All the Complications Enter at Once

Author’s Note: This continues toward where Fi was in “A Visitor with Good and Bad Timing,” slipping in a moment with Darren before then, and completes how she ended up in the company that she was in during that part.

All the Complications Enter at Once

Fi put the baby down in her crib, shaking her head at her stupidity. She should have seen this for what it was. She should have known that Richard would trick her into this. That was what the phone call was—an excuse to get her to stay and play Mommy while he left for a so-called emergency. She was supposed to get attached to the baby, and when she did, she wouldn’t want to let go. She was supposed to take him back and forget everything.

“You’d be the sort of thing that could almost make a person forget,” Fi told the girl, looking down at her. “You’d tempt anyone because you’re such a sweetheart. I just… can’t do it.”

She heard the phone ring, and she cursed, figuring that it was Richard checking in to see how addicted she was to the baby. If he thought she’d gotten hooked, then he’d come back. If not, he’d create some excuse why it was going to take longer. She was going to tell him to get his ass back home because his plan was not working. She wouldn’t fall for this.

She picked up the handset and hit the talk button, putting it to her ear. “What?”

“I see the trouble I was having getting a hold of anyone must be bad. I should just hang up now, right? That would be better than continuing this when you’re in one of those moods.”

She laughed. “Very funny, Darren. Like my moods have ever scared you off.”

“True. I am the proverbial bad penny. Always turning up when you don’t need me.”

She grimaced. She could use a friend, and explaining the situation to him would be easier than facing her older, extremely overprotective brother. If Ransom had any idea what Richard had done, she’d be trying to hire him a defense attorney. No, she had to keep that from him for a while yet. Maybe Darren could help her find a way to tell him.

“No, it’s a good time.”

“You sure? I was thinking about asking if your jerk husband can stomach me borrowing a couch for a night. I’ll be driving somewhat through the area, and I’d call on our old arrangement, but I know how he feels about that.”

“Yeah. I think I know why he’s so jealous.”

“Because I’m a good-looking single man who supposedly has no business being friends with a married woman even if our relationship is more complicated than that?”

She snorted. “I have known you since you were six, and good-looking was never a word anyone would apply to you. Your sister got all the looks in your family, and you know it.”

“You know, we could call a truce on the whole insult thing. I know it was to be expected when I was just your brother’s annoying friend, but we’re adults now. Shouldn’t we have outgrown that?”

“Nah. Too much fun.”

He laughed. “Also true. So, if I buy you dinner, I can borrow a couch next week? Should be Thursday, but we’ll see how long these meetings take. Mergers are so much fun.”

“You’re so high maintenance. I can’t believe they haven’t fired you yet.”

“I’m good at what I do.”

She rolled her eyes. The only one with a bigger ego than Darren most days was Richard. She heard someone pounding on the door and shook her head. That had better not be Darren. He’d said next week. Not today. “Darren, so help me, if you are on the other side of that door—”

She opened it up and stared at the two men in uniform on the other side. She lifted up the phone. “I’ll call you back.”

“Mrs. Burns?”

“Purcell. I always used my maiden name. Never took Richard’s. What is this? Is he trying to claim that I’m trespassing now?”

“Um, no, ma’am. We… That is, we have some bad news. There was an accident.”

Next: Alone but Not Alone

Back: Truce and Manipulation

Beginning: The Loss of Eight Years

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