Runaway: The Sequel to Secrets, a sexy and dramatic western romance (Finding Love ~ THE OUTSIDER SERIES)

BOOK: Runaway: The Sequel to Secrets, a sexy and dramatic western romance (Finding Love ~ THE OUTSIDER SERIES)
9.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub





Lorhainne Eckhart


Finding Love ~ The Outsider series

The Forgotten Child

A Baby and a Wedding

Fallen Hero

The Search

The Awakening



Walk the Right Road Series

The Choice

Lost and Found


Bounty* Coming Soon

Military Roman
tic Suspense


Young Adult Mystery

The Gift

A Father’s Love

Box Sets

Finding Love ~ The Outsider Series

Walk the Right Road Series – Danger ~ Deception ~Devotion: A Box Set

From the Heart


Praise for Works by Lorhainne Eckhart ...

"Wish there
were truly men in the world like the Friessen Men."

Amazon Reviewer Sara

This is an emotionally charged well written portrayal of a couple faced with a tragedy and the secrets that could destroy them.

Rita Herron, Author

The author took real fears and problems and gave us a great happily ever after


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Other Works by Lorhainne Eckhart

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1

“Are you Andy

didn’t bother to glance up from where he was bent over the hoof, picking mud and gravel from his three-year-old buckskin, Ladystar. Andy dug out the last dried chunk of mud, wanting to snap at whoever was bothering him. “Damn kid I hired didn’t clean out her hoof after riding her,” he muttered. He set down her hoof, and she stomped and pranced as Andy pressed his hand to her hind quarter. He wiped the sweat from his forehead and picked up her front hoof, starting to dig around the frog, picking out all the dried mud. Bent over as he was, Andy could see a pair of blue jeans on some man who was standing behind his horse. “I wouldn’t stand there if I were you,” he said, setting down the mare’s hoof and standing up. “It’s a good way to get yourself kicked.”

short man wearing shades and a tan sports coat stepped sideways around a pile of fresh manure. “I’m looking for Andy Friessen,” the man said.

, well, you found him. What do you want?” he snapped, irritated because all he wanted to do was saddle the horse, head onto the trail, and ride for the next few hours without one more person asking him another stupid question. He just wanted some peace.

“You’ve been served.” The man slapped court papers in his hand
and then hurried the other way as if Andy was going to chase him down and pound the crap out of him.

“Hey, what the hell is this
?” Andy barked at the man now jogging up the driveway.

ndy swore as he flipped open the document and read
Petition for Divorce
in bold black letters. Laura was suing him for divorce! He couldn’t believe it. Hell, any woman would give her right arm to be married to him, to have his name. As he read on, he felt like ice shards were ripping through his veins as he saw Diana Friessen’s name written at the bottom as the lawyer of record. She was his cousin Jed’s wife and the one woman he’d probably go to his grave loving. How could she do this to him and not call him? Did Jed know?

hadn’t heard from Laura in over six months. She’d walked out the door without saying goodbye to him, taking her son, Gabriel, with her and leaving behind everything he’d bought for them. Andy had been furious at first. Hell, he’d even tracked her down to where she’d been staying with the old cook, Aida, who still worked for Andy and his family. But Laura had refused to speak with him, and Aida sent him away and asked him not to come back again. Six months ago, he had expected Laura to return home to the estate with her tail tucked between her legs. After all, she had no money, no family, and no resources, with a little boy to feed, clothe, and shelter. She needed him.

But she didn’t come back. And she didn’t phone.

Then he worried. He’d married her to protect her when she’d been forced to live in her car after she couldn’t pay rent because his mother had fired her when she worked as a maid, all because she’d knocked over a Christmas tree. When the sheriff had found her living in her car, the authorities took Gabriel and stuck him into a foster home that wasn’t even fit to care for a dog. Andy had stepped in and married her to help her get Gabriel back. Why had he done it? Because the whole messed-up situation that had spiralled from bad to worse had been his fault.

s Andy read through the black print and legalese, he fought back a rising tide of anger and disbelief. Well, to hell with her. She appreciated nothing he’d done for her. What should he expect from someone so young and ungrateful and...? He stopped cold when an icy chill raced through him as he realized she’d asked for nothing from the divorce, not one red cent from him.

Andy came from one of the wealthiest families in the county
; she could easily have asked for a fortune and gotten it even though they’d been married less than a year. Andy knew she wasn’t a fool, and deep down he knew she was no gold digger. She was hurt and vulnerable and innocent, and he hadn’t treated her with a lick of respect. The fact was that he was having a hard time admitting what a prick he’d been. He was ashamed of the way he’d taken charge of her life, of Gabriel’s, without sharing anything of his life with her.

, to hell with her. He would just wash his hands of her and say good riddance. He crumpled the papers and went to stuff them in his pocket, then stopped when he glimpsed the back door open. Aida, the old cook, stepped out the staff entrance of the vast Friessen mansion, carrying her coat and purse, having finished her work for the day.

Andy rested his arm
against Ladystar’s side. The mare nickered and then stomped her hoof impatiently, but Andy patted her flank. “Just give me a minute, girl.”

e stepped away. His feet had obviously taken on a mind of their own, because the last thing he should have been doing was exactly what he was doing, making a beeline straight to Aida, cutting her off before she reached her old compact car.

“Aida, please tell me where she is
. I know she moved out from your place,” Andy called. He strode toward Aida, really digging in to each step, swatting the papers in the air as if taking out a few flies here and there.

For a short woman in her seventies
, Aida was quick as she darted around him. Andy spun around and jogged after her. This wasn’t the average stroll he took when walking with a woman.

Aida yanked the hairnet off her short graying bob,
reaching behind her back to pull on her apron string. “Andy Friessen, don’t keep asking me, because I won’t tell you.” She jerked open the driver’s door and tossed in her apron and purse. Andy gripped the top of the door so she couldn’t slam it closed in his face again, as she’d done yesterday, last week, and every time he’d tried to talk to her after work. In the kitchen, she would ignore him and then order him out. When he didn’t comply, she would threaten to quit.

Andy couldn’t blame Laura for leaving him
, really. After all, they never had a chance to get to know each other. There was no burning love between them, the kind where he would count the minutes, the seconds to when he could see his wife again, the kind that would distract him and drive him crazy, his whole being sizzling in anticipation of that one touch, that smile, or just hearing her voice, the kind of deep love that would touch him inside his soul so that the thought of never seeing or hearing her again would shred his every last bit of good sense and he would question his will to live without her. No, there was none of that with Laura. He did, however, feel responsible for her even now, with these cursed papers burning a hole in his hand. Just what the hell was the matter with him?

Maybe it was because she was so young. She’d
just turned twenty-one last week, and even though he hadn’t seen her or heard from her, he had found himself buying her a gift: a solid gold locket. Of course, it remained wrapped upstairs in their room along with all of the other things he’d bought her. He had bought the gift on a whim, as he hadn’t seen Laura or spoken to her since that day outside the Seattle Hospital where Jed was recovering from surgery, when Andy had been a total ass. In hindsight, he’d love to go back and kick himself in the butt, to apologize, to not walk away and leave her standing there alone. She was honest, hardworking, and her only sin had been getting pregnant at fifteen with Gabriel and being cast into the street by her judgemental parents, who were too worried about how the situation would look and how it would influence Laura’s younger brothers. Andy had never met her parents and didn’t plan on it, but he still couldn’t soften his heart toward them.

He swung the paper in the air
again. “She filed for divorce. I was just served. I need to talk to her, Aida.”

The old woman stared straight ahead and said nothing.

“She asked for nothing, Aida. How is she paying rent? Where is she getting money from? Does she have a job? What about Gabriel?”

, let go of my door.” Aida stared up at him with her plump wrinkled face and her gray eyes, which were etched with tiny red lines as if they’d seen every good and bad thing in life.

Andy yanked out his wallet
. “I need you to give her some money. How is she going to look after herself?” He pulled out all the bills, knowing there were only a thousand dollars there. He handed the stack to Aida, and she stared at the bills as if they were dirty. “Aida, did you give her the money I sent before? I know she didn’t cash the check I gave you,” Andy said, pleading.

She pursed her pale
, wrinkled lips. She didn’t look away, though she did appear to be considering what to say to Andy. Andy had no doubt she’d go to her grave without parting with one secret of where Laura was hiding.

“I gave her the cash
, but do not ask again where the girl is, as I won’t tell you. I promised her, Andy. She doesn’t want to see you again,” Aida said. However, bless her heart, she did fold the cash and tuck it into a side pocket of her purse before folding her plump body into the compact car.

, I want to see her and Gabriel. Could you ask her to meet me. Please?” Andy squatted down so he wasn’t having to look down on the old cook.

, she has a right to be angry with you. You treated her horribly and made her feel as if she was a nuisance to have around. You may have married her to protect her and Gabriel, but the way you talked to her after you were married, it was as if she still worked for you. And she was a nice bed warmer, too, hey?”

Andy blushed
, which was something he didn’t do. Aida was right: He’d bedded her, but he hadn’t shared one aspect of his life with her. Time did have a way of opening his eyes, especially when she’d taken nothing. He was worried about how she was managing to pay for anything just to survive, let alone feed her and Gabriel.

BOOK: Runaway: The Sequel to Secrets, a sexy and dramatic western romance (Finding Love ~ THE OUTSIDER SERIES)
9.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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