Instead she stared up into his brooding dark eyes and lost her breath. She’d known she would hurt him, leaving like that. He’d never tell her so, but she couldn’t help but wonder if it were true from his somber gaze.
His body seemed to sway a little closer, and her mouth watered at the thought of his lips on hers once more. Then the trill of her phone broke the moment of silence.
Suddenly he was back to arm’s length, leaving her to wonder if she’d imagined that moment. Wished it into being.
His eyes grew wider, reminding her that her phone was still ringing. She ignored both him and the phone. Her mother called late in the evening, when her duties for the day were done. Only one person would be calling her at this time of day, and she wasn’t about to speak to him in front of Zach.
Her heart pounded. She licked her lips, trying to think of something to say.
Instead of waiting for an answer, Zach gave a quick smirk and then walked out the door without another word. She waited until he was down the stairs and out of sight before pushing the door closed. Then she dissolved against it like melting sugar.
Tears welled, along with the wish that things didn’t have to be this way. She quickly brushed both away. Her life had been one long lesson in dealing with reality, not dreaming of fairy tales.
At least he hadn’t forgotten her.
Forcing herself to her feet, she crossed to the sitting area and picked her phone up off the low table. The very name she expected flashed across the screen. She sucked in a deep, bracing breath, then touched the screen to call him back.
She hated when he answered the phone like that. The part of her that rebelled against what she had to do forced her to hold her words just a minute longer than necessary, garnering some petty satisfaction from making him wait.
“What do you need, Victor?” she asked.
“Ah, Adams. Where were you?”
The impersonal use of her last name grated on her nerves, but she was, after all, simply a servant. “Away from my phone.”
“Don’t get uppity with me, Adams. Just because you’re hundreds of miles away from Texas doesn’t mean you’re off the leash.”
Right. Remind her of the dog she was—that would make her work harder. But it was an apt description—she was a hunting dog. Sent to search for and fetch exactly what her owner wanted.
“I apologize,” she said, hoping he couldn’t tell her teeth were gritted. “But I didn’t think you wanted me to answer the phone and give you an update in front of Zachary.”
“Very good, Adams. I knew I could trust your judgment.”
As if it had been all his idea. If Victor Beddingfield had an original idea ever in his life, she’d be shocked. Of course, this little expedition was his idea—and here she was. But the idea wasn’t original to him. His father had tried it first.
“So you’ve already made contact? Good girl.”
Yep, she was definitely a dog to him. “I have, but he’s not happy about it.”
“You simply have to make him like it. You know how to do that...don’t you?”
She wished to goodness Victor had never found out the truth about her last visit to Black Hills. Not that he cared about her choice to deceive his father, telling him that Zachary couldn’t possibly be the son he sought. The longer Zach had been out of his life, the more of their father’s money Victor could spend. Still, the knowledge had given him a weapon to use against her—but not the biggest one.
“This might take some time.” Although, even if she had all the time in the world, Zach would probably never forgive her—then or now.
“Well, we don’t have time, remember?” he said, his voice deepening in a way she perceived as a threat. “I need money. Now. And I’m sure you do, too—or rather, your sister does.”
Not really. Amber didn’t worry about that sort of thing. The hospital treated her cancer, that was all she knew. It was all Sadie wanted her sister to know. The practical aspect—bills, scheduling, medical decisions—all of that was handled by Sadie. Some days, it was enough to make her feel like she was drowning, but she did it anyway. It kept her sister alive, for now. It allowed her mother to be at her sister’s side for however much longer they had her. That was all that mattered. Still, the reminder struck home.