“Is there better than the girl that you’ve loved since you figured out how to love?”
I patted his arm and dipped my chin in a nod. “There is better than the girl that doesn’t know how to take care of that love. That, I’m sure of.”
His eyebrows dipped down over his eyes and his mouth pulled into a tight line. “I sold a car to this girl yesterday. She came in with one of my friends and she was so sad, so quiet and shy. It was obvious she didn’t want to be seen, but I saw her. I mean I really saw her, and when I was looking at her and trying to figure out what could have possibly happened in her life to make such a pretty girl look so scared and so lost, I wondered if I would have noticed any of it if things were the way they were supposed to be at home. Other girls were never on my radar in any way before Kallie and I started having problems.”
“My dad seems to think that the answer to all of those kinds of questions are staring us right in the face.” He gave me a sad grin and I almost died when I noticed he had dimples, one adorable little indent in each of his cheeks. Like the tattoos and the pensive persona weren’t enough to get him laid on the regular? Those damn dimples would seal the deal for sure.
“Your dad would be proud that you’re doling out his advice. You need to perfect his ‘listen to me or else’ look.”
I laughed. “If you tell him I’m quoting him, I’ll deny it. He has enough ‘I told you so’ stocked up to last a lifetime.”
I jumped when a voice from behind us called, “Avett Walker?”
Even though Wheeler hadn’t gotten the full rundown of what was going on in my chaotic life at the moment, he still stepped in front of me and made sure I was completely covered by his much bigger body as the woman that had been in the car across the street slowly approached us.
“Are you Avett Walker?” Her tone was serious and so was the way she stared at us without blinking.
“Who are you?” Wheeler was the one that barked the question as I peeked around his muscular back to peer at the woman. She had a folded piece of paper in her hand and I felt my blood go cold.
“I’m from the sheriff’s office. I have a subpoena for you.”
Wheeler stiffened in front of me, and while every single part of me wanted to refuse the paperwork in her hand, I knew I had to take it. I scooted around the tattooed wall in front of me and snatched the folded papers out of her hand. She nodded at me and told me, “You’ve been served. Good luck.”
I held the papers to my chest and couldn’t keep my fingers from shaking.
“What was that all about?” Wheeler’s voice was curious but not prying, so I sighed and tapped myself on the forehead with the court documents. I didn’t want to open them because I knew once I did I was going to have to call Quaid and ask for his help and my heart wasn’t ready to go back into battle with him or for him yet.
“That was one of my bad decisions. I can’t seem to shake them and they continue to bite me in the ass. My dad insists bad decisions lead to great stories but so far all this one has led to is my heart being confused and mile-high legal fees.”
There was a soft chuckle next to me and this time I didn’t bother to hide the sigh that escaped when those amazing dimples appeared on his face.
“Messed up hearts and legal fees sound like they should make for a pretty good story.”
They should, but I was hoping it was a story that was going to have a happy ending and I couldn’t see that happening right now.
I could see my dad and Zeb walking towards us with their bearded faces set in satisfied lines. They both had grime and soot streaked all over their clothes and in their unruly hair but I could tell by the matched set of their shoulders and steady strides that they had struck some kind of deal.
I should’ve known not to bet against one of my dad’s boys. Even if the house was a total lost cause, Zeb would never throw in the towel. Because the house mattered to my dad and my dad mattered to Zeb.
It looked like the legal fee part of my story was indeed going to have a happy ending. I crossed my fingers and closed my eyes and wished and hoped to any silent being that was listening up above that the bewildered heart part would straighten itself out as well.
I looked at the man that was seated at the other end of the long glass table from me and Avett and tried not to let my irritation show. She was stiff as a board next to me and I couldn’t tell if the tension coming off of her in waves was from having to confront Jared’s attorney during this deposition or if it was from the fact that we were close enough to touch. She wouldn’t look at me, but I could see her unease and anxiety in every delicate line of her face. Technically, she wasn’t even my client anymore because the charges against her had been dropped, but when she texted me that she had been subpoenaed and asked what “discovery” meant, I knew that I wasn’t letting her walk into the legal lion’s den alone. Much to Orsen’s obvious and much vocalized displeasure, I had cleared my morning so I could sit with her in this sharply modern conference room located at the courthouse as her ex-boyfriend’s attorney tried to pick her apart and break her down. I knew the deposition was pretty much a dress rehearsal for what he had planned for her when she took the stand, and I could see the calculating intent in the other lawyer’s demeanor as soon as he ushered us into the room.
Larsen Tyrell was dressed better than I was, his shoes were more expensive, and the watch on his wrist was just as ridiculous and pricey as the one on my own. Before Avett crashed into my life and turned everything upside down and sideways, all of that would have rubbed me the wrong way and put me automatically on the defensive. I would have come out swinging and aggressive, trying to make it clear we were on equal ground; now all I could think was that having drug traffickers and clients with ties to the cartel noticeably paid well, but wondered how Larsen could enjoy his posh surroundings knowing that it came from blood money. His suit was perfectly tailored and clearly imported but I couldn’t stop myself from wondering how many people had had to die at the hands of the people he represented in order for him to be able to afford it. There wasn’t an ounce of envy or desire to have any of what Larsen had to be found anywhere, and that was how I knew the woman sitting rigid and unblinking next to me had done as much to save me as I had done to save her. She was a wake-up call I had desperately needed. My eyes were fully open and the man I had been striving to be with such single-minded focus was nowhere to be seen, and instead the man that now looked back at me was one that didn’t feel fake or forced. He also wouldn’t fight over frivolous things, but he would fight for the things that mattered. Right now, nothing mattered more than the pink-haired young woman at his side. The one he knew without a doubt he loved beyond measure and wanted to keep forever.