The American Heir(The Billionaire Duke Series Book 4)(8)

By: Gina Robinson

To Sid's credit, she didn't interrupt.

"Wow," she said when I finished. "That's all I've got. I'm thrilled for you. I'm going to be an auntie!" She laughed, genuinely psyched and happy sounding. "Way to go, sis!"

"Didn't you hear the part about Riggins being very angry with me? To the point of livid."

She laughed again. "What does he matter? It's all immaterial now. He can't divorce you, even if he wants to, without losing Flashionista and everything he's worked for. At least not until little baby heir is born.

"I can't tell you how proud I am! You finally listened to little sis, got knocked up, and now your future is secure." She was teasing. At least partially.

"Yeah, that's the problem." I sighed. "That's what Riggins thinks—that I trapped him into fatherhood."

"Well, he trapped you into marriage. So there's that."

"No, the Dead Duke trapped us both."

She ignored that fact. "Riggins will come around. Especially once he sees the adorable baby you're going to pop out. The two of you are such a gorgeous couple—how could your baby be anything short of adorable?"

I shook my head. She was trying to cheer me up. And it was working, to a degree. "I hope you're right. But it could be a long seven and a half months until the baby's born."

"Not so long. You have that diamond fantasy bra to keep you company. And if worse comes to worst, you can always hock it."

"What if Riggins goes AWOL on me?" My heart broke at the thought.

"Disappear from Flash and a dukedom? It's not likely, is it?"

"My baby sis, the eternal optimist!" I could almost hear her smile. "The thing is—I don't know how I got pregnant—"

"If you don't know that yet, Hale, I can't help you. Do I have to explain the birds and the bees to you? When you and Riggins get naked together and he puts his—"

"Shut up!" I smiled softly.

Sid! She really did cheer me up.

"I should have been clearer. I have no idea how my birth control failed. I was so faithful…"

And then it hit me—given his mastery of manipulating lives, would the Dead Duke leave something as important as his heir's conception to chance? Wasn't that the main point of this entire adventure? If he'd manipulated everything as I suspected, why wouldn't he have done everything he could to make sure I got pregnant? Especially if he'd known, as I was sure he had, that Riggins didn't want to father an heir.

"Hale? Are you still there?" Sid's voice brought me back to the present.

I filed my suspicions away and turned my thoughts to more pleasant topics, the real thing I was excited about in all this drama.

"Sid, hang on. I'm going to text you Clara's letter so you can read it for yourself later." I quickly did so. "You know what this all means?" I said in a rush of excitement. "I think the Dead Duke has been watching us and manipulating our lives for even longer than we imagined."

My voice rose with enthusiasm as I told her my latest theory. "Sid, I think my great-grandfather arranged your adoption. That your father is British and somehow connected to the Dead Duke, at least peripherally."

I detailed my theory. "He didn't do anything that wasn't intentional. I'm guessing he was helping someone out. If I'm right, someone at the castle or in the village might know something about it. I think the Dead Duke is leaving me breadcrumbs."

I could almost see Sid's ears perk up. I wished we'd been FaceTiming.

"Wow. That's a great theory." She paused. "You're thinking we're both somehow connected to Witham House?" There was excitement in her voice at the thought. She laughed again. "Maybe I'm the Dead Duke's bastard child. And the one true heir."

"It's not impossible," I said, running with the gag.

But it was preposterous. If she'd been the Dead Duke's child, I was pretty sure Rans would have arranged for her to marry Riggins, not me. A child trumped a great-granddaughter any day.

I looked upward, thinking and doing a little math in my head. "If that's true, we're related by blood! And that would make you not my half-sister." I concentrated. "My grandma?"

We both laughed because it was so ludicrous. Or was it? We spent a good half-hour trying to figure out what our relationship would be if Rans had sired her. Talking with my fun-loving sister, I almost forgot my problems with Riggins.

"Should I start calling you Granny?" I said to Sid.

"Don't you dare! Let me at least turn twenty-one and go on my bar run before you age me like that. Grannies have to act semi-respectably and sedate, and I'm not ready for that."

I sighed. "You have to come to England, Sid. I need you here. Together we'll play sleuth and find your sibling."

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