Her response did nothing to make Nikki feel better. She yanked her arm free. “Stay away from me.” She backed out of the bedroom and then turned, hurrying for the inside door.

Sabrina followed her into the living area. “You’re going to wish you never stepped foot in Gabe’s room.”

Nikki already did.

Chapter 28

Gabe walked through the downstairs, the strawberry smoothie in the crook of his arm as he reached into his back pocket for his phone. He’d been all over the damn main floor, looking for Nic. Where in the world was she? He was getting back to the house a little later than normal, but she was usually in the kitchen around this time.

He was just about to call her when the doors to the back staircase swung open and the person he was seeking came rushing out, looking like she’d seen a ghost.

“Are you okay?” he asked, walking over to her.

“Yeah. I think so. I’m actually looking for you.” She glanced over her shoulder. “I need to talk to you.”

Unease grew inside him. “What’s going on?”

She shook her head as she grabbed his arm and pulled him into a nearby room—the one his mother used to watch movies with them in. She closed the door behind them and leaned against it.

The unease gave way to concern. “Okay. You’re really starting to worry me.” He palmed her cheek, guiding her gaze to his. “Talk to me, sweetheart. What’s happening?”

“I’m sorry. It’s just that the craziest thing happened.” She slipped away from the door, walking over to the couch.

When she turned, that’s when he saw something dangling from her left hand. “What’s in your hand?”

Nic blinked and then glanced down. “Oh. Oh my God, I didn’t even realize I was still holding this.” Color burst along her cheeks as her fingers opened.

Gabe went to her, setting the smoothie on the coffee table. “Is that . . . ?” It was. She was holding the necklace she’d given him all those years ago. It had been on his dresser. “You were in my bedroom?”

“I went upstairs, looking for you. The porch doors opened when I knocked. I thought you were in there, so I went inside.” She stared at the necklace and then lifted her gaze to his. “I heard the shower running in your bathroom.”

His brows lifted. The shower had been running in his room? “Yeah, that wasn’t me.”

“I know.” She started to sit down on the couch but stopped. “I found Sabrina in your room. She was in your bathroom taking a shower.”

There was no way he heard her right. He stared at her. “What in the fuck?”

“That was pretty much my reaction when she stepped out of the bathroom wearing just a towel,” Nic replied.

“Is she still up there right now?”

“I don’t know. I just left.”

He hadn’t even seen her car parked outside. Anger burned through him like acid. Turning, he started for the door. He was going to drag that woman’s ass out of the house. He was so fucking done with this shit—

“Wait.” Nic stepped around the coffee table. “She knows about us.”

Gabe turned to her. So fucking angry, he almost didn’t process what she said. “What do you mean?”

“She heard us last week, when we were in one of the extra rooms.” Nic swallowed.

Hell.

That wasn’t the greatest piece of news, but since Dev already speculated the truth and Gabe hadn’t done much to deny it, Sabrina knowing about him and Nic only bothered him because of how it could affect Nic. That woman was batshit crazy enough to mess with Nic out of some kind of twisted jealousy.

“I think she’s been, I don’t know, stalking us in this house.” Nic shuddered. “It’s creepy.”

“Creepy” wasn’t even the right word for it.

“She tried to insinuate that you knew she was there, but I knew better. There’s something wrong with that woman, Gabe.” Nic lifted her chin, meeting his gaze. “I don’t know why you haven’t said anything to Devlin, but something needs to be said, like yesterday. She even threatened me so I would keep my mouth shut about her being in there. She’s out of her mind.”

No truer words had ever been spoken. Part of him couldn’t even believe Sabrina had escalated to this point. What had she been doing up there? Waiting for him to come home? Did she actually think she had a snowball’s chance in hell of seducing him?

“I think . . . I know this sounds crazy, but I think she pushed me that day I fell on the steps,” Nic said, shaking her head. “I asked her and what she said in response really wasn’t a denial, Gabe.”

A chill swept down his spine. “What did she say?”

“That if she had done it, it could’ve killed me and that she wasn’t a bad person,” Nic told him. “Not exactly the most reassuring response. I think—God, I think she pushed me, Gabe.”

Shit.

“And you know that day your window was broken out? I know this sounds crazy, but what if she was involved in that? I mean, it was exactly where I was sitting.”

Gabe fought the urge to pick up something and throw it. Nic could’ve broken something or worse that day she fell. It was a damn miracle that she hadn’t been more seriously injured. The same with the car.

And would it have been because of him? Nothing had started up again between Nic and him at that time, but there’d been that dinner that Nic had spilled the champagne on Sabrina. He’d spent that entire dinner staring at Nic.

Sabrina would’ve noticed.

“I’m sorry that you had to deal with this,” he gritted out. “I’m going to make damn sure you—”

“That’s not the only thing she said.” Nic dragged her empty hand through her hair as she looked away. “She said—she said you had a child.”

Every muscle in Gabe’s body locked up. There was no way. Sabrina couldn’t know about William. Dev would’ve never told her that. Unless that woman was legit stalking him—

Holy shit, she had to be.

For Sabrina to know about William, she had to be honest-to-God stalking him. Sickened and furious, Gabe was actually struck speechless. He’d kept his mouth shut about Sabrina this whole time because her infatuation or whatever the fuck with him had been harmless. Something that he already knew that Dev had to be aware of, because everyone in the damn world knew it, but this—this was too much, too far.

“It’s not true, right?” Nic asked, inching closer to him, the rope of that necklace still dangling from between her fingers. “You don’t have a child.”

There was a brief moment where he considered lying and that horrified him straight to the core. He wasn’t trying to hide William’s existence. He wouldn’t do that, but he knew the moment he told Nic, everything would change between them. Not because he didn’t think she’d be interested in a man who had a child.

But because this was how she was finding out.

That desperate feeling from Saturday night surged back to life as he stared into her beautiful brown eyes. He saw it. Her absolute refusal to believe that Sabrina had been telling the truth.

Gabe couldn’t look at her. “I have a son.”

No.

No way.

Nikki was too shocked to think anything other than that for several moments, because there was no way Gabe had a child and hadn’t mentioned him once to her.

“That’s not funny, Gabe.” Her hand tightened around the necklace.

He still wasn’t looking at her. “It’s not a joke, Nic.”

Her mouth opened, but she didn’t have words at the moment. She took a step back, bumping into the coffee table. “You . . . you have a kid—a son? Emma and you?”

His shoulders rose with a deep breath. “Yes. His name is William. He’s five years old.”

Five years old? That meant—things clicked into place. “When you guys met up? She got pregnant. That’s why you’ve been going to Baton Rouge—why you’re looking at getting a place there.”

“That would be correct,” he replied, his tone so cold and detached that Nikki jolted.

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