The Brightest Sunset(9)

By: Aly Martinez

“Lucas,” he corrected.

I glared at him with wide and wild eyes, daring him to correct me again.

He lifted his hands in feigned surrender, a cocky smile playing at his lips. “Just wanted to make sure we were on the same page.” He tipped his chin to the chair again. “Sit down, Porter.”

My jaw ticked as I held his gaze. “I did everything I could that day. And I will not stand here and listen to you insinuate otherwise. My wife kidnapped a kid, a fucking baby, and you’re going to sit here and pretend that she wasn’t crazy enough to kill herself. Pull your head out of your ass, put down the torches, and look at the facts. I was not part of any of this. My only crime here is falling in love with a little boy who belonged to someone else.”

“Sit down, Porter.”

I sucked a breath in through clenched teeth, desperately trying to find a calm that I feared no longer existed, and begrudgingly sank down, fury fizzling in my chest.

Propping himself on his elbows, he steepled his fingers and tapped them against his lips. “The boy is going home with his mother.”

I choked on my own breath as a freight train hit my gut.

Intertwining my fingers, I rested my hands on my head, frantically trying to fill my lungs with oxygen.

“The boy is going home with his mother.”

Oh God. This was not happening. They were going to take him from me.

“No. No. Listen,” I started, but I had to stop to clear my throat when it became impossible to speak around the boulder lodged inside. “He’s sick. He needs a lot of medical—” I couldn’t finish, because if the pain ricocheting inside me was any indication, I was literally dying.

He spoke as if the Earth hadn’t fallen out of orbit. “Then it’s probably a good thing his mother is a doctor.”

I found no relief at the mention of Charlotte. My chest actually ached more.

“Oh God,” I groaned.

“We’ve been questioning the kid, Porter. And I swear, if one fucking detail of his life doesn’t match the statements you’ve given us, I’m going bury you under the jail. Murder, kidnapping, child endangerment, the whole nine.”

“You can threaten me with whatever the hell you want, and it’s not going to change the truth.” My mouth dried and I couldn’t keep the overwhelming emotion out of my words as I croaked, “I haven’t done anything wrong, but you’re taking my son away from me. Bury me under the jail now, because I’m not coming back from this.”

I dropped my head into my hands, my mind swirling with the cold, hard truth of my new reality.

His chair scraped against the floor as he stood, but I didn’t bother to look up.

“We’ll let you know if we get any hits on your daughter,” he said.

I shot to my feet, my metal chair flipping over behind me with a bang. “You’re checking my daughter?” I shouted, incredulous. “For fuck’s sake, I was there the day she was born!”

His face remained stoic and empty as he pulled the door open. “Then we shouldn’t have any problems.”

The door swung shut with a loud click.

How was this happening?

I’d woken up that morning with a family and a woman I was falling in love with.

And, now, my life was in shambles.

“This can’t be real,” I whispered, allowing my head to fall back between my shoulders. “Wake up. Please, God, just let me wake up,” I pleaded with the universe.

How the hell did they expect me to let him go? Shit. What would I even tell him? Sorry, Travis. Your mom stole you, and now, you have to go live with strangers?

“Oh God,” I choked out.

Would I even get to see him again to explain what was going on? The knife in my stomach twisted.

And then there was Hannah. She loved her big brother more than anything. How would I ever explain this to her?

Hell, I could barely breathe knowing this. Telling her should push me right off the edge.

“Fuck!” The scream tore from the core of my soul—or at least what was left of it. I picked my chair up and slammed it to the floor as hard as I could.

The crack was loud and jarring, but it did nothing to make me feel better. But then again, after this, I wasn’t sure there was a better anymore.

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