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“Oh yeah, my dad took one look at her when she was sixteen, he was eighteen, and he was gone for her. He’d just moved into the neighborhood, was washing his car, and my mom was staring the entire time. They started talking and became inseparable. When Mom got pregnant with Drake, they got married, and here they are, all these years later, happy as clams. They travel more than they are home now, so it’s rare for us all to be together. Drake says the same thing happened to him with Giana when he woke up in the hospital after his shoulder surgery. She was the first person he saw, and he said he knew the minute they met. Braxton is still single, though from what I hear, if Bridger’s sister has anything to do with it, he won’t be for long,” I tell her.

“That’s sweet. I wish I could say the same thing about my parents. My granddaddy didn’t want them to get married for anything in the world. My mom saw the last name—apparently, the Sutton name is one of those old names that had deep pockets. Mom was oblivious to her surroundings and only wanted Dad for his name, the old money side of things you hear about. Not the working till you make money and a name for yourself, I guess. They lived within their means, invested wisely. She didn’t see that though, not Cynthia. Robert somehow schmoozed his way into her life, all too aware of the family money my granddaddy had. It’s ridiculous though, honestly. I mean, they are meant for each other. Evil attracts evil. Neither of them knew that granddaddy left the trust in my name. Cynthia doesn’t get one red cent. Ever since they found out on my eighteenth birthday, it’s like they keep me around for convenience. I’m not dumb though. Things may seem like everything’s copasetic. If Dad doesn’t get this design out though, they’ll be on the verge of bankruptcy. Dad likes to gamble and Mom likes to shop. It makes for an expensive habit.” In the past few weeks, we’ve talked, but nothing like we have in the past twenty-four hours, and I have a feeling she wouldn’t have opened up to me like she is right now if things didn’t escalate last night. Tinsley was bold as ever too, and I love that she teased me, getting me to the point of not giving two shits about her parents.

“That’s interesting. You think they could be coming up with some sort of plan?” I ask, already knowing the answer, and that will definitely be on my to-do list when we get back to Virginia. I told Slade that except for daily check-ins, we’d be going dark. It’ll be less for everyone to worry about if Robert decides to play hardball.

“As hard as it is to admit, nothing would shock me. It hurts to know your parents could be so deceitful, but after my granddaddy died, shit really went downhill.” Tinsley is lost in her thoughts, and I leave her be. She needs to process this. I can’t imagine what she’s going through right now or how she’ll continue to handle things if my hunch is right about Robert Sutton, and I’m never wrong when it comes to my gut feeling.



We drove for fourteen hours today. Let me rephrase that, Leo drove for the entirety of today. He was going to drive through the night but thought better of it, saying we got a lot of miles between us and my father.

Now, we’re inside our hotel for the night in a no-name town in Montana, close to the South Dakota border. Leo mentioned it would be a hole in the wall most times, but from the looks of it, this place is normal, nothing elaborate. Not that we need anything like that. A shower and some sleep, then we’ll be doing the same thing again tomorrow. Leo’s hoping we can make the forty-three-hour trip in less than three days. I somehow doubt that is going to happen. I mean, he won’t even let me drive.

“Why don’t you grab a shower, then I’ll take one when you get out,” Leo offers. I can see the tiredness in his eyes, the weariness in his voice.

“You can get in before me. I feel like I’m barely pulling any weight. The least I can do is let you shower first, order some food, and let you rest,” I counter.

Leo’s sitting on the edge of the bed. I’m standing in front of the dresser with the television humming low in the background.

“Come here, Tinsley.” I go towards him, stepping in between his thighs. Leo’s hands slide under the edge of my shirt, holding my hips in his firm grasp. My hands delve into his hair, massaging him as I move my fingers through it.

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