First chapter of Love's Heart Print

Prologue

 

Seth


Seth inhaled the scent of baby powder and a smile tugged at his lips as he gently laid Julie down in the cot next to her twin sister, Cheryl, after finally getting Julie to sleep. She snuffled adorably into the blanket she loved that Seth’s sister had bought for her.

His heart swelled with love and pride at having these two precious gifts. When he’d finally got up the courage to talk to his partner and Dom, Rupert, about starting a family, he’d only considered having one child via surrogate. They’d decided to use Seth’s sperm, and he’d been beyond excited at the prospect of holding his own child in his arms.

What he’d not been prepared for was having twins. After the initial shock, he’d been beside himself with excitement. Rupert, on the other hand, not so much. But Seth had thought he’d come round once the babies were born and home with them. Had that happened? No. The obvious answer was one he couldn’t avoid any longer, and it caused an ache to develop in his chest as he stood for several minutes watching both girls sleep.

It was avoidance, clear and simple, to stay upstairs with the babies when Rupert had mentioned he wanted to ‘have a chat’ with him. Would it be a chat about the guy Rupert was cheating on Seth with? Probably not! If Seth were honest, he’d known about the cheating for the last four months, ever since he’d accidently come across Rupert kissing another man outside his office. Seth had gone to surprise Rupert and take him for lunch, just the two of them, after he’d been complaining they had no time together anymore. Only he’d been the one surprised. Too shocked, he’d walked away, trying to come up with something, anything that would warrant Rupert passionately kissing another man in the street.

That had been months ago, and a part of Seth was aware it was cowardice to not bring it up, but recently Rupert had started to go out more in the evenings. He spent less and less time with the girls and Seth. Sex had become a distant memory, not to mention scenes in their playroom. The writing had been on the wall, no matter how much Seth had wanted to scrub it off and ignore it. He’d kept it from his sister, Anna, knowing she’d kick his arse—and hard—for letting Rupert get away with treating him and the babies like this.

Seth heaved a sigh and turned to leave the nursey he’d spent months decorating. Was he going to lose his home? Was he going to have to start all over with the girls, alone? His heart beat hard enough that his ears started to throb as the next thought stopped him dead in his tracks. Would Rupert try and take the girls from Seth? Rupert was constantly telling him what a poor job he was doing.

A strangled sob rose and choked him as a lone tear slid down his cheek. Go down and tell him to get stuffed, you can do it! His sister’s voice filled his head as he stood a little taller and his hands fisted at his sides. Rupert is not having the girls, he’s not!

The thick carpet underfoot muffled the sound of his feet as he descended the stairs. He scrubbed the wetness off his cheek and marched into the living room of what had been his home for the last eight years. The urge to act submissive in Rupert’s presence was squashed like a bug. Seth met Rupert’s cold stare head-on and ignored how his stomach churned viciously.

“You wanted to have a chat?” His voice quavered, but at least he’d not stuttered.

“You’re being disrespectful, Seth—”

“Really, I’m the one being disrespectful?” Seth’s brows arched, and Rupert got an ugly red stain across his tanned cheeks. The man had been everything Seth had wanted in a Dom: kind, patient, older, and experienced enough to guide Seth, who was new to being a sub. Seth’s head tilted as he tried to view Rupert objectively. He was tall and, though a little thick around the middle, physically fit. His features were too sharp to call him handsome, but his dark-grey eyes had made Seth weak at the knees. Right then, they did nothing more than cause a chill to spread through Seth as they were cold and uninviting.

“Is there something you wish to say?”

The use of his Dom voice would normally have Seth lowering his gaze and apologising, but not this time. “You were the one who wanted to chat.” Would Rupert be honest and confess?

“While you’re in this childish mood, I see no point in attempting to have an adult conversation.”

Bitterness was quickly followed by anger at how condescending Rupert sounded toward him. It was becoming more common with each passing day. Seth suspected Rupert was going to throw all the blame in his direction for whatever had gone wrong in their relationship, but this game playing was just pissing him off.

This man was not the one Seth had fallen in love with, the one he’d wanted a family with. Had his choices caused this rift between them? The smiling faces of both girls filled his mind, and he couldn’t find it in him to regret his choice to have children. He’d always wanted a family of his own. He’d only had his sister for the longest time, ever since they’d been put in foster care when his mother died, and his father struggled to take care of a six- and seven-year-old. A shudder ran through him. Was he going to end up like his father, left alone with two children to care for?

“Stop playing games. What do you want to talk about?” Seth snapped as his fear took hold. He would have high-fived himself at how forceful he’d sounded, that was until Rupert answered.

“Have it your way. This—” he pointed between them, “—isn’t working for me. Something has changed between us, and I’m no longer satisfied with this relationship. Your focus is no longer on being a submissive, which was why I chose to buy a home with you.”

The way he spoke was as if he were talking about a business merger rather than a relationship. There was no mention of love, only of a part of their lives that seemed to mean more to Rupert than anything else. Being submissive was a part of who Seth was, but not all of him, it never had been. How had he missed that Rupert only saw him as a sub and nothing more?

Seth had never been a full-time sub. He’d never wanted to be one, and when he’d met Rupert, he’d never mentioned in their extensive discussions wanting that either. What had changed? The girls, that was what had changed.

With a sinking heart, Seth faced Rupert. “Are you leaving?” Seth held his breath, waiting for an answer his heart already knew.

“Yes. I’ve spoken to my lawyer. I’ve made provisions to pay off the remaining mortgage. You will need to pay for anything else, as that will be my only contribution to your babies—”

“They are our babies,” Seth shouted.

“No, they are yours. Your sperm, not mine. You wanted them—”

“Are you shitting me right now?” Seth couldn’t let Rupert finish the sentence, not when he was spouting such shit. Any thoughts he might have had that this was a good thing were buried under the panic of being alone. “We discussed having a family, together.”