Betrayed (Whiskey Nights #4)

By: Suzannah Daniels



“Let me walk you to your car.” I started to stand, but she held her palm out to stop me. “I really just want to be alone.”

I eased back into my chair and nodded in understanding. “Bye, Rachel.”

She flashed me a sad smile and walked away, her hips swaying in her red fitted skirt as her high heels moved silently across the carpet.

Turning my attention back to the table, I flipped open the check holder to see the total of the bill. After counting out the correct amount along with a generous tip, I emptied my wineglass and headed toward my car.

That went worse than expected.

My phone rang as I exited the restaurant, and I quickly fished it from my pocket, fully expecting it to be Rachel.

Instead, it was a number that hadn’t been programmed into my phone, a number that I didn’t recognize. I answered, “Hello.”

Nothing.

“Hello,” I repeated, wondering if someone had dialed the wrong number.

I heard sniffling.

Had Rachel called me from another phone?

“Rachel?”

The sniffling got louder. “Max?”

My heart dropped to my feet, the voice penetrating a sweet spot somewhere inside me before I glazed it over with hardness once again. Only one woman would call me Max, and I had told her I never wanted to speak to her again.

In the last seven years, I had seen her one time when she showed up at my parents’ house during a family dinner a few months ago. Only she hadn’t come to see me. She had come to see Cade.

“I think you dialed the wrong number.” I made it clear to Jessica seven years ago that I had nothing to say to her. Ever.

As I lowered the phone from my ear with every intention of ending the call, I heard her plead, “Max, please…please don’t hang up.”

Something about the vulnerability in her voice gave me pause, and I was frustrated that I allowed it to make me waver. My finger hovered over the bright red button that would disconnect us.

“Max, I’m begging you. I don’t have much time. Please hear me out.”

I could hear her desperation, and even though my head demanded that I hang up and refuse to allow her tears to suck me in, there was just enough respect for the love we once shared to make me put the phone back to my ear. “Why the hell are you calling me, Jess?”

“I tried to call Cade and Seren, but neither of them answered.”

“They’re out of town. Leave them a message or call them back in a few days.”

“I can’t wait that long.” The words quickly spewed from her mouth as if she were afraid that if she didn’t speak rapidly, I wouldn’t give her the chance to finish. And I wouldn’t deny that it wasn’t far from the truth. “I’m not asking this for me. I’m asking for my baby, for Joseph. I have no one else to call, and I need someone to pick him up.”

“I don’t do kids, Jess.”

“I know.” A muffled sob escaped her. “It’s just that if I can’t find someone to pick him up, they’re going to call CPS.”

“Who’s going to call CPS?”

She hesitated, my question hanging in the air as she cried.

“The police,” she answered, her voice shaking. “I…I’m being arrested.”

“Not my problem, Jess.” I knew I was being cold, but I was also being honest. Jessica had stopped being my problem when I found out that as soon as we had broken up, she had rushed into the arms of my brother.

“Please! If it were just me, I wouldn’t have called, but please don’t let them send my baby to total strangers.”

“I hate to break it to you, Jess, but as far as your kid’s concerned, I am a total stranger.”

“But you’re not to me. Please, I have no one else. If you don’t get here soon, they’ll turn him over.” She broke into full-blown ugly-crying, and I could picture the exact curve of her mouth as it bent into a frown, the crease between her brows, her blue eyes glittering with tears.

Damn, I wished Cade wasn’t out of town. Seren would be the perfect person to deal with this fiasco.

I stuffed two fingers in my collar, thinking perhaps I’d tied my tie a little too tight, and blew out a breath. “Fine. Where do I need to go?”

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