CONTRACTED TO MY STEPFATHER'S SURROGATE SON
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It's difficult to maintain your typical lavish lifestyle when your parents have recently passed away and you can't access your entire financial portfolio until you have children. Charlotte has nowhere to turn when banks and loan sharks start to come after their money. Henry, the son of her father, becomes her last resort, but he has his requirements for paying off her debts and reviving her restaurant. Will Charlotte consent to Henry's marriage? Does Henry have any hidden agendas? How do they divide Mr. Evander's assets when Charlotte realizes Henry is a surrogate child and they are both gold diggers as he would always call herself and her mother?
Oh, DAMN it.
When Charlotte looked at her watch and threw a despondent gaze towards the vacant train tracks, the dejected oath came out as a barely audible condemnation.
A late train arrived. Not really a surprise considering how inconsistent the Sweden rail system is with its schedule.
The crowd of people waiting to board that was gathered on the station's platform,it was generally restless.
"Does anyone have any idea how inconvenient this delay is?" a furious female voice questioned querulously nearby.
As if you couldn't believe it, Charlotte replied in silence.
I have a crucial appointment.
Oh my. as though you are the sole person?
In her throat, a hysterical laughter bubble swelled and vanished. Her own appointment was literally a matter of life or death, albeit it was not quite that serious.
Help was desperately needed, but the cost was beyond hope.
She thought it would be impossible unless a miracle happened.
She also lost faith in miracles. if she had ever. She avoided giving the still-empty railroad tracks one more tense glance. Oh, come on, she silently pleaded, barely holding back the need to say something utterly unladylike.
Not like this, please. in particular not today.
As the minutes passed, she took a calming breath and accepted that she would be late. Silent prayers and unspoken angst had little effect.
She no longer had a cell phone, thus she was unable to notify anyone of her delay. She could use a phone booth, but the chances of locating one at this specific station that actually functioned were slim.
Before collective sighs of relief signaled the approach of a train, a number of impatient waiting passengers started to pace restlessly down the platform, mirroring her own impatience.
Charlotte was made to stand when she entered an overcrowded carriage. Even worse, when the train left the station, it encountered sheets of torrential rain that were slanting down due to the wind and didn't appear to be stopping anytime soon.
Worst. She didn't have an umbrella with her.
A sign that the day and the Deity's might weren't finished with her?
The tragic accidental deaths of her mother and stepfather in France made her overdue for an appointment with a famous law company to learn the details of two wills, so it seemed right in some strange way.
She forced herself to control her emotions as they rose within her. It was not going to result in tears being shed in front of others.
The happiness that had been sadly lacking in her mother's previous marriage had been filled by the kind, affectionate EvanderAlexander, who accepted and treated Charlotte as though she were his own.
That was not the case for his son Henry, who ten years prior had mostly considered Lyra and her seventeen-year-old daughter Charlotte as gold-diggers intending to live a lavish lifestyle at his father's cost.
Given that Lyra had insisted on signing a prenup before being married to Evander, the claim was so absurd it was pitiful. A fact that Henry would have to accept after learning the details of both Evander and Lyra's wills.
Charlotte 's welfare was listed as Lyra's financial responsibility along with the addition.
Within a year of getting married, Henry turned down Evander' invitation to join the board of directors of his company and accepted a lucrative job offer in New York, opting to pave his own way in the financial world.
Charlotte had finished her education, obtained her chef certification, spent some time polishing her abilities in France and Italy, and then she had returned to Sweden .
She had partnered in business with Paul Evans two years prior, invested all of her savings in a chic suburban restaurant, and put in many hours to see it through to success.
She had succeeded in providing high-quality food at affordable costs for a clientele that was rapidly growing.
Life had been fantastic up until Paul had left the nation after emptying their company's bank account and her own due to her careless reliance on him.
Not by chance, the robbery took place the day after Evander and Lyra left on a protracted European tour, assuring a lack of active parental involvement. The police were summoned, attorneys were consulted, and charges were brought, but the legal system moved slowly.
Pride made sure the mess that resulted was her problem, downsized from her rented apartment to lodgings, sold her car, and started using public transportation in an effort to save money.
However, the financial damage had been severe, and reducing personnel by working long periods on my own hadn't helped much either. After the bank stopped providing assistance, she made the best of her financial situation by taking out a short-term, high-interest loan from an unfavorable source.
man who had defined phrases using unflinching facts.
All will be well if you pay on time.
Then came a brief but terrifying don't...and it won't.
Only an idiot could have missed the implications, which were glaringly obvious.
She grimly pondered that borrowing money under such circumstances had not been a sensible decision. Missing a payment had forced her to face the harsh reality of who she was really dealing with.
Not a bank loan representative who has been taught to respond in a way that seems regretful.
Rather, he was a vicious man who worked with needy people who couldn't get loans from traditional lenders and who accepted the terms while conscious of the hazards.
He had described everything to her in terrifying detail, going into great detail about what would happen if she didn't make her payments on time.
Fear couldn't even begin to describe it.
Fear that was nearly overwhelming came close.
She had hardly been able to function. She had not been able to fall asleep and had hardly ever eaten.
She then put aside her pride and asked Evanderfor assistance, which he verbally granted without hesitation.
He promised that he would take care of it as soon as he had access to a fax machine.
Charlotte 's sense of comfort was fleeting. Just hours had passed before she learned that her mother and stepfather had both died in a car accident.
It was Henry who broke the devastating news to her, took immediate charge, and flew from New York to France to handle formalities before boarding a flight to Sweden . He then met with her to discuss the plans and offered support during the funeral service.
Days when she was an automatic pilot, losing sight of time, hiding her anguish in public and giving way to it in private.
Her biological father had been abruptly dismissed from any involvement after being located.
Charlotte remembered a variety of vivid memories
The day Marc Sommers beat Charlotte , Lyraput a few clothes in a suitcase, grabbed Charlotte 's hand, and fled to another city in another State.
Her mother had tried to shield her daughter from the bitter arguments and physical abuse. Her father had been an alcoholic whose ranges had been numerous and volatile.
It was simple to see their leased two-room apartment, Lyra's hard hours at the office, or Charlotte 's school in an unsavory inner-city suburb.
Lyra had struggled to improve their difficult beginnings, and she had been successful.
Lyra's unexpected encounter with Evander, his persistent courtship, and their marriage helped to further improve their lives together.
Charlotte was pulled back to the present by the train's little shift in speed, and when she got off at the inner-city station, she bit back a thankful sign.
A short while later, she used the escalator to descend to street level before rushing to the intersection in time to cross the street at a nearby traffic light.
It poured heavy rain. She stepped into a sizable rain puddle, causing water to spray over her black pants like a fountain. By the time she arrived at the other pavement, she looked and felt like a cat that had been drowned.
Could it possi
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