“Not willing to ask PFG for a loan because the price of selling your soul is a little high?” Cheap shot, but he took it anyway.

Tierney’s back snapped straight. “I absolutely do not ask my father for money. Ever.”

“It ain’t like he doesn’t have enough to go around,” Renner pointed out.

“True. But if you think he treats me any differently because I’m his daughter? Then you’ve underestimated him. You overestimated his faith in me too.” She closed her eyes. “That stung whenever you called me a spoiled daddy’s girl. You even assumed he paid for my cabin. He didn’t. I did. He didn’t give me a dime for my education. What I didn’t earn in academic scholarships, I paid for out of my own pocket. The only thing my father has ever provided is a rent-free place to live in Chicago. That’s only because the condo is in the office building he owns and he expects me to work damn near twenty-four hours a day for the privilege of living there.”

Renner stared at her with absolute incredulity. His head spinning, his stomach in knots. His heart aching.

“What?”

“I feel like I don’t even know you.”

“You know me better than anyone ever has, Renner.”

“Wrong. The Tierney I thought I knew didn’t play games. She was straightforward. This”—he gestured to nothing in particular—“is far from honest.”

“Would you have taken the money from me if you’d known you didn’t have an open line of credit from PFG?”

“Fuck no,” he spat.

“You needed that money. Without it—”

“I’d be exactly in the same position I’m in now. Seriously screwed and no way out.”

Tierney shook her head. “Listen, it might seem bad right now, but I know we can come up with a plan.”

“There is no we anymore, understand? I trusted you. And I . . . There’s no way I can come up with that kind of money to pay you back or your father back. If I’da been able to snap my fingers and conjure that much cash last year, I sure as shit wouldn’t have borrowed from PFG.” Frustrated, behind schedule and absolutely heartsick, he stomped to the door.

“Renner. Wait. Where are you going?”

“I still have another business to run, and thank God for that.”

“When will you be back?”

“I don’t know.”

Tears spilled down her cheeks. “Please. Don’t leave like this. I love you.”

Damn her show of vulnerability. The woman was always rock solid. The fact she was crying tied him up in knots. “I have to leave. I don’t have a choice.”

Chapter Thirty-six

Gathering her meager things from Abe’s place hadn’t been a monumental undertaking last night.

Always ready to leave at a moment’s notice, aren’t you?

Nothing wrong with that. But her motto, no fuss, no muss—move out and move on, seemed a little hollow.

Janie hadn’t expected Abe to coddle her after she’d shared her craptas-tic day, but his anger had been totally unexpected.

Not unwarranted though.

Her cheeks heated when she considered the words she’d carelessly tossed off. She realized she must’ve come across as a cold unfeeling bitch in both matters of the head and matters of the heart.

The night had been filled with many revelations. Not all of which she’d shared with Abe, especially after he’d demanded to know why she hadn’t noticed Tierney and Renner were in love.

Duh, cowboy. You want to talk about piss-poor powers of observation? How come you haven’t noticed I’m head over heels in love with you?

She was so lost in thought she literally ran into an infuriated Renner after she left Gene Pratt’s room.

He put his hands on his hips and said, “He got to you too, Janie?”

A million excuses and explanations bounced around in her head, but none exited her mouth.

Renner stared at her. Hard. Then Renner, the most even-keeled person she’d ever known, latched on to her bicep and hauled her down the hallway into the laundry room. His eyes, usually a calm, serene blue, were snapping fire. “What did that bastard promise you?”

“What do you mean?”

“Don’t play coy with me, Janie. Gene Pratt. He offered you a job with PFG, didn’t he?” When she didn’t immediately respond, he laughed bitterly. “That’s just awesome.”

“Ren, I—”

“Don’t give me your ‘this was a temporary gig’ reminder. I honestly don’t think I can take another piece of bad news today.”

“What other bad news?” Her stomach clenched at Renner’s expression of defeat.

“Nothin’ that concerns you anymore. And I wouldn’t want to say anything against your new boss.” He walked past her.

But Janie hooked her finger in his belt loop and dug her heels in to stop him. “Oh, no, you don’t. Get back here and talk to me.”

“I’m talked out, to be honest.” He sighed with weight-of-the-world weariness. “Look. Things run their course. I get that. But I’d hoped since you’d been with me on this project from the start, that maybe you’d stick around longer than a few months.”

“That’s not fair.”

Whiny much? And didn’t you use the same excuse last night with Abe?

Renner’s hands gripped the doorframe. He wouldn’t turn around and look at her. “I know it ain’t, but I can’t help the way I feel. I’m sure our paths will cross again someday.”

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