Runaway: The Sequel to Secrets, a sexy and dramatic western romance (Finding Love ~ THE OUTSIDER SERIES) (2 page)

BOOK: Runaway: The Sequel to Secrets, a sexy and dramatic western romance (Finding Love ~ THE OUTSIDER SERIES)
6.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

, I am a bastard, I admit, but I’m worried about her. Telling her I’m sorry doesn’t even begin to make up for what I’ve done. I know words mean nothing, but please just ask her to meet me. How am I supposed to make things right if she won’t see me?”

Aida gripped the steering wheel
. She let out a heavy sigh. “Andy Friessen, I will talk to Laura, but I won’t make you any promises.”

Andy reached in and patted her arm because he sensed he was getting through to the
tough old bird. If he could convince Aida he was sincere and win her over, she would be his best ally and his best hope to reach Laura. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Aida, and thank you. Please tell her I’ll go wherever she wants to meet, at any time, please...” He shut her door and stood behind one of the ranch hand’s pickups, watching as Aida drove away down the long, paved driveway, beside the manicured lawns and gardens, out to the highway.

His cell phone rang,
and he yanked it from his back pocket. “Andy Friessen,” he answered, distractedly watching the now empty driveway.

, Andy. This is Brian. I’ve got some news on that wife of yours,” answered a familiar voice. Brian Rivers was a private detective Andy had hired a few months back to keep an eye on Laura.

it has anything to do with her filing for divorce, I already know. I was just served by some law school dropout.”

There a clatter and brief silence on the other end. “No. I didn’t know that. Well
, how about that? So how much is she trying to bleed you for?”

“Not a damn thing
, so I want to know where she’s getting her money from. Is she still in that old house at the edge of town?” Andy watched Ladystar, who was tied to the rail outside the barn. The feisty thing was getting impatient, stomping her front hoof and pawing at the ground.

, that’s why I’m calling. She moved. Your cousin and that pretty redheaded wife of his were there, and they picked her up. She doesn’t have a car. She’s staying out at their place. They built a studio above their barn and pretty sure moved her in.”

Andy remembered Jed telling him just last week about the new studio
. Hell, he’d even seen it, a cozy open loft with a kitchen, bathroom, living room, and bedroom all in one area. He thought Jed told him it was for a manager he was hiring.

Then he wondered
... No, it couldn’t be. Laura was the manager and working for his cousin? Jed wouldn’t do that to him and not say anything. But then, as the reality sank in and the stiff white paper burned a hole in his hand, Andy remembered that Diana, Jed’s wife, had filed this petition, and not one of them had said squat. “I gotta go,” he said.

, wait, don’t you want to know—” Brian tried to interrupt.

“Not now
, Brian. I’ve got to go. I have a cousin to visit.”

Chapter 2

“It’s not much, but I think it’s kind of fun and cute, and Jed and I will be right next door if you need us.” Diana pressed her hand into the small of her back and rubbed her other hand with her gold wedding band over her almost eight months’ pregnant belly.

Laura’s hair had started to grow out and was now shoulder length
, and she kept it tied back in a high ponytail. “Diana, I don’t know how to thank you and Jed for all you’ve done. This place is better than I could have hoped for. I love that clean smell of new wood.” Laura took in the brand new loft, which had an antique double bed for her and a single bed for Gabriel, with lovely pink and green bedspreads. It was an open design, tastefully done, and even the appliances were brand new. She set her purse on the round kitchen table with four chairs. At the west side of the loft was a cozy living room with a green taupe sofa and chair and a plasma TV mounted to the wall.

Footsteps clattered up the stairs. Laura gazed over the wooden rail
, watching as Jed followed Gabriel and redheaded Danny, who was just walking and insisted on mastering the stairs all by himself and yelling at the top of his lungs, “Mama, comin’ up!”

’ve got your hands full with Danny there. Does he ever stop, Diana?” Laura smiled as she listened to the clomp and clatter of three boys: her five-year-old boy, Gabriel, who leaped up the steps; Danny, who crawled and patted each step; and Jed, who followed, encouraging his son.

“One more
. Come on, you can do it.” Jed was grinning ear to ear, watching as Danny pushed himself to his feet and ran straight to his mommy.

“He’s a
Friessen man; ‘slow’ and ‘easy’ aren’t in their vocabulary,” Diana muttered just as Jed stepped closer and lifted Danny, tossing him in the air while he giggled and wiggled. Then Jed leaned down and kissed Diana.

“That’s not fair
. I guarantee you I can take it slow and easy in some things you enjoy.” He winked, and Diana gasped before clearing her throat.

, listen, I am grateful you’ve taken this job.”

, Jed, I really do appreciate all this—and the job, even though I’m pretty sure you don’t really need me.”

, that’s where you’re wrong, Laura,” said Jed as he set a kid-size cowboy hat on Gabriel’s head.

“Cool hat.
Ride horsey?” Gabriel beamed at Jed as he asked.

“Tell you what
, bud. Let’s let your mama get settled, and you come help me feed the horses,” Jed answered. The sound of a vehicle pulling down the driveway had him stepping toward the window.

“The fact is
, Laura, we’re the ones who are grateful,” Diana said. “Jed wants to be on a horse, riding, teaching the kids, not cooped up in an office, doing paperwork. And I have my hands full with Danny and this one here.” She rubbed the baby she carried in her large belly. “And I’m tired, too....”

, I was wondering when he was going to show up,” Jed interrupted. Danny just then decided he wanted down, so Jed slung him over his shoulder to distract him.

“Who’s here
, Jed?” Diana asked.

felt a flutter of butterflies in her stomach when Jed glanced at Diana with a look that had her covering her mouth with her palm and turning away.

“My cousin
, your husband,” Jed said as he started toward the stairs. Gabriel was at the window with Jed, and he raced toward the stairs and started down.

, come back here!” Laura said, but this time he didn’t listen, as he was out the door. She could hear him call out, “Andy, Andy.”

Laura went to the window and gazed out at Andy
, dressed as he always was in dark jeans and a long-sleeved dark shirt, but he wasn’t as neat as usual. He lifted Gabriel in his strong arms and hugged him.

“You know
, Andy has a lot of faults, but caring for Gabriel is not one of them.” Diana was standing in the window, watching as her husband approached Andy. “I knew it was only a matter of time before he found out you were here. He was served this morning, too. He’ll be furious, Laura. It was cold and impersonal.”

, I don’t want to see him again, ever. I just want him gone and out of our lives for good.” Laura stepped back when Andy glanced up with those all-seeing hard blue eyes. At times, she’d swear they were etched in steel.

, how he treated you was horrible. We know that, and we all agree with you, but you can’t keep avoiding him. He’ll find out.”

Diana turned solemn blue eyes on her. She’d been a true friend
who was always there for her, even with her husband recovering from surgery. It had been a miracle when he came through okay, and Diana had even told Laura that life was too short for regrets.

does he know? You and Jed promised me you wouldn’t tell him,” Laura pleaded.

, we did, but don’t forget that Andy’s been having you followed,” Diana said. “I have to tell you, Laura, my husband doesn’t agree with your decision. He’s honored it for now, hoping you’ll come to your senses. Andy does have a right to know where you are. You should know he’s offered to talk to Andy for you, too.”

Laura felt a surge of anger shoot
like a rocket through her as she processed what Diana had said. Her face felt warm, and beads of sweat popped out over her brow. She squeezed her fists. “He’s been having me followed? Are you kidding me? What kind of sick—”

, Laura.”

She didn’t hear him come up
, and what made it worse was that he was carrying Gabriel, who, by the looks of it, had no intention of allowing Andy to let him down. She could see how her son worshipped Andy, and that infuriated her. She was standing beside Diana, and it wasn’t until Diana stepped back that Andy’s eyes widened and his brows furrowed with something dark and furious.

“What the hell
?” he said.

Laura pursed her lips and struggled with those damn emotions
, second guessing everything she’d done, and placed her hand over her own large, swollen belly just as the baby kicked.

Chapter 3

Laura could have heard a pin drop in that awkward second. Jed was now behind Andy, holding Danny, and for the first time today, Danny was quiet.

“Could you give us a minute
?” Andy said, his icy gaze never leaving Laura. But she knew darn well he wasn’t talking to her.

, I think maybe it might be better—”

, no. Come on. These two need to talk. It’s past time. Andy, just a warning: Laura is living here, and there is some pretty heavy shit between you two. I can only imagine how mad you are, but be nice.” Jed stepped around Andy until he glanced away from Laura. The look Andy gave him sent a chill through Laura that had her mind scrambling to find a way to leave. Andy could be a hard man, unforgiving, and she’d sensed that in him, but she now dreaded what was to come next with him, as it was sure to be nothing pleasant. She hated confrontations, and Andy was all about confronting everything, much like a bull in a china shop.

, can you take Gabriel down with you? And your wife, too. Laura will be safe enough, for now.” He directed a heated look at Laura, and she wanted to step back as she swallowed, but she couldn’t, as she bumped the wall behind her.

, I’m sorry. I know you were served earlier today, but as Laura’s lawyer...” Diana started toward Andy, but the look he gave her could have turned water to ice.

Jed reach
ed out and took his wife’s hand. “Andy, your wife will talk to you, but don’t blame Diana. There’s a lot to go around here in bad decisions, but you should know that Diana and I both insisted she tell you.”

“Jed, right now I just want to talk to my wife alone.” Andy kissed Gabriel on the cheek and
put him down, but Gabriel latched on to his leg.

, Andy, up,” he said.

“I’ll see you after I talk to your mom. Go on with Jed.”

Gabriel didn’t look to Laura, and she was puzzled by the closeness he had now with Andy. When Gabriel had asked over and over where Andy was and when they could go home, she hadn’t realized he was yearning for Andy’s affection. After all, living in a big mansion had been comfortable, and she just thought he missed that.

Andy watched the stairs as Jed, Diana, Gabriel
, and Danny descended in a noisy clatter, and his gaze landed on Laura the moment the door closed. He didn’t take one step toward her. In fact, he appeared to pull away as he crossed his arms, which drew her attention to his wide, solid chest. The top two buttons were open, exposing the dark brown chest hair she loved to run her fingers through. He was a strong man, with solid pecs and six-pack abs, every part of him well muscled and lean. Unfortunately, Laura remembered all too well what it was like to be held in those arms, even if it had been for his enjoyment only.

Laura instinctively placed both hands over her round belly. “Hello
, Andy.”

“So what is this
? You were planning on divorcing me, disappearing with my kid? It is mine, right?” he snapped.

Laura felt that slap
, and her eyes burned as she blinked and looked away. “This is my child, Andy. You need not concern yourself or have any responsibility.”

This was
obviously the wrong answer. This time, he did step toward her, his hands fisted at his sides, and she could feel his rage barely contained, pulsing around him like waves of a returning tide.

“I asked you if this is my child
. Am I the father?” His voice was low and quiet as he asked her again, but this time his teeth were clenched when he spoke. He stopped right in front of her, so close that his breath was like a feather on her hair. She had to look up because he was so tall the top of her head just reached his shoulders, and staring at his chest rattled her.

briefly wondered if he was going to reach out and shake her. For a moment, she considered not telling him the truth. It would be easier, and he’d just go away, but she couldn’t do that. “Yes, you’re the father.”

She was cowardly
. When she looked away, she knew that, but she forced herself to look him in the eye. It was past time, but what she saw there took the wind out of her sails and made her doubt whether she had been the one who was wronged. He stared at her with tears in those icy blue eyes and inclined his head, staring at her as if he didn’t know who the hell she was.

BOOK: Runaway: The Sequel to Secrets, a sexy and dramatic western romance (Finding Love ~ THE OUTSIDER SERIES)
6.56Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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