For the last year, Josie Redmond had raised her twin sister's child as her own. Now Adam Burdett could take her boy away. The scion of a prominent South Carolina clan, he'd come home to claim his rightful son. Expecting the fight of her life, Josie was stunned to discover the handsome Southern charmer had a different agenda. The prodigal son who'd turned his back on a whole town was seeking his own redemption. Could Josie help Adam forgive the sins of the past and create the home they'd always wanted--a place where they could both truly belong?
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August 31, 2007
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Excerpt from Somebody's Baby by Annie Jones
The South Carolina sky was black. His boots, jeans, T-shirt, all black. They matched Adam Burdett's silent, gleaming Harley--and his mood.
He narrowed his eyes at the simple frame house before him. Though he had grown up around Mt. Knott, this part of the small town was unfamiliar to him. His family had tended to keep to their fancy homes outside of town and didn't interact much with others.
"Bad for business," his father had said. Better to draw a distinct line between employees or potential employees--which is how they saw everyone in town--and friends. Never ask a personal question. Never commit anything more than a name and face to memory. Never offer more than the job description spelled out on paper. "You do those things," the old man had warned his sons while they stood in the office of his snack food factory, "and it makes it a lot harder to have to fire a person later. And you will have to fire one of them, maybe a lot of them at some point."
According to the letters to the editor in the Mt. Knott Mountain Laurel and Morning News that Adam had read when he hit town a few hours ago, the old man had known what he was talking about. A lot of people in town were out of work. Even more were out of patience with the lack of a solution to their plight. A few were pretty close to being thrown out of their homes.
He gritted his teeth and forced the mixed-up emotions in his gut to quiet. On one hand the failure of his father's factory was just what Adam had wanted. On the other...
He gazed at the humble home again and exhaled, long and low. On the other hand, maybe there was something to be said for making connections, for caring about what happened to people once they walked out the factory door. He never had, and look where his callous attitude toward others had led him.
The empty matchbook in his hand rasped against his thumb as he flicked it open to check the address scrawled there. This was it. In this house, illuminated only by the pulsating light of a small-screen TV, Adam would find his son.
His son. The words tripped over his ragged nerves like a fingernail strummed over taut barbwire. Adam Burdett had a son.
He hadn't even known it until yesterday morning when a slick-haired private investigator had weaseled his way into Adam's office with the news and an unthinkable demand--that Adam sign away all rights to his child, sight unseen. There was about as much chance of that happening as there was of that P.I. ever suggesting such a notion again in this lifetime.
Adam hadn't belted the guy. But then again, he hadn't needed to.
Adam might look like nothing more than a good ol' boy, redneck rodeo rider with beef for brains, but looks, like too many other things in life, could be deceiving. Raised in a family of wealth and influence by a mother who treasured the value of an education, none of the Burdett boys were dummies. They could put thoughts and words together as well as they could fists and flesh.
And Adam had proven as much and then some to that paper-waving P.I. Give up his son for adoption and never look back? Adam huffed out a hard breath. Uh-uh. He'd never do to any child what had been done to him.
He folded his arms over his chest, fit one well-worn cowboy boot over the other at the ankle and leaned back against his parked Harley. EverythingAdam had become in this life--and everything he had failed to become--he owed first to his adoptive mother, who and next to his own father. Whoever that was.
He knew who it wasn't. It wasn't his adoptive father, Conner Burdett, the father of Adam's three brothers. Adopted brothers. It shouldn't have been important to add the "adopted" part. Adam had never felt it mattered to his mother, but to the others?
The long-legged and fair-haired Burdett boys claimed Adam as their own even though Adam's broad, muscular build, dark eyes and angular features told differently. The family never spoke of it outright, but Adam sensed the subtle differences. He knew the gnawing ache of never feeling sure that he truly belonged.
To the outside world, at least, Adam was just one of the wolf pack of Burdett boys. A picture flashed in his mind of the four of them standing on the porch of the huge Burdett home in T-shirts they'd had made with their family nicknames emblazoned on them. Those names not only told of each boy as an individual, but said a lot about the real nature of their relationship in the family.