Home > The Secrets She Kept (Fairham Island #2)

The Secrets She Kept (Fairham Island #2)
Author: Brenda Novak


 


           1

    Los Angeles, California

    THE CALL CAME in the middle of the night. Keith Lazarow was so deeply asleep that he probably wouldn’t have heard his phone if not for the attractive brunette who stirred in bed beside him.

    “Aren’t you going to answer that?” she mumbled.

    “No.” He was too exhausted. Five years ago, he’d replaced the drugs he’d once used to anesthetize himself against the demons of his past with daily cross-fit training. High-intensity exercise was the only thing that could command his full focus and calm his mind. It forced the anger and resentment back into the shadows so he could be functional instead of destructive. But once he’d left the gym, Dahlia Dooley—someone he’d met at a charity event downtown last week—had called and asked to come over, and after that, he’d put in a completely different sort of workout. After expending that much energy, he felt he could sleep for a week, which was nice, since he used to have trouble sleeping at all.

    Dahlia rolled onto her other side and, seconds later, his phone stopped making noise.

    He’d just begun to sink back into blissful oblivion when the buzzing started again.

    Dahlia yawned. “There must be something wrong at work.”

    No, he didn’t have anything to worry about there. He wasn’t a policeman or a medical health professional; he was in real estate. Over the last five years, he’d acquired quite a collection of large commercial properties—office buildings, warehouses, shopping malls and strip centers. But he had property managers as well as project managers to take care of his holdings. If there was a problem, those were the people who’d be getting disturbed after hours, not him. He handled acquisitions, which was the fun part, and he had nothing particularly important on the horizon—nothing that he might get a panic call about, anyway. Whatever this was, it could wait until he’d had his wheatgrass juice in the morning and was ready to turn on his computer.

    Unless...

    He shot up in bed and grabbed for his phone. Sure enough, it was his sister Maisey calling from South Carolina. They’d always been close, but these days she had her husband, Rafe, who did such a good job of loving Maisey, his daughter, Laney, and Bryson, the two-year-old boy they’d had together, that Keith never worried about them. He and Maisey spoke on the phone every week, and she’d flown out to visit him three or four times since he left Fairham Island—twice with her family—but she never called in the middle of the night.

    Something had to be wrong...

    His stomach cramped at the thought.

    With a curse, he gazed at the LED screen while trying to collect his faculties.

    When he continued to let it ring, Dahlia mumbled, “What is it?”

    Suddenly wishing she’d gone home instead of staying over, he looked at her tousled head. “Nothing. Go back to sleep. I’ll take it in the study.”

    Lord knew his house was big enough to provide him with plenty of privacy. Nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking Malibu, where he had a gorgeous view of the ocean, the ten-bedroom rambler had once belonged to Robert De Niro. The place was way too big for a man who lived alone, and coming here every night meant he added a time-consuming commute to his day. A condo downtown would’ve been more efficient and would’ve suited him just as well, since he rarely entertained. But he supposed he was still trying to prove to his megalomaniac mother that he really didn’t need the fortune she’d held over his head for so long.

    Who would’ve guessed he’d be as adept at making money as his beloved grandfather?

    No one. Until he’d walked away from the Coldiron empire and everything he stood to gain by staying, and started making it on his own, even he would never have dreamed he had it in him. After winning his first million as a professional poker player, which required no education at all—a good thing, since he hadn’t paid attention while he was getting his degree in communications—he’d invested in real estate, where he earned even more money—so much that he eventually quit poker, other than the odd charity tournament now and then.

    Before he could pull on a pair of pajama bottoms and move to a room where he felt comfortable speaking to Maisey, the call transferred to voice mail. He waited to see if she’d leave a message, give him some indication of what was going on, so he’d be prepared when he talked to her. But she didn’t.

    “Come on, Mais,” he muttered and called her back.

    “There you are,” she said, sounding tense, breathless, as if she’d panicked when she couldn’t reach him.

    He tried to control his own anxiety. “You’re surprised I didn’t answer right away? Gee, I wonder why I didn’t. Could it be that it’s four o’clock in the morning?”

    “I’m sorry.”

    He regretted his sarcasm when she didn’t come back at him with her own smart-ass comment. “Don’t worry about it,” he said. “I was joking. What’s going on?” Holding the phone that much tighter, he lowered his voice. “You okay?”

    “I’m...fine, I think.” Her voice broke, telling him that she wasn’t fine at all.

    His heart began to pound so hard his chest hurt. “Is it Rafe? Or the kids?” When Keith left Fairham Island, Maisey had been so in love with the building contractor and his blind little girl that Keith thought he could rely on his sister’s happiness indefinitely. The confidence he’d had in Rafe was the only thing that had made it possible for him to turn his back on South Carolina without the guilt that would otherwise have dragged him back.

    Well, knowing his sister was with a man she loved wasn’t the only thing that had allowed him to escape. His life had always revolved around his autocratic mother and what he was supposed to do and be in order to honor his Coldiron heritage. Escaping the jaws of her expectations had required more grit and determination than he could ever have imagined. No way could he have done it without Maisey and Roxanne, his other sister. Their support had been constant and unwavering.

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