All He Really Needs
shoulder a playful shove. “Not
that, idiot. I mean, your father had a long-term mistress and no one thought to
question her?”
    “Sharlene doesn’t know anything.”
    “Sharlene? Why does that name sound familiar?”
    “How should I know?”
    “Sharlene is a pretty unusual name. You’re not talking about
Sharlene Sheppard, are you?”
    “She was Sharlene Davonivich then, but yeah. Why?”
    “And this was before she married Jack Sheppard, your father’s
business rival?” she asked.
    “Actually, this was before Jack Sheppard was his business
rival. They used to be partners. Things went bad sometime after Sharlene and my
father broke up.”
    Sydney let out a low whistle. “Sometimes the history of Cain
Enterprises reads like an Italian opera.”
    Griffin looked slightly abashed. “Yeah. Heartache. Epic
rivalries. It’s like Les Misérables but without all
the singing.”
    She chuckled, then asked, “Are you sure she’s not involved? How
long were they together?”
    Griffin shrugged. “Ten years, maybe.”
    “Ten years? Forget what she knows. Forget this wild goose chase
after a pregnant nanny who may or may not have even slept with Hollister. If
this Sharlene person was your father’s mistress for ten years, then she could be
the girl’s mother.”
    “No.”
    “But you said yourself that your father was selective about who
he let get close to him.”
    “Sharlene doesn’t have any children.”
    “Maybe she gave the baby up for adoption.” She was really
warming to the idea now. It just made sense. “And if she did, that would
certainly explain the bitterness in the letter.”
    “No,” Griffin said. “Sharlene was never pregnant.”
    “You can’t know that for sure. Sometimes when women don’t want
people to know they’re pregnant, they hide the pregnancy for as long as they
can. They go away for the last few months, give birth in private. They—”
    “Sharlene wasn’t the type. She and my father never hid their
affair.”
    “As far as you know.”
    Griffin’s hands rested low on her waist and he rubbed his thumb
across her hip bone absently as he spoke. “You’re right. I’m not a hundred
percent certain. But Sharlene was like another mother to me.”
    He seemed completely unaware of what his hands were doing, but
it drove her crazy.
    She tried to step away, but his grip on her was surprisingly
strong. “So it’s only natural you don’t want to consider that she might have
been the one to write the letter.”
    “Actually, what I was going to say is that when I was a kid, I
saw her at least once a week, sometimes more often. If she’d been pregnant, I
would remember it. If she’d gone away, even for a few months, I would have
noticed.”
    Sydney frowned, realizing he was right. He probably would have
remembered it.
    “Besides,” he continued, finally letting her go. “When they
broke up, it was nasty. If she’d had the kind of leverage a kid would have given
her, she’d have used it then.”
    “You don’t know—”
    “I do know.” His tone was harsher than she’d ever heard it
before; all traces of the easygoing charmer she knew so well were gone.
    For a moment, all she could do was stare at him blankly. Then
she nodded. “Okay. So Sharlene isn’t the girl’s mother. But we should still talk
to her. She might know something.”
    He stared at her for a long moment before finally nodding.
“Okay. I’ll give her a call. See if she knows anything.”
    Before she could say anything else, Griffin disappeared back
into his office and she was left standing beside the conference table, wondering
exactly what she’d said that had driven a wedge between them. And what she’d
gotten herself into.
    If she was honest with herself, it wasn’t the family drama that
surprised her; it was Griffin’s reaction to it. She’d been with him for four
months, for goodness sake. They’d had sex countless times. Spent entire weekends
in bed eating takeout and watching cheesy monster

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