Audrey trotted up the stairs to the front door of the lodge, feeling curiously light. Now that Cade knew about her and Reese, and Daphne did too, there was no more hiding. They wouldn’t have to furtively sneak about and cop feels in the shadows or by the woodpile.
Not that she minded that sort of thing. But it’d be nice to be able to openly cuddle.
To her surprise, when she entered the cabin, Daphne was in the living room alone, curled up next to the fireplace and flipping through one of Audrey’s new novels with a bored expression. She looked up as Audrey and Cade re-entered the cabin, her body immediately tensing.
“So, how did it go?”
“It went fine,” Audrey said in a mild voice, and held out the paper bag. “We brought you dinner. Fettuccine and some breadsticks. Where’s Reese? We got him something to eat, too.”
Daphne got up, took the bag from her, and sniffed it. Her gaze strayed to Cade. “Was dinner romantic? Did you guys connect?”
“Dinner was nice,” Audrey said as Cade set down his keys. “And we’ve decided to just be friends. You should have told me you were trying to hook us up. I would have told you not to bother. Where’s Reese?”
“Not to bother?” Daphne’s thin face looked stunned. She glanced back and forth between the two of them. “I don’t understand. You’ve been dreaming of Cade for years. We talked about this earlier, remember? You said you’d been in love with him for as long as you can remember. I know I didn’t imagine that conversation.”
“I know,” Audrey said. “But I was thinking in past tense, Daph. Not how I felt right now.”
“Well, you didn’t tell me,” Daphne said, her fists clenching at her sides. “I thought I was coming between what you wanted. I put you two together so you could be happy together. You both deserve someone good. Someone who’s right for you.”
“We’re not right for each other,” Cade said gently, and gave Audrey’s back a pat. “We’re good friends, nothing more.”
“But you told me that you wanted Cade,” Daphne said, clutching the bag of food. She shook her head. “Remember? Bad advice Daphne?”
“Bad advice Daphne gave some good advice,” Audrey told her. “I just didn’t realize until we sat down at dinner that Cade wasn’t what I wanted at all. I want Reese.” She glanced around. “Speaking of. Where is he?”
Daphne bit her lip and glanced at Cade. “So, um, after you guys went to dinner, Reese seemed to be in a bad mood, so I had a little talk with him.”
A sick feeling hit the pit of Audrey’s stomach. “A talk?”
“I might have told him that I got you and Cade together because it was what you’d always wanted, and I’d encouraged you not to sleep with him anymore, since he was just a passing fling. I told him you’d agreed and decided to go out with Cade.”
Audrey paled. “You didn’t.”
“I’m so sorry. I didn’t know!”
Audrey glared at her twin and then rushed past her to Reese’s room. Maybe he was still packing and she would have time to explain things.
But his room was empty, the bed sloppily made in true Reese fashion. Audrey sat on the corner of it and then sighed.
He was gone. Her fling was done. No more playboy. No more fireworks. No more butterfly in her stomach. He’d gone and left, and she knew he wasn’t coming back. That wasn’t Reese Durham’s style.
Daphne appeared in the doorway, looking sad. “I didn’t know, Audrey. I thought I was doing the right thing.”
Audrey looked over at her twin. “What exactly did you say to Reese?” He wasn’t the type to get easily offended, and that sick feeling in the pit of her stomach was growing.
Daphne twisted her hands. “I told him that we’d talked earlier today and you had mentioned that you were still in love with Cade, and that I’d set the two of you up on a date. You looked so happy to go out with Cade, Aud. You really did.”
Audrey groaned. “What did he say?”
“Nothing.” Daphne paused, then wrung her hands again. “He looked really pissed, though. Called for a cab and left.”
The thought of Reese being pissed because she was using him until she was bored with him and then running to Cade as soon as she had the opportunity? It was like a stab in the heart, all the more so because that was exactly what she had done. She just hadn’t had a chance to explain to Reese how she truly felt. Torn between weariness and anger, Audrey shook her head. “Once again, you’ve screwed up my life.”
Daphne flinched. “I was just trying to help—”
“No one wants your help, Daphne! Look at you. You can’t even help yourself.” She headed to the door. “How do you possibly think you can help me when you’re such a mess?”
Daphne blinked her large, hurt eyes.
But Audrey wasn’t going to be moved by Daphne’s sad face. Once again, her twin had messed up, and once again, Audrey was paying for it. “Sometimes I think you don’t think of anyone but yourself, Daphne. Did you want Cade and I to come home and shower you with thanks for putting us together? Was that why you did it?”
“You know what? I don’t even want to hear your excuses,” Audrey said, raising a hand to silence Daphne. “Next time, just stay out of my business, okay? When you feel like you need to help? Don’t. Just don’t. You’ve screwed up enough.” Audrey shut the door in her twin’s face and called out from the other side. “I need to be alone now.”
“I’m sorry I’m such a screwup,” Daphne said in a soft voice.
Audrey ignored it. She was mad at her twin at the moment, but she was mad at herself, too.
She crawled into Reese’s bed and sniffed the covers. They still smelled like him. Disappointment furled in her belly. She didn’t have her dream of Cade anymore, and that was all right. But she’d thought that she’d have a bit longer with her dream of Reese. Maybe a few more nights with him before they went their separate ways.
This was too early. Way too early. And he’d left because she’d jumped at the chance to go out with Cade. Except she hadn’t known her own heart until she’d been given what she thought she wanted.
Audrey pulled the blankets over her head and closed her eyes. Maybe if she tried hard enough, she could dream about Reese tonight.
After all, she didn’t have much of anything else left.
“Daphne! Daphne! Wake up!”
Audrey jerked awake, disoriented. There was a vague feeling of something being wrong but she couldn’t put her finger on it. Her dreams had been disturbing, too. Unhappy. She automatically rolled over and looked for her twin, then realized she was in Reese’s room.
That was Cade’s voice. And he sounded terrified. Ice settled in Audrey’s chest and she leapt out of Reese’s bed and went to the room she shared with Daphne. It was empty, the bed still made. Confused, she headed down the hall. Cade’s door was shut, but the lights were on underneath.
She knocked. “Cade? What’s going on?”
“Audrey? Oh, God. Audrey, she won’t wake up.” Cade’s voice sounded frantic.
She pushed open his door, not bothering to ask for permission. Cade knelt on the floor, a blanket pooled around his hips. He was naked. So was the sprawled form of Daphne on the floor, mixed with the blankets. It was clear that they’d slept together.
Cade looked up at Audrey, his face ravaged. His fingers caressed Daphne’s slack cheek. “She won’t wake up.”
Numb, Audrey went to Daphne’s side and knelt by her, pressing her fingers under her twin’s nose. Daphne was breathing, but it was slow and irregular, so faint she could barely make it out. Her lips were tinged blue and when Audrey pried back one of her eyelids, her eyes were rolled back in her head. Audrey raised her hand and her fingernail beds were faintly blue, too.
Another overdose. Goddamn. Why wouldn’t Daphne learn? Heart aching, she cradled her twin closer and began to lightly tap her cheek. She had to stay calm. Had to. Cade—sensible, sweet Cade—was a mess. “Call an ambulance. She’s had an overdose.”
He bolted out of the room, forgetting that he was naked, and Audrey didn’t even have the heart to look. She simply pulled her frail twin closer and rocked her against her chest, stroking the too-thin arms.
She’d thought Daphne was getting better. Her twin had seemed more alert, more happy than usual. And yet they’d fought tonight, and that was all it had taken for Daphne to revert back to her old ways.
Daphne hadn’t changed. She ran from her problems straight to the pill bottle. Audrey couldn’t even feel panic, not this time. She’d seen Daphne overdose too many times.
She just felt weary. As if she’d already lost her twin.
Cade returned a few moments later, a towel wrapped around his hips. He scrubbed at his face. “They’ll be here as soon as they can. Should we drive to the hospital—”
“No.” Audrey hugged Daphne close and then checked her mouth for obstructions, making sure that her twin could breathe. “No, we’ll stay here so they know where to find us.” She considered Cade’s nakedness. “Where’s her clothing?”
He bolted for the other side of the bed and grabbed at a pile of clothing on the floor, then offered it to Audrey with shaking hands.
She should have encouraged Cade. Should have told him everything was okay. But there was a hollow ache in her gut that wouldn’t let the words out of her. She was calm. Oh so calm. And she was furious at Daphne on the inside. “How did she get the drugs?”
“It can’t be drugs. I—” He raced into the bathroom, then returned a minute later, defeated. The prescription pill bottle was empty. “How did you—”
“Because I’ve seen this before,” Audrey said flatly. “You think this is the first time she’s overdosed?”
Cade buried his face in his hands for a long moment. “She seemed so sad tonight. I just . . . I hugged her and then she kissed me, and the next thing I knew . . .”
“She knew you had her pills,” Audrey said in a hard voice, eyeing Daphne’s skinny jeans and T-shirt. She wouldn’t be able to dress Daphne since she was unconscious, so she grabbed the blanket and wrapped it around her limp form. “She used you to get to them.”
The look on Cade’s face was bleak. “I should have known.”
You should have, she wanted to say, but she could see the agony in his face. And she realized just how blind she’d truly been.
Cade was here for Daphne because he loved her. Of course. Vibrant, happy Daphne who was like sunshine itself when she was sober. Cade wanted her to get better because he loved her and because he’d carried a torch for her all these years, just like Audrey had carried a torch for him. And she’d been too blind to see it for herself. Too wrapped up in her own thoughts to realize that he was spending all his time with Daphne, holding her hair back as she’d thrown up. He’d gone above and beyond friendship levels and it had never occurred to Audrey.
***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com