He didn’t even hesitate.
As a soldier, Zach knew that doing ugly things was sometimes necessary to get the job done. Right now, breaking into Sadie’s phone was one of those necessary things. Regardless of how other people would see it.
A violation of her privacy? Sure. Overstepping his boundaries? Definitely. A decision he’d regret in time? Absolutely not.
Zach would rather know the truth than live in a fantasy world. The phone blinked its notice that Sadie had a text message at the bottom. He clicked on it and saw the truth in full color.
At the top of the screen, there was a text from Sadie in a white bubble: I will call soon.
Then a blue bubble from Beddingfield: If you don’t call me within the hour, this is gonna get really ugly. I want this over. Do you hear me?
Followed by Sadie’s response: Don’t you care at all what happens to Zach? I’m trying very hard to do the right thing.
Hell no, I don’t care what happens to Zach Gatlin, as long as he doesn’t show up here wanting our father’s money. You said you would dig up the dirt and I want it now. If you have to lie to disqualify him, that’s what you’ll do. I make the rules here. You simply obey me.
Deep in Zach’s chest, coldness bloomed, then spread. Questions whirled in his brain. First and foremost: Who was this person? And what did he mean by “our father”? Was Victor Sadie’s brother, talking about the two of them when he said “our”? But they had different last names.
Or was he Zach’s brother?
Zach didn’t know his father, so half or stepbrothers were definitely a possibility. Though the fact that his father would want to have other children when he couldn’t be bothered to care for the one he already had was hard to take.
The second line of thought was the more painful one. He didn’t even want to think about it. Didn’t want to form the words that would rip apart the foundation he’d thought he was standing on for the last two months. But as the water shut off in the bathroom, he knew the detonation was coming.
The phone was still in his hand. He didn’t bother to put it down, didn’t bother to move. By the time Sadie came through the door, he’d even stopped breathing. That cold, cold part of him wanted to thaw, wanted to go to her.
Her long auburn hair was piled in a messy bun atop her head. She looked tired, her features slightly drawn. Her naked body was wrapped in one of the fluffy towels he’d often used to dry her. When she saw him, her eyes widened, but then she produced a small smile.
“Zach, you startled me,” she said. “I didn’t know you were coming.”
Before he could speak, the phone in his hand rang. Her gaze flicked down to it, alarm invading her expression when she saw it in his hand. It played through an entire ringtone, then went silent. Zach’s fingers tightened. Almost immediately the ringing started again.
Zach reached out, offering the phone to her. “Beddingfield wants an answer to his question,” he said. “Don’t you think you should take his call?”
The fact that she could take the phone from Zach’s hand and switch it to mute actually amazed Sadie. Her body shook so hard she wouldn’t have thought the move was even possible.
But she did it. Because she had to—because she deserved whatever Zach was about to dish out.
But she’d rather not do it in just a towel.
Turning away, she dropped the phone on the bed and reached for her robe. She hadn’t even gotten it over her shoulders before Zach’s questions started. She was actually surprised he’d waited at all.
“Who is Victor Beddingfield? Your brother? Your lover? Your what? Employer?”
Sadie’s stomach turned, this time from more than just the pregnancy she’d confirmed after a stop at the drugstore last night. She couldn’t think of that now. Luckily, she hadn’t eaten, so there wasn’t anything to come up.
“Tell me now, Sadie.”
She absorbed the blow of the staccato words as she tied the robe’s belt around her waist. Then she faced Zach, attempting to keep her expression blank.
“Victor is my current—temporary—employer.”
As if her calm answer infuriated him, Zach spoke next through gritted teeth. “And what the hell does he have to do with me?”