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.Dressed and his hair combed, he headed for the kitchen.“I could use a couple of aspirin,” he told Peggy Ann as he set down the empty mug he had brought from the bathroom.“And about a gallon of black coffee.”She opened a drawer beneath the kitchen counter, retrieved a bottle of aspirin, and threw it to him.He caught it in one hand, screwed off the cap, shook several tablets into his open palm, and tossed them into his mouth.Just as Peggy Ann put the refilled mug in front of him—only coffee this time—he noticed that she had laid his cell phone on the table.After downing more coffee, he picked up the phone and checked for messages.When he heard Hart’s voice, his stomach muscles knotted.“We need to talk.I’ve made a decision that will affect us both.Call me as soon as possible.”God damn it! Didn’t he have enough to worry about without Hart going nuts on him?He listened to the second message.“I’m going to tell Audrey the truth and ask her to go with me to tell Wayne.I want you to be with me when I tell them.It’s what we should have done all those years ago.”Garth clutched the phone with brute strength, his mind screaming, his body rigid with fear.“What’s the matter?” Peggy Ann asked as she set a plate of unbuttered toast in front of him.Taking quick, deep breaths, Garth willed himself under control.He slid back his chair and stood.“I’ve got to go.I don’t have time to eat anything.”“Duty calls, huh?”“Yeah.”He took the time to kiss her before he left.“See you later.”“Sure thing.”Could he make it back to his place and stop Hart before he spilled his guts to Audrey? He had always been able to control Hart, but if he couldn’t stop him before he spoke to his stepsister, then all hell would break loose.Whatever influence he’d had over Audrey when she’d been a child no longer existed.He had spent years worrying about those damn nightmares she’d had, afraid maybe she had seen more than he thought she had that day, that the truth might be locked in her subconscious.Eventually, he had stopped worrying about it; but if Hart told Audrey, Garth knew that there was nothing he could do to control her now.Nothing short of killing her.Fresh from her morning shower, dressed in aqua velour pants and matching scooped-neck top, Audrey hummed as she prepared cinnamon French toast for brunch.J.D.had suggested they shower together, but she had known where that would lead and told him they would shower separately.They had spent the entire morning in bed.Making love.Napping.Making love.Napping.She needed some time alone, a breather from J.D., so that she could think straight.When he touched her, every rational thought went out of her head.Everything had happened so fast.Too fast? Probably.Did she regret what had happened? No, she didn’t regret anything, not one single moment.“I think I love you, too.”He had said it only once, but once had been enough.The question was, did he mean it? Or did he tell every woman he slept with that he thought he loved her? No, she didn’t think he did.But are you sure?That was the problem.She wasn’t sure.Not sure about J.D.’s sincerity.Not sure about her sanity.Not sure if they were beginning an affair or if she had been nothing more than a one-night stand.Make that one night and half a day.Lost in thought, the ringing telephone startled her.She hurriedly flipped the slices of French toast browning in the square frying pan, wiped her hands on a dish towel, and lifted the portable phone off the base on the counter.“Hello,” Audrey said.“Hi, sis.You busy?”“I’m in the middle of fixing brunch.”“I…uh…need to talk to you.”“What’s wrong?”“Can you come over here?”“Where’s Uncle Garth?”“I don’t know.Out somewhere.I tried to call him earlier this morning to tell him…His phone kept going to voice mail.I told myself that if he hadn’t called back by noon, then I wouldn’t wait any longer, that I’d call you.”“Hart, what is it? Has something happened?”“I can’t tell you over the phone.Please, Audrey, please…I need to see you.I have to tell you…”“Tell me what?”“I need your help.I have to tell you the truth.”“The truth about what?”“I know what happened to Blake.”“What did you say?”“Uncle Garth made me promise not to tell anyone.He said if I told, they’d put her in jail or lock her up in the loony bin.I should have told the truth.Once everyone knows, it’ll be better for all of us.It’ll be better for me.”“Hart, what are you saying? Are you talking about Enid? Did your mother do something to Blake?”The dial tone hummed in her ears.“Hart! Damn it, why did you hang up?”J.D.had no choice but to put his wrinkled pants and shirt back on, but he left off his underwear.Whistling as he came out of the bedroom, he thought about how he would like to spend the afternoon.A repeat of that morning.God help him, he couldn’t get enough of Audrey Sherrod.Something sure smelled good.Cinnamon.Audrey was a fantastic cook, only one of her many talents.He had known his share of women with phenomenal bedroom skills, but not one of them held a candle to Audrey.Not that she knew all the tricks, all the practiced moves that a woman such as Holly Johnston knew.There was a surprising innocence in the way Audrey touched him, explored him, tasted him, that had been far more arousing because he suspected that she had never experienced that type of wantonness with any other man.“I’m hungry as a bear, woman,” J.D.called to her as he entered the kitchen.The empty kitchen.Where was she?A slip of paper beneath the salt shaker on the table caught his eye.He pulled the note from underneath the shaker, picked it up, and read it.French toast in the oven.Coffee ready.Hart called.He’s in trouble.I’ve gone to Uncle Garth’s to see what I can do to help.Be back as soon as possible.She had written “love” and then crossed it out, then had written it again, signing the succinct note, Love, Audrey.Hart Roberts was her stepbrother and she loved him, but he took advantage of Audrey’s love, her tender heart, her compassion.It was time that Roberts and everyone else—other than her clients—stopped leaning on Audrey, stopped using her as a crutch.If Audrey couldn’t bring herself to cut the ties, to end Roberts’s blood-sucking dependency on her, then by God, he’d do it for her.He wasn’t going to let anyone hurt her, not ever again.And that went for Wayne Sherrod, too.J.D.left the delicious-smelling French toast in the oven and the freshly brewed coffee in the pot.If Hart Roberts needed Audrey, that meant that Audrey needed J.D.Whatever trouble her stepbrother was in, they’d help him get out of it.But this would be the last time.After today, Roberts would have to get by without his sister being at his beck and call whenever he needed her.Chapter 39Garth unlocked the front door and walked into the living room.Hart stood by the windows, his back to him.“Are you all right, boy?”Hart didn’t turn; he continued staring out the window.“You can’t talk me out of it, so don’t even try.”Garth pocketed his key.“If you’re so goddamn worried about this, then we need to talk about it before you do something you’ll regret.What good is it going to do anybody for you to tell the truth about what happened to Blake? It won’t bring him back.It won’t bring Enid back.All it’ll do is destroy us, both of us, you and me, boy.”“Lying all these years has already destroyed me.”Garth moved quietly across the room and stood directly behind his nephew, only a few feet separating them [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]