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Yet, all she wanted to do was talk out her anger with someone. Victoria would lynch Hayden before the full story even left Liz’s mouth. Liz was close with Massey and Savannah, but it was break and she just couldn’t bring herself to ruin theirs after Hayden had just ruined the end of hers.

Brady. She just kept coming back to Brady for some reason. Her stomach tugged and she felt a prickle travel through her lower half just at the thought. Groaning, she tried to forget his name, his presence, his damn smirk, and that insufferable way he had of never really leaving her life.

Liz reached for her phone and ran her index finger across the touch screen. She had deleted all of his numbers from her phone in the spring after her twenty-first-birthday escapade. She didn’t have a way to get hold of him other than the office number she had used all last summer. She doubted it would work anyway.

It had just been so long since they had talked . . . really talked. What was the last thing he had even said to her? She couldn’t remember. She had been drunk on the phone. But she could remember clear as day the last thing he had texted to her before leaving the primary. You know this can’t be anything else right now. Just don’t forget, okay? He had been antagonizing her, just reminding her over and over that they could never really work out, never be more than a secret affair.

But how could she forget? How could she forget anything when Brady always clouded her consciousness? How could she forget when he was still around, when she was always near his sister, when everything from the very desk that she sat in day in and day out at the paper reminded her of him and how they hadn’t worked out?

Liz shook her head. She needed to get herself together, but she didn’t feel as if it was worth it tonight. Hayden’s harsh words had struck a chord with her, and she didn’t know how to stop playing to his tune. She was too emotional, and she just wanted to get away from it all—her “perfect” boyfriend, her perfect school, her perfect life. She wanted to go back to that summer when she hadn’t been Lizzie.

Against her better judgment she typed in the number.

Her heart hammered in her chest and her body warmed despite the ever-cooling temperatures. She walked briskly across the leaf-strewn sidewalk with her phone pressed tightly to her ear. She chanced a glance behind her to confirm that the door to the Union was still sealed shut. Hayden hadn’t left. He wasn’t going to follow her. He wasn’t running after her.

“Congressman Maxwell’s office.”

Liz felt a rush of adrenaline pump through her body as she remembered their summer exploits and the thrill of being someone else for a while. She hadn’t thought that this number would be working any longer. But he must have kept a local office open in the district for when he was here on business. Still, it shocked her a little.

“Yes,” she said her voice shaky. “I’m trying to reach the Congressman. Is he in this evening?”

Her hands trembled. It had been a while since she had done this. She knew it was a long shot, but maybe they could connect her with the D.C. office. It was invigorating and terrifying how much she reveled in the rebellion.

“Yes, he’s in, but the Congressman is occupied. May I take a message?”

Liz’s heart leaped. He was here . . . in North Carolina. At least, that was what she assumed the lady meant.

“Can you tell him Sandy Carmichael is on the line,” she murmured, the strength renewed in her voice.

The woman paused. “Yes, Ms. Carmichael. Please hold.”

Liz chewed on her lips as she waited. The wind picked up and tore through her hair, whipping it into her eyes. She tried to brush it out of her face, but the wind was relentless. She could empathize with its ferocity tonight.

Jogging the last few feet in her knee-high brown boots, Liz made it to her car and quickly ducked inside out of the cold. She was still shivering as she waited . . . and waited . . . and waited. Would he answer? She hadn’t spoken to him since her birthday in April, and it was now the end of October. Had she made a mistake in calling?

The clock told her it was only nine o’clock. Last summer felt like so long ago. Just as her mind drifted to nights at his lake house, stolen nights in hotel rooms, and fancy cocktail dinners, where mere looks across the room were enough to push them into deliriously dangerous circumstances, the line clicked over.

“The Congressman will be right with you,” the woman said, pausing briefly, before adding, “Ms. Carmichael.”

A second later, Liz heard a buzz on the line. Her heart leaped out of her chest with anticipation, and she felt a stirring between her thighs. She was already turned on, and she hadn’t even heard his voice. It was wrong, so wrong that just a buzz on the other line could make her throb. She didn’t want to admit that the waiting riled her up as much as he did. She had tried to forget all of these things.

“Sandy?” Brady’s intoxicating voice murmured the name they had always used in public. She almost groaned aloud at the seductive quality it carried. He didn’t talk like this on the radio. She started to squirm and pressed her legs together.

“Brady.” She sighed into the phone, forgetting all of her worries with the sound of his voice. She slumped back against the seat and closed her eyes, remembering easier times.

“Are you okay?” he asked, his voice showing what she knew was a hint of desperation. She hadn’t called in months; of course he would be concerned.

Or would he? God, she didn’t know right now. All she knew was that she wanted to forget her argument with Hayden. She wanted to get lost in Brady. If all she could have was his voice to soothe her aches, then she would take it.

“Yeah . . .” Tears fell down her cheeks unbidden. Where had they come from? How had just his voice opened the floodgates? She choked back a sob, bringing her knees up to her chest. She was overreacting. She knew it, but it all felt like too much with Hayden right then. She wanted something . . . else.

“Where are you?” he demanded.

“At the newspaper,” she choked out.

“I’m coming to get you.”

“What?” she cried jumping out of her seat, her legs smacking the steering wheel.

“You don’t call me crying in the middle of the night after not speaking with me for months, and then tell me I can’t see you. I can’t handle it, Liz,” he growled. She gasped lightly at the way he said her name. “I said I’m coming to get you.”