"Yes, and she said your father wil testify that you've done it before, in violent fits of rage."

Of course her father would testify, in retaliation for Norma.


"She also said she has proof that you showed sexual interest in Captain Trussell long before the night in question."

"So you're dropping the charges?" she said, getting straight to the point.

"That's right."

"Okay."

Her easy acceptance met with silence. Then Ogitani said, "You're not even going to pretend surprise?"

"Nope."

"So you were lying, Kalyna?" she asked, obviously appalled. "During our entire interview?"

Kalyna nearly laughed out loud. Ogitani felt like a fool because she'd bought into the act. Even now, she was hoping for something to salvage her pride. But Kalyna had nothing to offer her. Thanks to Ava, Kalyna had been forced to change plans. "Of course not," she said. "But I might've been a little confused."

"I think you need professional help," she snapped, but Kalyna didn't give her a chance to vent any further. She was getting another call, and she needed to have enough battery power left to take it. This was the one she'd been waiting for--from the Mesa police.

Luke was in his car on the way home when his mother called. He'd already noticed that he'd missed several calls from Robin earlier, when his phone was in Ava's cabin on the boat and he was out with Ava on the bank of the river, but he hadn't returned them. It was Monday morning. He'd thought she'd be at work. Besides, he'd been busy confirming his leave.

And he didn't feel like talking to anyone about anything personal. The night he'd spent with Ava had ended too badly. He stil hadn't completely grasped what had happened. But his mother had tried to reach him so many times he was afraid there might be some sort of an emergency. He had to answer.

"Hello?"

"Luke, why haven't you called me?" she demanded.

He thought of those last few minutes with Ava, when he'd had to get to his feet buck naked in front of the man she'd been dating for more than a year, and shook his head in disbelief. He'd seen better days. "My battery was dead," he said to cut the explanation as short as possible.

Fortunately, she let it go at that. Apparently, she was worked up about something else. "When were you going to tell us?" she asked.

His blinker clicked as he switched lanes. "Tell you what?"

"About the baby."

He turned down the volume on his stereo, which he'd been blasting in an effort to numb his brain. "What baby?"

"Don't pretend you don't know! I just spoke with Kalyna."

"You what?"

"You heard me."

"But...how? Why?"

"What do you mean how? I called your house and she picked up."

What the hell was going on? "That can't be true."

His mother hesitated as if she was suddenly as confused as he was.

"It is true. It was your number. She answered and said you were out getting the two of you some breakfast."

"I haven't even been home since yesterday!"

"Where've you been?"

He really didn't want to go into the fact that he'd been with another woman. After avoiding trouble for a number of years, he was suddenly screwing up al over the place. "A friend put me up."

"Oh. So why would Kalyna tell me you were getting breakfast? She said you two were back together. She said you're expecting a baby. She even said you were going to Vegas to get married!"

Dodging traffic, he accelerated. While driving, it was il egal to use a cell phone in California without a Bluetooth, and he'd left his Bluetooth somewhere, maybe at Ava's. He was going to have to risk talking on his cell, along with speeding. If Kalyna had answered his phone, she was in his apartment. How, he couldn't imagine. He'd locked up. He remembered doing it because he'd retrieved his spare key at the same time. It was lying right there, on his console.

"First of all, we're not back together." He darted through the gap between two other cars to get in the fast lane. "We were never together, except that one night." A woman honked and flipped him off as he whipped around her, but he didn't care. He was going home, and he was doing it as fast as possible. "Second, okay...there might be a baby. But she's lied about so many other things, I'm not sure. And third, there's no way we're getting married. I'd sooner be castrated."

What his mother had told him wasn't welcome news, but Luke was almost relieved to have an outlet for the surfeit of emotion that had been coursing through him ever since he'd left Ava's. Geoffrey had waited in his car while Luke gathered up his belongings--to make sure Luke drove away.

But Luke hadn't waited to see if Geoffrey did the same. He didn't have any problem with Geoffrey, not really. It was Ava who'd upset him. He'd thought they were at the start of something new, something with potential--but she'd acted as if last night meant nothing to her, as if she was happy just to have proved she could make love with the best of them. Now she was done with him.

"Didn't you lock your apartment?" his mother asked.

"I did. I don't know how she got in."

"Why would she act as though she's about to be part of our family?

How does that benefit her?"

He saw a highway patrol car up ahead and forced himself to slow down. It wouldn't help him to get pulled over; it would only take that much longer to reach Fairfield. "She'd like to be, I guess. Heck, I don't know.

She's not right in the head."

"She told me she's deeply in love with you. And she seemed so sincere. She said she wants you to bring her down to meet us."

Kalyna was trying to infiltrate every aspect of his life. How was he going to stop her? What could he do? Get a restraining order? Maybe, but he wasn't even sure he could prove what he needed to in order to do that.

He was in the military. He couldn't imagine the cops being too worried about protecting him from a woman.

He doubted Kalyna would respect it, anyway.

"Don't listen to her," he told his mother. "Don't believe a damn thing she says. Just stay as far away from her as possible."

"I--I won't talk to her again. Of course I won't, now that I know. But..."

She sounded worried. "What?"

"I gave her our address, Luke. She knows where we live. Is that okay?"

He slowed even more. "You what?"

"She said she'd mail me a copy of the ultrasound. I wanted to see the baby, so...I told her where to send it."

"No..." he said with a groan.

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