Pregnant with the Tycoon's Heir - Introduction
The Ladies of the Burling School Series
The bench was cold and hard, five year old Naya thought. She curled herself into a ball, trying to be as small as possible, but the darkness scared her.
“Momma!” she whispered, her eyes huge as she looked around for her mother’s approach. “Where are you, Momma?”
No answer. The darkness grew deeper and she curled up tighter, her arms clinging to her legs. For a moment, she buried her face against her knees, squeezing her eyes shut. “When I open my eyes, Momma is going to be here!” she promised herself. “One. Two. Three!” She opened her eyes and swiveled her head. No one!
Trying to be brave, she shifted slightly since one of the boards on the bench poked her in the back. But nothing she did could make her feel more comfortable.
“Are you okay?” someone asked.
Naya turned to look at the woman. This stranger held a girl’s hand and looked worried.
“I’m fine,” Naya replied with as much confidence as her scared mind could convey…which wasn’t much.
“Is your mother or father around?” she persisted.
Naya watched the small girl press her face against the woman’s thigh. It was exactly what Naya wanted to do, but with her own mother.
“Yes. She’ll be right back.”
The woman stepped a bit closer. “So she was here? Earlier?”
“Yes,” Naya admitted. “We were playing on the swings.”
This stranger didn’t appear to be a danger, but Naya wasn’t sure. When the woman lifted her cell phone up, Naya hoped that she was calling her mother. “Yes, she’s just sitting here on the bench, alone and,” the stranger glanced at Naya’s clothes, “I think she’s cold too. I don’t know how long she’s been out here.”
Naya’s relief almost caused those tears to seep out of her eyes. This woman knew her mother! This stranger had called her momma and told her to come pick her up!
“I’m just going to sit with you for a few minutes, if that’s okay?” the stranger asked.
Nana nodded, eyeing the small girl carefully.
“This is my daughter, Emily. We were walking to the store. What’s your name?”
Naya suspected that she shouldn’t talk to strangers. She’d heard that on television once, but this stranger seemed like a nice lady. Surely, she was safe, right?
“Naya,” she admitted. “Naya Banks.”
The woman smiled. “That’s a very pretty name.” She asked several more questions and Naya answered, even smiling at some of them. When a flashing blue light appeared, Naya didn’t think there was anything wrong. But a moment later, two police officers walked towards her and Naya’s heart pounded, the fear returning.
“Hi, sweetie,” one of the police officers greeted Naya.
The woman and her daughter moved back, leaving Naya alone with the police officers.
“Where’s your mom?” the other one asked.
Since he sounded nice, Naya answered him. “My momma’s coming to pick me up. She was here. But I don’t know where she is now. But she’ll be back.”
The first officer nodded her head. “That’s good. You look a little cold. How about if we take you to the police station and get you a cup of hot chocolate? We’ll call your mom and she can get you from there. Is that okay?”
Naya considered that plan. “But, what if my momma comes looking for me here?”
The police officers glanced at each other, then back to Naya. “Well, how about if we send some other officers out to look for your mom? We’ll tell her that you’re at the police station, warm and safe.”
Naya thought that was a good idea. Besides, she’d never had hot chocolate before, but it sounded pretty nice. “Okay,” she replied, then stretched her legs out, taking the police officer’s hand. The officer rode in the back of the police car with her and, sure enough, as soon as they got to the police station, there was a delicious cup of hot chocolate there, waiting for her! And it was super delicious!
“He’s a jail bird in the making,” the officer grumbled, pushing Pierce forward.
Pierce stumbled a bit, but caught himself before he fell to the floor. Pausing to glare at the man, Pierce turned his attention towards the small, bird-like woman who was smiling down at him. “Who are you?” he asked.
The woman’s smile widened and Pierce noted a few tears coming to her eyes. “I’m your Aunt Rose, Pierce. And I’m so sorry that I didn’t know that my sister had a baby. But I’m here now and…”
“What do you want?” he demanded, mimicking his friends from the foster home. They were tough and only occasionally roughed up by the police, but only if they were caught! So far, Pierce had been fast enough and, because he was small, he could get through spaces the police couldn’t. So it was pretty easy for him to hide.
The cops had been nice to him when he was younger, but lately, they’d become a bit more irritated with his antics. In Pierce’s mind, that was a good thing because it got him in better with the others at the foster home. Being part of the group meant getting food more regularly. Pierce might be small, but he was growing and seemed to always be hungry.
“And?” he prompted belligerently.
She blinked, looking a bit nervous. Pierce understood nervousness, even though he tried to hide his own.
“And I was hoping that you might want to come home with me. Live with me.”
Pierce stared at her, not sure she was telling the truth. “Who else lives with you?”
The woman didn’t understand the question. She glanced up at the police officer who only shrugged. The social worker stepped in. “Your nephew has been in foster care for several years, Ms. Rose,” she started off. “Most of the foster homes take in four or five other kids. He’s asking how many other foster kids you have.”
“Oh!” Aunt Rose whispered, obviously troubled by that response. She looked back at Pierce and he did his best to give this strange, nice-smelling woman his best glare. “Well, I don’t have any other children.” She shrugged her shoulders slightly. “My husband and I were never able to have children but…I’d like to help you. If you’d like to come with me.”
The social worker started to speak up and Pierce suspected that she was about to announce that Pierce didn’t have a choice. But Pierce spoke up before the other lady could say anything, wanting to be the one to make the decision. “Fine. I’ll go with you as long as you have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches,” he said firmly, crossing his arms over his chest just like the older boys liked to do. Pierce thought that it made them look bigger.
The Rose lady smiled and she looked relieved for some reason. “I have lots of peanut butter and jelly, although I only have whole wheat bread. Will that work with you?”
Pierce had no idea what whole wheat was, but as long as it was bread, he didn’t care. Bread was bread. Being the smallest in the foster home, he sometimes didn’t get any of the bread.
The woman smiled and stood up. “Well then, since that’s all settled, are there any other forms I need to sign?”
The social worker shook her head. “Nope. He’s all yours. As a family member, he is now your responsibility.”
Rose nodded firmly. “I’ll take very good care of him,” she replied. Pierce looked up at her, wondering if that was happiness that he heard in her voice. But that was odd. Most people took one look at him and sighed with weary resentment. Why would this lady be…happy?
At this point, he didn’t really care why she was happy. Apparently, the woman had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and that was good enough for him.