I exhaled heavily, finding it hard to speak. “Earlier tonight…Child Protective Services showed up to take Kallie away…apparently that bogus article and picture was enough to call into question Shea’s ability as a mother.”
“Bullshit,” Lyrik hissed. Ash and Zee both blanched.
Total, complete bullshit.
I bit my bottom lip, doing my best to contain some of the anger working to break free. “This social worker, she just walks right in, picks up Kallie, and carries her right out the door, saying they’re placing her with next of kin.”
Pain hit me again. The memory of the terror on Kallie’s face a punch to the gut.
“We follow her out, trying to make sense of what the hell is goin’ on…” I swallowed down the bile. “Martin Jennings is waiting on the curb.” I gripped my hair, the words sliding from me like I wanted to purge their truth. “He’s her father. Shea lied to me. Told me Kallie’s father was dead. She’s Delaney Rhoads.”
“No fuckin’ way.” Ash stared wide-eyed.
“Who’s Delaney Rhoads?” Zee asked, confused.
Ash coughed out some stunned laughter. “Country star…popular six, seven years ago. Up and disappeared with a ton of scandal surrounding her name.” Ash had the nerve to smile. “Dude…Shea is Delaney Rhoads. That is crazy cool. Can’t believe I didn’t recognize her, but hell, that was a long time ago.”
“Don’t even start, Ash,” I warned. I definitely wasn’t in the mood to deal with the fact everything was a joke to him.
“What?” He shrugged. “Don’t tell me you don’t think that’s the hottest damn thing to ever cross your path. Shea’s fucking beautiful…give her a mic and a guitar.” Blue eyes gleamed. “Hell yeah.”
Hadn’t even let my mind go wandering that direction. I was too caught up in the fact she’d lied to me and Jennings was a key in both our lives. That Kallie was gone.
“Martin Jennings has Kallie?” Zee’s voice shook, and he rubbed a disturbed hand over his face.
Finally somewhat got the fuckin’ consequence of the situation.
Stunned, he dropped his gaze and cursed.
Ash bounced around. If possible his demeanor grew cockier than normal. “So, let’s go get her back. Bust some faces. Make it right. No chance in hell are we leaving that little thing with that piece of shit.”
Ash made it sound so simple. Appealing. Because I wanted nothing more.
A curl of aggression wound through Lyrik. I could feel it, him feeding off me, the intense need I felt to track down that bastard Jennings and finally right all the asshole’s wrongs.
Lyrik was just like me. When you get pushed up against a wall, you push right the fuck back, fists and fury and uncontained aggression. Pair that with Ash spouting his mouth wherever we went? The three of us asked for trouble then turned around and kicked its ass.
But if we gave into that craving, we were only going to make things worse.
“Anthony’s on his way. He has an attorney lined up. We’re going to set this straight.”
“Okay?” Ash drew out as he set his hands on his hips, staring me down.
“Then what the hell are you doing here?”
I gave a harsh shake of my head. “Martin’s using the assault against her. No question the asshole is the one who got the courts involved. I won’t be a liability.”
Just like Shea had said, he’d been waiting to strike. Bet the sick fuck had been watching us these past months.
Two birds with one stone and all that.
Lyrik swore, while Ash grew livid. “Are you kidding me, Baz? Did she ask you to go?”
I didn’t answer.
“Unbelievable,” he spat toward the ground.
Yeah. It was. All of it.
“You’re an idiot.” Ash kept on like the fucker he was.
Didn’t have it in me to go toe to toe with him, to debate what was right when every goddamned thing was wrong.
Feeling like I might crawl out of my skin, I turned my back on the disappointment rolling off the three of them, because they didn’t know, didn’t know how fucking bad this hurt or the lengths I’d go in order to protect Shea and Kallie.
I escaped out the glass-paned doors leading onto the deck.
Outside, the night was thick. Humidity clung to the sky in the wake of the storm that rolled away like the receding tide. It’d left the slightest chill. A dampness that sunk down to my bones.
My boots thudded on the wooden planks as I marched down toward the sea.
Lights glowed from the windows of the house behind me. Two stories were lit up like a torch, casting the beach in darkness.