I’ve had a few questions about the fourth book in the Before You Series. I’m posting the first chapter here. This is one of the stories on my to-write list this year. I just finished the first part of Emilia in the Trassato Crime Family. Right now, the working title is “Nothing Left to Lose”. I’m powering through the second book in her story, then I want to finish up this series. Enjoy! Sorry in advance for the errors. This is unedited, raw and maybe a little ugly.
Wide-eyed and stunned silent, the gray and white striped wallpaper of the Las Vegas hotel room blurred together into one muddied color, and the phone slipped from my hand. Sarah’s voice taunted me from the floor of the swirling patterned carpet except I could no longer decipher a single word.
I had a son. An eight-year-old son.
My mind reeling, I chided myself for answering a call from a number I didn’t recognize. Hearing Sarah’s soft, melodic voice left me speechless for a few cloudy moments I tried to process the fact that Sarah had actually called me after nine years of mutually agreed upon silence.
Then, she dropped the bomb about having a son.
A fucking son.
What kind of person doesn’t bother to tell you have a son for eight years?
Sarah, that’s what kind of person.
I wagged my head back and forth as though I could stop the roar of blood echoing in my ears. Images of the last time I saw her battered my brain and the icy grip of long buried anger clawed at my chest.
Picking up the phone, I growled “Why should I believe you? How do you know he’s mine?”
Silence, except the soft whisper of her breath greeted me. “Seriously?” Sarah’s voice cracked and split second of remorse pressed like a ton of bricks against my chest. “After everything we’ve been through, how could you ask me that?”
“Because it’s been over eight years since I’ve heard a word from you. I don’t know.” I scraped my hand through my hair. “Maybe you want money. Maybe your family finally realized what a—”
“Shut up! Shut up! I don’t want your money. I have my own money.” A loud banging noise echoed through the phone. “I don’t want anything from you.”
Sarah’s family had money…old money. The kind of money that passed soundlessly from one generation to the next, doubling almost effortless, and even though I walked away from that life years ago, I was well acquainted with the life of inherited entitlement.
My family was a carbon copy of Sarah’s except the transfer to my generation wouldn’t be seamless. It came with conditions and strings so thick, I’d strangle under their weight, and I fully intended to reject my legacy when the time came. I had plenty money now that Chasing Ruin had become a household name, and it didn’t come with the social constraints of old money. I could step over every boundary and be everything that would make my ancestors roll in their graves, and instead of being chastised, I would be applauded.
“Except that you do want something.”
“Something that won’t cost you anything except a few signatures. I want you to sign the adoption papers so my fiancé can adopt Jameson.”
Jameson. Jameson. Jameson. The name reverberated through my head. That name simultaneously meant everything and nothing. Sarah and I had picked the name when we were stupid teenagers who didn’t know a damn thing about the way life worked.
“No!” The refusal burst from my mouth before I couldn’t second-guess my motives.
“Jack and I will pay you. What do you want?” she pleaded.
“I don’t want your money, and I sure as hell don’t want Jack’s money.” Just the thought of taking money from Sarah or Jack made my blood turn to ice. Sarah stomped on my heart when we were twenty years old, and Jack stole my life right out from under me.
“Then what do you want?”
I toyed with the threads of my frayed jeans. “I want my son.” I’d already handed over the only woman I had loved to Jack. I refused give him my son too.
Sarah gasped. “What does that mean?”
Fuck. I didn’t know what that meant. My mind spun in circles, struggling to come up with a rational answer. “I want him in my life. I want visitation rights. I want to know him. That’s only fair.”
“No.” Sarah’s voice was less than whisper.
“Yes,” I responded, my voice stronger and firmer than before.
“He doesn’t even know you exist.”
If Sarah was within arm’s length at the moment, I would’ve been hard pressed to suppress my urge to wrap my hand around her pretty little neck. My jaw snapped closed hard enough to crack a tooth. “Then, I suggest you make sure he knows I exist.”
“No way. You’re not going to storm back into his life just to fuck with Jack and me, and then leave when you’ve found something better to occupy your time.”
“I don’t give a damn about you or Jack. I haven’t given either one of you a second thought since I left Connecticut almost nine years ago,” I spat, the blatant lie rolling off my tongue like water courtesy of nearly a decade of practice.
No matter how many faceless, nameless women that fell in and out of my bed, I’d never successfully erased Sarah from my mind. I could attribute it the fact that she was my first love, my first friend, and my first everything. But maybe it was because she had planted herself so deep in my heart before crushing it in the palm of her dainty hand. I hadn’t found anything close to love I had with her, and quite honesty, I’d rather down a bottle of poison than willingly expose myself to those kind of feelings again.
“I won’t do it. I won’t allow you to tear apart Jameson’s life on whim.”
“It doesn’t matter what you want. You gave up the moral high ground years ago. I have my attorney contact you. In the meantime, don’t fucking call me again.”
“Ugh,” she screamed through the phone. “I hate you.”
“You don’t know the meaning of hate until you’ve walked in my shoes.”
I tossed his phone at the wall, savoring the cracking noise as it made impact.
Two seconds later, someone tapped him on the shoulder, and he was staring in a pair of bloodshot blue eyes. “Are you okay?” the women asked.
Liza. Lilly. Lizzy. Just like every other women he slept with in the last nine years, he didn’t bother to commit her name to memory. His didn’t have the room. For better or worse, everything belonged to Sarah and she’d taken everything from me that day.
My reason to live.
Now, she wanted to steal my son too. “Over my dead, rotting body,” I mumbled under his breath.
“Excuse me?” Liza, Lilly or Lizzy said, letting the white sheet slither down her body, exposing two silicone breasts.
I couldn’t deal with this chick now. “Leave,” I barked out, standing up from the bed.
“Are you mad at me?”
“Just leave.” I picked up her clothes and shoes and held them out to her.
“Can I take a shower?”
What the hell was wrong with her? I’d just shattered my phone against the wall after talking to my ex-girlfriend, and she wanted want to stick around and make nice. “No. Put your fucking clothes on and get out of my room. I’m done.”
Her eye narrowed to slits and chewed on her overly plump lips. “You’re an asshole. I hate you.”
I snorted. “Seems to be a popular opinion.” I opened the door. “Get out.”
She pulled a scrap of red fabric over her head and walked out the door, with her blonde hair sticking up and red lipstick smeared across her face.