I'm desperate for changing
Starving for truth
I'm closer to where I started
I'm chasing after you
I'm falling even more in love with you
Letting go of all I've held onto
I'm standing here until you make me move
I'm hanging by a moment here with you
soundtrack: Hanging by a Moment by Lifehouse
University - Cadence's Rental - 4:45PM
Feeling awkward about it but unable to come up with a plausible excuse not to go with him, Wyatt reluctantly drove Jett over to Cadence's rental on the south campus. He and Cadie both agreed to stay away from each other and wait until she was 18 and settled in school before publicly dating. No one knew about that night...
Still, he worried that they would give themselves away, a glance, a touch, the intimate things that you don't think about unless there is something behind it.
They pulled up to the house and found Cadence waiting for them on the steps arms crossed and a look of worry etched on her face. "Hey half pint, is Kelsey here?" Jett never noticed her unease as he looked around hopefully for the pretty blonde who was Cade's best friend.
"Sure, she's out back," Cadence absently responded barely looking at her brother as he strutted off toward the rear of the house her focus more intent on Wyatt.
Wyatt openly appreciated the way her body had filled out since the last time he had seen her. "Cadence..." Smiling he stepped forward and reached for her slim waist.
Interrupting him Cadence took his hand instead and led him into the house. "You need to see something."
As they walked into the kitchen she turned to face him a look of deep concern and anxiety in her expression. "Wyatt, it's...not good." She stepped away from the counter and looked down. Wyatt's eyes followed her line of sight until they rested on the counter and the inside spread of a tabloid.
Swallowing hard, he ripped the tabloid off the counter and thumbed through it. His face shifted from shock to anger as he remembered Ryan's accusations about discretion when he had taken Bailey there. It could have been shots of him with the professor but it wasn't. It was McDermott and Beth.
"Son of a bitch! You fucking asshole!" Livid, blinded with rage, Wyatt threw the tabloid down and stormed out of the house.
"Wyatt, wait! Wyatt!" Cadence shouted as she ran after him. Her words were lost in the late afternoon heat as his taillights made the turn toward South Beach.
Downtown Metro Area – Hard Rock Café - 8 PM
“I’m wiped,” Cooper remarked as he sat back and motioned the bartender over. “One drink and I’m out of here.” It was early evening, city streetlights beginning to burn into life.
Slim stretched and eased onto the barstool. The regular bartender wasn’t there; some redhead lolled around behind the bar like she’d been sampling the inventory. “You put in a long day – might have gotten more done if Heydon had shown up. Did you get a look at the caller ID when he checked in?”
“Cammie,” Cooper smiled. “Yeah. He’s been sweating over her for years. Didn’t you hook up with her that time in LA?”
Shaking his head, Slim laughed. “That was a long time ago man. And no I never did; she shoved my ass out the door that night for what the hell did she call it? A prior appointment. I thought she was talking about you.”
Grinning back at him, Cooper laughed again. “I never got into that and you know it. The woman never shuts up. Not that I didn’t enjoy the view.”
“Who wouldn’t?” Slim stood up. “I’ll be right back, going to hit the head.”
“Sure.” Cooper looked over at the girl tending bar. She was still staring uneasily out at the street, after she’d taken a long strange look at him. Slim heard him snap, “Hey! You want to wake up? Can I get a drink over here?”
The place was almost empty tonight. Slim strode toward the back, idly noticing moths electrocute themselves in a bug zapper hung just outside one of the windows. He hesitated before walking past two women who were seated at one of the tables in the rear. Both of them were studying a tabloid and giggling.
The blonde briefly glanced at him when he walked by and burst into laughter before turning back to the brunette, if you could call that hair brunette, who kept looking at the thing and whispering.
Uncomfortable and suspicious, he took a quick look at the cover of the trash, wondering for a split second if there was something there about him personally. It didn’t happen frequently, but it had happened more than once.
No, it wasn’t him. It was Coop and that damned model he’d hired for the video. If she was taking something on the side from Probe, he’d shut that down hard and fast. “Can I borrow this?” Slim rumbled and took it right out of the woman’s hands without waiting for an answer.
Walking away from them, he snapped the thing open and paused, stunned. Goddamn…Slim inhaled hard. McDermott. He knew it. He’d seen it that night in Paris, the fucker standing there drooling like a dog sniffing after a bitch in heat. He should have done something about it right there and right then. If he had, maybe he could have prevented it from going as far as it looked like it had. Coop. Slim looked over at his friend. Was he going to have to be the one to drop this on him?
Downtown Metro Area – Chinatown - 8 PM
It had been a lifetime since Ryan had heard from Melinda Owen. She was the last person he ever expected to contact him; they had a past, one that he buried deep into the recesses of his mind. Ryan had been a Navy SEAL with Damian, raising all kinds of hell, best friends since childhood and inseparable until Melinda came along. She was young, Damian was charming and Ryan tried to warn her off of him but she wouldn't listen. When things started to turn bad, he made one last plea for her to get out. Melinda slammed the door in his face.
Shaking it off, shoving it back down, Ryan waited for her now, all these years later. Personal security was not going to be an option right now, not with a baby to raise. Melinda said she had a proposition for him. He laughed at the irony of that coming from her but he was running out of alternatives. The least he could do was to listen to what she had to say.
He rose and slowly dragged his eyes up along the length of her legs, her hips and narrow waist, lingering briefly on her breasts and then met her amused gaze. "You haven't changed; did you enjoy that?" she smiled sardonically and sat in the chair he offered.
Sitting back down Ryan gestured to the waiter to bring a round of drinks and eased back in the chair. "As a matter of fact I did but then you ought to be used to that. You look good Mel. How is the sex trade treating you?" He smiled back at her but it never reached his eyes. He still remembered the night Damian brought him to the St. James when, desperate, Mel was trading sex for money. She had seemed mortified, Damian found it hysterical and he...Ryan shook the memory off.
Melinda remained silent, her expression impassive. "I moved past that ages ago Ryan. I didn't ask you to meet me to discuss my sexual expertise; I have a business proposition."
"So you told me. I don't know what you think I can do for you or for your whorehouse." Ryan shifted uncomfortably. Melinda had plenty of bouncers to keep the patrons in line, not something he was interested in doing no matter how dire his situation was. If she was in danger, it wasn't apparent by her behavior. She had a kid; Ryan wasn't up to babysitting an adolescent either.
Melinda folded her hands and leaned in toward him. "I need something looked into Ryan, something that requires discretion, something a person with your training can handle."
"Then hire a detective or go to the cops. I don't do that." Ryan's eyes wandered around the place taking in all the patrons with mild interest.
"Ryan, I need someone with your...expertise. I know who and what you were before celebrities began using your services. I'm prepared to pay your usual fees, more if I have to."
Ryan sighed before flatly refusing her offer. "No. This isn't what I'm looking for. Sorry Mel, you need to find some other guy."
Reaching into her bag, Melinda looked directly at him, "I don't want another guy Ryan and I don't really think you are in a position to be selective." She gently pushed Probe toward him.
Ryan froze as the images on the cover slowly sank in. Maintaining his composure was difficult, he remembered that night vividly, and he swallowed hard. Ryan picked up the tabloid and began leafing through the pages his anger growing with each one until he could no longer hide it.
Melinda looked away as if uncomfortable with his growing rage and horror. Ryan struggled, his face hard as he fought to suppress his emotions. Her voice uneasy, she reached across the table toward him with a tentative gesture. “Ryan, I’m sorry, I thought you knew. Please, talk to me.”
Crumpling the tabloid Ryan threw it down on the table in disgust and rose abruptly clenching his fists, breathing hard, eyes burning with a frightening blind rage. His voice was deep, low and intense as he growled, “I’m done talking. I’m through sitting back and waiting!”
Shoving the chair out of his way Ryan thundered out of the restaurant. Everything was a blur, lights from the street and cars driving by in a warped haze as he strode purposefully toward his SUV. Waves of heat rose up from the asphalt as he wove in and out of people.
Ryan hardly noticed them as he attempted to reign in the anger fueling the inferno of his emotions. Stopping abruptly Ryan turned and shifted his gaze beyond the endless line of tail lights toward South Beach, determined.
If he drove hard, he might be able to make it there in an hour. She might not even be there, not after this shit blew up in her face. If she wasn’t, he’d find her, where ever she was. That would be the easy option. If she was there…Stanfield better stay the hell out of his way. He was going after her, and he didn’t intend to leave without her.
Downtown Metro Area – Hard Rock Café - 8:30 PM
Slim dropped the copy of Probe back onto the table behind him. Cooper was looking in his direction, relaxed but curious. Damn this was going to be bad.
Cooper continued to watch him, waiting, his expression changing, tightening, until he finally asked, “What’s going on?”
NEXT CHAPTER: Sessions Chapter 10