Home > The Billionaire's Family Secret

The Billionaire's Family Secret
Author: Danni Lee Nicholls

Chapter 1



Leah Thomas’s eyes widened as she walked into the front entrance of the home of who she hoped would be her new employer, but she didn’t have time to take in the luxury that greeted her.

“This way, miss.” The gentleman who’d answered the door held her attention with his kind blue eyes and thinning white hair. He was dressed in a suit, and Leah wondered if he would be her patient. So far, she had nothing but questions when it came to this job opportunity.

“Please, have a seat.” The gentleman’s voice was refined. “May I get you anything? A glass of sweet tea, perhaps, or some water?”

Suddenly, Leah’s throat was parched. “Yes, please,” she replied. “Water will be nice.”

Before she sat down, the man returned with a frosty offering, ice clinking against the glass. Leah smiled and took the glass, downing half its contents in several gulps. The cold liquid revived her as it flowed through her body.

She smiled at the man. “Will you be my patient?” she asked.

The gentleman chuckled, his face dissolving into a papery, wrinkled smile. “Me? Heavens no. I believe you’re here to look after Mr. Michaels’s parents. He’ll be with you momentarily.” The man disappeared without a sound.

Leah settled on the sofa and looked over the room. High-coffered ceilings with dark beams contrasted with a creamy background. A huge stone fireplace connected the ceiling to the mahogany floors. Floor-to-ceiling windows ran the length of the room, and the view of Beaver Lake and the hills beyond took Leah’s breath away. Still holding her glass, she stood and walked to the window to take in the late spring day from the cool, comfortable home.

Everything was spotless, and Leah wondered who cleaned this place. Her mother would need to work here full-time if she wanted to keep up with a job this big. Leah squashed the niggling discomfort that bubbled to the surface of her thoughts. This wasn’t the time to think of her family.

“The view is really something, isn’t it?” Another man’s voice came from behind Leah, startling her into dropping the glass of water. It shattered on the hardwood floor, sending ice and glass skittering across the room while a puddle of water formed at her feet.

Heat rose from her belly, searing her skin and making her hands clammy. “I’m so, so, sorry. I—” She dropped to her knees to clean up the mess but didn’t have a rag. Desperately, she began picking up shards of glass. Maybe she needed to use the hem of her blouse.

The man got down beside her. “Please, don’t fret.” His voice was soft and forgiving as he helped Leah to her feet. “It’s my fault. I startled you.”

Leah continued to stare at the mess of glass and water. “If I’d stayed put on the couch, the whole mess would’ve been avoided.”

A middle-aged woman materialized from nowhere, carrying several fluffy white hand towels. She dropped to Leah’s feet and hurriedly wiped up the mess. “Don’t move,” she said softly. “I’ll pick the glass from your slacks.”

Even though Leah couldn’t see her face, she recognized the duty, and a creep of shame rose up Leah’s neck. This woman did the same kind of work as her mother, cleaning the messes others made. The coloring in her face deepened. She was responsible for this particular wreckage. She held still while the woman picked off shards of glass from her white jeans.

The man bent down to inspect Leah’s knees. “Are you hurt?” he asked, looking up.

Leah’s mouth fell open as her attention moved from the maid to the man’s face. His blue eyes, framed in long dark lashes, were full of concern. His brown hair fell over his ears, and his aquiline nose was perfectly centered, with a strong jaw rounding out his perfection. She lowered her eyes, away from his gaze, hoping her face wasn’t as flushed as she thought. “No. No. I’m fine,” she choked out. Even if her knees were cut, Leah doubted she’d feel anything after gazing into those brilliant blue eyes.

The cleaning woman stood, holding several towels’ worth of ice, water, and glass. Gently, she took the shards from Leah’s hand.

“Thank you, Marguerite,” the man said.

Leah turned her attention back to the maid. She was dressed in black cotton slacks and a white T-shirt. Her long hair was folded into a comfortable and efficient bun, and her eyes were black and snappy.

The woman smiled at the man and then at Leah before silently padding away.

“See? No harm done,” the man said.

Leah studied the mahogany floor. A small dent remained where the glass had hit the wood before shattering. She kept the observation to herself.

“I’m Trev Michaels.” The man put his hand out.

Leah grasped his fingers, appreciating his firm grip before hurriedly releasing him. Her reason for being here didn’t involve flirting with an attractive man or getting lost in his gorgeous eyes. She was here to interview for a job as a caregiver to the elderly parents of Mr. Michaels—if he would have her after her clumsy introduction. “I’m Leah Thomas.”

“Yes.” Trev ushered Leah back to the sitting area.

She tried to regain her composure as she sat in a chair, leaving the sofa for Trev.

Once settled, Trev began again. “Your résumé is impressive. This coming school year, you’ll be a senior at the University of Arkansas studying nursing, but it sounds as if you want to go on to medical school with a specialty in geriatrics.”

Leah grinned, the earlier humiliation retreating from her mind. The very thought of becoming a doctor made her happy. “Yes. I’m hoping that by becoming a nurse, I’ll be able to pay at least part of my way through school.”

Trev returned her smile. “According to your résumé, you’ve already made the dean’s list and you’re on track to graduate with honors.” He placed his left ankle across his right knee and stretched his arm across the back of the couch, settling into his seat.

Leah’s heart skipped. Trev Michaels wore his clothes easily; a pair of jeans and a royal-blue linen shirt matched his eyes perfectly. The sleeves were rolled to the elbow, showing strong arms and perfect hands. His tousled brown hair brushed his collar. She glanced at his feet encased in a pair of loafers. Were those white athletic socks poking out from underneath the hem of his pants? Leah tried not to smile at the fashion faux pas for a man so put together. She cleared her throat. “Yes. I work really hard for my grades.”

Trev followed Leah’s gaze and smiled. “You’ve noticed my socks.”

Leah bit her tongue. How many ways could she screw up this interview? “Umm, yeah.” She ducked her head.

Trev’s deep laugh resonated within Leah, causing her to look up. What did he find so amusing? This interview wasn’t going the way she’d envisioned. They weren’t supposed to be talking about socks. She hoped he wouldn’t ask her where she did her shopping, because she wasn’t exactly in a position to pass fashion judgment on anyone with her white Goodwill jeans, her faded yellow blouse, and her own worn footwear.

Taking a deep breath, she loosened a little and raised the hem of her pants. “See? I wear socks, too,” she confessed.

“And tennis shoes,” Trev teased.

Leah warmed with the exchange. This wasn’t an agency where everything had to be prim and formal during the interview process. She could relax a little. She let go of the tension and settled into her chair. “Being able to move around is more important to me than fashion,” she said. “And …” She hesitated. “I kind of have a thing for feet. I like mine to be comfortable.”

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