The Best Goodbye(Rosemary Beach #13)(12) by Abbi Glines
She always did this, always acted like she was in my way. I knew enough to be careful around her, but I hated that she thought she wasn’t more important than those other girls. She was the most important person in my life. She always would be.
“Don’t be silly. You’re my favorite girl. You know that,” I said, and put my arm around her shoulders to pull her in for a quick hug. “How about when we get home, we go out to the pond and do our homework there?” She loved the pond. We had to walk along a path through the woods behind our house to get to it, but she loved going.
The smile I’d been looking for was back as she nodded her head. “I’d like that.”
I’d dreamed about her again. But this time, there was no blood. It had just been us. The way we were. The easy way I felt around her. Seeing her smile at me and feeling complete with her.
Standing out on the bow of my boat with a cup of coffee, I watched the sun rise while memories of Addy came back to me. It wasn’t that I’d forgotten those moments. I remembered everything about her. Every single moment we’d had was forever etched in my brain. It had just been so long since I’d given in and thought of them.
The sharp pain in my chest was tucked in so tight I wouldn’t be able to shake it loose. It came with the memories. It was why I tried not to remember. But as I stood here on the water, watching the beauty of the morning sun slowly lightening the sky, it felt right. Addy loved water, and she loved to watch the sun rise. We’d watched so many sunrises together. She would have adored living on a boat. It would have been an adventure. As long as she’d been with me, she’d been up for anything.
I heard footsteps coming up behind me. I knew from the heaviness of the footfalls that it was a man. Someone with purpose. I didn’t need to turn around. Listening was more important than seeing in my line of work.
“Cope,” I said, then took another drink of my coffee while the sun blazed bright over the water.
“Cap,” he replied. Both of our names had been shortened by DeCarlo. His was Copeland, but everyone called him Cope.
“I don’t work for DeCarlo anymore. Can’t see why you’d be here.” I never doubted that DeCarlo would try to pull me back in. He hadn’t wanted me out. But the small sliver of my soul that I’d been able to hold on to was the piece that only Addy’s memories kept alive. I hadn’t been willing to lose that.
“Came to warn you,” he said, in what always reminded me of a growl. He was the angriest human I’d ever met. Combine that with his massive frame, and he could be intimidating. He was a solid brick wall covered in tats. “Someone’s here. Don’t know who, but they traced you here.”
I frowned. “Someone after me because of a former job?”
He shrugged. “Don’t know. You’ve just been tracked down. Keep your eyes open.”
Shit. I didn’t want to bring my former hell anywhere near my sister and her family. “How long they been here?”
“At least a month. Maybe more.”
And they still hadn’t done anything? That wasn’t typical. This was screwy. “I’ll find them.”
“I’ve got to fix some of Major’s shit,” Cope said, then headed back down the dock. He wasn’t a man of many words, but I’d always liked him.
I wasn’t worried about someone tracking me. If they were here, they wouldn’t sneak up on me; I’d feel their presence first. Only a matter of time before I figured out who it was.
I had touched up my roots last night after Brad left, so my hair was an even darker red today. Coloring my blond hair wasn’t something I had wanted to do. It was high-maintenance, but it was part of my cover. That and the glasses made me look different enough from the girl he once knew. I had also grown up, and my cheekbones were more defined, my breasts had filled out, and my hips had a flare to them after giving birth that they hadn’t had before. I’d also lost that twinkle of wonder in my eyes.
On that first day, I’d believed deep down that he’d recognize me anyway. That he would know who I was, that my facade would be in vain, because he’d be a wonderful man who knew me instinctively and would adore our daughter once I told him about her. But that hadn’t happened. He’d hardly even glanced at me. The most he’d ever spoken to me was to tell me what I needed to do.
Last night, when Brad and I had our pizza date, I’d realized that I missed having that kind of connection. I hadn’t experienced it in my adult life. Someone to laugh with and talk to about adult stuff. I wasn’t saying I could fall in love with Brad, because honestly, I didn’t think there was even a slight chance. As much as I didn’t want to admit it, River still held a large piece of my heart that Captain hadn’t been able to kill.
Sometimes, when he wasn’t looking at me, I could see his thoughtful expression as he worked something out in his head, and I’d feel like I was in the presence of River in that moment. Those little glimpses were enough to keep a firm hold on my heart. But loving River had been my world. You can’t tell your heart to stop loving someone. I’d been trying that for years, simply to ease the ache of losing him.
Taking a deep breath, I walked into the dining room ready to face another day. I expected to see Elle ordering everyone around, but instead there was River—Captain—shouting out commands and complaining about things that had been done wrong. I quickly hurried over to listen to him before clocking in and putting away my purse.