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Home > Unexpected Treasure (Billionaire Bachelors #8)

Unexpected Treasure (Billionaire Bachelors #8)
Author: Melody Anne

Prologue

“I can’t believe the way the grandchildren are growing like weeds. Little Jasmine is already fifteen, and boy, is she a beauty,” Joseph said.

Sitting on the back deck with the morning sun streaming down upon them, Joseph and his brother George were enjoying light breakfast pastries and coffee while catching up on news about the kids and their week.

“I know, Brother. Little Molly is ten years old now. It feels like it was only yesterday that Trenton was fighting tooth and nail not to get married and settle down, and now he and Jennifer have a beautiful family with two kids. Not to mention their rowdy dog, Scooter, and feisty cat, Ginger.”

“Don’t forget that dang goose. Last time I was there, the rascal got me right in the tush. I need to take my hunting rifle with me the next time that I visit,” Joseph threatened.

“If you’d just bring him some cracked corn like I do, he wouldn’t chase after you,” George said, not even attempting to hide his amusement.

“I’m not bribing a damn bird, and I’m certainly not running from one!”

“Ah, simmer down, Brother. I have a feeling the goose won’t be the end of you — it’s not as if you have a fundamental problem here, and you haven’t hit bottom. So forget that cheeky critter and put the incident behind you” he guffawed, gleeful at making Joseph the butt of his joke. He tended to go a lot over the top when he found something so amusing.

Joseph mumbled something very unbrotherly under his breath, but he let go of his wrath against both George and the animals at his nephew’s home. He had far more important issues to discuss, such as what they were going to eat that night.

“What are the plans for today?” George asked. “With Katherine and Esther out shopping, we can sneak away. I’m sick of golfing. Why don’t we race go-karts again? That was a thrill.”

“I think you’re trying to kill me off, George. You slammed me against the wall the last time we went,” Joseph huffed.

“You’re acting like an old man, Joseph. We still have lots of life left in these old bones.”

“True, George, very true. Fine. I’ll give go-kart racing another try, though I hope that these old bones don’t become these old broken bones. Let’s see how many of the grandchildren we can gather up to go with us.”

The men continued their morning meal as George pulled out the newspaper and flipped to the business section. Though George’s son Trenton was now in charge of Anderson and Sons Incorporated, George still liked to keep up on what was going on in the Seattle area.

Joseph looked up just in time to see George gasp for air, his face white. Frozen with fear for a few endless seconds, Joseph felt his legs finally start working again and he jumped up to help his brother.

“George! What’s wrong? Are you choking? Is it your heart? Speak to me, Brother,” he urged as he leaned over to see what he could do. They’d had enough health scares to last them a lifetime and Joseph didn’t think he could handle another near-death experience in his beloved family.

Just as Joseph began moving to race for the phone, George gestured wildly at the newspaper. Joseph stopped in his tracks and read the largest headline and subheadline on the page: “Billionaire buys flailing computer tech firm: Richard Storm sells East Coast shipping business, brings thousands of jobs to Seattle.”

It wasn’t the article that had Joseph turning as white as his brother. It was the photograph of a man who appeared to be their age — and who looked almost identical to the two of them, just a different hairstyle, some added wrinkles around the eyes, and a short beard covering his face.

“What is this?” Joseph gasped as he sank down in the chair next to George.

“I don’t know. The picture just startled me — that’s all. I’m sure it’s nothing.” George tried to reason it away, but he couldn’t stop staring at the still eyes of the man gazing into the camera. It was like looking into a mirror.

“Well, read the dang thing,” Joseph nearly shouted as he regained his voice. He pointed to a paragraph in the middle of the first column.

“Storm, who was born in Seattle, moved to the East Coast with his adoptive parents when still a baby. He says he owes his hard-work ethic to his father, who was a doctor in Seattle for 25 years before moving his medical practice to Portland, Maine. Storm was orphaned at age 18, when his parents died in a boating accident, and he used his modest inheritance to become a shipper of historic relics, mainly hard-to-find European artifacts from the 15th century. By the time he turned 30” — the newspaper gave a date — “he was worth more than $10 million — almost $60 million in today’s dollars — and he continued to increase his fortune dramatically. Storm is a now a billionaire several times over.”

“He was born here on the same day as we were? This can’t be a coincidence.”

“Let me keep reading.”

“Go on then,” Joseph said, still looking at the picture.

“Apparently, he married young, had five children — four boys and one girl — and then their mother left them. He’s made the move here because he feels it’s the right thing to do for his family.”

“We need answers, and I want them now, George.”

“I couldn’t agree more.”

The two men went inside to Joseph’s large den and looked through the bookcase containing old family albums. When they came upon the album from the year they were born, they sat with it in front of the fireplace.

Less than an hour later, both men were speechless with shock. Richard Storm’s adoptive father was the same man who’d delivered Joseph and George. Their mother even had notes in the album about her doctor, saying how kind he was and how sad she felt that he and his wife were unable to have children.

Only one conclusion appeared likely. This doctor must have seized the opportunity to give his wife a child, too desperate to care about the consequences of ripping another family apart.

“This man, Richard, may very well be our brother,” George gasped as he gazed at the pictures of their mother holding them for the first time.

“But how is it possible she had a third child without realizing it?” Joseph countered.

“You know how different times were back then, Joseph. They didn’t have ultrasounds, and Mother suffered complications during delivery. She’d lost a lot of blood and they had to put her under. Dad wasn’t in the room — back then, fathers didn’t belong there. The only other person in the room with the doctor was his nurse, who also happened to be his wife. They could have easily seen the third child and taken the opportunity to create their own family. Why else would they have moved away so suddenly?”

“I just can’t imagine that happening.”

“That’s because, if this is true, we have a brother out there we’ve missed knowing, and our mother has a child she never knew,” George said, overtaken by sadness.

“One thing I know for sure — we need to meet this man and find out if he really is family.”

“But what do you think that will do to him, Joseph? We would cause upheaval in his life, change everything that he believes about himself and his loved ones,” George said. “Let’s try to be reasonable.”

“Can you honestly do nothing but stand by when a man who may be our kin is so close by? He has children, George, and they are most likely our nephews and our niece. We have to find out the truth, even if it’s a painful one.”

“You’re right, Joseph. Of course you’re right. I just don’t know whether our visit will be a welcome one to this man. Heck, we know nothing about him. What if the man who could be our brother is a terrible person?”

“He can’t be terrible, George. No matter what his birth certificate says, he’s an Anderson, and Andersons are good people,” Joseph said with confidence.

“Right you are, Joseph. Well, you know what this means, don’t you?”

“Of course I do. Go-kart racing is off the schedule today. It looks like it’s time to pay a visit to Richard Storm.”

“I’ll grab my hat. You lead the way brother; I’m right behind you.”

The two men walked out the door, climbed into Joseph’s Mercedes and made their way to the new Storm Corporate offices. Expectant smiles spread across their faces as they neared their destination. Granted, it would be heartbreaking to learn they had a brother they hadn’t had the pleasure of growing up with. But still, if it were true, they were now blessed with a whole line of family members to get to know.

Joseph grinned, thinking of all those first-rate great-nieces and -nephews. More and more babies on the horizon and potential love matches to make.

Chapter One

Two years earlier

“Do any of you have any idea of what this is about?”

“Not a clue. It seems the old man has got something up his keister again. I haven’t gone to bed yet from yesterday. I seriously considered not showing up.”

“You may as well stop complaining about it, because you know how father gets. You don’t want your precious trust fund cut off, now, do you?”

“Shut up, Brielle. You’re the one who’d be hurting if you lost Daddy’s money.”

“All of you should shut up before the old man walks in. The more compliant we are, the sooner our family reunion can end, and the quicker we can get on with our lives.”

“That’s very good thinking, Lance. I know how important it is for you to run from my presence.”

The five young bickerers turned in surprise to find their father standing in the doorway. Richard had to quickly disguise the sadness in his eyes. This wasn’t the time to coddle his children, who, though grown up, were thoroughly spoiled. It was time to do what he should have done years ago, before it was almost too late. He didn’t have much time left, and he feared that his kids would never change if he didn’t act now.

Would they even care that the doctor had given him the grim diagnosis of only three years to live? At this point, he doubted they would. It saddened him to no end how much he had failed them — and he was certain that his failures as a parent had caused the distance among them all.

“Fine, you heard us complaining. We’re sorry, Dad, but we haven’t all been together in one room in years, so what’s the big emergency?” Richard watched as his youngest child, Brielle, walked to the liquor cabinet and poured herself a scotch. She was only twenty-four years old, but she had so much bitterness inside her.

Why shouldn’t she? Their mother had walked out on all of them, but Brielle was the only one who couldn’t remember her — she’d only been three at the time. It made her feel as if she’d really missed out the most. Lance had vague memories, as he had been five, but Tanner, Ashton and Crew remembered the most. The kids were all two years apart, his ex-wife having produced them almost on a strict schedule.

Soon after Brielle was born, Suzanne was done being a mother and left them without ever turning back around. Richard had been too busy for years to date another woman, and when he’d tried, it had always been disastrous, since he’d been too exhausted to put forth any real effort. Eventually, he’d just given up.

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