I picked it up, adrenaline racing through me as I read it.


You promised you would always deserve my trust . . . my happiness . . . my love.

* * *

ERICA

I promised him I’d never run away from him again, but he’d broken promises too. And right now, I was doing what I needed to do. I was doing what he wouldn’t.

Alli and I stepped off the plane and into the warm Texas air. Twenty minutes later, we’d arrived at our hotel in the heart of Dallas. The bellhop dropped our bags inside the room. I tipped him and walked to where Alli was gazing out the big picture window overlooking the sprawling city’s skyline.

I’d never been to Dallas, and I wished I had a better reason for coming now. I didn’t relish the idea of going anywhere without Blake, but after this morning’s fight, I knew that I couldn’t rely on him right now.

“Pretty,” Alli said, before dropping into a nearby lounge chair. Her purse vibrated at her feet. “It’s Heath.” She glanced up at me without bothering to retrieve her phone.

“Not yet,” I said.

She rolled her eyes. “I feel like a freaking fugitive, Erica. If I don’t talk to him soon, he’s likely to file a missing-person’s report.”

“I don’t want anyone knowing where I am right now. Not until I have a chance to talk to Michael alone.”

“I can’t imagine what kind of hell Blake is going to put Heath through when he finds out I’m with you.”

Blake was so far away, and he didn’t even know it. I regretted leaving him the way I had. But I was angry too. Angry that he wouldn’t fight for us. That after everything we’d been through together, he could still shut me down so quickly.

“You said you’d help me, Alli. I’m meeting with Michael first thing in the morning. You can talk to Heath then.”

I’d explained the situation to her at the office, ready to take off on my own if I had to. But I’d gone on enough wild goose chases to know that it was always better to have company. Danger had a way of finding me, and I was more than a little shell-shocked from the consequences. But I couldn’t get to the bottom of this from the safety of our home.

“I wanted to come with you, Erica, but I don’t like keeping secrets from Heath. It’s something we don’t do anymore, under any circumstances, and you’re asking me to go against that.”

“Whatever you tell Heath will go right to Blake, and you know it. Blake won’t have it any other way. I’m positive that Max gave Trevor access to Blake’s code, and this is the only chance I have of making that connection. Michael isn’t the type to have a heart-to-heart with me over the phone, and I don’t want Blake getting in the way.”

Alli hesitated a moment before speaking. “Do you really think you’re going to win him over? Michael Pope . . . shipping magnate, billionaire, and arguably one of the most intelligent and successful businessmen in the world?”

When she said it like that, I had my doubts. But even with my doubts, he was the best chance I had. “I don’t know. He seems to like me. I know he cares a lot about Blake. I mean, he disowned Max after what he did to me. If I can make Michael realize what’s at stake, maybe he’ll help me.” I sat down in the chair opposite her. “This is important, Alli. If Blake won’t act to clear his name, I will. I won’t lose him. I can’t.”

Her phone vibrated again with an incoming call. She shot me a pleading look. “He hasn’t stopped calling since we landed. What do you want me to do?”

I sighed. “Fine. Just don’t tell him where we are.”

She answered quickly and put the phone to her ear. “Hey, baby . . . Yeah, sorry. Last minute girls’ trip.” She stood and walked around the room. “Everything is fine. There’s something Erica needs to take care of and she wanted me with her . . . Heath, please, just don’t ask questions right now. It’s complicated. But we’re fine. I promise.” She cast a sideways glance at me. “Yeah, something like that. I’ll talk to you later, okay, when things settle down . . . Love you too.”

She hung up and shot me a pointed stare. “You owe me.”

“I know. Thank you.”

She rested a hand on her hip. “I don’t know about you, but I’m starving. Let’s change and grab some dinner.”

I forced myself up, pushing through the fatigue that had settled into my bones over the course of the long, emotionally taxing day. I could have gone to bed and slept for days, but Alli was right. We needed food, even though my stomach hadn’t stopped turning since this morning.

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