Chapter 3 - Accidental Surrogate for Alpha


Three days to go.

I repeat these words to myself as I walk down the street, still preoccupied with my possible pregnancy, even as I prepare to go to bat for my sister. In some ways it's a coping mechanism: I’m about to beg Dominic Sinclair to save Cora’s job, and I need a comforting thought to help me get through this.

His bodyguards see me first, and I can see their mouths moving as they watch me move closer, no doubt notifying him of my presence. Approaching nervously behind Dominic, I wonder for the hundredth time if this is a mistake. Who am I to ask a favor from one of the most powerful men on the planet? Shaking myself, I tell the little voice in the back of my mind to shut up – this is for Cora. I might not be brave for myself, but I can be brave for her.

“Mr. Sinclair?” I ask hesitantly, feeling my heart pound violently against my ribcage.

He turns around and gazes imperiously down at me. “Yes?”

“I’m Ella Reina, I nanny for Jake and Millie Graves.” I begin, gnawing on my lower lip.

His dark eyes catch on my mouth, and suddenly I feel like a frightened rabbit in front of a hungry wolf. “I know who you are, Ella.” The sound of my name on his lips sends a shiver down my spine. He speaks the familiar syllables with so much purpose, as if they truly mean something to him.

“Oh… well, I don’t mean to be impertinent, but I’m friends with Dr Cora Daniels…”As soon as I say her name, his expression closes off, and some unidentified emotion flashes in his eyes.

“She told me she’s in trouble at work, and I know you’re one of the bank’s donors.” I improvise. “I don’t know what Cora is being accused of, but I’m sure she’s innocent. She takes her job incredibly seriously, and she would never do anything to risk her career.”

“And what do you expect me to do about it?” Dominic asks ominously. I can tell he doesn’t believe my weak story, his body language has changed completely, and I can feel his rising anger vibrating in the air around us.

“I just thought… I hoped that if you had any sway there, you might be able to put in a good word for her.” I finish, feeling color flood my cheeks. I’m both ashamed of myself for such a feeble attempt, but unsure how else to handle such a delicate topic. The last thing I want is to get Cora in even more trouble than before.

Dominic’s jaw ticks as he watches me, and the voice in the back of my head urges me to run for it. “From what I’ve heard, your friend made a very serious mistake, and the consequences have been more than appropriate. The best thing she can do now is take responsibility for her mistakes, not sending you to do her dirty work for her.”

“I – she didn’t, she doesn’t even know I’m here! I swear.” I plead.

“I’ve said all I’m going to say on this matter.” Dominic declares, turning away from me and striding into his house. The door slams shut behind him, and I’m left with his various bodyguards.

“You need to leave now, miss.” One of the men announces sharply.

“I can’t.” I moan, “he has to understand, she’s going to lose everything!”

“We’re not going to ask you again.” A second guard growls, a clear threat in his words.

“Please, she’s innocent.” I beg, “you have to –” before I can say anything more, the men grab me by the arms and begin trying to lead me off the property. Feeling truly desperate, I dig in my heels, deciding that my dignity is worth Cora’s entire future. “I’m begging you, if I could just talk to Mr. Sinclair.”

“You’ve already talked to him.” The first guard grumbles, “and frankly you’re lucky he was as generous to you as he was. Your friend clearly told you things she shouldn’t.”

The next thing I know, they’ve thrown me off the property and onto the sidewalk so forcefully that I lose my balance, tumbling to the ground as tears spark in my eyes. The iron gates slam shut behind me, and I have no choice but to slink off before I can embarrass myself further.

Of course, this was only the beginning of my misfortune. When I arrived at work the next day, I found that my keys no longer fit the locks on the front door. I knocked, overwhelmed with confusion, and a few minutes later the door swung open to reveal Jake and Millie’s furious mother.

“My keys aren’t working.” I tell her, wondering why she’s glaring at me so fiercely.

“They’re not meant to.” She answers coldly, “as of yesterday afternoon, your services were no longer required.”

“I… you’re firing me?” I squeak, not believing my ears. “Why?”

“We got a call from the neighbors.” She explains haughtily, “apparently you let Jake run into the road the other day where he was almost hit by a car! And then yesterday you were seen making a fool of yourself at Dominic Sinclair’s home – they said his bodyguards had to drag you off the grounds like a common criminal.”

“That isn’t fair, that isn’t what happened!” I plead. “Jake through his toy into the road and ran after it, I didn’t let it happen, and what happened with Mr. Sinclair was a misunderstanding.”

“I don’t want to hear it.” She hisses. “Now leave before I call the police.”

“Please, can’t I at least say goodbye to the kids?” I request, praying she’ll grant me this one kindness.

“I’m dialing.” She tells me simply, pulling her cell phone from her pocket.

“No!” I raise my palms in supplication, “It’s okay, I’ll go.”

For the second time this week, I find myself shamefully retreating through this opulent neighborhood with tears streaming down my face. What hurts even worse than losing my job is the fact I didn't get to explain the situation to Jake and Millie, or see them one last time. I’m sure their mother will tell them horrible things about me, despite the fact that I’ve been lovingly raising for them for the last two years.

I know Dominic Sinclair is responsible for this. I don’t believe my ex-boss’s story about the neighbors for one moment. He clearly wanted to punish me, just like he’s having Cora punished. A rush of fury takes hold of me, and suddenly I wish I could punish him somehow. It’s not like me to be so vindictive, but right now it truly feels like my entire life is falling apart, and it’s partly his fault.

I spent all my money on the insemination, and without a job I have almost nothing. How am I ever going to afford to have a baby now? I guarantee I’m not going to get a good reference from Jake and Millie’s mother.

As if things weren’t already bad enough, when I return home I find a stack of bills in the mailbox and I don’t even recognize half the senders. I open them one by one, feeling my confusion and disbelief grow by the minute.

As I look at the stores on the breakdown of charges, my suspicion grows: they’re all Mike’s favorite places. Is it possible he did this behind my back? That he’s been hiding the bills from me for months… or years? I know he’ll deny it if I confront him, which leaves me only one option.

I have to call Kate. My former best friend might have betrayed me completely with her affair, but if anyone knows what Mike has been up to, it’s her.