Authors: Bernadette Marie
Tags: #new opportunity, #Bernadette Marie, #loss, #5 Prince Publishing, #Contemporary, #romance
“Maybe it would be easier if I just left. Disappeared,” Penelope looked at both of them.
“How are you going to do that?” Amelia argued. “Sam gave you a good job. We’ll find a place to live and we’re going to create something for these kids.”
Vivian looked at her. “Sam gave you a job?”
Penelope nodded. “His mother is going back to Florida. So until we start whatever we’re going to start he took me on. For a few months at least.”
Amelia picked up her wine. “The point is Adam threw us together. I can’t imagine his plan was for us to stick together, but for the kids that’s what we’re going to do.”
Vivian shook her head. “I still don’t see why you stick around. You don’t have kids.”
Amelia sipped her wine and set the glass down. “I have nothing else to call mine either. I suppose it’s as good a time as any time grow some roots.”
Vivian filled her glass again from the bottle of wine. “So a daycare? Where the hell are we going to put that?”
“We will need to start small and expand from there. But, it just needs to gain enough revenue to keep each of us going. The prize is you both can be with your kids.”
“And what do you get?” Vivian narrowed her eyes on her.
Amelia lifted her glass to her lips. “A fresh start.”
Dinner hadn’t sucked. Amelia was extremely surprised that they’d all made it out alive and Vivian hadn’t tried to poison them.
She’d been rather surprised with Vivian’s attitude the whole evening. They nearly got along like a group of old friends.
But things had changed when the girls came home and they all met Adam’s parents. She’d kept a firm hand when his father shook hers and Penelope tried as hard as she could not to cry, but when she did on the ride back to the hotel, Amelia thought it was justified.
Neither of them had said a word to Adam’s parents. Vivian would be the one to do that—in time. But first things first, they needed to keep planning.
They were all going to need jobs. Amelia and Penelope needed a home. And as Amelia rested her head on the pillow of her bed, she thought of Sam and there was a great need to see him because she was in need of some physical release—especially and after that play he made at her in his office. She grinned in the dark and figured he could use some physical release too.
The next morning Penelope was up and ready bright and early. Amelia figured she’d made as much noise as she could so it would wake her.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to wake you,” she said as Amelia pulled the pillow over her head.
“Are you sure?”
“I need to get to Sam’s. Can you give me directions? I know I watched when you drove there yesterday, but…”
“I’ll draw them out.”
She pried her head from the pillow and crawled out of the less than comfortable bed. Reaching for the pad on the nightstand, she wrote down the directions to his office.
“Thanks,” Penelope said as she took the note. “Okay, well I’m off to work.”
Amelia nodded. “I paid for the room for two more days. I’ll have to head back to Georgia when we find a place and get my stuff. What about you? Do you need me to help you arrange that?”
Penelope bit down on her lip and shook her head. “I have everything.”
Amelia narrowed her eyes on her. “Everything?”
“All I had in the world was myself and Adam. And I didn’t have anything but a few shirts of his. And the baby.” She rested her hands over her stomach. “I’m all ready to start over too.”
She watched as Penelope gathered her things and opened the door. “Will you be coming by the office?”
“Well you and Sam. I don’t know…to see him.”
“I don’t know if that’s a good idea. A fling with Sam won’t win over Vivian.”
Penelope coughed out a laugh. “If she had sex with a man maybe she’d loosen up too.”
Amelia shook her head. “I’m not sleeping with him,” she said firmly, but Penelope only smiled.
“Not yet. I’ll see you later.”
When the door closed Amelia fell back in her bed. Crap—a man and two women was not the relationship status she was looking for. If he wasn’t dead she’d kill Adam for this.
She let out a long breath. She might as well get up and decide how she’d handle the day. No matter what, she’d need to make a plan to move her stuff from Georgia to Oklahoma. And since she didn’t have any money, it looked like she’d be doing it on her own.
An hour later she was showered and dressed. A quick trip over to the coffee shop across the street—and something sweet—she’d start making plans.
However, once she got there and sat down, she’d spent two hours on her iPad, three cups of coffee, and because she couldn’t help herself, two chocolate pastries. Moving to Oklahoma was going to make her fat. At the top of the To Do list she was making, she wrote in bold letters RUN.
She gathered her trash and stashed her iPad in her bag as her cell phone buzzed. She looked at it and smiled.
Mom is taking her apprentice to lunch. Would you be interested in meeting me for lunch?
She smiled when another text came through.
This is Sam.
The two pastries were still heavy in her stomach. Lunch certainly wasn’t on her mind yet. But he was.
I’ll meet you at your office.
She walked toward the corner and pushed the walk button. As she waited for the for the signal she looked at her phone and on a laugh she texted,
This is Amelia.
Sam sat at his desk with his phone pressed to his ear, his glasses low on his nose, and a headache brewing behind his eyes. Constance MacMillan was giving him an earful about the tenant she wanted thrown out of the apartment she owned.
He was making notes on the pad in front of him, though he was actually doodling hearts and stick figures. It was official—he was pathetic.
“Okay, Mrs. MacMillan, I need you to email me all the specifics. I can’t write it up if we don’t have all the specifics as to why you want to evict him.”
The conversation seemed to be starting all over again when Sam leaned back in his chair and noticed the woman in his doorway.
“Mrs. MacMillan, my next appointment just arrived. I’ll wait for you to send that over.”
Sam pulled his glasses off his nose and set them on his desk as Amelia stepped into his office.
“Did you dress up to see me?” he asked as he walked toward her.
“This is as fancy as it gets,” she said looking down at her long skirt.
He loved the way her shoulders looked in sleeveless shirts.
“Anything special you’d like for lunch?”
Her lips parted and she licked them. He wondered if she wanted the same thing for lunch he wanted. They were certainly going to have to discuss that if this went any further between them.
She walked closer to him and reached for his tie. Sam swallowed hard.
“I’m not sure we have enough time for what I want for lunch. So I’ll go wherever you have in mind.” She nipped his lips with a small kiss and the heat under his collar rose.
“Suddenly I’m at a loss for suggestions.” He let out a weak chuckle. He ran his hands down those muscular, soft arms he’d admired. “Would it be pushy to ask you to dinner before I even take you to lunch?”
She smiled slowly and batted those thick lashes over her dark eyes. “I was hoping you might.”
He was trying to clear his head and think about lunch, but now that was nearly impossible. A chime rang out in the office and Amelia stepped back from him.
“Someone just came in. Have a seat. I’ll be right back.”
Sam walked around her and down the hallway. Vivian stood there with a daughter gripping each hand.
“Is everything alright?” Sam moved to her.
Her eyes were red, which he assumed was from tears since mascara was streaked down her cheeks.
“I need to talk to you.”
At that moment Penelope and his mother walked through the door. He could see Vivian try to hide her face by bowing her head.
“Mom, would you mind if Mrs. Monroe’s daughters sit with you? Maybe you could print out some coloring sheets for them.”
“Of course,” his mother said happily. “Do you girls like Disney princesses?”
They both nodded and went to his mother as he thought they might. He’d never seen a child who hadn’t taken right to her.
He reached for Vivian’s arm. “Let’s sit down in the conference room. Can I get you something to drink?”
She shook her head and sat down in the same chair she’d occupied the two days earlier. “I’m sorry to barge in here like this.”
“It’s okay,” he said pulling out a chair and sitting down. “What can I do for you?”
She reached into her purse and took out a stack of envelopes. “Adam’s mother dropped these by today. They’re bills. Lots of bills.”
Sam looked at them. “There are car loans, credit cards, and phone bills here.”
“Yes. All of this was forwarded to his parents’ house.” She sucked in a breath and batted back more tears. “They brought them to me so I could pay them off. They thought I was getting everything—you know. Everything he left to Amelia.”
Sam nodded. “What did you tell them?”
Now the tears were back and streamed down her cheeks. “I told her. I had to tell her.”
Vivian sobbed and her breath was in short pants. Sam wasn’t so sure she wouldn’t pass out.
“Take a deep breath,” he instructed her as he set a hand on her back hoping to calm her.
Vivian did as he’d told her. When she’d composed herself she looked at him. “Perhaps I could get a glass of water.”
He nodded and walked to the small refrigerator in the corner. He retrieved a bottle of water and handed it to her before sitting back down.
She opened it, sipped, and let out another long breath.
“I told her I wasn’t his only wife. I told her Adam had married multiple times and he even had another baby on the way.” Her lips pursed and Sam could see she was fighting back another wave of tears. “She said I was lying. She asked if the women she’d met last night were his
,” she defined with her fingers making quotation marks in the air. “When I said yes she said they were gold diggers and they were lying. Her son wouldn’t do something like this.”
Sam rested his hand on hers. “It’s expected.”
“Maybe, but I don’t know what to do. I don’t think he has enough to cover all of this.”
Sam looked over the extensive stack of bills.
“He had a life insurance policy and it’ll pay off the bills.”
“But there won’t be anything left will there?”
Sam quickly did numbers in his head. The man must have felt his impending doom coming. Most of the credit card charges were within the past six months and the car loan hadn’t had much paid on it. And where was the car? Adam Monroe seemed to have been collecting wives and then spending every loaned dime he could get his hands on.
“Listen, Amelia and Penelope aren’t going to abandon you and your plans. We’ll figure this all out.”
“But his parents. I’m afraid they’ll…well what if they sue me?”
“Sue you for what?”
“I don’t know. They think I’m extorting him.”
Sam shook his head. “He has nothing. And you have less.”
She was batting at tears again. “His mother always thought I was using him. Don’t get me wrong. She’s been pleasant for the past ten years and she’s always helped me out with the kids, but she’s guarded against me.”
“Why do you think that is?”
A smirk formed on her mouth. “My mother always said it was because I was too smart for her son.”
“Maybe she was right.”
“If I was so smart I’d have known he was messing around.” The smirk and any hint of humor was gone from her face and her tone. “If I were so smart I’d have had a job before now.”
“Vivian, you have heart. You trusted. You’ll trust again.”
“No. I don’t want to do this again.”
Sam wasn’t so sure, but there was no need to discuss that now.
“Okay, well the next thing we need to do is tell Amelia and Penelope about this. They need to know that Mr. and Mrs. Monroe know. This town isn’t that big. There is a huge chance they’ll cross paths someday. They need to be prepared.”
Vivian nodded. “I’m not worried about Amelia. I’m sure she can handle them. But Penelope—I worry about her. I don’t want her to be hurt.”
Sam felt a warmth rush through him. From what he’d seen the past few days he wasn’t sure there was much heart in the woman who had first been jilted by Adam Monroe, but he was wrong.
“I think the three of you will do just fine. No one will mess with you.”
Finally, she smiled. “I guess I should call them. They need to know.”
Sam bit down on his lip. “Penelope is here and I don’t think Amelia is far. Can you sit for a few minutes?”
“I’ll have them come in.”
Sam walked out to the waiting area and asked Penelope to go sit with Vivian in the conference room. “Have you seen Amelia?”
Penelope gave him a grin. “She ran to the corner to get a coffee. She didn’t want Vivian to see her here.”
Sam nodded. She was smart like that. He looked at his mother. “Send her back when you see her.”
Fifteen minutes later Amelia walked into the room where they had the bills laid out on the table.
“I brought you a coffee,” she said to Sam and he took the cup she handed him.
“What is all of this?”
Sam and Vivian explained the meeting with his parents and the bills which had amassed.
Amelia sat in the chair next to Sam. “Can his parents do anything? Can they come after me?”
“They could fight his will. But then they’ll be liable for all of this.” He acknowledged the stacks of paper.
Amelia looked toward Vivian. “What kind of people are the Monroes?”
Vivian shrugged. “They’re nice enough.” She rubbed her palms together. “His dad is ex-military. So he was always strict and very blunt. His mother, well,” she let out a sigh. “You know, I don’t have to keep this in anymore. She’s a bitch.”