“Baby, stop,” I say, pulling her from the couch and into my arms. She is crying into my chest, and it wouldn’t take much more for me to join her. She doesn’t need that now, though. She needs to hear that I understand and agree with her decision. Actually, I’m so fucking grateful that she feels the same as I do that I’m almost weak with relief. “Lia, sweetheart, listen…” I say as I pull back enough to see her face. “Baby, look at me.” She shakes her head, seeming terrified of what I’m going to say. Apparently, my earlier anger is still fresh in her mind. “Please, baby.” Tears run down her cheeks as she finally allows me to tilt her head upwards. “I understand and I agree,” I say softly as I use my thumb to wipe her tears away to no avail.

“You…you do?” She stares up at me as if she can’t believe she’s heard me correctly.

“Yes, I do. Lia…Cassie and I were going to have a baby eight years ago and she…” Fuck, why can’t I get the words out? Lia needs to know why I lost it earlier, but I just can’t tell her the full truth, not tonight. I’m too raw. “She ended his life.” Lia looks at me in something akin to horror. Her tears have stopped as she struggles to understand what I’m saying to her. There is no way she can come up with the true picture, even with the mother she had.

“Oh, Luc,” she whispers, looking as devastated as I feel. “She had an abortion without your consent?” I can’t just completely lie to her, so I pull her close without answering. In a way, that is exactly what Cassie did, only in a much more horrific manner. I don’t know why I find it so difficult to tell Lia the entire story. Maybe because I don’t want to see the pity in her eyes or even worse, I’m afraid she will see that my life is too ugly for her. Giving her pieces of my past is the coward’s way out, but right now, it’s all I’m capable of. She is carrying too much of her own baggage to assume the weight of mine, as well. We both need to be stronger before that happens.

We lay there for a while longer before we go to bed. We don’t make love, but instead we hold on to each other as if by some unspoken truth, we both know there’s a storm coming and tonight is merely the calm before it hits.

Chapter Twelve


“I need you to have Max come get me out of jail.” I turn sideways on my barstool to look at Lucian. We are having breakfast before he leaves for work. As if sensing my eyes on him, he looks up from his perusal of the morning stock report and arches a brow at me in question.

I hold up my finger, telling him to give me a minute as I ask Rose, “What have you done?” I have a bad feeling she has been continuing her crusade to make Jake pay for screwing around on her. I knew things had been entirely too quiet on that front for the last few days.

“Well…” She lowers her voice before continuing, “I might have used my key to go into his apartment while he wasn’t there and put Bengay in his shampoo and body wash. I might also have replaced all of the water in his refrigerator with white vinegar and I maybe used his iPad while I was there and sent an email to his entire contact list asking for advice on the best sexual positions for men with small penises. I even found a small pecker picture on the internet to attach so people could see the scope of the problem. Oh, and I sewed the pants legs closed on all of his jeans. I would have done more, but his roommate interrupted me…and ratted me out.”

“Oh, my God,” I sputter, causing Lucian too look at me warily. “Rose, have you lost your mind? You just got out of jail, and out of curiosity, how in the world did you sew his pants legs closed?”

“I took my portable sewing machine with me. I was going to sew the holes closed on everything the bastard owned, but I got caught.”

I have no idea why, but the whole thing strikes me as hilarious. I start laughing, falling against the bar and almost upending my plate in my lap. When Lucian moves it out of my reach, I laugh even harder. Picturing my Martha Stewart/Lorena Bobbitt friend going to do evil things to her cheating ex with a tube of Bengay in one hand and a sewing machine in the other is just too much. Only Rose would be threading a needle shortly after breaking and entering. When I finally manage to catch my breath, I ask, “So, um, why do you need Max? Aren’t your parents back in town now?”

“Yeah,” she sighs, “they are, but I don’t want to call them. Daddy will be so disappointed in me.” I’m a little puzzled by her statement since she assured me the last time that her daddy would be proud of her for her violence against Jake’s car.

“I thought you said he would be okay with you getting into trouble if you were doing your whole payback thing?”

“He was fine the last time,” she says, “but he wouldn’t be happy with how I went about continuing my revenge. Daddy believes in meeting your problems and solving them head-on. He would think me weak and silly for doing the stuff I did.”

I give Lucian a WTF shrug of confusion as I say slowly, “So, if you had busted up his apartment with a shovel, he would be proud? But since you didn’t resort to violence, he would…not be?” I grimace knowing how crazy this conversation must sound to the man sitting next to me.

“That’s right. I wasn’t raised to play around with people. That doesn’t earn respect.”

“Good grief, Rose, who is your father, Hitler?” I ask, only half-joking. He sounds completely insane. Apparently, the man had drilled the whole ‘eye for an eye’ mantra in his daughter from an early age, and he meant it, literally. I bet Jake will seriously rue the day he ever met her before this is over.

“It’s just the way we are,” she says, not seeming to understand my amazement at the whole thing. “So listen, Deputy what’s-his-face over here is telling me my time is up. Can you please call Max and send him down here? He’s not taking my calls.”

“Wait…what? Maybe he’s just busy this morning.”

“He hasn’t been taking my calls since we got hot and heavy in his car. He’s trying to take the moral high ground even though he’s dying to fuck me.” I hear someone in the background, choking out, ‘time’s up.’ “I gotta go. Please have Lucian call him.” The line goes dead and I pull my cellphone away, staring at it as if it holds the answers I desperately need. Has the world gone completely mad? My best friend sure has.

Lucian plucks the phone from my hand and sits patiently, waiting for an explanation. “So…do you think you could ask Max to go to the police station and help Rose out this morning?”

Tags: Sydney Landon Lucian & Lia Billionaire Romance
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