A Man She Couldn’t Forget

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Authors: Kathryn Shay
school.”
    “Ah, how nice. Do you know Brady?”
    The woman’s laugh was off-kilter. “You might say that.”
    “Lucinda is Brady’s girlfriend, Clare,” Samantha inserted.
    Clarissa stiffened. “Brady has a girlfriend?”
    “I’m surprised he didn’t tell you. He’s been spending so much time with you.”
    “I…I’m sorry if…I didn’t know.” Clarissa’s face drained of color and her hands covered her temples. “Oh, oh, God, my head.”
    “What is it?” Jonathan asked.
    “A lot of pain.” She looked faint, pale, sick.
    Jonathan stood. “Excuse us, ladies. I’m taking Clarissa home.”
    At least both women seemed concerned. Samantha said, “Sorry if seeing us caused that.”
    After leaving his credit card with the waiter, Jonathan escorted Clarissa out, cursing the pain she was in. And as he got her to the car and she moaned, he tried to tell himself that seeing Samantha was what had caused the attack. Not finding out that Langston had a girlfriend.
     
    “W HAT THE HELL DID YOU DO to her?” Brady asked when Jonathan practically dragged Clare down the corridor. He was waiting for them, standing in the doorway to his place, so he must have been watching as they pulled into the driveway.
    “She’s sick, and it’s your fault,” Jonathan said.
    “No, of course it isn’t.” Clare’s headache had abated on the drive there but her stomach felt queasy. All she wanted was to lie down.
    She caught a glimpse of Brady’s face, his expression worried.
    “I’m all right now.” She managed to walk through her own door without assistance.
    Brady followed them in, but Clare went straight to her bedroom. She wasn’t up to watching the two men she obviously cared about go another round. She undressed without putting her clothes away, slipped on pajamas, washed her face and brushed her teeth, then went back out into the bedroom. Glancing at the door, she shook her head and crawled into bed. But because their voices were raised, she could hear them outside her door.
    “What exactly did Samantha say to her?” Brady’s strong voice, angry now.
    Equally strong came Jonathan’s retort. “It’s not what she said. It’s what she implied. I don’t know what you’ve been feeding your family about Clarissa, but it’s obvious Samantha hates her.”
    “My sister does not hate her.”
    “Your girlfriend didn’t help.”
    Clare strained to hear Brady’s answer. “Lucy was there?”
    Lucy, not Lucinda.
    “Yeah, and she was hostile to Clarissa.”
    “She’s always been jealous of Clare,” he said absently.
    Really? Hmm. Clare wondered why.
    “Oh, that’s just great.” A pause. “I’m tired of talking about this, Langston. You can leave now.”
    “Why would I leave?”
    “Because you’re not needed here. I’m back from my trip, and I’m staying over.” A pause. “It won’t be the first time, as you well know.”
    “Damn it, Harris, you’re not going to put the moves on her now.” Brady’s voice had risen a notch. “She doesn’t remember who the hell you are.”
    Oh, no! Clare hoped that wasn’t Jonathan’s intention. She shivered at the thought and burrowed further into the covers.
    “That’s none of your goddamned business.”
    “Clare’s welfare is my business.” Another pause, then a slam of the door.
    After a few minutes, she heard Jonathan come to the bedroom. He didn’t turn on the light, but eased his way inside. Clare knew she should talk to him, knew she shouldn’t pretend she was asleep. But she had a lot to think about.
    The exchange between Brady and Jonathan.
    Why Brady’s sister hated her.
    And why, when Samantha introduced Lucinda as Brady’s girlfriend, Clare’s heart hurt worse than her head.
    So she kept her eyes closed and feigned sleep until it came.
     
    I N THE MIDST OF A GRAY FOG , Clare hid in the bushes. She was freezing cold, the branches dug into her skin and her hands were numb. People were searching for her. Terrified, she crowded back into

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