Billionaire's Purchased Baby

By: Sophia Lynn

Chapter One

"Sir, we're going to be approaching the drop zone in just fifteen minutes."

Tucker Keene waved at the jump instructor, scowling slightly as the sobbing continued on the other end of the line.

"Julia... Julia, I can't talk right now, and as I made perfectly clear two nights ago, we don't have anything else to say to each other."

He could hear her sobbing go up in volume if not in sense, and he gritted his teeth. He had tried to be nice, but apparently, Julia Genovese wasn't a woman who responded to nice. He was never a man who had a great deal of patience or finesse, so that meant that it was likely time to cut right to the chase.

"Julia. That's enough." There was enough sharpness in his tone to cut her off, and that was a mercy at least.

"All right, Julia. Let me be perfectly blunt about this. You're not interesting enough to hold my attention, and sweetheart, if you can't hold it for at least three weeks, what makes you think that I might ever want to marry you?"

His curt words caused some angry squawking, but at least that was far better than the overly dramatic tears that she had been indulging in before.

"Call me again, and believe me, you'll see what kind of asshole I can be. Count on it."

He grinned when Julia got to cursing and hung up, blocking her number with a flick of his finger.

The jump instructor watched him with a raised eyebrow, and Tucker shrugged.

"Some women don't know when to quit," he said with a grin, and the man shrugged.

"I'm sure I wouldn't know, Mr. Keene."

He probably didn't. As one of Fortune 500's richest men in the United States, Tucker's issues with most women could fill a book. They were all overly impressed with his money, and at least all of the ones he had met were overly concerned with getting their hands on it. He wouldn't go so far as to say that all women were gold diggers, but he had met enough to make at least an educated guess that most were. Tucker shrugged inwardly. He liked women just fine when they stayed in the space he set aside for them. The rest of his life was his own, and he had every interest in keeping it that way.

"All right, sir, are you all right for your first solo jump?"

"Absolutely," Tucker said with confidence.

Things in the boardroom had been so stressful lately that it felt as if the only thing that kept him going at all was the idea of being in free fall. He had first gone skydiving a year ago, and between one thing and another, hadn't been able to get his first solo jump, at least until now.

He went through the pre-jump check with the instructor, and in what felt like moments, he was set to fly. Tucker knew what it was going to be like. There was the gut-wrenching adrenaline rush of launching himself into the air, and it would all be over sooner rather than could be believed. In a half hour, he would be back in a limousine, heading for the club that evening, but in between...

In between, he would fly.

Sometimes he thought that that was worth everything.

They had reached the drop zone, and with a deep breath, he launched himself from the plane on the instructor's mark. He exited the plane, hitting an easy 120 miles an hour as he plummeted towards the earth. His entire body lit up with adrenaline and sheer ferocious joy at experiencing what so few human beings ever had.

As he had been trained to do, he reached for the rip cord that would unfurl his parachute, giving it a solid yank. The pull would deploy the black chute, letting him coast down the final 5000 feet to the ground... or at least that was the way it should have happened.

Instead, the cord stopped short, he continued to plummet, and his brain nearly went red with surprise and panic.

Tucker Keene was one of the richest men in the world. He had more luxuries and more wealth than nearly all of the humans on the planet, he was handsome, had slept with stars and models, had had the satisfaction of being born into a family of comfort and then growing that comfort into something truly exceptional...

... and unless he did something very right in the next minute or so, Tucker Keene was going to die.

He fought against the panic in his head. If he gave in, it would freeze him, and then he would die, and they would write him off as one more spoiled billionaire who had died thinking that the rules didn't apply to him. Tucker had never thought that the rules applied to him, but the idea that others would get to be smug about it galled him into action.

In his head, there was a cold countdown going on. The closer he got to the ground, the less good a chute could do. He kept that countdown going as he took a hard grip on the ripcord. His body was in position for the chute to deploy, he sent a prayer up to a god that he wasn't sure that he believed in, and he yanked with all of his strength.

For a moment, there was nothing, but then there was an almighty whoosh of air, and he felt as if some great hand had grabbed him and yanked him back from what was meant to be certain death. Later on, he would find a line of bruising all the way around his broad chest where the harness had dug into him, but for now, all he could feel was his body floating over the earth, his parachute full and safely deployed above him as he started the glide down to the ground.

On his other jumps, this was the moment where Tucker felt exalted. He would look out over the curve of the world below him, the trees, the roads, the buildings, and he would feel as if it all belonged to him, as if he were an integral part of it.

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