her grandmother was lying in a hospital sick. She felt the tension rising and she hoped he would get there soon before anything else happened.
Jacob made his way up the stairs to his office. She had been a real beauty that one. She was gorgeous, but in an unrefined way and she was direct, something many people never were in his life, it made him like her even more. He was kicking himself for not getting her name at the very least. For now he would just have to hope he would run into her again soon. She was in his building how hard could it be to find one woman?
He gathered up some paperwork from his desk and made his way over to the conference room. The receptionist had already called him ten minutes ago and told him, Amelia Randolph was there. He knew what kind of morning as ahead of him, but he had exited the elevator a couple of floors down so that he could sneak up the back way.
He didn’t need to be attacked in his own lobby. He quickly scanned the paperwork in his hands regarding the water testing site and frowned. This was not going to be a good meeting. At least he had chosen a conference room in the corner of the floor where they wouldn’t be bothered, or heard. Reluctantly, he buzzed up front and told the girl to bring her in.
It was ridiculous how long someone had to wait for a meeting. The lack of attendance only solidified her opinion of Jacob Montgomery. If he had been a real gentleman, if he cared, he would have at least been on time. Finally the blonde called her name and escorted her to a room at the far side of the building. When she entered, she simply stared at the blonde shut the door.
“ You! Really? Did you know it was me or do you always say things like that to people in an elevator?” She crossed her arms and stared at him as he stood.Equally stunned, and a little disappointed he thrust his hand out to her. “No, I didn’t know it was you Miss Randolph.” He gestured for her to take a seat.
She was upset, she’d be lying is she said that the mystery guy from the elevator had made her feel that warm fuzzy feeling you get deep down. To find out he was that ass, Montgomery she had been dreading squashed any thoughts she’d had while waiting in the lobby. To think, she actually hoped to run into him again, so she could apologize for being so gruff and to figure out what he meant by those last words. Now she was sitting face to face with him.
It was difficult to think straight with her sitting there staring at him. She was all fire and ice at the same time and he was intrigued. There was simply no way the squawking shrill voice on the voicemails could belong to this woman. He shook his head and decided to get down to business.
“ Miss Randolph I am glad we were able to get together finally. I understand you have concerns over the new water treatment plant we have put in and I assure you I am working hard to figure out where the problem is.” He sat forward looking at her intently.
“ Listen, I know you think your gonna just give me some BS about the plant and how great it is. I don’t want to hear any of that. The fact of the matter is people are getting sick, or in the hospital. Something is wrong and I am just here to find out what you are going to do about it before I start asking people myself.” She leaned up in her chair meeting him eye to eye.
He almost couldn’t stand it. She was on fire, and beautiful. He would be amused watching her come to life if it were in any other situation. He was not used to women like this, so full of fire. Typically a woman would be a hellcat from time to time, but that was in the bedroom. If they started out like this he could only imagine… Damn, he was getting sidetracked.
“ I don’t think you need to start asking anyone else, Miss Randolph. The fact of the matter is we have men down there working on it now. The most recent tests I have right here.” He pushed the papers over to her. “As you can see there is nothing showing that the mineral content is above average. Although the levels are normal at the plant I am still concerned about why this happened to you. I have no intention of letting it go until I am sure we have fixed the problem, if there is one.”
“ All I know is that my Nana was fine and then the day after the water was running through your plant she started getting sick. She had been in the hospital three times and each time it’s after she goes home and starts using your water.” She pointed her finger at him for emphasis.
“ I understand, Miss Randolph and I assure you there is nothing I won’t do to make this right, for you.” His eyes glittered at her dangerously as he emphasized the “for you.” She felt the heat rush through her as he watched her. She cleared her throat and glanced back down at the paperwork on the able.
“ This paperwork can say whatever it wants, the truth of the matter is something is wrong and I intend to find out what it is.” She stood now and he rose with her.
“ Fine, meet me at the plant tomorrow morning.” He wasn’t even sure what possessed him to say it. He knew very little about the mechanics of the plant itself, but he did have a full knowledge of the filtration system.
“ What.” She crossed her arms over her chest as she looked up at him.
“ Tomorrow, meet me at the plant. I’ll go take a look around myself and if you're there you can see things as they develop.” He crossed his arms and the two of them stood facing each other for a long moment.
The whole thing was dangerous. She knew before she agreed that this was going to go badly. Despite the anger she held at the company, she was attracted to him. She hated herself for it. He stood casually waiting for her to give him an answer. He was probably used to women throwing themselves at him all the time and she would be damned if she was one of them. He was off limits and she needed to turn off whatever attraction she had. He was just a stuffy suit running a business that hurt her Nana. With renewed spirit, she looked up at him.
“ Fine, I'll meet you there, what time.” She said it with a deadly calm. Almost as if she was someone else. He didn’t like this side of her, it made him take a step back.
“ 9 sharp. Does that work for you?” He took a small step towards her and watched the blush start to creep back up again. She felt it too, he was sure of it. “Sure, that’s fine.” She turned to leave and opened the door to the room and stopped as he called her name. “Yes”.”
“ Don’t be late.” He grinned as she shut the door with a bang and made her way out of the office.
Jacob Montgomery was a jerk, a total and unmistakable jerk. Not only that, he was arrogant and self-serving, just thinking about the way he stood there arms crossed without a care in the world made her want to scream. She rammed the car into gear and pulled out and headed to the hospital. She was still angry when she arrived.
Who did he think he was giving her orders anyway? She was a grown woman, almost as tall as he was and he thought he could just tell her what to do. Her family was the victim here. He was a bully, yes, that was it. He was just like those kids at the children’s home who would give her grief the first year especially. They threw their weight around, uncaring about anyone else. Yep! Jacob Montgomery was a no good bully! She walked into her Nana's room to find her sitting up and chatting happily with the nurse.
“ Nana you look great!” Her anger was gone in an instant. The turnaround was almost unbelievable. Yesterday she had looked so sick still and in the two nights she had been here she had done a complete turnaround.
“ Amelia sweetheart, come give me a hug.” She raised her arms up and Amelia hugged her tightly. She was so scared, every time she got better and went home the next time it would be worse.
“ You must feel better Nana, I’m so glad. Every time you go home it makes you sick. It’s that damn water system and I am working on getting it taken care of.”
“ Now, now Amelia we don’t know that for sure yet. “ She patted Amelia’s hand lovingly and leaned back into her pillows. “I may look better, but I am terribly weak still. What have you been up to today, dear you are all dressed up?” She snuggled back into her pillow and shut her eyes momentarily.
“ I had a meeting that’s all. I met with Montgomery, to hash out things about the plant.” She whispered it, in hopes Nana wouldn’t really hear everything she said.
Her Nana’s eye fluttered open. “You what! Oh Amelia it won’t do it you get yourself all worked up. You know as well as I do that if you push too far you’re going to get into trouble. Plus, we all know what happens with that temper of yours.” She closed her eyes again, but not before giving Amelia a “You know what I mean” look.
“ Yes, Nana I know all about my temper. In my defense, though I don’t really get too upset unless I have a real reason to.” She humbly looked down and started fighting with a string on the comforter covering the bed.
“ Amelia, sweetheart, don’t misunderstand I love all your fire, but just last week you made the poor paperboy cry.” She gave a slight giggle before folding her hands over her lap.
“ He was throwing the paper in the rose bushes Nana, how on earth can you climb in there and get it!”
Nana simply opened her eyes and gave Amelia a knowing glance. “I know, dear.” She patted her hand one last time and Amelia watched as she was soon fast asleep.
Amelia sighed, it wasn’t a lie. Her temper often got in her way. She liked to think that she was just passionate about certain things. Her work, her Nana and what was right. Besides, most of the time she was loud, but not angry. There was such a lack of common sense in some people she simply couldn’t help herself. She made her way across the room and opened her tablet to look at her schedule.
She had a new family to work with next week, but the rest of this week she was free. She hadn’t broached the subject of Nana coming to stay with her in her apartment yet. She knew it would be a fight.
Nana loved her house. It was where she and Harold had lived right after they got married and she had never stayed away from there unless she was in the hospital or when she had come to see Amelia graduate college in Maryland. It wasn’t that she didn’t understand.
The house had been here over half of her life. It was where she had learned to love, learned to trust again. It would always be a part of her life. She had to have Nana closer so that she could watch her more, be there if she needed anything.
Besides, her apartment was on the city water system in Ridgeville, not on the new “system” purchased from Montgomery Enterprises in Daniel Island. She could keep her safe if she would move in. She folded up her table and rested her head against the chair. She let her mind unravel the day’s events and found herself fuming once more over the words of Jacob Montgomery.
She decided to get a room in town for the next few nights. It might be a huge expense, but she needed to be there early tomorrow, and the water was still in question at her Nana’s, where she had been staying. She said her goodnights to Nana and made her way to a small and efficient hotel along the water. She had always enjoyed Charleston.
Even as a child she had loved the water, even when there was such a chill in the air like tonight. It was only mid-November and yet with temperatures like this maybe they would get some snow this year. The thought made her smile and think back about the snow when she had moved into Nana's house so long ago.
It was a long ride. It must have taken hours to get to the little white house, she was standing in front of. She looked up at the nice lady beside her who had decided to take her home. She took her hand. She was scared, but she didn’t want her to know. She had left the girls home and she hoped this was going to be ok.
The nice lady patted the hand in hers and they made their way up the steps. When the door opened, she took a deep breath in of cookies and warm air. She loved being warm and full, both things she knew the nice lady said she never had to worry about again. She watched and waited as the lady locked the door behind her. It was only then that she relaxed.
“ I’ve decided that maybe you should call me Nana. I’m not your mother, but I hope to be there to help you grow up. How does that sound?”
“ Nana… I like it.” She gave her a toothy smile and walked over towards a big picture on the wall of a man. “Who is he?” She hooked a thumb in the direction of the picture. Nana made her way over to her.
“ That was my dear Harold. He went to Heaven a few months ago.” She gently touched the picture and then turned to Amelia. “Well, dear are you ready to see your room?”
“ I get my own room?” Amelia had gaped at her and followed along behind Nana. When she opened the door, she could just stand there. The entire room was draped in pink and green. There were flowers on the large seat window and she had the softest pink blanket on her bed. There were pillows everywhere and Amelia rushed forward and immediately began to roll around the bed with them, giggling as she did. Nana laughed, pink may have been a bad choice this girl was not about to paint her nails all day she wanted to make a mess.
“ The only thing left is to go buy you some clothes, we can do that tomorrow.” Amelia ran to hug her close, happy for the first real time in her life. At some point that first night she had been overwhelmed by it all and snuck into Nana's room. She waited but a second before Nana pulled the blankets back. Without a word she had climbed in and snuggled down in the warmth of the blankets.
The snow came that weekend and the two of them played in the yard and built half of a snowman. She had laughed more in those two days than I her entire life combined. It’s how her new life started and now that same chill was in the air tonight. She was still smiling when she put her bags on the floor of her room. She had a nice view and this would be a good way to make efficient use of the time she had. She locked and relocked the door.
A habit of sorts since she was a child. She let her thoughts stray to Evan. She had spent the better part of her career looking for him, some sign of him. She always came up empty. Every lead would bring some closure to another family, but never hers. She decided to take a shower and start prepping for her day tomorrow. There was no telling what Montgomery had up his sleeve.
So far all Jacob knew was that she wasn’t married, and was adopted. He was scanning every piece of information about Amelia Randolph that he could. He needed to find something to connect them. To get her to relax some when he was around. She was 26, graduated from Maryland University. Worked at DSS on a flexible schedule.
She was practically broke, and had fairly good credit. He scanned her finances and noticed she spent a great deal of money looking for someone named Evan Hollinger. Whoever he was, she really wanted him found. Prior to age 12 there were no records for her. He sat back in his chair and spun to look out the window. Something about her fascinated him. Sure, she was beautiful, but that wasn’t it.
He had been around beautiful women most of his life. Something wholesome about her made him want to know more. Whatever it was he was not giving up. He was used to getting and doing what he wanted and he wasn’t going to start losing at the game now. She was all fire, and all talk. He would find a way to reach her and when he did, he would enjoy their time together. He smiled to himself before heading to take a shower.
The next morning was cold and gray. There was a bitter chill in the air that was hard to shake off. Amelia knew she needed to bundle up and she chose some casual clothes for the day. Denim and an oversized white sweater as well as her knee high leather boots. She put on her coat and hat, leaving her hair down for the extra layer of warmth. She glanced at the clock and swore. She was never late, ever. Why today of all days did she have to rush? She hastily grabbed her purse and made her way to her car. She didn’t even have time for coffee that certainly added to her mood. She climbed in and turned the car over and nothing happened. She tried again.
“ Really?” She said it out loud. The car had been giving her issues for a while now, but it was not the day. Of all days, not the day.
She jumped out of the car and shut her door with a bang. Now she would have to call someone and try and get the thing towed over to a garage. She hastily called Montgomery Enterprises.
After ten minutes of dealing with some snotty girl she passed on her message. He was probably laughing at her misfortune and happy she wouldn’t be there to get in the way. She kicked the curb on her way back into her room and waited to hear from him.
Oh man, she was going to be angry, he smiled slightly thinking about her reaction. He wouldn’t doubt it if she was kicking in the side of her car right now. He hung up his phone and looked around the penthouse for his coat. He decided to try and get on her good side and so he sent her a text asking where she was staying.
Perhaps there was some way he could put her back in a good mood before he arrived. He made his way downstairs and to his personal car. He liked to venture out on his own sometimes and today was the perfect day for it. He glanced up at the sky and frowned. It was probably going to snow later today. They weren’t going to have much time if he didn’t hurry. He pulled out onto the highway and made his way into town.
She was puzzled by his message, at least she assumed it was him. It wasn’t like he had said “hey, it's Montgomery.” She was frustrated by the whole situation and her lack of expertise when it came to cars. She needed to take a class or something. This was an awful situation to be in.
She saw him pull up before she even looked at who was driving. The red sports car was sleek and shiny and she knew it could only belong to Montgomery. She walked towards him from the lobby as he got out. He was handsome in black denim and a polo shirt. He had on a black coat and gloves, which he took off as he made his way over to her. He even had a sexy sway to his walk. She rolled her eyes, disgusted with herself.
He tried to gauge her mood as he made his way over to her. She had her arms crossed again, a sure sign she wasn’t happy. Her jeans were tight, perfectly tight. She had rounded hips, he wanted to touch and her mane of hair flowed down past her shoulders. He wondered what it would feel like if he put his hands in it. Instead, he gave her a smile.
“ I figured I could just pick you up and we go together. Saves time and gas.”
“ You could have told me you were coming. Or said who you were when you text me, you know?”
“ Sorry, I was in a hurry.” He frowned at her slightly. She really was always in a foul mood. “If you’re coming I suggest we get going.” He turned and headed towards his car.
She felt bad immediately. What was wrong with her, she was never this short tempered. She followed him to the car and slid into the seat, buckling up as he shut her door for her. She waited until she was inside before addressing the topic at hand.
“ Listen Montgomery, I’m sorry. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I’m just so concerned about Nana. This car situation just pushed me over. I appreciate the ride, really.” She gave him a quick glance as he buckled up.
“ My pleasure, and please call me Jacob. Using my last name reminds me of high school football. I don’t want to revisit that.” He grimaced slightly and she smiled.
They made their way to the water treatment plant near Daniel Island. It had been a huge undertaking for the company and he had overseen every aspect of the project. He had educated himself about the filtration process, but he wished now that he had learned more about the engineering of it. It was a gleaming metal unit attached on one side to the building that held the support offices and the staff who maintained it.
They made their way down and into the building. She had never been this close to it before and was in awe at the mechanics that went into running something of this magnitude. He asked for Benjamin Astren the manager of the plant and they were quickly greeted by a round man with a face as red as an apple. His happiness was almost infectious as he pumped both of their hands and led them into a control room. Most of what he said made no sense to her, but she took in every aspect of the system and how it worked.
“ This channel here, do they lead strictly to Daniels Island or does it cover something else as well?” Both men turned her way and Benjamin answered.
“ This filtration channel strictly runs to Daniels, more specifically the smaller end of Beresfor Creek. You can see the larger system pumps into the larger area of Beresford and then branches to Nowell Creek.”
She looked over the system more before following them down towards the actual filtering controls. If the filtering channel ran strictly to Daniels Island than the issue would have to be central to that one run. She moved towards the huge pumping filters. They were massive and connected the water in the creeks into the system and then back into the holding tanks that would then pump water to the homes where they were directed. The whole set up was beautiful, even if it was making people sick.
“ I have set up something for you both. I understand that there has been some concern on your part Miss Randolph about the water content. I have some instruments here, and if you would like to I’d be happy to allow you both to take your own samples and run them through the testing equipment. I think this could help with what you’re looking for.”
She smiled at him and readily agreed. They spent the next two hours moving and testing water both filtered and unfiltered. They talked about life in general, her work and his and she found that he really wasn’t too bad to spend time around after all. He was still a rich snob, and a bully, but he wasn’t as bad as she originally thought.
He was feeling the same way. She was a strong and smart woman and, unlike most women he knew, she didn’t care that her clothes were wet and messy. She was on a mission and was all businesslike about it. She needed to know the truth. He loved the tinkling sound her laugh made when she wasn’t trying so hard to be stern. He wanted to kiss her, right there with water spraying on them in the frigid air.
Even in these temperatures he was on fire thinking about it, about her. Eventually they were done and what they found left them both puzzled. There was no indication of any levels of negative or harmful properties in the water. What was being sent into Daniels Island was as pure as it could come.
What bothered him was the lack of an Hd5 filter he had specifically asked for on the system. It hadn’t been put on the system and he had a pretty good idea why. The bored had fought him on the cost. They both left the plant lost in thought. After an audible sigh coming from her he glanced her way. She was upset and visibly so.
“ I know you wanted, needed even, something to be there in that water. I had it tested over and over again. I also know, given your personality you wouldn’t believe me unless you did the testing yourself.”
“ What do you mean my personality? Contrary to what you may think I am a very pleasant person to be around.” He gave her a look with a half grin and she knew she was delivering him exactly what he had been referring to.
“ Yeah, okay, I get it, I can be… difficult. It’s just Nana, it doesn’t make any sense at all Jacob. She is fine then goes home and then is sick again and everything they test at the hospital says it’s in something she drinks. She only drinks water, I know that for a fact. That’s all she has ever drank.” She tapped her fingers on her lips in thought.
“ I’m not sure what it is, but I’ll continue to keep digging. I like it when you’re not angry at me.” He smiled at her again.
She felt the heat rising in her face. He had the most unusual ability to make her blush. She usually had a firm control on it. He turned left as they entered town and she frowned. This was not the way to the hotel. She felt the panic start building and she gripped the handle of the car door.
“ Where are we going?” She gritted out the words. He turned to see her white faced and gripping the door. What was wrong?
“ Hey, you ok? I was going to stop off for lunch, that’s all. There is a diner right there see?” He pointed ahead and she could see the building. She relaxed and pulled her hand off the door handle.
“ That’s great, I’m starving.” She gave him a weak smile and he frowned. Something was not right and he intended to find out what it was.
She excused herself to go to the bathroom once they were inside. She splashed some water on her face fighting the tears she didn’t want to come. When would she ever stop being afraid? It wasn’t often, but when the panic would set in, it was hard to shake off. Jacob wasn’t going to hurt her, she knew that.
There was something about the day Evan had disappeared and the way the man had grabbed her. If he hadn’t come along she might have made it home. She stood and used a paper towel to blot dry her face. She pushed her mass of hair back and pinched her cheeks for color. She frowned slightly. Was she really in here primping for Jacob Montgomery? She turned and made her way into the restaurant.
He noticed the color had returned to her face as she sat down. He continued to watch her as she ordered food and he gave her a smile once he had done the same. They made random small talk and he smiled again.
“ What are you smiling at Jacob?” she leaned forward in the booth slightly.
“ Nothing at all Amelia, I am appreciative of how you do things that’s all.”
She frowned again, that didn’t sound very promising. “What do you mean how I do things?”
“ I’m just used to women being a certain way that’s all. I like you better.” He flashed a smile at her again and she blushed.
“ What’s wrong with me that I’m not like other women?” The words were no sooner out of her mouth and the waitress delivered the food. She looked down at the massive meal before her. Chiliburger, fries, milkshake and cherry pie. She took a gulp and blushed as she looked up at him, “Point taken.” His laughter was loud and she joined in with him.
“ You are too much Amelia.” He wiped at his eyes and started to attack the food on his side.
They hadn’t been eating long when a leggy blond came into the diner. She gave a once over around the room until she found who she was looking for. Amelia knew trouble when she spotted it and this was definitely going to go badly.
The blond stopped at the table and made eye contact with Amelia. The two instantly disliked each other. The air surrounding the blond was enough to make you choke. She held her head up high and had a disgusted look on her face as she glanced around at the other patrons in the room.
“ Jacob, darling.” She said it sweetly and he gave a start as he glanced up at her.
“ Jessalyn, wow, what are you doing here?” He stood up quickly and glanced over at Amelia.
“ I called the office and they said you were stopping here on your way back, I had to see you darling, and something important has come up.” She looked down her nose at Amelia before adding. “Darling, what are you doing in a place like this?”
He gritted his teeth and introduced the two. “Jessalyn this is Amelia, Amelia, Jessalyn.”
“ Nice to meet you.” Amelia managed to get out. She received a half smile from her counterpart.
“ Jessalyn, now is not a good time we are working on some business together and I’m driving.”
“ Really Jacob we need to talk, it looks like there is another person here with you, ” she gestured at all the food on the table, “Can they not take her home, I really need to chat with you.” She felt the sting of the words and noticed he had the decency to look angry.
Before he had a chance to make it worse, she decided to chime in. “Jacob its fine, I can find my way to the hotel, it's just around the corner. Go its fine.” She leaned back in the chair, noticing the pained look on his face.
“ No, it’s not right here.” He threw her his keys. “Drive it to your hotel and I’ll come get it later. I’ll just ride with her.” Before she could turn him down he left and escorted blondie with him.
It wasn’t really about what she said. It was really about how this woman was the type Jacob was obviously interested in. She never wanted to be like that. She would take her jeans and a chili burger every day of the week before she would show up and look down her nose at the world. She finished her lunch and decided to take the sports car for a ride to the hospital.The rest of the evening flew by for them both.
Jacob's head was reeling and he wasn’t sure what he was going to do. Jessalyn had come back here just to tell him she may be pregnant. The last thing he needed was a baby with a woman he didn’t love. It changed his entire thought process. If it was his of course he would be a good father. There was nothing more important than that. She was going to the doctor tomorrow and then he would know what was going on.
He looked over at his clock. 8 pm. Amelia was probably wondering when he was coming to get his car. He loved that car, he was still surprised he had given her the keys. He tried to call her but no answer. He smiled. She had been carefree and relaxed. He liked her that way. Whatever had caused her to panic in the car is what concerned him. Something wasn’t right there and he decided to look into it. He sat forward and opened his computer.
Her back was killing her. All she could think of was the pain she was feeling and her eyes flew open to investigate the culprit. She was draped across the chair in Nans room and the blanket someone had draped over her had twisted itself into the nuisance currently digging into her back. She glanced at the clock and yawned. It was 10 o'clock. She needed to get back to the hotel.
She felt around the table for her keys and frowned at the weight of them. Suddenly her eyes opened wide. She still had his car. Damn. She jumped up carefully tiptoeing out of the room and rushed out to the car. She slipped into his cool leather seats. It was only then that she noticed the snow was falling. She grabbed around for her phone and noticed he had called. She decided to text him in case he was asleep.
“ Fell asleep, sorry. Your car is at my hotel whenever you want it.”
She carefully made her way through town with a smile on her face as the snow fell gently in waves. She had just pulled into a spot and jumped out when she heard something behind her. She stopped.
“ Hey beautiful come hang out with me.” He was drunk and walking towards her car. He was halfway between her and the hotel. She grabbed her purse and started to run past him. He reached out and grazed her arm and she went into a full panic. She sprinted past him and ran into something hard and warm. She looked up and Jacob was the last thing she saw before she fainted.
Warmth. She always loved it. She snuggled down into the blankets and sighed. She had been having the most wonderful dream about Jacob kissing her. Jacob! She sat up with a start. The last thing she remembered was looking up at him.
“ Hey there sleepyhead.” He was comfortably draped out in a chair beside her bed and reading through some paperwork. She looked over at the clock. It had only been an hour since she left the hospital.
“ What happened? What happened to that man did he leave?” She was frantic now and shaking like a leaf. He walked towards her and wrapped her in a hug.
“ He is gone, Amelia, I called the police and he is gone.” He felt her relax in his arms. She smelled like lavender.