Scandal on the Sand - Roxanne St. Claire Page 0,1
tone. Irritation and worry. He’d sworn on his life that there wouldn’t be any more scandals, no more headlines, no more sexts that made their way to Perez Hilton’s blog. Oh, that had been a bad week. The Colonel had not been amused.
She snapped a large manila envelope on the table.
“Pictures?” he guessed with a mirthless snort. “How original.” Every stinking blackmailing female in a nightclub had their secret cell phone shots. Which was why he’d sworn off the club scene along with the rest of his far-too-active social life.
When she didn’t answer, he ventured closer. “Oh, don’t tell me, TMZ has offered five figures.” He could only imagine what she had. “Let me guess. You’ve got ‘Naughty Nate’ bare-ass naked in Vegas or Cabo. He’s got a joint in one hand and a fifth of Tito’s in the other. Some dot-com billionaire’s wife is grabbing his johnson, and they’re about to fall into a hot tub with four more blondes.”
Sickening that he could describe that situation a little too clearly. Swallowing a wave of self-loathing, he watched her slide a packet of papers onto the table, along with a spiral notebook.
“Nate! You’re on deck!”
He ignored the announcement, hollered from the sand, instead dropping into the chair next to her.
“So, how much?” he demanded, a sixth sense already telling him what was going down here. The question went against everything he’d been taught as a member of a family with the iconic—and ironic—last name of Ivory. A family that was anything but pure and had trained all members that the first check was just that...the first. A blackmailer never went away.
But he absolutely refused to get embroiled in one more public mess and, damn it, if he had to pay to get rid of her, he would. Whatever it took to prove that he was worthy of the family name and...the chance to see that dark disapproval erased from his grandfather’s eyes.
“I don’t want money,” she finally said.
Then what? Access to the Hollywood studio his older brother ran? A meeting with his other brother, the senator? Maybe insider-trading information from his cousin on Wall Street?
“Everybody wants something, Liza,” he said on a sigh. Especially from an Ivory.
For the first time, the closest thing to a sweet expression settled on her lovely features. Her lips finally relaxed into a hint of a smile. Dark brows unfurrowed, and a slight blush of pink deepened her creamy complexion.
“Yes, everybody does want something,” she whispered. “And I want you to sign this document.” She slid the paper toward him. “And then I will go away and you can play softball and drink in Cabo with other guys’ wives and have cocktails under the sea, for all I care.” She flattened him with a dead-eyed look. “Sign, and I promise you will never see or hear from me again.”
He had to slide off his shades to read the paper, blinking at the legalese, his name typed neatly in the blanks. And...Dylan Cassidy, age four.
The words slammed like a power-punch to his temple, and for a second he actually saw stars. A kid? He’d been so careful. His whole freaking adult life, he’d been so damn careful about this. Very slowly, he lifted his gaze from the page to her face, digging like a dog in dirt for a shred of a recollection of this woman, a date, a night, an encounter, a damn quickie in the back room of a party.
“I don’t even remember you,” he said, the words sounding as jagged as they felt. How wasted had he been to forget this girl?
“Of course you don’t remember me,” she said. “I’ve never met you.”
“But...this...” He tried to focus on the paper again, but a slow fire of horror sparked in his gut and rolled up to burn his chest as the words stopped dancing in front of his eyes. Voluntary Termination of Parental Rights. “This isn’t a paternity suit?”
“No, this is my guarantee that I can live in complete peace without an ax hanging over my head.”
What the hell? “I’m confused. Do you mind explaining what you are talking about?”
“I want you to sign this so that I don’t wake up some morning and find out the Ivory family is out to take Dylan away from me.”
“You said he...we...” He let out a puff of pure frustration. “I don’t get this at all. If I’m signing away rights to