“Did you tell Jared where the cylinder is, and that’s the reason we aren’t being contacted? Could he have told Rollin, and Rollin is negotiating a sale?”

My gut twists with what she isn’t saying, but it’s in her eyes, and lingering in the room. “Jared didn’t turn on us. He had six years to give me up to Sheridan, and he didn’t. He escaped and went underground, or he’s dead.” She doesn’t reply, but the room seems to wait in irritating unison for my confirmation. “No, I did not tell him where it is. No one knows where the cylinder is but me.”

Collectively, they all seem to sigh. “As it should be,” Liam says. “You have to be the only one who knows.”

“It can’t stay that way,” Amy argues. “There has to be a way the world gets it if it’s ever needed.”

“I don’t disagree,” Liam says, “nor do I believe Chad would, but now is not that time, and the first order of business is making sure it’s forgotten, assumed lost. Rollin remains our best fall guy, but we have to find him.” Liam motions to the piles of paperwork on the table. “Rollin has to be hiding somewhere in this pile of paperwork.”

I grab a file. “Then I say we all have to look again at everything we’ve already looked at.” I glance around the table and everyone nods in unison and grabs a file.

HOURS LATER, COCO has entertained us and whisked Dr. Murphy away to safety, and we are all exhausted, the sun settled low on the horizon. I glance up and realize that Gia and Amy have disappeared. Concerned that I’ve been too absorbed in the file I’m reading to realize Gia is sick, I push myself to my feet and go in search of her. As I pass through the living area, the drapes flutter, the door opens to the heated porch, and Amy’s voice stops me in my tracks.

“What if I’m pregnant again?” Amy asks, touching on the one subject she hasn’t spoken to me about.

“Getting sick once does not make you pregnant,” Gia assures her. “We’re all under a lot of stress and it wasn’t that long ago that you miscarried. Your body is exhausted.”

“Losing my baby was the worst moment of my life aside from the fire,” Amy says, her pain slicing through me, reminding me that knowledge is helping her cope, but the heartache is far from gone. “It was like I’d been given another chance at a family,” she continues, “only to have it ripped away.”

“I know,” Gia says softly. “That’s how I felt, too. I lost my dad. Then I lost the baby and . . . then . . . I lost the chance to try it again with someone who matters.”

Stunned, I grab the couch. Gia lost a baby?

“He really didn’t care that you lost the baby?” Amy asks.

“He was relieved.”

“While you were destroyed,” Amy supplies, her voice heavy with understanding.

“Yes,” Gia replies, her tone raspy, affected. “And alone, but you aren’t. Not anymore. You have Liam.”

“Gia,” Amy says. “You aren’t alone. You have me and Liam and Tellar. We’re family now. And most of all, you have Chad.”

“Do I?”

“How can you question that?”

“It’s . . . complicated.”

Complicated? What the fuck does she mean by that? I run a hand through my hair, trying to understand what I’ve done wrong in the past few days to make her feel like I’m not here for her. That I don’t want to be with her.

Liam’s voice comes from the kitchen doorway, and Amy and Gia lower their voices, having an exchange I can’t make out, before Amy’s footsteps sound, fading into the closing of the door. It’s then that it hits me that I’ve eavesdropped, like a total dickhead. But I’m here, and she’s spoken that damn word complicated and I intend to know why.

Stepping forward into the line of the curtain, I find her at the railing, under a heater, her dark hair fluttering with the wind off the nearby ocean. “How much did you hear?” she asks without turning.

I step onto the porch and cross the wooden floor to stand next to her, resting my hands on the railing, looking out at the waves crashing on the sand. “All of it.”

“What do you want to know?” she asks, tilting her head to look at me.

“Everything now, but pretend I just said only when you’re ready.”

She doesn’t laugh, inhaling instead, still not looking at me, seeming to stare at the skyline that is nothing but black speckled with dots of light. “When my father died, I was lost. Jason was my college professor. I guess I needed a father figure, because I thought I loved him.” She laughs without humor. “God. I was so adolescent, giddy in every way. I don’t know how I got pregnant. We used protection, but when it happened it seemed like a gift. I wanted that child. Oh, how I wanted that child.” Her wishful, sad tone turns hard as she adds, “But he didn’t. He told me to get an abortion. I was devastated. I refused.”

I wait, expecting her to go on, finally pressing with a gentle “Gia?”

She lifts her hands and rambles almost matter-of-factly. “My appendix ruptured and I miscarried. A freak thing. I almost died and then they told me that there was damage. You know the rest. I . . . choose the wrong men.”

I grab her, wrapping her in my arms, brushing hair from her face to find pure anguish in her eyes, but I am hurt by her implication that I too am the wrong man. “What did that mean?”


Tags: Lisa Renee Jones Books The Secret Life of Amy Bensen Series Books Romance Books
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