Home > Chasing Shadows (First Wives #3)(14)

Chasing Shadows (First Wives #3)(14)
Author: Catherine Bybee

It wasn’t long before she downed her drink, left her glass on a side table, and joined the crazy. She circled her hips and let her legs do the talking. It didn’t take long to attract someone more her speed. Someone hot, firm, faceless, and young. This guy didn’t try to talk, they just danced. On the second song, she felt his hands on her hips. She didn’t dust him off but kept some distance to avoid being groped before knowing his name.

Not that she cared.

Four songs in, he tugged her arm toward the bar in the back of the club. “Can I buy you a drink?”

She looked him up and down.

“How about shots?” It would take a few shots.

“Oh, sexy. I like that.”

She hated cheap liquor, and after the second shot, she gave up trying to drink. But her buzz was decent enough to keep the night going.

The music grew louder, and the dance floor was a smash of bodies, making it impossible to dance without touching everyone around her.

Shot Man kept a hand on her while they danced, every once in a while dipping down her hip to her thigh. When she felt him dragging his hands under her skirt, she felt a chill.

Do I really want this?

A year ago she’d have already left with this guy. No strings, no names.

She dislodged his hand with a twist.

He took her gesture as a challenge and attempted to come at her from the other side while they danced.

This time she knew it wasn’t going to happen.

He was practically panting.

With hands on her shoulders, his lips touched her ear. “Let’s get out of here.”

“I don’t think so.”

He stopped dancing, and the smile he’d been flirting with all night disappeared. “Seriously?”


He looked at her as if she’d grown warts. “Fuckin’ tease.”

Avery watched him walk away and took the other direction. She reached for her purse to see what the time was and realized she’d left her phone at home.

She made small talk with the women in line for the bathroom and realized it was after one. No wonder she was tired.

This wasn’t going to happen.

Picking up a nameless bed toy had lost its charm. Not that she couldn’t, she reminded herself. She should just go home and drink good liquor until she dropped.

Back into the crush of dancers, she squeezed through the club, ignoring several one-liners delivered by men standing in groups of other men. One reached out like he had the right and stopped her by holding on to her arm. “Hey, baby.”

She froze, looked at his hand and then into his face. “I’d let go if I were you.”

“C’mon. Sexy thing like you shouldn’t be leaving alone.”

His buddies laughed.

College kids. She’d be surprised if this one was even old enough to be in the club.

When he tugged her arm, Avery reacted.



Don’t hold back.

She pushed in, twisted, found his gut with her elbow, and then brought the same elbow to his chin.

He let go with a curse.

The laughter from his buddies grew.


Avery squared her shoulders. Those close enough to see what happened gave her a wide path.

On shaky legs, Avery stepped outside and once again realized she didn’t have her cell phone to hire an Uber. She could walk home, but at that time of night, and dressed like she was, it wouldn’t be surprising if someone stopped her and asked how much.

The line at the door was still there, but the staff had changed.

She crossed the street in an effort to get a taxi headed in the direction of her complex. Two blocks up, she waited on the busy corner.

She shivered.

What was she doing?

Showing Liam. Only he wasn’t there to see her standing on the corner, waiting for a cab to drive by.

Someone in a passing car whistled.

Avery rolled her eyes.

At least she felt armed enough to ward off unwelcome hands. In fact, the adrenaline of doubling over the dude who grabbed her was higher than when Shot Man wanted to show her a good time.

Maybe next time she went out she’d skip the high heels and mini.

She wrapped her hands over her bare shoulders and looked around. The streets held a few die-hards returning to their cars or walking in and out of the open bars.

Avery stepped into the street and waved at a lone cab.

The short ride to her complex with a cabbie who obviously smoked, and either didn’t bathe or did so in garlic, reminded her never to leave home without her phone again.

She paused outside her complex and looked around.

The hair on her neck prickled.

No one was there.

Except James . . . the doorman.

“Good evening, Ms. Grant. Are you expecting any visitors tonight?”

She shook her head. “Have a nice evening,” she told him.

Avery removed her shoes in the elevator. From her front door, she beelined to her alarm panel and stopped the ringing. With a sigh, she flopped on the couch, realized she sat on her phone, and pulled it out from under her butt.

Liam’s message called out.

What would he say?

They were old girlfriends? Women who didn’t let go? Or maybe he’d be honest and say he had several out there. With his broad shoulders, sexy grin, and capable lips . . .

Avery pressed the button.

Liam’s voice was deep and clear even though the background was noisy. “Okay, you’re impulsive . . . and jump to conclusions. I get it. But before you delete this message, I want someone to say hi to you. Say hi, Cassandra.”

Avery was about to toss her phone against the wall. No way he was going to have a woman come to bat for him on a phone message.


Avery’s heart jolted. A child. Liam was a dad?

“Tell Miss Avery who I am.” It sounded like he had the phone on speaker.

“Who is Miss Avery?”

“A friend. Who am I?”

The girl laughed, and Avery found herself smiling. “Uncle Liam.”

Oh, shit.

“And who is Michelle?”

“My mommy. Can we play more Skee-Ball now? I was winning.”

“Sure can.”

Avery rested her head in her hands. What an idiot.

“There you go, Miss Avery. Michelle is my sister and Cassandra is my niece. My Saturday night is being spent in a kids’ arcade, eating ice cream and french fries while I’m babysitting.”

“I’m not a baby, I’m five.”

“Call me” were Liam’s last words before he hung up.

Chapter Eleven

Liam woke to a text. It had come in at two in the morning.

I owe you an apology was all Avery said.

Yes, she did. He’d stayed up until after one, seriously contemplating calling her multiple times or dragging Cassandra out of bed and driving to Avery’s complex. He remembered the guy at the door and realized he wouldn’t be able to just waltz in. What if he did manage to make his way to her condo and she wasn’t alone?

That would suck.

It was Sunday, and Michelle was sleeping in. Cassandra was on the couch with the Disney Channel on low. It looked like Michelle had managed to pour a bowl of cereal before climbing back in bed. Whiskey sat next to Cassandra on the couch, hoping the girl would drop a Froot Loop or two.

“Good morning, Sweetpea.”

Messy hair, eyes glued to the TV. “Good morning.”

Straight to the kitchen, he worked his way around the coffeepot and opened the back door.

Whiskey shot around the corner and out to the yard.

The fog in his head started to lift with the first sip of coffee. Liam sat on the deck and watched the dog sniffing for the perfect place to pee.

He was contemplating how to respond to Avery’s two a.m. text when the woman he was thinking of called.

It was seven thirty in the morning.

“You’re up early for someone who was up so late.”

“I’m awake, not up.” Her voice was husky, like she was still lying in bed. The image that came to his mind was her head on a dozen pillows, with down comforters swallowing her whole. She wore silk in his fantasy. White silk to go with the pristine white sheets . . . a zillion thread count. Her barely there nightgown had strings for sleeves, and one was falling off her shoulder.

“Are you still there?” she asked.

“I am.” He brought his coffee cup to his lips and waited.

She paused.

He kept waiting.

“I’m sorry.”

He grinned. “Did that hurt?”

“Yes. It did.”

He sipped his coffee again.

“I shouldn’t have jumped to conclusions. I have no right to jump. Even if it were true, my reaction was juvenile and stupid.” She took a breath. “I am impulsive and juvenile, and I’m not the sharpest pencil in the box. I told you I was a bad bet and I—”

“Avery,” he interrupted.

“I’m on a roll, Liam. I’ve apologized maybe five times my whole life and actually meant it. Once was when I hit my neighbor’s cat when I was seventeen. Stupid thing ran out in front of my car. Still, the cat meant everything to my neighbor. Then to my college girlfriend when I caught her boyfriend cheating on her and I was the one that delivered the news. I kinda had to eat crow when I misread my girlfriend Trina’s fiancé. Although that wasn’t an apology, per se.”

Liam’s amusement caught in his throat. “Avery.”

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