There’s only one way. I reach for my phone in my pocket. “You can ask my mum. She’ll tell you.”
It’s three o’clock in the morning, but I bring up my contacts and press the one labeled “Mum.” I put it on speaker and it rings a few times before she answers the phone.
“Mum, this is going to sound crazy, but am I married?”
“What are you talking about, son?” My mum has no idea she’s the only one who can save me with Laurelyn right now.
“Laurelyn and I had a bit of a misunderstanding. She just needs to hear that I’m not married.”
“He’s not married, dear, but I’d sure like for him to be. How are you feeling?”
Oh, hell. I mute the phone. “Tell her you feel much better. I’ll explain later.”
I unmute the phone and hold out for Laurelyn to answer my mum. “I’m feeling much better, ma’am. Thank you for asking.”
“I’m sorry to wake you, Mum. Go back to sleep and we’ll talk later.”
After I end the call, I put the phone down on the nightstand. “She wanted to know why you didn’t come with me, so I told her you had the stomach flu.”
“Tell me what happened with Audrey.”
“I was in the gym working out. I stopped to take a break and I thought I saw something in the mirror. When I looked, I saw this redheaded woman in the middle of the floor watching me. I’m pretty sure she’d been standing there for a while, but I can’t be certain because I didn’t hear her come in.”
“What did she tell you?”
“That she was your wife and she loved you. She wanted to work things out because of the children.”
“She asked me to stop seeing you and leave without any contact ever again.”
Huh. “You were going to leave me without saying goodbye?”
“Only because I believed you were married with children. You know how I feel about that.”
“And you know I understand how bad it would hurt you if I were married. Why would you doubt me?”
Wow, that hurt. “But you’re wrong. Maybe you don’t know my real name, but you know me like no one else does.”
“Yes, of the deranged sort. Crazy stuff has gone down with that woman. She found out my real identity after our relationship ended and she’s been stalking me for three years. Because I travel so often, it’s hard for her to keep up with my whereabouts. When she can’t find me, she causes mischief at the vineyards to draw me out.”
“Countless things, but the most recent include the fire at Chalice and the crop poisoning at Marguerite.”
“She’s the reason I had to leave Avalon after Christmas. She hasn’t been able to find me since I came to Wagga Wagga. I think I evaded her after the fire at Chalice and that’s why she poisoned Marguerite—to bring me onto her turf at Lovedale.”
“It is, but I didn’t give her the opportunity to find me. I had a private investigator locate her first so I’d have the upper hand. I contacted her and told her to meet me in our old spot. She thought she was coming because I wanted to rekindle our relationship. I confronted her about the fire and the poisoning, but of course, she denied doing either.”
“Hell no, but not because she didn’t try. I turned her down and told her there was someone else. She didn’t take it well, so we didn’t part on good terms. Convincing you to leave me was her way of proving she could fuck with my personal life.”
“She almost succeeded. I would’ve left last night if I’d had a place to go. I was going to the airport this morning to make arrangements to fly home.”
I kick off my shoes and crawl into bed next to Laurelyn. I need to feel her against me to prove she isn’t gone. I don’t tell her how glad I am she’s still here or about the fear I had when I thought she was leaving me. Maybe she already knows. If she does, she doesn’t mention it. She lets me pull her close, and I’m content with simply holding her in my arms after almost losing her.
I’m almost glad Audrey came. Lachlan is forced to give me insight he would’ve never volunteered. I now understand why he’s so secretive about his life, and I can’t really say I blame him if that’s the kind of bat-shit crazy he’s had to deal with.
We don’t talk after I tell him about how I was going to leave. He holds onto me like he’s afraid I might get up and sneak away in the night. He was scared when he thought I was leaving him. I heard it in his voice and saw it in his eyes.
I somehow make it to sleep with him wrapped around me, and he’s still holding on when my phone vibrates on the nightstand at seven o’clock. I’m sure it’s Daniel calling to see if I’m ready to leave.
Lachlan rolls away from me and grabs it before I’m able to make a move. “Daniel, Miss. Beckett won’t be needing you to drive her this morning after all.”
After he ends the call, he rolls back to me. “You’d be leaving me right now if I hadn’t come home early.”
He’s right, yet I don’t want to admit it, so I say nothing. He pulls me close again, the same way he held me all night. “We have two more months together. Please, don’t plan to leave again unless it’s a mutual decision.”
“Promise me, Laurelyn. I don’t want to worry about coming in and finding you gone one day.”
“I promise.” He relaxes with my assurance and I know this is the end of it. He’ll never bring it up again because he believes me.
“What would you like to do today?” he asks.
“I wasn’t expecting you to be here, so I asked Addison to meet me for lunch before the whole Audrey thing happened.”
“That’s fine. I seem to have fallen down on my office work since you’ve been around, Miss Beckett. My books could stand a little catching up.”
“Mr. Henry, you’re blaming your lack of productivity on me?”
“Only my lack of concentration,” he explains. “It always seems to be on you these days.”
“Then it’s probably a good idea for me to get out of your hair today.”
“Let’s call it a girls’ day out. You and your friend can shop or whatever it is you do when you’re together.”
I shrug because I don’t really have any extra money to spend. My budget is super tight after my lingerie spending spree before Christmas. “I don’t really need anything.”
He gets out of bed and takes his wallet from his pants. He places several hundreds on the nightstand under my phone. Wow, that really makes me feel like a hooker.
“When you buy for yourself, you’re buying for me because I like you in nice things.” He leans down and kisses my mouth. “I’m taking you somewhere next week, so buy some new things for our trip.”
“New Zealand. It’s a business trip, but we’ll have plenty of time to play while we’re there, so buy some sundresses and a few new swimsuits. I’d like to request skimpy bikinis.”
No freakin’ way. Addison will be so jealous. “You’re taking me to New Zealand?”
“Yes. I have some business at one of the vineyards and my boss has a house on a private beach. He’s letting us stay there a couple of nights.”
“Lachlan. I don’t even know what to say.” And I don’t. I’d never get to do anything like this on my own. I wouldn’t have been able to come to Australia if Addison’s parents hadn’t bought my airline ticket.
“There’s only one word I want to hear.”
I hold my arms out and he lets me hop on him with my legs around his waist as I squeal. “We’re going to New Zealand,” I squeal in excitement.
I call Addison when I’m almost to the apartment. I don’t plan on going up because I don’t want to run into Ben. “Hey, I’m a block away. Are you ready to come down?”
“I need five or ten more minutes.” Of course she does. She’s never ready on time. Won’t I ever learn to tell her to be ready thirty minutes earlier?
“No way. Come up, please.”
I know I shouldn’t, but I agree against my better judgment. “Okay. Buzz me in, but please hurry.”
Daniel stops in front of the apartment. “Addison isn’t ready so I’m going up. I shouldn’t be long.”
I reach for the handle, but it doesn’t work. Child safety locks, I guess. They’re probably activated because Daniel knows I don’t give a rat’s ass about having a door opened for me. I’m not helpless. I can open my own door, but that’s not the way Lachlan wants it.
Daniel appears displeased with me as he lets me out the car. I think he doesn’t approve of me going up to the apartment because he knows his employer won’t like it. “I won’t be long, Daniel.”
“I can’t tell you what to do, but you know he won’t like this.” Daniel knows about my run-in with Ben, maybe not the specifics, but Lachlan has told him something.
“Take your phone and call me if you have any problems. Anything at all.”
Great. I have Lachlan and Daniel wanting to kick Ben’s ass. “I’ll take it, but don’t worry. I’ll be fine.”