The scene played over and over in Blake’s mind. It actually had her smiling the whole time she was driving down to Laramie. You’re perfect for me. That was what he had said. She was perfect for him. How could she not smile, with Thornton Blackwood of all people saying such a thing?
“Hey.” She gave her half-brother a quick hug before pulling back to take an anxious look at his good-looking face. He looked as tense as his voice had been in yesterday’s phone call, when he had told her they absolutely had to meet…alone.
“Is everything okay?” she asked worriedly as they finally took a seat across each other in a window-side booth.
A server came by then, and Curt ordered both of them coffee without asking for her input.
Her nerves started to fray. Not good, Blake thought. The only times Curt was less than thoughtful were when there were life-and-death stakes involved.
The moment the server left, she asked right away, “Is something wrong? Are you in danger?”
Curt shook his head. “It’s not that.”
“Then what is it?”
In answer, he took out a folded piece of paper from his breast pocket. It seemed like a magazine clipping, and she couldn’t help blinking in confusion when he handed this to her.
“I’ve got a formal report in my room if you need to see it.” Curt watched his sister unfold the clipping as he spoke, and he could feel his body growing increasingly rigid with tension the moment her gaze fell upon the headlines.
Blackwood Billionaire Brothers – Wyoming’s Dirtiest and Finest
The clipping was over a decade old, and something that had cost him several precious favors to obtain.
“As far as I can tell, the family had all data about them on the Internet completely scrapped a few years ago, and they had all led quiet lives miles away from the spotlight since then.”
His sister still hadn’t lifted her gaze to his, but he saw that the fingers holding the clipping had started trembling, and he bit back a curse. “Blake—”
Blake shook her head. “I’m just…I think I need you to spell it out.” Before she went crazy thinking and imagining all sorts of things. “What e-exactly does this prove?”
“They’re still rich as fuck.”
“And he hasn’t told you, has he?”
“But I think Freddie knows.”
And finally, it became clear.
“I’m sorry, B.” Curt’s voice was heavy. “But he could just be playing with you.”
Blake’s fingers tightened around the steering wheel.
You’re perfect for me, Thornton had told her.
But he could just be playing with you, Curt had warned her.
She loved both men, but she knew. She didn’t want to, but she knew. She couldn’t lie to herself. She knew one of them could be lying, and she just…she just…she just…
The tears started to fall…as everything that used to be vaguely questionable became painfully clear.
The understated elegance of his entire home…
The self-assured manner he had always displayed that was more suited to a billionaire than a small-town bookstore owner…
Even this six-figure gas guzzler that she was driving could be a lie, Blake realized hysterically. Because when one really thought about it…oh God, he had told her that Leander, the resident mechanic, had lent it for her to use and drive safely to the city, and she had stupidly bought it, not realizing that it was this year’s most expensive SUV.
You’re perfect for me.
But he could just be playing with you.
She wiped the tears from her eyes. I can’t let him know. She slowly got out of the car. Pride is all I have left. She dragged oxygen into her lungs. So he mustn’t know.
But the moment she heard him calling her name out—
It was just too much.
And she found herself running.
Slamming the door shut before she could see his face.
She fell to her knees and barely managed to cover her mouth in time.
The sobs kept tearing her apart, and she could only press her hands harder against her mouth.
Tell me what’s wrong.
She wanted to die, hearing those words. How could she tell him what was wrong?
The hoarse pain in his voice made her sob harder. It had to be a lie. It could only be a lie. But even so, she couldn’t bear it. Couldn’t bear hearing him hurt. So much so that when she heard him speak again—
“Don’t do this.”
She somehow found the strength to push herself up. Unlock the door. Face the man she loved and who was now destroying her.
Thornton could feel himself turning white when he saw the tears falling on Blake’s face.
“What are you saying sorry for?” he asked rawly.
“Blake—” He tried reaching for her and was stunned when she jumped back like she found his touch revolting.
She saw the look on his face, and it ripped her to pieces.
Oh God. Oh God. Oh God.
She wished she could believe it was love, but she knew it wasn’t.