She scowled. “Don’t be an ass.”

“This Pratt guy. Why does he hold your future?”

“Hello? He’s head of a corporation that has dozens of properties across the globe. With my interior design work and hospitality training I’d be a great asset to his organization. I’m not tied down, no family, so I can go anywhere at any time.”

The “no family” comment stuck in his craw and knocked the hope right out of him. “Did Pratt offer you a job?”

Janie stared into her glass. “I have a preliminary interview with him tomorrow.”

“And if you pass the prelim? Then what?”

“Then I fly to Chicago for a final interview with the department head.”

His voice was remarkably calm. “That’s it then? Does Renner know you’re bailing on him?”

“Can you blame me after what he and Tierney did to me?”

“Oh, for Christsake, grow up,” he snapped. “Yeah, it hurts when you find out someone you were close to hasn’t been completely up front with you. Guess what? That’s life. You gonna cut and run every damn time that happens?”

“That’s not fair. I never committed—”

“To anything, did you?” He stomped over to her. “Even Tierney, a city girl with no ties whatsoever to Muddy Gap, is more invested in the Split Rock than you are. And I don’t mean financially invested. I mean emotionally invested. In the resort and in the community.”

Her eyes turned as hard as granite. “You have no right to say that to me.”

“I have every right. When we were married, you never deigned to mingle with the townsfolk, did you? The only person you connected with was Bran Turner’s grandmother. Oh, and let’s not forget about Bran. Bran, who’s been my friend since we were kids, never said a f**king word to me about any of the stuff you talked to him about. About our marriage, about how freakin’ miserable you were with me. How do you think that made me feel, Janie? You wanna talk about feeling betrayed?”

By the way her eyes widened she hadn’t even considered that.

George whined upstairs, upset by the loud voices.

Abe saw no reason to back down now. “I made mistakes. But so did you. I freely admitted mine, but you never once took any of the blame. As much as I beat myself up over the years, I’ll bet you didn’t at all. Boohoo, poor Janie. Your life was so bad with me. You had a man who loved you more than life, who would’ve done anything to make you happy, who wanted forever with you. Instead of talking to me, helping me figure out how we could improve our relationship, you moped around playing the victim. Because I couldn’t read your f**king mind, you ended up making yourself miserable, making me miserable, making my family miserable and rather than stick around and fix it, you bailed. Like you’re doin’ now. Big surprise.”

He was completely out of breath when he finished. They stared at each other, not speaking. Because, really, what else was there to say?

His cell phone rang. Perfect timing. “Hello?”

“Abe. It’s Lainie.”

A dose of good news would be welcome right about now. “She’s finally in labor?”

“No. She collapsed at work. She’s bleeding and they rushed her into surgery for an emergency C-section because both she and the baby are in distress.”

Fear crawled up his throat. He choked out, “When?”

“They just called. What am I gonna do? I can’t lose her. I just... can’t.”

“Hang tight. I’ll be there in two minutes.” Abe stepped away from Janie, scaling the stairs two at a time.

“I’ll be waitin’ at the end of the driveway.” Click.

Abe shoved his feet in his boots, his arms in his shearling coat and his wallet in his back pocket. He’d reached his truck before Janie caught him.

“What’s going on?”

“Lainie’s had complications of some kind. She’s in surgery. I’ve gotta get Hank to Rawlins.”

She stood in front of the driver’s door. “I’ll come along.”

“No. Move.”

“Abe. I want to come.”

“Why? You don’t have any family, remember? You’ve got nothin’ tying you here. I don’t even know why the hell you care.”

That did the trick. She shrank away from him like he was a monster.

Abe’s tires spit gravel as he burned rubber getting to his brother’s house. Hank threw himself into the passenger seat with a brusque, “Drive.”

“Buckle up. Got the all clear from Sheriff Bullard to get there as fast as possible.”

Hank’s right hand clutched the handle of a pink and white polka-dotted bag; his left hand squeezed his cell phone so hard Abe feared it might crack. He tapped Hank’s wrist. “Ease up or you’re gonna break it. Any news?”

“Her friend Vanessa said she’d keep me updated, even when she ain’t supposed to. Because Lainie works there, because everybody loves her so much, they’re all worried, which makes it worse. Jesus. I can’t . . .” His voice cracked.

Abe glanced at the speedometer. Ninety-five.

“Lainie shouldn’t have been workin’. She should’ve been at home with her feet up takin’ it easy.”

“I’d say it’s a damn good thing this happened when she was at work and not at home.” He kept his eyes on the road when he said, “Tell me what’s eating at you, Hank.”


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