Betrayed (Whiskey Nights #4)

By: Suzannah Daniels



“Not a chance,” I assured him.



Jessica



“Do you have someone you can call to pick up your son?”

I shrugged, emotion closing my throat and making it difficult to breathe, let alone speak.

“His father?”

I quickly shook my head. His father wasn’t in the picture and never would be.

“Your mother maybe?”

Pressing my mouth closed, I swallowed and sucked in a ragged breath. “My mother’s dead.”

“If you can’t find someone to pick him up, we’ll have no choice but to turn him over to protective services.”

Nausea welled in the pit of my stomach as I bounced Joseph on my hip, my hand clinging to his chubby thigh. He was only six months old, so I desperately hoped he couldn’t detect the depth of my distress. He reached up and grabbed a handful of my hair, tugging as he tried to put it in his mouth. I gently opened his hand, removed my hair from his grasp, and pushed it over my shoulder, out of reach from his tiny moist fingers.

I swiped my tears away with my free hand as shame burned bright on my face. “Can’t you just let me go? I promise I’ll never do it again.”

The cop was an older man, his top lip disappearing under a thick salt-and-pepper mustache as he frowned. “The merchant wants to press charges.”

Embarrassed, I moved my eyes away from him, looking over the top of his police car and scanning the parking lot of the small corner market. At least he didn’t have his lights flashing.

“Is there someone else you can call?”

What had I been thinking? I should have come up with a better way to rectify my problem. “I have a friend, but it might take him a couple of hours to get here.” I felt like dying on the spot, melting into a puddle, and seeping into the asphalt—anything to spare myself the humiliation of having to tell someone what I had done.

“Look, Ms. Beacham, that’s more time than we generally give, but if you can get your friend on his way, I’ll try to cut you a break.”

Giving him a weak smile, I rubbed the heel of my palm across my cheek, trying to remove the wet remnants of my tears. “Thank you.”

I pulled my cell phone from my back pocket and called one of my few friends, Cade Mayfield. Cade was a sweetheart, and I knew if anybody would help me, it would be he. His kindness was the only thing that had kept me from being totally alone throughout my pregnancy. Not only had he given me financial help, but he had also been supportive, even driving here to be with me during my labor and caring for me after I’d been released from the hospital.

We had talked of marriage, not because we were in love, more like a marriage of convenience between friends. But it wasn’t meant to be.

He had since married someone else, a woman who had been kind to me even when I hadn’t deserved it. I decided the least I could do for them was to leave them in peace, refusing anymore help, even though they offered it often.

I’d led him to believe that I’d been doing fine financially.

But that was far from the truth.

As the phone rang, I closed my eyes, silently begging him to pick up. When he didn’t, I quickly hung up and called back.

No answer.

“I’ve got another number to try,” I explained to the police officer. Standing with his hands clutching his belt, he nodded, the kindness in his eyes telling me it was fine.

I tried calling Cade’s wife, Seren.

She didn’t answer, either.

I hung up and exhaled, adjusting Joseph’s weight on my hip.

“Do I need to call CPS?” the cop asked quietly.

My breath caught in my lungs as fresh tears filled my eyes. “Let me try one more time,” I begged, my words muffled with emotion.

He stood stock still, his hands still gripping his belt, and nodded. “I reckon one more call won’t hurt.”

There was only one person left, and he definitely wouldn’t want to hear from me. I knew him well enough to know his response to my phone call would not be positive, but I was running out of options. Maybe if nothing else, he would be able to reach Cade.

I kissed Joseph’s temple, the smell of baby lotion filling my nostrils. If it were just for my benefit, I wouldn’t ask. But since it was for Joseph, I could do it. I could force myself to call Paxton, Cade’s brother.

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