By: J. S. Scott

Don’t show it! I can’t let him know I’m overwhelmed and having problems dealing with everything that’s happening right now. He needs me, and Dane’s going to need me just as much.

I forced myself to nod at Sebastian, trying to silently signal to him that everything would be okay, but I could tell he wasn’t quite buying it.

We both knew that our lives had been profoundly changed in a matter of moments, and that nothing would ever be the same again.

Chapter One


The Present…

“Mr. Walker is ready for you now.” The disapproving female voice was attached to a body and face that could easily belong to a supermodel.

I looked at the woman, tilting my chin just a little as I stood. I was poor, I was hungry, and I was desperate. But I’d be damned if I’d let Ms. Perfect know that. Maybe it was obvious that I wasn’t rich, but I’d never let her know that I was intimidated by my lack of funds. I wasn’t as impressed by billionaires as my mother had been, and I’d never longed for wealth.

All I’d ever really wanted was to live a happy life, an existence without fear. So far, I hadn’t gotten there…yet. But I refused to give up trying.

People are people, and the rich can be just as evil as a person stuck in poverty.

I nodded at her. “Thank you.” Not that I was grateful that she’d kept me waiting for hours just to talk to her boss, but I said the words because I was used to being polite. My father had taught me good manners from the time I was able to speak. He’d always said that you get what you give. I’d found his theory a bit flawed over the years since he’d died, but I did believe he was, for the most part, correct. So I did try to remember his words, and I tried to be cordial to everyone.

Unfortunately, my Latina side wasn’t always as patient as my dad had been.

I’d been waiting nearly all day in the downtown Denver skyscraper that belonged entirely to Walker Enterprises just to see him. Trace Walker was a man I was inclined to dislike, but he was my only hope at the moment, and I was a survivor.

Trying to act like I belonged on the top floor of this elegant building—which I didn’t—I strode across the office until I reached the perfectly put together blonde female, trying my best to look dignified in a pair of torn blue jeans and a t-shirt that had seen better days. My dark, curly hair was neatly pulled into a tie at the back of my neck. Still, I knew I probably looked exactly like what I was: a poor woman who didn’t have a cent to her name.

Some of the nicer people would call me a latte, or a spicy cracker. Half Mexican and half Caucasian, I was actually what the not-so-nice people called a mongrel or a mutt. Just like a mixed breed dog, I didn’t know where I fit into the world, or exactly who I was. All I knew was that I’d stooped low enough to seek out a Walker, which meant that I had nowhere else to turn now.

Ms. Perfect opened the door to Trace Walker’s inner sanctum like it was a solemn occasion. I wondered if she ever smiled, and if she did, what would happen? Mostly likely, her face would crack. Her tight, stoic, frowning expression hadn’t broken all damn day, even though I’d been unfailingly pleasant to her.

Obviously, she didn’t much care what she gave…or what she got back. Not when it came to a woman like me anyway.

I brushed by her, trying not to get another glimpse of her snooty expression. For hours, she’d been looking at me like I was a cockroach that needed squashing, and I was getting tired of it. There was a limit to my affability.

When I had finally entered Trace Walker’s office, I didn’t notice the classy contemporary décor or the expensive modern art on the wall. I didn’t see the amazing floor to ceiling windows that exposed an incredible view of the city from the top floor. It wasn’t because his office didn’t encompass all of those things and more. I just…

I couldn’t.

My eyes riveted immediately on him, and I was incapable of looking away.

Trying to remind myself that I couldn’t and wouldn’t actually like him, I walked slowly toward his enormous desk, unable to ignore the wholly masculine pheromones that seemed to emanate from his massive form.

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