ESCAPE Part Two
SECRETS CAN DESTROY LOVE
Just when Rowan is finally feeling cherished enough to admit her feelings for Shane, she’s forced to reveal one of her secrets. Now she’s running scared, and he’s left wondering what else she’s hiding. When a couple, who seems to have secrets of their own, hire his firm to find their missing sister, all of their lives get even more complicated.
Struggling to save herself and her family from her past, Rowan faces the possibility of losing the new life she’s finally built, with a man she may love. But Shane won’t give up without a fight: a fight to stay in her life, uncover her secrets, and protect her.
Torn between fear and trust, will she succumb to her past and let it swallow her whole, or will she open up to Shane and let him help her?
Rain! The first sign that this God awful summer was finally coming to an end. He could almost hear the concrete sizzling as the rainwater cooled it. Stepping to the window, Shane watched as the water splashed into the pool, rain puddling on the sidewalk. He knew exactly how that water felt; slow, hot and going nowhere.
His eyes darted upstairs to Rowan’s door. It looked like all the other doors in this complex, but unlike those other doors, this one invoked emotions he was not so comfortable with. He knew what was behind that door, and he irrationally blamed it for keeping her from him. It had been weeks since he had seen her. Weeks since that horrible night he found out that Justin was her son. Her son!
At first, he was giving her space to deal with the break in. Then he was giving her space to let her get comfortable with the fact that he knew her long protected secret. And now he was just giving her space.
Twice he had walked up there and knocked. Once there was no answer, but he knew she was inside. The other time, Justin answered the door and sent him away with an apologetic grimace. Now, he just stood in his apartment and watched her door—back to the same creepy stalker tactics from a while ago.
Justin was her son. At first he’d wondered what kind of mother hides that, but then he did the math. He couldn’t believe it at first, even worked it out on paper. The math didn’t make sense, but everything else clicked into place. Hindsight is, in fact, 20/20. It was so obvious now that he knew. Their maddening personality traits, their eyes: although Rowan’s were brown and Justin’s were green, they shared that bright light within, making their eyes appear as if they were glowing. Their interactions were so mother/son. So much so that Shane had started questioning his PI skills.
Obvious yes, but the age difference was frightening. Rowan had to have been twelve or thirteen when she had him. Who has a kid at that age? How does that even happen? His blood started to boil every time he thought of twelve year old Rowan in that situation. What man would take such innocence?
And when he wasn’t doing math and wondering what fucker out there needed to die a painful death for knocking up a twelve year old, he would flash back to the night of the break in. Rowan standing over the perp, gun drawn and ready. In her underwear, no less. She was what, 5 feet 4 inches and 110 pounds, maybe? She took down a crazed drug addict twice her size practically naked, with a toy gun! He couldn’t even pull that off.
The rain picked up, battering the window and drowning out his thoughts. He watched it for a while longer before turning back to his work. He wanted to see Rowan, but he needed to finish his case reports first. Rowan knew he was waiting for her, and when she was ready she would come out of her cave and find him. He was sure of it. He just wasn’t so sure how much longer he was going to be patient.
Shane pulled into the parking lot of his apartment in a foul mood. Why do some clients have to be such assholes? It wasn’t his fault that their spouse was cheating, or their business partner was skimming money, or their boss was stealing their ideas. He was just the messenger. If they really didn’t want to know, why the hell did they hire him in the first place?
That’s what this week had become, a week of cheaters, skimmers, and thieves. And all he really wanted to do was find a beer and forget about it all. This was not what he signed up for when he went into this business.
Shane parked and got out of his car, slamming the door harder than he meant to. Just great, now he was going to break the damn car, too. Storming into his apartment, he threw down his keys, walking straight to the fridge. Thank Fuck he remembered to buy beer yesterday. Finally, something he did right.
Cool, bittersweet liquid poured down his throat. Ah! Feeling his shoulders drop and his jaw unclench, he felt better instantly; that was just what he needed. What a fucking day. That Evans woman can be such a pain in the ass! All he could tell her was that her boss was, in fact, stealing her ideas and presenting them as her own. What he couldn’t answer for her was why. If he had to hazard a guess, it was because they were all good ideas. Did they really need to discuss it for two hours?
Rolling his neck from side to side while pacing around his apartment, he felt himself get more and more wound up. Usually his place was welcoming and relaxing, but tonight it felt too small, compounding his agitation. Walking over to the window, he took another sip of beer.
Justin’s truck was not in the lot. Come to think of it, Shane hadn’t seen Rowan’s car, either. That was different. He glanced up at her door again and almost choked on his beer. There was Rowan at the top of stairs. God, he almost forgot how beautiful she was.
He watched her as she pulled out her key and unlocked the door. Her movements were graceful and calculated, making him think that something was wrong. Scanning the area he found nothing amiss and glanced back up the stairs just in time to see her slip inside and shut the door. He stood, his heart hammering in his chest, fighting the urge to storm up there and demand to talk to her.
Instead, he drank his beer and tried to get his body under control. Even if he was going to see her, he couldn’t be this aggressive. He didn’t know what had happened to her, but whatever it was, it wasn’t good. Instinctively, he knew that Rowan had had enough truculent men in her life.
By the time the bottle emptied he had made a decision. He was going up there, and he wouldn’t take no for answer. He wouldn’t be combative about it or anything, but enough was enough. He was going to talk to Rowan.
Knocking quietly on her door, Shane tried to push his disquiet down. He could hear her inside moving around so he knocked again, this time harder.
“Justin, you forget your key?” Rowan asked as the door flew open.
His breath stopped when their eyes collided. He had to brace himself against the doorframe, leaning on his upper arm.
“Hi,” he almost whispered.
“Hi,” she whispered back, still holding the door.