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Why was I noticing this shit? Their whole getup said money and superiority—except for Quincey’s eyes. They said she was terrified and furious all at the same time, and both emotions were strong enough that she wasn’t hiding either now.

None of this was surprising since I got a more detailed file from my PI an hour ago, along with the assault and battery that the husband dished out on Valerie when Nova had been in the house. But that aside, I went over what else the file summarized about the two standing in front of me.

The relationship between father and daughter was more that Quincey was a possession of her father’s, barely allowed to see the mother she shared with Valerie. Or more likely, my PI guessed, Duke used emotional manipulation to cause Quincey to pull away from her mother’s family under the guise it had been her decision.

I read the files on Quincey’s mom and that side of the family. Stephanie and Guy Robertson. They came out smelling like roses compared to these two. There’d been a separation, and the relationship started up with Duke Royas, which was when Quincey was conceived. That relationship ended while she was still pregnant, and Stephanie Robertson went back to her husband. A nasty custody battle ensued after her birth, and Duke won Quincey. Stephanie had Valerie a year later, followed by another girl. Both Stephanie and Guy were physically healthy and attended church every Sunday. Guy was a banker, while Stephanie worked part-time at a local boutique.

I knew Quincey’s older half-brother. I hadn’t been close to Valerie’s family during our casual relationship, but I liked Graham. He was a solid guy from the little bit we did know him. And I say we because Mason knew him as well.

Graham wasn’t like what I was getting from here.

This was a huge estate, not a home. Dead people lived here, and I knew it’d be over my dead body that my daughter was raised in this environment.

If she was my daughter.

I was starting to hate thinking like that. I wanted to know. Now.

We stepped inside, and Mason shot me a look. The doctor was behind us, waiting for our go-ahead.

I could see Mason was getting the same vibe, and in that look, we both knew where the other stood.

I would raise hell and heaven to get my daughter out of here.


“Where is Nova?” Introductions could wait.

Quincey glanced to her father, who didn’t look at her. He was first studying Mason before turning to me. “She’s not here.”

“What?” Mason’s eyes went flat.

I stepped forward, lowering my tone. “We have the doc here to verify she’s mine. I think before we do any sort of talking, that piece of information needs to be settled first.”

“She’s your daughter—”

“I need to see proof.”

He bristled now because I’d ruffled his feathers. His tone was ice cold. “Why would we lie about something like that?”

Mason’s tone was dry. “You’d be surprised the games we’ve dealt with.” His tone was also flat.

Duke let out a small sigh but nodded. He said to Quincey, “Perhaps you could make the call—”

“I’ll go outside and direct the doctor myself.” She’d slapped on a mask before pressing her lips firmly together, stepping around Mason and me, and heading out the door. She never grabbed her purse or phone, just went right outside.

Duke’s mouth flattened, but he regarded us as if a mosquito had been in his eye. “While I wish you weren’t Nova’s father, you indeed are. From what my PI could unveil, Valerie didn’t have an active sex life. She was with you before she was with Nico. There’d been no other partners for her, and since there was already a test done for the husband and that showed he was not Nova’s father, the end results are what they are. Nova is your daughter, though I wish she wasn’t.”

Fucking. Ass. Hole.

Mason and I shared a look.

I was struggling to keep from punching this motherfucker.

He saw that and stepped forward. “How about we start our sit-down.”

Duke raised his head.

Mason clipped out, “That’s not a request.”

Duke’s eyes flashed, showing the ego on this guy. He did not like being told what to do in his own home.

I moved forward. “I’m guessing you’d like us to sit somewhere back here? Considering you don’t have chairs in your entryway.”

I glanced back, seeing Mason waiting for Duke to follow. Duke was glaring at me. Mason was grinning at me. I loved it.

After a second’s hesitation, Duke Royas trailed and then led the way.

He showed us to a formal dining room, and we sat after a lady came out and took our drink requests. Nothing for Mason and I. Royas ordered a bourbon.

Then we waited.

It wasn’t long before Quincey returned, sitting and saying, “Nova is with one of our nannies right now. I called ahead and told them the doctor would be coming. They’re prepared, and I gave your doctor directions. They aren’t far, but we thought the adults should converse before you meet Nova for the first time.”

Right. Because this was going to be fucking uncomfortable.

I didn’t care.

The room was designed for that effect, but this didn’t affect me. Maybe another person, but not me and not Mason. The large chairs looked like they could be thrones. A table that stood at an uncomfortable height when you were sitting down. The room was closed off except for three doors—the hallway entrance and two servant’s doors.

Not one, but two servant’s doors.

No shame to those who use staff, but the vibe I was getting here was that the staff was definitely beneath the lord and lady of the manor.

“Where’s my daughter?” Fuck it. I was acting on the sentiment that she was mine.

My question cut through the room.

Mason sat up, readying.

And Dick and his daughter shared a look.

The Lord Dick was peeved at my bluntness.

He hadn’t even met Logan yet.

He cleared his throat, leaning forward. His hands were folded together, and he rested his arms on the table. “I think we should get to know each other a bit.”

Mason hid a grin, looking at his lap.

He knew the shit that was about to happen. I’d been barely restrained all day—hell, half the night, too. That was a lot of hours to sit and stew since we were now smack dab at four in the afternoon.

Leaning forward, I mirrored his posture and lowered my head. My eyes were locked right on him. “Your daughter came to me. Told me someone whom I’d had an on-again, off-again relationship with for years was dead. Informed me I had a daughter, laid down a birth certificate for proof, then slid a paper across for me to sign away my rights in the very next statement. Sign her away like it was as simple as signing your name on a credit card receipt. Thanks for your meal, sir. Please remember to tip.” I was just getting started. “You—and her—declared war in that move. You’ve been prepared for this meeting. I’m guessing that’s why it took you six goddamn months to notify me. I’m still playing catch-up, but according to what you’re saying, I have a daughter. I’ve not seen my daughter, and I want to see said daughter. I’m within my legal rights to call the police if you don’t make that happen.”

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