Authors: Elizabeth Lennox
Gabriella didn’t flinch as he spoke, but his words broke her heart. Not because she was repulsed but because it only made him stronger in her eyes. “Go on,” she urged.
“Yuri? He’s my brother, but only my half brother. We have no idea who his father might be either.”
She smiled through her sadness. “I already knew that. He looks nothing like you, nor does he have your brilliance and ambition. He’s fine just living off of the allowance you provide for him and burying himself in his books. But he loves you. That much is apparent. He worships you and thinks you’re the greatest brother that ever existed and that goes a long way when it comes to family.”
Damon shook his head. “You’re not getting it Gabriella. I’m not who you think I am.”
“You’re not the amazing man who pulled himself up from the gutter and grew into an astounding, brilliant, thrilling and sexy man who controls an empire that continues to grow through your intelligence and drive?”
He stumbled at that, staring at her for a long moment, then shaking his head. “No! I’m the son of a hooker and a faceless sperm donor. After my mother died of a drug overdose, I took Yuri and we hid in the streets of Moscow.”
The thought of him and Yuri scrounging for shelter and warmth made her heart ache. A tear slipped down her cheek and she reached up to touch his face, trying to offer him comfort. “That must have been hard.”
Damon pulled her hand away, knowing he didn’t deserve her touch. “Gabriella, listen to me. We didn’t have a home. We ate out of garbage cans when we couldn’t find food from the back alleys of restaurants. I didn’t have money for most of my childhood. I was a street rat, a gutter kid. We holed up in abandoned warehouses and fought to defend the filthy mattress on which we slept. In the winters, the only warmth we had was from a fire in an old oil drum and we shared that heat with about fifty other kids. In the summers, I scrounged for food in dumpsters. I’ve barely even been to school. Almost everything I know came out of a library and I even taught myself how to read.”
She understood what he was trying to do and it wasn’t working. “Damon, you honestly don’t understand how amazing you are, do you?” she asked softly, not letting him push her away again. Instead of reaching for him, she stood up and sat down in his lap, feeling his warmth as his arms closed around her. “You’re telling me all of these things to try and make me horrified, but the only thing that’s happening is that I love you even more for the vulnerable child you were, and the strong, capable, caring man you have become.” She stared at him, her arms wrapped around his neck so he couldn’t dump her back onto the sofa as she said, “You could have created an empire based on illegal activities, or gone the way of your mother and done drugs or prostitution yourself. But you didn’t,” she said emphatically. “You’ve created jobs for thousands of families. You’ve generated wealth for those people as well as your investors and I know you’re generous with the wealth you’ve accumulated.”
“How do you know?” he asked, shifting her weight so she was closer to him. She couldn’t know how he donated his money because he did so anonymously. No one knew but his accountant and that man was sworn to secrecy through a thorough non-disclosure statement.
She rolled her eyes and kissed his jaw. “Well, I don’t know the specifics, but I know you. I know how sweet you are to me and Yuri so I’m assuming you donate a great deal of your wealth to some sort of charity. And I’m now guessing those charities have a lot to do with orphaned children, am I right?” she asked.
He just shrugged his broad, powerful shoulders instead of answering, which gave her the answer anyway. He’d actually set up a foundation that handed out food to the street kids seven days a week, ensuring that they had warm meals during the winter and offering them classes, helping them learn to read, find jobs, gave them clothes and even shelter if they wanted it. Many didn’t, not trusting anyone, but he did what he could to help them survive and get out of that life.
“You don’t get it, do you?” She didn’t wait for a response. “The things that you’re so ashamed of are the things you should be proudest of.”
He shook his head, sighing as he tried to get her to understand. “I’m not proud of what I did to survive, Gabriella.”
“You should be proud that you not only survived, but that you thrived!” she punched him on the shoulder, frustrated that he was still so ashamed of who he had been as a child.
He laughed at her feeble attempt but pulled her closer. That punch told him more than her gentle touch. She wasn’t repulsed. She was frustrated with him for not listening to him and that usually ended in her moving away from him so he did what he could to stop that from happening. “So you aren’t disgusted?”
She rolled her eyes once again. “I’m proud,” she countered. She looked down at the ring he’d placed on her finger and smiled gently. “And in love with you more now than I was fifteen minutes ago.”
He shook his head. “You’re crazy,” he replied.
“You make me crazy,” she whispered back to him, biting his ear lobe. It was the first time she’d ever initiated any kind of intimacy and he pulled back, his eyes trying to assess why she was doing that. In the end, he didn’t care. “You’re wrong, but I love you anyway. And I’ll never let you go, Gabriella. Our son will never want for anything, nor will you.”
“I know. Because we’ll both be there for our daughter,” she countered.
He laughed and stood up, carrying her with him. “Does my birthday dinner have to be on a schedule? Or can we improvise?”
She laughed, tightening her arms around his neck. “This is your birthday,” she said with promise in her eyes. “You get to decide what to do. It’s all on your time schedule.”
He grinned and raced up the stairs, slamming the bedroom door just as three canines tried to enter. “It’s just you and me tonight,” he growled.
“All of you,” she replied. “I love all of you.”
Gabby picked up the tray and opened the door with her shoulder. Damon was out back with their two month old son Jason but she was worried because Damon had been killing himself for the past several weeks on a deal and Jason had been in a grouchy mood for much of that time period. She suspected it was because Jason missed his father, but she didn’t know if a two month old baby realized when one of his caregivers was absent.
As she worked her way through the garden pathway, she came around the corner and stopped in her tracks. The sight was so perfect, she didn’t want to disturb the scene. Her large, handsome husband of seven months was laying on the hammock with their two month old son sleeping on his chest and all three dogs at his feet sleeping as well. The cat they’d adopted was curled up right below their infant’s bottom, laying on Damon’s stomach.
Jason had been up several times during the night, practically inconsolable but now that his daddy was home, he was content once again. So Gabby had to conclude that a two month old baby actually could understand when his daddy wasn’t around to tuck him in and tickle him while his diaper was being changed or blow raspberries on his tummy just because they were laughing about nothing in particular.
Even the dogs were content. They’d been so amazing during her pregnancy, guarding her more completely than any purebred German Shepherd or pit bull ever could. And when Jason had come home from the hospital, all three had sniffed their new human, then sat in front of the crib, looking as if they were prepared to guard that child with their lives if needed.
The cat, which was still unnamed since Damon had just brought her home about a month ago as a surprise, had caught on to the whole circus quickly and was eager to play her part, had plopped her little bottom down in the middle of the three dogs, disdained their sniffs and proceeded to clean her fur while the dogs watched in fascination.
It was an odd mix of pets and people, but Gabby loved every moment of their days together.
She started to turn around as quietly as possible, wanting to give them more time to sleep since each of them were exhausted. But as soon as she took the first step back towards the house she heard Damon say, “Don’t go,” in a soft, deep voice that never failed to send shivers of excitement down her body.
Gabby stopped and turned back, placing the tray of lemonade on the whicker coffee table. He opened his other arm, cradling his son carefully to his chest while he invited Gabby to join the two of them.
“I don’t want to disturb him, or you,” she said just as softly, but she was already moving towards her family, wanting to snuggle up to her great big man while he cradled their tiny infant in his strong arms. He grunted slightly when the feline, irritated that her nap had been disturbed by the movement of the hammock, stood up, stretched and re-situated himself on Damon’s stomach once again, using their son’s bare foot as a pillow.
He kissed the top of her head and sighed, happy to have both of them here, in his house with the sunshine dappling through the leaves overhead. “I love you,” he said softly.
“I love you too,” she smiled as she put her head on his shoulder. “He missed you a lot while you were gone.”
“I’m sorry I left you like this. I’ve cleared my traveling schedule for the next six months until you and Jason are able to come with me.”
She swiveled her head around so she could look up at him. “Can you do that?”
He laughed softly and watched with fascination as Jason yawned and snuggled down even more. “I can do anything I want. It’s my company and if I want to work out of our house, I’m damn well going to delegate everything to others to make that happen. It was too hard being gone from the two of you these past few weeks. I don’t want to be without both of you again.”
She smiled and clasped his hand. “I don’t want you gone either.”
“Are you still sore?” he asked, referring to her stitches from after the birth.
She shook her head, a secret smile forming on her face. “Everything is back to normal,” she grinned up at him.
He raised his eyebrows, the smile following as he grasped what she was telling him. “All systems go?”
“Yep. Doctor has cleared me.” She put her hand on her son’s diaper padded bottom and said, “Let’s plan the next one a bit more carefully though.”
He laughed, but he was in complete agreement. “How many do you want to have?”
Gabby shrugged and looked up at him. “I’m not sure. Jason is so much fun, but he’s a bit exhausting. How about six or seven?”
He looked down at her with surprise. “That many? I’m going to need a lot of practice making that many kids,” he joked.
She laughed at his easy agreement. The man really did give her anything she asked for. He loved to spoil her but that many kids might be a bit much. “Oh, maybe not six or seven. Definitely at least one more though.” She snuggled up closer and squeezed his hand. “But that doesn’t mean you should stop practicing.”
He laughed and hugged her closer. Looking up at the sky, he sighed with happiness. A happiness he never thought he would feel until he met this amazing woman. “Just tell me when and where. I’m at your service.”
Also by Elizabeth Lennox
Love By Accident
The Sheik's Pregnant Lover
The Sheik's Furious Bride
The Duke's Runaway Princess
The Sheik's Virgin Lover
The Billionaire's Impulsive Lover
The Russian's Tender Lover
The Billionaire's Gentle Rescue
The Royal Cordova Family
Escaping A Royal Wedding
The Man's Outrageous Demands
Mistress To The Prince
More books by Elizabeth Lennox:
The Duke's Willful Wife
The Sheik's Secret Twins
The Tycoon's Toddler Surprise
The Sheik's Sensuous Trap
The Tycoon's Marriage Exchange
Blackmailed By The Billionaire
The Billionaire's Elusive Lover
The Tycoon's Tender Triumph
The Sheik's Love Child
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