The envelope also contained what looked like legal papers that Zach would look over in more depth later. There was a photograph of a man Zach assumed to be his father. It was blurred with age. But Zach wasn’t that interested in the picture; he’d put his father out of his mind long ago. After all, his father hadn’t been willing to think about Zach or his mother when he’d left them. Zach had been four at the time.
There was a professional bio. From what Zach read, his father had hit oil when he’d traveled to Texas a couple of years after abandoning them. Of course, he hadn’t looked back to the family he’d left behind. Zach’s mother had worked her fingers to the bone to provide for him, and later KC. She’d deserved better than that.
As if she’d known he would be curious, Sadie had printed an article about his father’s stroke and how it had affected his company. Apparently he was well-known in the Dallas area. Zach scanned it and moved on to the next piece. It was another photo, this one of a younger man with distinct features matching his father’s. This one was labeled Victor Beddingfield.
Zach couldn’t help it—he studied the picture for any resemblance to his half brother. There were a few. Zach certainly hoped he didn’t share the petulant expression and self-indulgent softness that didn’t sit well on an adult male.
All in all, the envelope contained straightforward information that Zach could take or leave. It all depended on his plans. He put the papers back. He could find out pretty much everything he needed to know about the players in this game at his office, now that he knew where to start.
This time, he wasn’t about to hesitate to dig hard and deep.
Standing, he loaded his arms with everything that belonged to him. He had no intention of leaving anything of himself in this place. As he moved toward the door, he remembered another time, the first time, when he’d faced the same choice. He’d had the chance to exit and never look back, but the lure of Sadie had been too strong.
He glanced toward the bed. The same one that had tempted him that first night here. Memories of nights wrapped around Sadie under those covers made him ache with a mixture of desire, sadness and anger. He wasn’t sure if he’d ever get over that. Maybe one day he would. Maybe one day he wouldn’t think of her at all, and he could live the rest of his life without thinking her name or remembering her face.
Maybe one day.
As he turned toward the door, a glimpse of something that didn’t belong flashed in his periphery. Something neglected on the floor between the antique nightstand and the bed. Zach should leave it. After all, the odds of it being his were slim.
Still, his feet carried him forward, and he cursed himself the entire way for caring that she might have left something of herself behind.
He shifted his load into one arm then bent low and patted around for whatever it was. Finally his fingers brushed against something hard. Long and rounded, it fit easily in his hand as he picked it up.
Zach glanced down as he stood, then totally wished he hadn’t.
His mind flashed back to another day. One when he found his sister crying all alone at the bar, late at night after everyone had left. In her hand was an identical white plastic stick with a plastic cap on the end. There were two solid pink lines in the little window in the middle. He dropped onto the bed, and wondered if this day could get any worse.
Sadie quietly let herself into her apartment early the next morning, her body beyond tired. Sitting at the airport on standby was hellish on a good day. Yesterday had been almost unbearable.
She set down her luggage and made her way down the hall into the living area. Maybe she could catch a few winks before her mother woke up to get ready to go to the treatment center to see her sister. How in the world Sadie would explain to either of them what had happened was beyond her at the moment.
Zach hadn’t been the only person she’d lied to. Despite their desperate need, Sadie had known her mother and sister would have never condoned her cooperation with Victor’s diabolical plan to disqualify Zach from his inheritance. So she’d told them the same story: that their former employer had gifted her with the trip of her dreams to explore her photography.