“He’s an idiot. I’m going to put a hit out on him,” my mother said as she ran her hand over my hair. If I weren’t hurting so much, I would laugh. Leave it to Jessica to threaten to have someone murdered.

I swallowed the next sob and took a deep breath. Then I pulled back, ducking my head as I wiped my face. Once I was sure I had it under control, I lifted my gaze back up to meet my mother’s. “Hey.”

She frowned and cupped the back of my head. “Hey, you. Let’s go get those expensive-ass bags of yours and go home. Sam will be thrilled to see you when he gets home.”

Being reminded that I would see Sam soon made this all easier. I nodded and picked up the duffel bag that matched the rest of my luggage and headed for the baggage carousel.

My bags came out eventually, and then we headed for the car. Mom was driving a newer Honda. She had finished school last year, and she was now a labor and delivery nurse. Her income was good and she gave Sam a good home. I was proud of her.

We put my luggage in the trunk and the backseat. I had four bags with me, including my carry-on duffel, which I’d put all my underclothes and accessories in. I had made it out of the airport without anyone noticing me and approaching me. But I had also gone without makeup, my eyes were swollen from crying all night, and I had my hair in a ponytail with a baseball cap over it. A trick that Jax often tried, but it never worked for him.

My fame came from being Jax Stone’s girlfriend, and then fiancée, over the past five years. Once he was seen with new girls, I was sure that would end. People would soon forget I existed. My hand went back to my stomach and I remembered that maybe I wouldn’t be able to fade away. If the media ever found out that this baby was Jax Stone’s, I’d have to go into hiding.

That is, if I ever told Jax. He may have been able to brush me away with ease, but I knew him well enough to be sure he’d want to know his kid. But could I trust him to protect me, too? And not let the media eat my life up?


Sadie’s red Mercedes Roadster that I had given her just two months ago was still parked in the garage space that was designated for her. The Jaguar I had given her last year was parked in the next space over. The other seven were also full as I pulled my Escalade ESV into the last space. She wasn’t gone.

I hadn’t told her to leave. I had, however, ended things. Pain sliced through me as the idea of losing Sadie sank in. My head pounded from the hangover from hell I had woken up with in the penthouse at the Wilshire. I wasn’t sure how I had even gotten there. After I had downed an entire bottle of vodka, things had started to fade away.

Sadie’s betrayal and the pain of having my heart ripped from my chest had numbed me, keeping me from drinking my weight in alcohol. It had been a reprieve until I woke up in my own vomit this morning, feeling like I’d been run over by a truck several times.

I stepped out of the Escalade and closed the door. I had to face her again. She’d had all night to decide what to do. When I had gotten a shower this morning and slowly started to sober up, the fear that she’d be gone when I got home had claimed me, and it had been hard to breathe.

She had been making out with my drummer behind my back. Seeing it from my publicist before it was going to hit the media today had been as painful as having my body sliced open slowly with a blunt knife. I had beat my drummer to the point that he was hospitalized, then I’d come home and finished unleashing my fury by yelling at Sadie.

Never had I ever imagined my sweet Sadie could do something like this. Just watching her try to explain it infuriated me and broke my heart at the same time. I didn’t want her lies. I had seen the proof. She’d gotten jaded by this life, and somehow I had missed it. Just like I had feared it would, it had gotten to her. People devoting websites to what she wore and where she went had gone to her head. It had changed her. The girl I had fallen in love with was now gone.

I had lost her, and it was all my fault. Bringing her into this world had ruined her. I never should have touched her. My selfishness had turned the most beautiful woman inside and out into what I despised.

She would have to leave. She wasn’t gone now, and she was probably ready to beg me so she wouldn’t lose this life I had given her. If she wasn’t Jax Stone’s fiancée, she was no one. She loved that life, apparently, and she wouldn’t go easily. Remembering that the girl I had fallen in love with was now gone would be hard. Forcing Sadie out of my house was going to destroy me.

This was a hell that I would never overcome. That I never wanted to repeat. No woman would own me again. Ever.

I was done.

I opened the door leading into the house from the garage and stepped inside. She wasn’t waiting on me. At least I would have a moment before her groveling started and I had to stomach seeing the woman I had loved turned into a greedy monster that this world had created.

I dropped my keys onto the table, knowing someone would put them where they were meant to go, and headed to the hallway that led to the back side of the house. I didn’t hear anyone, but I knew there were at least six employees here at the moment.

When I finally made it to the hallway that led to our bedroom, I stopped and took a deep breath. If she was in there asleep, I had to be tough. Hard. I couldn’t let the vision of her sleeping in the bed where we’d had the best moments of my life get to me. Sadie would destroy me completely if I didn’t do this. She had already ruined me. My soul was gone. She’d taken that and killed it. If I was going to get over this and move on, she had to leave.

I had to be the one to make her.

The door to our room opened, and Barbara walked out with a box in her hands. She paused when she saw me, and then her face hardened. What the hell? Had Sadie lied to her? Had the woman not seen the entertainment channels or looked at the paper today? Hell, we were going to be on the evening news before this was over. I wasn’t the one she should be pissed at. But then, Sadie’s sweet face could charm a damn snake. Beauty like hers blinded people.

“Is she in there?” I asked, angry that Sadie had turned my staff against me so easily.

Barbara scowled at me and shook her head. “No, sir. She’s gone. I’m finished packing up all her things, although she asked that I not send her the clothes she left behind. She didn’t want the things you had bought her. She had to take some of it because you’ve been her life for the past five years. But she wanted her pictures and some of the things she brought with her. I told her I would ship them to her mother’s. The things she left are still in her closet. I figured you could decide what you wanted done with them.”

My breath stopped and my chest tightened. “She’s gone?” I asked, already knowing the answer.

Barbara nodded. “Yes, sir.” She didn’t elaborate. She nodded again and walked past me as if she couldn’t get away from me fast enough.

I stared at the room, unable to move. She was gone. She’d left. She hadn’t begged me to forgive her or made up excuses and lies. Last night she’d begged me to let her explain, but when I had yelled at her to shut up, she had, and she’d not said another word.

Not wanting to walk into the room I’d shared with Sadie, but knowing I had to face it, I moved toward it, preparing myself for her to be gone. The room felt cold as I entered it. Like any warmth or heat it had once had was gone.

I let my gaze travel over the room. The pictures of us were all gone, as were the pictures Sadie had of Jessica and Sam. The walls felt bare now.

The table on her side of the bed was now bare. Her lip gloss she kept by the bed and the book she had been reading were gone. The photo of the two of us on the night of our engagement party was also missing.

Had she taken that?

I knew opening her closet was going to rip me wide open. Her smell would be there still. Was I ready to face that? No. I wasn’t. I headed to the master bathroom instead. Seeing all her lotions and perfumes and random jewelry no longer scattering the marble counter made the room seem dull and lifeless.

I’d made love to her on the counter so many times. Memories flashed in my head, making the pain so severe I had to bend over to get through it. My knees started to give out and I turned and walked away. I had to get out of there. I could smell her as I passed the closet, and I inhaled deeply.

How was I going to live my life without that smell again? Without hearing her cry out my name and cling to me while I filled her? What I’d had with Sadie wasn’t something a man can forget. Pushing open her closet door, I stood there and let the scent of her engulf me. The purses I had bought her still lined the shelves, along with every pair of designer heels I had ever bought her. The outfits she’d worn to concerts, music awards shows, and to all the events we had attended still hung in the bags they were stored in. The only things missing were the Sadie clothes. The things that made her my Sadie. Her jeans, shorts, and T-shirts. She hadn’t taken the expensive clothing. She’d left all that. Did she even have a purse now? Did she have enough clothes?

Was she going back to her mom? In Sea Breeze? Where would she work? She had a degree in education that she hadn’t used yet because we didn’t have time for her to get tied down to a job. She had gone on tours with me and when I had to travel she went too. Would she teach school now?

She would need money. Fuck!

I turned to look at the drawers that I knew held all her jewelry. Maybe she had taken that. She could sell it and live for years. I stalked over and jerked open the top drawer to see it completely full. I knew without looking that the others would be just as full. Reaching down, I picked up the five-carat diamond I had put on her finger when I asked her to spend forever with me. She’d cried and nodded before throwing herself into my arms.

Now it was nestled safely in this drawer. No longer on her slender finger, telling the world she was mine. She wasn’t mine now.

Giving in to the devastation, I fell to my knees and dropped my head into my hands as the sobs broke through me.

I’d lost my world.


Sam was cuddled up at my side, sound asleep, as I sat on the sofa in my mother’s house, which was bought and paid for by Jax Stone. It was a small three-bedroom house in a nice, safe neighborhood in Sea Breeze. I hadn’t allowed him to put her in anything bigger than this. There was no point. It was just her and Sam. She kept the third bedroom fixed up for the times Jax and I visited her, although we rarely stayed the night here.

I had left my phone with Barbara. It was one more thing that Jax Stone had given me. I wasn’t keeping a phone he paid for. I would call Amanda tomorrow when I was strong enough. Right now I needed to just let Sam distract me. He had shown me how he could write his ABC’s, and he had sung the national anthem for me. We had colored several pages from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles coloring book that I had sent him last week in the mail.

He had asked several times when Jax was coming. It had been like a knife to the heart every time he said his name. Jessica had explained to him the first few times that we wouldn’t be seeing Jax anymore, but he had been concerned and kept asking me. He loved Jax.

I finally forced myself to look at my little brother and explain that Jax and I had broken up and weren’t friends anymore. Then I had eased that blow by telling him that it meant I was moving into this house with him and Mommy. He had been upset over not seeing Jax and he kept bringing him up. But he was very excited about me staying here with them.

“I need to get him in bed. He has to be up bright and early for school,” Jessica said as she walked up to scoop him into her arms.

“Okay. Thanks for letting him stay up and keep my mind off things. I missed him.”

She smiled. “He’s the best medicine around,” she said, kissing his forehead before walking back to the hallway that led to the bedrooms.

Sam’s entrance into the world had been dramatic and destructive, but my mother had gotten it together and gotten medical help, thanks to Jax. She had become the mother I had never had. When I saw her with Sam, it warmed me. I loved seeing them both happy.

I pulled the throw off the back of the sofa and wrapped myself up in it before leaning back and closing my eyes. I hadn’t slept last night, and the events of the last forty-eight hours were starting to weigh on me. I hadn’t turned on the television all day. I wasn’t sure when the news would hit that we were broken up. I figured it would be when a picture of him with someone new was plastered all over the media. I wasn’t ready to see that.

Jessica had understood that.

“How you feeling? Ready for bed?” she asked, walking back into the room.

I nodded and forced my eyes back open. “Yeah. I am.”

Jessica walked over and sank down beside me, then pulled me into her arms. “I hate seeing my girl so broken,” she whispered into my hair as I curled into her arms.

“Momma,” I said in a whisper. I hadn’t been going to tell her about the baby, but I needed someone to know.

“Yes, sweetheart,” she said, holding me close.

“I’m pregnant.”

She stopped petting my head, and I heard her inhale sharply, then exhale. “Does he know?”

I had been going to tell him. “I was surprising him with the news yesterday. I had it all planned out. I was going to have Barbara make us a picnic in the den downstairs where we have that amazing view at night of the lights outside on the hills. I had even set up candles everywhere that Barbara helped me light. I didn’t tell her what I was doing all this for. I wanted to tell him first. But then he didn’t come home or answer his phone. Three hours later I had blown out the candles and left the picnic downstairs and headed up to our room. That was where he found me.” I stopped and closed my eyes. I wasn’t ready to repeat what he had said.

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