The Billionaire's Payment(23)

By: Alexis Moore

“I would have searched the ends of the earth for you, my love.”

My love! He must have meant the words when he’d said them previously. If only I had known.

“I love you, Jared,”

“I love you, Mrs Codrington.”

Jared’s lips covered mine and the world spun crazily around us.

“Who is this, Shakira?”

My grandfather’s voice boomed down on us from the first floor corridor and we hastily broke apart. I looked up to see him glaring down at Jared, his bushy eyebrows meeting in the middle and giving him a comical single straight eyebrow. I took Jared’s hand and he obediently followed me up the staircase.

“This is Jared, Da Da Gyi,” I introduced.

“You have a lot to answer for, young man!” My grandfather pulled himself up to his full height and tried to stare down Jared. If he had remained the sturdy six-footer he had been in his youth it would have been more effective. Instead, he was staring up at Jared, instead of down his slightly hooked nose at him.

“I know, sir.” I admired Jared for not laughing. I wanted to double over at the sight of my overweight, pot-bellied grandfather challenging a younger, fitter man less than half his age. “I intend to make it up to her by throwing her the biggest wedding London’s ever seen and giving her anything her heart desires.”

“She will be married here first…in Mumbai…on my birthday…on Thursday.” Each time he paused for breath, my grandfather poked Jared in the chest. “I’m too old to fly halfway around the world for the wedding and I want to see her married.”

“It will be as you wish, sir.”

Suddenly Grandfather smiled and patted Jared on the back. “I think I will like you!”

“I hope so, sir.”

My grandfather winked and patted my arm as he walked to the staircase and left us together. I could see his shoulders shake and knew he was trying hard not to laugh after playing the part of a strict grandfather. He had been a minor actor in his day and had met my grandmother on a film set. He’d soon realized that he was no Amitabh Bachchan, given up his lofty dream of being a world-renown actor and taken over his father’s steelmaking company. Since I’d come to India, he’d proudly shown me the few small parts he’d played in movies. And I’d finally found out where my mother got her acting skills.

“His bark is worst than his bite,” I told Jared, slipping my arms around his waist.

“He obviously cares about you very much.” Jared hugged me. I laid my head on his broad chest, feeling the disillusionment, the pain, the worry and heartache slip away. “Unlike your parents who simply reported you as a missing person once they’d realized that you hadn’t taken your passport, and did nothing else.”

“They never even bothered to call Grandfather.” I tried to hide how much that had hurt. I knew I could have called them, but I couldn’t help feeling that they were relieved to have me out of their house. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if my mother hadn’t already turned my bedroom into the large walk-in closet she needed for her thousands of outfits. “Not that Grandfather would have told them I was here.”

“Forget about them. I’ll love you enough for both of them.”

“I love you so much, Jared,” I had suppressed the words each time they bubbled on my lips in our week together. I felt like screaming it from the rooftops now. “And the baby we’ll have in six months will love you, too.”

Anxiously, I held my breath at his stunned expression. Then his face broke into a smile wider than any I’d seen.

“Really, sweetheart?”

I nodded, too choked up to speak.

“When did you know?” he demanded, his smile suddenly fading.

“The doctor confirmed it on Monday,” I told him hastily. I would never have kept his child from him. “I was going to fly back to the UK to let you know on Friday, the day after my grandfather’s 70th birthday.”

“You’ve made me the happiest man in the world, my love.”

Before I could respond, he covered my lips with his. I kissed him back fiercely, trying to convey with every fibre of my being that he made me more than happy, more than ecstatic—he made me complete.

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