“I want to see them,” she said.
He raised an eyebrow. “Are you sure? I can get rid of them and make certain they never return.”
“I have some things I’d like to say to them.”
She pressed her lips together and considered several different angles. The Carstairs loved to interrupt people. Neither of them listened to anybody when they spoke. Somehow she had to take control of the situation and not give them the opportunity to go off on a rant. Once she got started, Vivian Carstairs couldn’t stop. She would rail at Bianca until she ran out of breath.
“I’m not leaving you alone with them,” Christian said.
“I want you there for emotional support.” She lifted her hands. “But I don’t need you to take over or speak for me or defend me. Okay? Can you just stand there and be silently supportive?”
She’d never been in the conference room before. The cold, impersonal decor set her teeth on edge and made her wish she had asked Christian to stage the meeting with her former in-laws somewhere else. Being in familiar surroundings would have given her the advantage. It was too bad she hadn’t thought of that earlier. She moved away from the door and placed the long table between her and anyone entering the room.
The Carstairs charged in, ready for battle. Marcus’s face was bloated and red; Vivian had the pinched look of someone who had bitten into something sour. She clutched her designer bag with both hands as if she thought Bianca wanted to steal it.
Bianca stood up straighter, gathering strength from Christian. True to his word, he stood behind her and let her do the talking. It was her moment, her chance to stand up to the Carstairs. In the past, she had allowed them to use her for a doormat. A shy eighteen-year-old, she had lacked the confidence to fight back, but that was behind her. She was a different person now, and she couldn’t wait for them to see that.
Wearing a beige power-suit with a high neckline and modest skirt that fell to her knees, Bianca presented a new image, a professional image to share with the world. She stood with her hands clasped in front of her stomach. Head held high, she steeled her body to keep it from shaking. “There is something you need to know about your son,” Bianca said.
Vivian glared at her over the table. “I knew you would latch onto another wealthy family given time. My poor, sweet Thomas was worried about you even after you lied and deceived your way into his heart. I told him not to spare you a second thought. Nasty cats like you always land on their feet.” Vivian sneered. “But you land on your back, don’t you?”
Christian stiffened at the insult.
“Thomas lied to you,” Bianca said while keeping her cool. “He had sex with me at a party when I was only seventeen.”
“You seduced him,” Vivian said.
“He pushed me into marriage.” Bianca kept her emotions in check. Christian had taught her to let others lose their cool while she remained calm. Angry, sad, and scared people made mistakes. “I thought he had fallen in love with me. Now I know he was just covering his butt in case I went to the police.”
“Police?” The color drained from Vivian’s face, and her husband patted her on the back. “Why on earth would Thomas be worried about the police?”
Before Bianca could respond Christian intervened. “Your son took advantage of an inebriated seventeen-year-old girl. Some might even say he raped her.”
Bianca flinched at the word.
“Is that what she told you?” Vivian’s voice rose in volume, and her pitch turned hysterical. “She’s aliar!”
The carefully crafted confrontation expanded out of Bianca’s control. She squeezed her eyes shut and spoke over them without yelling. “Thomas doesn’t want children,” Bianca said. “He got mad and evasive whenever the subject came up, and the only time he wanted to have sex was after the two of you came down on him to produce an heir. When I didn’t get pregnant and you started talking about sending us to a doctor to find out which of us had the problem, he told me he’d already had himself checked. He claimed to be fine. He told me outright I couldn’t have children, that something was wrong with me. But he lied.”
Christian’s eyes narrowed. He was obviously wondering how she knew that and when she’d discovered the lie. Thankfully, he wouldn’t ask her in front of the Carstairs. That was good. She didn’t want to tell him about their baby with those terrible people in the room.
Marcus and Vivian exchanged a skeptical look. They would stick up for their son to the bitter end no matter what the evidence. Vivian always did most of the talking for the couple. It wasn’t surprising when she asked, “How do you know it was a lie? Did you talk to our son’s doctor? Did you see a copy of his lab tests?”
Bianca crossed her arms and lifted her chin. “I saw a doctor earlier today, and he is one-hundred percent positive that I am extremely fertile and could easily get pregnant.”
The Carstairs started to squabble with each other over the ordeal. Neither wanted to believe Bianca’s testimony, but they couldn’t agree on how to prove she was lying. Vivian slapped her purse against the table’s surface as she argued with her husband over what to do next.
Bianca teetered on her feet, feeling lightheaded all of a sudden. Her stomach churned. She certainly didn’t want to get sick in front of Christian before she had the chance to tell him about the baby. After taking a couple of breaths to calm her stomach, she finished with the Carstairs.
“If you want to put on blinders when it comes to Thomas, that’s your choice. Just leave me out of it. Don’t stick your nose into my business again. Don’t badmouth me in public or I will sue you. I can prove Thomas lied, and he might even end up in serious legal trouble. I am sure you don’t want that.”
Christian had security show the Carstairs out. As soon as they were gone, he wrapped his arms around Bianca and placed a soft kiss on her temple. Her eyes closed. She relaxed, safe and secure in his arms.
Then his mother entered the room unbidden.