Cass nodded as he stepped away from the table, her pulse pounding in her throat. So close. She’d almost blurted out the million-dollar question and she hated being forced to wait now that she’d made up her mind to go this route. But Gage ran a billion-dollar company. Of course people were vying for his attention.
She’d hoped to get her hands on his phone at some point this weekend, but snooping through his private life felt a little dirty, so she hadn’t. So far. If he gave her any reason to, though...
Gage thunked back into his chair, his expression completely transformed from the relaxed, easygoing one he’d worn earlier. Thunderclouds had gathered in his eyes, turning his entire demeanor dark. “I have to leave. I’m sorry to cut our weekend short.”
“What’s wrong?” she asked before she thought better of it. They weren’t a couple. They didn’t share their problems. And no amount of yearning for that type of relationship would change things.
“Something’s happened.” Bleakly, he met her gaze, and suddenly it didn’t matter if they weren’t a couple. She reached out and captured his hand. In comfort, solidarity, she didn’t even know. She just couldn’t stop herself from touching him.
“What, Gage?” she asked softly, envisioning an accident involving his parents, a fire at his production facility. The pallor of his skin indicated it must be something bad.
“That was... I don’t know for sure yet. I have to go home.” He scrubbed his face with his free hand as he gripped Cass’s with his other. “Someone I used to date died. Briana. That was her sister on the phone.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry.” Cass’s heart twisted in sympathy. The woman must have been someone special for Gage to be so visibly upset. The thought of him caring about a woman so deeply set her back a moment. Was she missing something here? When had Gage become the committed sort?
“Thanks, I hadn’t spoken to her in a long time. A year and a half.”
Cass eyed him. “Then why would her sister have called you, if you don’t mind me asking?”
Maybe that was the million-dollar question. Her curiosity burned. What if he truly had turned into someone who stuck around, growing close to this woman, and she’d been the one to dump him? Maybe he was nursing a broken heart.
After all, they’d never really talked about what the future between the two of them could look like. Maybe everything was within her reach if she just—
“She called because Briana had a son.” Gage blinked. “My son. Or so she says.”
* * *
Gage’s two-story house overlooked Lake Travis just outside of Austin. It was one of the main reasons he’d bought the house several years ago and the water had always spoken to him. After driving straight home from Dallas in less than three hours—a record—he stood on the balcony, hands braced on the railing surrounding the enclosure and stared at the gray surface of the lake without really seeing it, wishing like hell the view didn’t remind him of Cass.
But it did because her house was similarly situated near White Rock Lake in Dallas. He should be there with her right now, but wasn’t because his world had shifted into something unrecognizable, where a paternity test was suddenly a part of his reality.
The woman who had called him was on her way over to discuss that very thing. It was bizarre. If what she’d said was true, he’d fathered a child with Briana.
Briana Miles. The name conjured up the image of a diminutive brown-haired waitress he’d met at a sports bar not far from his house. Beautiful girl. She’d come home to Austin after five years in LA and had started waiting tables so she could put herself through college, hoping to graduate without debt.
They’d struck up a conversation because Gage had expressed curiosity about how the University of Texas had changed in the almost ten years since he’d exited graduate school. That had led to a great couple of days that had ended amicably. He hadn’t heard from her since.
The doorbell pealed through the house, and Gage opened the door to a short brown-haired woman with the swollen eyes and messy ponytail. Lauren Miles shared features with Briana and he could see their family resemblance even though he hadn’t laid eyes on her sister in a year and a half.
“Come in,” he said woodenly.
“The courier dropped off the results of the paternity test you took.” She handed Gage the sealed envelope with her free hand. “I guess it’s true that if you have enough money, you can get anything done quickly.”