“Please hand me the phone, Seth,” I murmur calmly, not wanting to scare the boy. He hands it to me and I immediately stalk out to the hallway, almost running headfirst into Zack.
“Where the hell are you?”
The line goes dead.
“Where is she?” I demand.
“I don’t know,” Zack insists. “She wouldn’t tell me when I asked. She just wanted to talk to Seth, to make sure he’s okay.”
“I wonder if she told Seth.”
“If you’re going in that room,” Zack warns me with narrowed eyes, “you’d better damn well be calm, J. I don’t need you scaring the shit out of my kid.”
“Jesus, man, I’m not going to scare Seth.”
We both open Seth’s door and walk in calmly. Seth is sleepy, but smiles at us when we approach his bedside.
“Hey, buddy, did Cara tell you where she went?” I ask as I push my hand over his soft hair.
“Can you tell me?”
He shakes his head and frowns. “I promised I wouldn’t.”
“Seth.” Zack sits on the edge of Seth’s bed and cups Seth’s face in his hand. “Uncle Josh is really worried about Cara.”
“You hurt her feelings,” Seth whispers.
“I know,” I reply. “I just want to make sure she’s safe, Seth.” I brush his hair off his forehead and offer him a small smile. “I love you, buddy. I’m glad Cara called you to make sure you’re okay.”
“She loves all of us, Uncle Josh. She didn’t mean to put me in danger.”
“I know.” I sigh. “Please tell me where she is so I can tell her I’m sorry.”
“I can’t. I promised.” He shakes his head resolutely. “I trust her and she trusts me.”
“Seth,” Zack says, catching his attention. “Do you remember how you felt when you thought that I didn’t love you and I didn’t want to be with you?”
“Yeah,” he whispers.
“Cara and Josh both feel like that now. Josh needs to find her so he can make it right.”
Seth twists his lips, his face pale from his ordeal, and grips the blanket in his fingers.
“She’s with Jill.”
Zack curses under his breath and pushes his hands through his hair.
“She left the state?” I ask incredulously.
“Well, she was calling from some other city where she’s waiting for another plane to take her to LA.” Seth’s voice is small and shaky. “Are you mad at her?”
“I’m furious.” I nod. “But don’t worry, I’ll figure it out.”
“There aren’t any more flights out tonight,” Zack reminds me softly. “You’ll have to catch one in the morning.”
“I’m going back to the house.” I look up into Zack’s face. “I need to pack and book my flight.”
“Go. We’re fine.”
“I want regular calls with updates.” I look back over at Seth and wince. “I’m sorry, buddy.”
“It’s okay. Dad and Gram and Gramps are here. Go find Aunt Cara.” He slips into sleep before he can see the stunned look on my face.
Hell yes, she’s your Aunt Cara.
“Call me when you get there.” Zack grins at me and claps his hand on my shoulder. “Go grovel for forgiveness. I recommend having chocolate with you.” He frowns as his phone pings and scowls when he reads the message.
“Who is it?”
“Jillian.” His eyes find mine and then he reads the message again. “She’s just checking on Seth. Cara must have filled her in.”
“You look surprised.”
“I haven’t heard from her since the Fourth,” Zack murmurs as he types a response with his thumbs and shoves his phone back in his pocket.
“Maybe you should do some groveling of your own?”
He sighs and shakes his head. “What is up with women today?”
He chuckles. “I think they’re like this every day.”
“Like what, difficult?”
He’s probably right.
* * *
“Attention please. All flights are now delayed indefinitely due to severe weather. Flight information will be updated as we have it. Repeat . . .”
“Son of a bitch,” I mutter, and lean back in the hard, black airport seat. I dial Zack’s number and sigh.
“Did you get there?”
“No, I’m stranded in Salt Lake City. All of the flights are grounded.”
“It can’t be snowing,” he mutters incredulously.
“No, thunderstorms.” I stand and pace to the window to watch long streaks of lightning touch down in the distance. “It’s a killer storm. Great timing.”
“I’m sorry, man. How long have you been there?”
“Dude, it’s ten o’clock at night.”
“I know, it’s been a shitty day.”
“Have you slept?”
“A little on the flight down here.”
“Maybe you should go get a hotel room and rest and then fly down tomorrow.”
“Is that what you would do?” I ask.
He laughs. “Fuck no.”
“Exactly.” I return to my seat and sigh. “I’ll text you when I get there.”
He hangs up and I decide to take a chance that Cara has turned her phone back on and dial her number.
My heart stutters when it rings.
On the third ring, I hear Jill’s voice. “You’re an ass.” She slurs the last part of ass, making it ash.
“No, let me tell him!” I hear Cara’s panicked voice in the background and I cross my arms, interested to hear where this is going.
At least she’s safe.
“You’re a jerk, King,” Jill resumes.
“Good. He knows,” she informs Cara, making me smile for the first time in more than twenty-four hours. “It wasn’t cool to say that Cara isn’t welcome to move to the Lazy K after you already asked her.”
“Wait. What?” I’m stunned. I know I never told her that.
“You said that you didn’t want to put your foot in your mouth the way you always do and hurt her feelings, and it’s not a forever thing anyway.”
“I didn’t say that.”