Whatever the Price

By: Jules Bennett

One




Her eyes darted from her soon-to-be ex-husband down to the sleeping baby in his arms.

“Anthony?”

Charlotte Price stared at her estranged husband—the one man she loved with every fiber of her being, the one man she was now looking to divorce. But what he held in his arms pulled her attention even more.

Not a what…a who.

A hotshot Hollywood director, Anthony Price didn’t look too comfortable with the bundle wrapped in a pink, silky blanket, a swirl of black hair dotting the top of her head.

And speaking of hair, Anthony’s stood on end. The top three buttons of his royal-blue dress shirt were undone, and was that…oh, yeah, that was spit-up. The milky-white substance spread across the top of one broad shoulder, and she’d bet it had traveled down his back, as well. If she weren’t so shocked she’d laugh at the irony of this entire situation.

Her husband holding a child. She’d always wanted to have a child with him…but he’d never been ready.

“Rachel’s daughter,” he said in a gravelly voice.

Rachel. Anthony’s sister who had suddenly died in a car crash less than a week ago, leaving behind an eight-month-old little girl.

An ache spread through her as she eyed the precious child, and Charlotte opened the door to her best friend’s apartment just a bit wider. “Bring her in and lay her down.”

Charlotte showed him through the apartment she’d been staying in while her friend was off traveling, taking her dream vacation. Charlotte had packed only her most favorite clothes and other essentials, unsure of when she’d have a place of her own. She was getting the alone time she needed to think things through. But she kept coming to the same conclusion as far as her marriage was concerned.

Their life together was over. No matter how hard she tried, no matter how much she wanted Anthony to love her the way she deserved, it just wasn’t meant to be.

And now that he was here, she couldn’t help but wonder why he’d come to her. Did she dare hope he wanted to work things out now? Was he willing to try the therapist she’d suggested?

She’d moved out in June, and now nearly three months of awkward calls, not to mention the one time a month ago he’d come for a visit to talk and they’d foolishly ended up in bed, was about to come to an abrupt halt. Communication had always been a major issue in the nine years of their marriage. The sex, however, had never been a problem because most of the times they were alone, they were naked.

But talking was inevitable—over more than just his surprise bundle. She had an appointment on Friday to file for divorce.

“I’m afraid to lay her down. She cried all the way here,” Anthony told her, panic lacing his voice. “I gave her a bottle and she threw up all over me, then cried some more. A three-hour car ride and she didn’t fall asleep until about ten minutes ago.”

More than comfortable with babies of all ages, Charlotte gently slid her hands between her husband’s hard body and the soft bundle. With care she laid the baby down in an oversized armchair, tucking her back against the cushion so she couldn’t move too much. Then Charlotte grabbed a velvety throw pillow and laid it beside the baby so she wouldn’t roll off.

With questions mounting in her mind, Charlotte motioned for Anthony to step into the kitchen, where she could still keep an eye on the child over the wide granite bar that separated the two rooms.

“What is going on, Anthony?” she demanded in a harsh whisper as soon as he came to stand beside her.

“You have to help with Lily.”

Help with Lily?

“Oh, Anthony. Oh, God.” A sense of what he meant enveloped her and left her just a bit more crushed. He wasn’t here because he loved her and wanted her back—he wasn’t even here for sex. He was here because he couldn’t take care of the baby alone. Ironic that he wanted her to play family now, when for so long he had used his career as a crutch not to have children.

She knew she needed to keep her distance. For so long she’d let him pull her back into a troubled marriage with suave words and material things in hopes that his attention would soon follow—only to be left heartbroken again. Obviously, their ideas of love landed on two opposite ends of the spectrum. The saddest part, though, is that she knew he loved her in his own way. He just loved making the next big blockbuster more.

But Anthony had come to her, seeking her help, and that said a lot. The man had never been vulnerable, never needed anything or anyone, and he’d never opened up or talked with her about his feelings. If he wasn’t in work mode, they were naked. And she didn’t know why it had taken her this long to realize that even though she loved him, she deserved better.

Hot Read

Last Updated

Recommend

Top Books