Book: Tough and Tender (Bad Boy Romance Box Set)

Next: Chapter Two

Chapter One

The plane touched down in JFK without incident, and it was mere minutes later when a tall, very good looking man emerged carrying a small leather case.

Blake Harrington Carter adjusted the dark aviators atop his blade of a nose, letting his grey eyes run over the unfamiliar surroundings before making his way down with the rest of the passengers.

He was back. To a place he hadn’t called home for the past eighteen years, not since he’d moved with his British mother to England. There’d never been a reason to return – not a good enough one anyway. And yet now at age twenty-eight he’d arrived and was finally going to meet a father he hadn’t seen or spoken to in all that time he’d been gone.

He’d written his father months earlier informing him of his planned visit. And though he wasn’t exactly expecting a red carpet treatment, it would have been nice if someone came out to meet him, he mused. He glanced around at the crowd waiting as he finally made it through arrivals, but didn’t see any familiar faces.

He should have known he wouldn’t be getting an overjoyed welcome. After all it had been almost two decades since Blake had left with his mother when she decided to separate from his dad. They’d never been that close and yet...

Totally oblivious to the admiring looks from many of the women standing by, he strode out of the airport with his luggage and into the New York sunshine. He glanced around for a taxi.

“Excuse me, sir?”

Blake turned at the sound of the stranger’s voice, and found a heavily built male of average height dressed in a chauffeur’s uniform standing there. Blake frowned slightly.


“Mr. Blake Carter?”

This time, Blake scowled. “Are you from my father?”

The man seemed to sigh with relief. “Yes, sir. I was sent to pick you up,” he replied, indicating a gleaming Mercedes parked a few yards away.

I almost forgot, Blake thought cynically; I have a father as rich as sin.

“I’ll help you with your suitcases, sir,” the driver said as Blake made for the luxurious car without another word.

“I can manage,” Blake said curtly, and then quickly regretted his short tone.

No need taking it out on the guy, he chided himself. Man was only doing his job.

“I’m Chase, sir,” said the driver once the bags were locked in the trunk and Blake had slid in beside him in the front passenger seat. “And I’d like to say welcome home. Your father told me a lot about you. I’m glad we’ve finally had a chance to meet.”

“Nice to meet you, Chase,” Blake said informally, putting out his hand. “And thanks; it feels good to be back home. And you can call me Blake.”

Soon they were threading through rush hour traffic and Blake barely took in the scenery from his tinted windows, his mind far away as he wondered about his father having anything to say about him at all – to anyone.

As if reading his mind, Chase added lightly, “Your father asked me to apologize that he couldn’t meet you at the airport himself. He’s in the middle of a crucial meeting and couldn’t get away.”

Blake’s lips slanted in an ironic smile. “I understand perfectly.” He’d understood for years – but his mother couldn’t. That was one of the reasons she’d left his father after thirteen years of marriage. His father, the workaholic, the business mogul. He’d rarely ever found any time to spend with his wife and young son. And then when Blake’s mother, Sophie Harrington, couldn’t take it anymore she’d packed up and left, taking the ten-year-old Blake with her. In time the divorce came through and Sophie successfully closed that chapter on her marriage and eventually moved on with her life.

What had always surprised Blake the most was that his father had never fought to get his only son back. Not even for holidays or summer visits. It had taken him a long time to realize his father must have actually been relieved that Blake had chosen to leave with his mother. Months turned into years...and not a word was ever exchanged between father and son. Until now.

“Your father said to take you to the villa, his home just half an hour’s drive from here.” Once again, Chase cut into Blake’s brooding thoughts. “He plans to join you once he’s finished with the meeting.”

Blake nodded, channeling his reflections to the here and now. Within the comfort of the car’s plush interior, he went over his earlier words. Did it really feel good to be back? Had it been wise to return to a father who’d never cared to see him?

And yet Blake knew he’d needed to come back. Back to his roots, his home. Whether it had been a wise decision remained to be seen.

Next: Chapter Two