Home > The Billionaire's Christmas Son

The Billionaire's Christmas Son
Author: Leslie North




The Christmas Day photo session had been excruciating.

Jonas hoped that the rest of his family hadn’t noticed how unbelievably tense he was—how sweat prickled at his hairline. How he couldn’t stop looking at the photographer he’d hired. She was utterly professional and charming, and everyone had loved her. And the problem was that Jonas had loved her, too.

Well—he’d made love to her, almost three years ago. A one-night stand, showing up to be his last-minute photographer. How did something like this happen? He knew the broad outlines of how—the man he’d hired bowed out because of a family emergency, and he’d suggested Rachel Alexander. Someone local enough to make the trip to the resort at the last minute. Jonas had been relieved when a replacement was found, so much so that he’d asked her to stay through the New Year to photograph the family events over what could end up being his grandmother’s last Christmas.

He hadn’t recognized her name.

But he would never forget her face, or her eyes, or her body. It hit him in waves—she’d never told him her name, and he’d never looked her up. It had been here, at the resort, after the place had been through a precarious year. Jonas wanted one night for himself. A night off to relax.

One night of bliss and then she’d checked out the next morning. For him, it was back to the daily routine called life and that was the end of it. He’d thought of her. Of course he’d thought of her. He couldn’t stop. But he’d never done anything about it. Chasing down one-night stands wasn’t his role as the oldest Elkin brother, in charge of the resort.

Until now.

The rest of his family was ensconced in the living room of his grandmother’s apartment at the opulent Elk Lodge, a fire crackling merrily in the fireplace, and the room staged to perfection by an in-house staff of interior decorators, when Jonas reached the end of his patience.

Rachel—her name was Rachel—sat quietly at the side of the room, snapping photos of the day every so often. He approached her in what he hoped was a very relaxed manner, but the muscles across his shoulders were tight as could be.

“Hi, Jonas,” she said, getting up from her seat and looking down at her camera. “Was there another photo you wanted? I can—”

“Stop pretending,” he said in a low voice.

Her smile faltered, and her eyes widened.

“You never told me your name,” Jonas ground out.

Rachel blushed a deep scarlet and pulled her camera close to her body. “Honestly,” she said softly, “I thought you wouldn’t recognize me. It was a few years ago.” Her glance cut down to the side. “Maybe it’s best if I leave.”

“Can we talk about this? Because I don’t think—”

“I didn’t know it was you, but it’s okay.” She waved him off. “You don’t have to worry. The photos are lovely, and I’ll have them to you as soon as I can.” She gathered up her camera bag, waved at his family, and hurried for the door, only stopping briefly to glance back at him. “Thank you for hiring me for the job.” The front door of his grandmother’s apartment opened and shut, hiding her from him again.

Jonas’s heart wouldn’t settle down. This was how the one-night stand had ended—with a door opening and closing, and Rachel disappearing. Wait—had she just ended the job? He’d hired her through the New Year.

“Do you like the new sweater?” Gabe’s hand came down on Jonas’s arm, causing him to jump. “Wow. Tense, much?” his brother asked, frowning.

“The sweater is great,” Jonas said. “I can’t wait to wear it.”

Gabe looked him in the eye. “Is something wrong? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”

“You know what, no. No.” No, I can’t let her walk out of here. For one thing, I paid her for all this time. For another, there are things I want to say to her. I’m not sure what, exactly, but I can’t let her walk away. “There were other—other photos I wanted. I’ll talk to the photographer about it before she calls it quits for the day.”

“It’s Christmas,” chided Gabe. “Aren’t you going to let her have a little time with her son?”

He’d forgotten about her son. Rachel had wanted to bring him along for the job since it would be over the holiday, and Jonas had agreed, not thinking twice about it. Well, he’d catch her before she and the boy took off. There was plenty for a kid to do at the Elk Lodge.

“Of course I am,” Jonas said. “I’ll be back in a minute.”

He felt Gabe’s eyes on his back as he went out into the hall. The expanse of plush carpet was empty, the elevator humming at one end, and he stabbed at the button impatiently. It was so slow. He couldn’t bear the wait. After fifteen seconds, he hustled for the stairwell, taking them down two at a time. There was a separate elevator for the guest rooms—and she was more than likely headed there.

He burst into the vaulted lobby a few moments later, into the swirl of elegant Christmas decorations and soft music. Glancing around, he caught sight of Rachel by the enormous Christmas tree, tucking a length of jet-black hair behind her ear. She was grinning down at something he couldn’t see because of a huge leather sofa blocking his view.

Another woman stood close by, her red hair piled on top of her head in a loose bun. Lisa, the resort babysitter, who was on call for any family who needed one. He blinked, moving closer without thinking.

And then he came to an abrupt halt.

The little boy had come into view, and—he was a miniature version of Jonas. Rachel had black hair and blue eyes, but this little boy had Jonas’s dark blonde hair and his chin, too.

His heart stuttered to a start again.

Her son. The little boy couldn’t have been much more than two, and he pulled gently at Lisa’s hand as they stood, swaying toward the tree and back again.

Oh, God. No wonder she wanted to leave. If what he suspected was true—if this was his son. “Rachel,” he called out, before he’d thought about what to say.

She straightened, turning to meet his gaze.

“Mr. Elkin.” Lisa gave him a nod and said something he couldn’t hear to Rachel, and then turned to leave. “Merry Christmas,” she told them all, waving until she was out of sight around the corridor.

Jonas wanted to talk to Rachel about the one-night stand, but that seemed insignificant now—laughably so. He went to where she stood with the little boy, irresistibly drawn to them both. It was an awkward moment and he stuck his hands in his pockets to cover any sign of nervousness.

Rachel bit her lip.

The little boy stared up at them, small lips pursed.

Outside, the Colorado snow came down in gentle flakes, the cool light tempering the golden glow from the hundreds of lights inside the lobby. It was as though time stood still.

“I was going to tell you—” Jonas racked his brain for what he’d come to tell her. “I was going to say that I didn’t want you to leave on account of what happened between us. Before.” He dragged his eyes from the boy’s and back to Rachel’s—a lighter blue than his own. “But I think there’s something else I should know. Something more important.”

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