Page 7

As he sat and began scrolling through everything, I said, “Her name is Quincey Royas. I got that much from her social media.”

He was reading and reading fast. “Her dad’s name is Duke Royas. Going through her account, I don’t see a lot of pictures of her and Valerie together. They’re sisters?”

“She said they were half-sisters.” I frowned. “Don’t you have practice today?”

Mason glanced up. “I talked to the coach.”

“Right. I’m sure he was fine letting you fly across the country for my emergency.”

He was putting the phone down, moving almost in slow motion. “Nate, you just found out you have a kid.”

“Might have a kid.”

He gave me a look. “You had a fuck-buddy relationship with Valerie, but it was still a relationship. Now the sister shows up asking you to give up your rights. You sign that paper, and she can’t turn around and demand money. It’s smart to be cautious, but considering what else she tried to get you to sign, let’s just assume the kid’s yours. If it were me, nothing is more important than my kids. I’d have a PI on her ass already.”

I nodded to my phone. “I made a call, and they’re on it already. Once I know when I can see Nova, I’ll get a doctor to do the test.”

“Good.” He frowned a bit. “I didn’t call Logan. Does he know?”

The question was valid. When Logan arrived, everyone would know it. He was a tsunami personified.

I paused, reaching behind me for the counter. I knew this question would come up, but Mason was here without his brother. That told me he already understood. If he hadn’t, fuck whatever I decided, he would’ve decided himself.

“Not yet. I’m still digesting it, and I’m pissed.” I gritted my teeth. My fingers gripped the counter tighter.

“I get it.”

I shook my head. “No. You don’t get it.”

He stood, moving slow. Cautious. “I do, Nate. That’s why I’m here.”

I expelled a ragged breath. “If you found out your ex had your kid? She’d kept it from you? And she was dead? And her sister tried to ambush you to give your kid—the one you knew nothing about—away? Not to mention, we still have to verify the kid is mine.”

His jaw clenched, but his words were low. “Well, in that situation, you’re handling it better than I would’ve. I would’ve made moves to destroy the aunt right then and there, even if that’s not what was right for the kid.”

Now he got it.

And he eased up. I felt it in the air. He stood, nodding his head just as a knock came at the door.

He crossed over, signing for the coffee, and brought the cart inside himself.

“You charge that to the room?”

He shot me a grin, pouring me a cup. “You can afford it.”

I snorted as some of the tension eased.

My kid.



“You think she’s mine?”

He paused, giving me a long and steady look. “Yeah, I do. Normally, no, but I don’t know. I think her plan was to catch you before you could process it. And she’s doing it now instead of waiting, in case you happened to find out at some other point. You could’ve come back at them even harder than you might now. She’s being smart, playing her card, and hoping you’d be too shell-shocked to ask questions and would just sign anything she gave you. You read over the paper?”

I jerked my head in a nod. “It looks solid, that I’d be signing away my daughter.”

He swore under his breath.

I sank down on the chair nearest me and caught my head in my hands. “I have a kid, Mase. I might have a kid. I don’t know the first thing about raising a kid. What the hell, man?”

“You do, and you’ll have help. I think that’s the last thing you need to worry about right now. Get some of the other roadblocks out of the way first, then freak out.” He brought over my coffee and sat on the couch with his own. He nodded to my phone. “What other calls have you made? What do you know?”

“I got a preliminary file sent to me thirty minutes before you showed. Quincey Royas, like I said. She’s a principal dancer in the Seattle Ballet Company.”

Mason whistled.

“Or she was up until six months ago when her half-sister died in a car accident. Val was driving on the coast when she lost control and flipped her car during a storm. It went into the ocean, and she drowned.”

Mason winced. “Shit.”

Shit was right.

But I was emotionally locked down.

I wasn’t letting myself think about Valerie right now, thinking about the what-ifs or why-didn’t-I’s.

“She’d divorced her husband, Nico Mancini, and had filed for a restraining order two months before she died. He was threatening to take her daughter away, but that ended when she told the attorneys Nova wasn’t his. A birth certificate was produced, and she had put my name on it. The guy demanded a paternity test, and that was negative. Guardianship transferred to the godmother, Quincey, and Quincey is now living at her father’s estate. Both of them are raising my daughter.”

“That was all in the preliminary file?”

“My PI is good.”

“He’s damn good.”


“Right.” Mason grinned. “I forgot. This Nico guy, is he going to be a problem?”

“I don’t think so.” I expelled a breath. “Restraining order was because he hit her, stalked her. He’s in jail for another case. My PI is looking into it more, but she doesn’t think he’s a problem.”

Mason grunted. “Wanna know for sure about that.”

“No shit.”

“What about the grandad. Who’s he?”

“He runs Royas Casino, but he also runs a national cleaning company that, dude, we’ve used at the house multiple times.” I had a bad taste in my mouth. “She’s rich.”

That meant power. That meant resources. That meant we were fighting a battle where both parties had a PI.

“She’s more than rich. She’s wealthy.” His voice sounded clearer. “But so are you. So am I. So’s my family. This family isn’t anyone we can’t take on if we need to. But, having said that, maybe we’re jumping the gun.”

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