After She's Gone (West Coast 3) - Page 74

“Okay.” A pause. Then, “First off, and you have to believe me, I never cheated on you.”

Liar! But she didn’t say it. Bit back the word. Felt her stomach roil a little.

“I’ll admit I thought about it. After all we were separated and you’d made it very clear you wanted a divorce.”

“Because of Allie,” she reminded flatly.

“Before you thought I’d gotten involved with her.”

Yep. This was a bad idea. Real bad. Her jaw tightened and she found herself driving too close to the station wagon in front of her, so she backed off, slowed down, and caught a glimpse of the car behind her, a black compact that pulled sharply into the next lane to jet around her and the station wagon.

“That’s not how it was,” she said. “Allie said—”

“Allie lies. You know that. For whatever she wants and she doesn’t care who she hurts. Yeah, she’s attractive. Yeah, she came on to me.”

Cassie died a little inside even though she’d known part of this for a long while.

Trent looked out the side window. “Yeah,” he admitted. “The truth is I considered going for it. She was offering and for all intents and purposes I was single because my wife wanted it that way. Why the hell not?” There was a bite to his words. “But before anything happened I figured out why she got to me. Why I was so tempted.”

“Because you’re like all the other males in America?”

“You really don’t know?” He was staring at her again and her skin began to heat, her fingers turning slick.

“But you’ll tell me.”

“Damned straight, I will. It was because she reminded me of you, Cass. She looks like you, she sounds like you and . . . and you didn’t want me.”

“I always . . .” She bit her tongue.

“Don’t say it. You broke up with me before you went to LA and I figured you needed to go follow your dream, to find yourself, or just run away for a while. You were young, so hell, the only sensible thing to do was let you go.”

She swallowed hard, remembering that the only tie that had caused her to doubt her decision to leave Oregon was her feelings for Trent. She’d been ready to leave her mother, her stepfather, and her sister in her dust, but saying good-bye to Trent had given her serious second thoughts, doubts she’d wrestled with but ultimately ignored. “It was hard,” she admitted, feeling some of the old pain. “Hard to leave you. But . . . Yeah, I did.” The truth was it had happened and she wasn’t going to deny it. “So far,” she said, “you’re right. And then you came to LA.”

“Right. I wasn’t ready to give up, so I thought I’d see if we could give it a second chance.”

She remembered seeing him again. Reigniting what they’d once had, ending up in a whirlwind romance and an elopement to Las Vegas. It had been exciting. Thrilling. And oh, how she’d loved him. She didn’t want to consider it now, how he’d made her feel, how he’d turned her inside out with the brush of his lips against her ear or the sensation of his tongue tracing the hollow of her throat.

Once more she was driving too fast and eased off the gas pedal.

“You seemed to be on board.”

She couldn’t deny that those first few months of marriage were pure wedded bliss. But that was before Allie had set her sights on the rugged cowboy-turned-stuntman who had married her sister. Soon after the wedding, Allie had tried to set her straight about her new husband by warning Cassie that Trent was a player, that within weeks of Cassie moving to LA, Trent had shown interest in her as well as other girls and women around town.

Allie had even insinuated that Trent had cornered Allie one night while Cassie was still living in Falls Crossing and tried to kiss her and “God knew what else.” Cassie hadn’t believed the story initially, but over time, she’d begun to have doubts.

Had she really been so blind? Had she believed Allie because dealing with Trent and trying to make a relationship work was too difficult? Had she run from her marriage just as she’d run from her life in Oregon?

“I don’t know what to believe.”

“Maybe you should trust your own instincts.” He slid her a glance that she caught.

“You might not like the outcome.”

“I’ll take my chances.”

When he didn’t say anything more, she prodded. “That’s it? All you have to say.”

“For now.” He leaned back in the seat. “We’ve got a long trip ahead of us.” With that, he lapsed into silence.

Tags: Lisa Jackson West Coast Mystery
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