“I imagine.”


“With the late nights, case overload and me being a rookie who needed supervision, Chas and I spent a lot of time together. One thing led to another, and within a year of my assignment we were engaged in this torrid affair.”

At that comment Kane’s fingers stilled.

“Chas was married, which I knew. He fed me those clichéd bullshit lines about he and his wife drifting apart, she didn’t fulfill his sexual needs. The man had a voracious sexual appetite. In hindsight it was probably due to Viagra. I eagerly bought his lies, becoming the adventurous lover his wife wasn’t.

Even if we only hooked up in his office. I knew if I stayed the course, Chas would eventually leave her for me. Obviously that didn’t happen.”

“What did happen?”

“I found out three pieces of information that absolutely devastated me. One—his wife’s father had started the law firm and he was inexplicably tied to it and to her. Two—he was older than I’d thought.”

“How much older?”

“Thirty years. I was twenty-seven. He was fifty-seven.” Shame burned her cheeks. “But it was LA.

Everyone looks at least a decade younger. I figured he was in his late forties, because that’s how old his wife looked.”

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“What was the third thing?”

“I wasn’t the only woman he was having an affair with. The guy was a real womanizer with a string of conquests a mile long. Most of them bimbos. Anyway, after I found all this out, his wife, Lucinda, caught wind of our affair. I wasn’t his run-of-the-mill stripper floozy. So I was summarily canned, without notice. And before you say something like ‘why didn’t I sue?’ I’ll remind you this law firm was the premier law firm in breaking contracts. I was seriously fucked.

“Three weeks after I lost my job, I moved out of my high-priced condo because I couldn’t afford the rent without the high paycheck, I discovered I was pregnant. More than three and a half months, according to the doctor. It was a shocking development, to say the least.”

“Did you contact Chas and let him know?”

“No. I muddled through the pregnancy on my own. From the day he was born, Hayden had health issues. Although we didn’t have health insurance, my son received the very best care.”

“And while you were struggling, you didn’t consider askin’ Chas to support his child? To take responsibility for his actions?”

Ginger recognized Kane’s anger. She lifted her head and looked at him. “Yes, I did. Several times.

There were days when I suspected I’d doomed my baby by holding onto my pride. But when I held that sweet baby in my arms, I sure as hell wouldn’t share custody of Hayden with Chas. Ever. It sucked. I had no one to talk to about any of it since I’d ostracized myself from my law colleagues.”


“I didn’t want anyone to know about my pregnancy. The sad fact was I’d been too busy building a career to maintain female friendships. My mother was embarrassed I’d become unwed, underemployed, single mother. My dad…well, my dad was great. For the first time in my life he supported me. Emotionally and financially. When we had a bad month…he was there to help out. He wasn’t ashamed of me and he adored Hayden from the start.” She swallowed hard.

Kane didn’t speak.

“Maybe I’m just stubborn or stupid, but whenever I went to pick up the phone to call Chas, something stopped me. I knew myself well enough that if I hadn’t set a firm date to let Chas know he had a son, I’d keep stalling. So I promised myself I’d tell Chas after Hayden’s second birthday.”

She closed her eyes. “I never got the chance. Chas had a massive heart attack out on a fishing boat off the Catalina coast and died when Hayden was twenty-two months old.”

“Oh sugar.”

“A few months later I found out through a mutual work friend that Chas’s wife and his daughter from his first marriage were in a huge lawsuit over his estate. That’s when I knew it was some kind of karma that’d kept me from contacting him. Chas wasn’t meant to be in Hayden’s life in any capacity. And I decided not to subject Hayden to any of Chas’s bullshit family stuff. I finally realized there were more important things than money or prestige.”

Kane tucked a stray hair behind her ear. “Did you love him?”

“Who? Chas?” She chewed her lip, considering her answer. Not for Kane’s sake but for hers. “I thought I did. But when he sacrificed my career without even blinking? I hated him. I hated him for taking away everything I’d worked for. I hated him for a long time. Which is so bizarre because he gave me the most important thing in my life. He actually gave me the ability to love, because until I had Hayden, I didn’t even know what love was.”

Kane brought her face to his and kissed her. So sweetly tears pricked the back of her eyelids and seeped out the corners of her eyes. Then he kissed her tears away.

“Hayden doesn’t know any of this, Kane. The only person I’ve ever told is my dad.”

“Has Hayden ever asked about his father?”

“Has he asked you? While you two were doing Little Buddies stuff?”

“Nope. That’s actually one of the topics we’re supposed to steer clear of.”

“Smart. I steer clear of it too.” She dropped her head back onto his chest.

He toyed with her hair for a time before he spoke again. “Did you practice law after you had Hayden?”

“Sort of. I moved to San Diego and worked as a file clerk in the county prosecutor’s office. I hated that job and decided to hang out my shingle for a solo law practice.”

“That go better for you?”

“For the first month? I didn’t have a single client walk through my door. Then one day, this seventeen-year-old punk with attitude swaggered in. She’d signed a modeling contract and paid the agency owner five grand for a portfolio. When she arrived at her first photographic ‘shoot’ she discovered the guy wasn’t a modeling agent—he was making porn. She demanded her money back and the contract voided.”

“The guy refused?”

“Of course. Most young girls would’ve walked away and chalked it up to a stupid mistake. Or they would’ve taken his offer of ‘earning’ the fee back by appearing in an adult film or two. That type of scam happens all the time in LA. But Ava, my client, refused to back down. I didn’t find out until later that money wasn’t an issue for her.”

“Why wasn’t it?”

“Her parents were loaded. They didn’t approve of her chasing her dream to become an actress, so she’d hired this guy on the sly without their knowledge or approval. But it was her mess and she was determined to clean it up without Mommy and Daddy riding to her rescue.

“With my background in contract law, I sent the sleazeball a letter outlining my plans to file a lawsuit, regarding his blatant breaking of California sexual predator laws since Ava was a minor—which he knew when she signed the contract. Within two days we had the money and a voided contract.” She smiled.

“Despite our age difference, Ava and I became great friends. We still are. She was so impressed with the results, she sent me more clients. I vetted all her professional contracts up until I moved to Wyoming and she hit the big leagues.”

“Big leagues?” he asked, puzzled.

“After her first TV series was a runaway smash, she transitioned into movies.”

“Who we talkin’ about here, Red?”

“Ava Dumond. Her stage name is Ava Cooper.”

“No shit? The teeny blonde with the big—”

“Watch it,” she warned.

“The big…role on that vampire show? That Ava Cooper?”

“One in the same.”

“Whoa. I’d wondered if you knew any of them Hollywood stars, bein’s you’re from LA. Turns out you do.”

“She’s the only one I keep in contact with. I worry about her. She’s highly driven, with boatloads of talent, and she’d avoided drugs and alcohol and all those self-destructive clichés. Now if she could just stay out of the tabloids. She’s got lousy taste in men and a tendency to end up in compromising positions, which always seem to end up on tape.”

“I can’t imagine havin’ that kinda lifestyle.”

Ginger really loved this, being wrapped in Kane’s arms. She honestly couldn’t remember the last time she’d lolled around naked in bed with a hot man, just talking.

That’s because this is a first.

Wouldn’t Kane be shocked to know that?

So tell him.

No. She’d come across…pathetic, probably.

“You must be awful good at keepin’ secrets.”

“Comes with the territory of my job. Now that I’ve told you my biggest secret, let’s hear some of yours.”

“Nothin’ to tell. I’m just a simple Wyoming rancher.”

Was his tone a little testy? “You’ve never been married?”


“Ever come close?”


“Ever been in love?”

“Dozens of times.”

Ginger went completely still.

“Lasted until I ditched the condom, sometimes even a day or two after that. Never longer than a month.”

“Oh.” That was a harsh insight.

“You sure you wanna hear my past secrets and lies, sugar? ’Cause they sure ain’t pretty.”

“Like mine were?” she shot back.

Kane laughed. “We’re both a little touchy, ain’t we?” He began that soothing stroking motion on her back again. “You showed me yours, I’ll show you mine. I guess the easiest way to say this is that I lost my virginity at age fourteen. Got my first taste of sex and never looked back. When I wasn’t workin’ on the ranch or raisin’ hell with my McKay cousins, I was sweet-talkin every woman in my path hopin’ to get into her pants. And truth be told, it didn’t take much for them to fall into my bed. Or into my truck. Or wherever.

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