Colters daughter, p.25
Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font       Night Mode Off   Night Mode

       Colters Daughter, p.25

         Part #3 of Colters Legacy series by Maya Banks
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Page 25


  He slapped at his pants pockets and cursed, realizing his keys were in his room. He sprinted back, determined to go after her. Make her listen. Beg her for forgiveness. Again.

  When he ran through the still-open doorway, the envelope that she’d pushed into his chest lay on the floor. He stopped and stared, a sick feeling rising in his gut. What had she meant?

  What had she done?

  He slowly bent down to retrieve the envelope and walked over to the bed where his keys rested on the nightstand. With shaking hands, he tore open the seal and reached inside for the sheaf of papers.

  It took him three attempts before he could make sense of the wording. At the bottom, her signature, barely a scrawl, made it official.

  “Oh God,” he whispered. “Callie, no. No. ”

  She’d given him Callie’s Meadow. All it lacked was his signature to make it legal.

  On the bed, the envelope lay, the bulge still at the bottom. His heart aching, he clumsily shook out the contents and there on the sheets, gleaming in the soft light were the two bands he’d placed around her wrists.

  He closed his eyes. They burned like fire. Raw and scratchy like the insides of his lids were lined with sandpaper. Tears gathered. Tears that he hadn’t shed when his stepfather had died. Or when his mother had passed away so unexpectedly.

  He’d been strong then. First for his mother and sister. A rock for them to lean on. He’d held them while they cried. And then when his mother had passed he’d been there for his sister.

  There was no one here for him now. Callie was gone. She hated him. He’d destroyed something infinitely fragile and so very precious.

  He looked down at the paper in his hand. The words blurred and then a tear fell onto her scrawled signature.

  The land was his. His promise fulfilled. And he’d never felt so damn empty in his life.

  Chapter Twenty-Eight

  Max hadn’t slept in two nights. He was surly. He was pissed. He missed Callie so damn much that he ached. He’d resorted to prowling around town looking for her, acting like a damn stalker again. But he hadn’t seen her, hadn’t seen her truck. Hadn’t even seen a single damn family member of hers.

  Enough was enough. He was going to go up that mountain, and he didn’t give a shit if he had to take on the entire Colter clan, he wasn’t leaving until he talked some sense into her.

  He showered, shaved and dressed just so he wouldn’t look like some escapee from prison, and then he walked out to get into his car. Right now he didn’t care if he got his ass kicked so hard he wound up in the hospital, just as long as he was able to pin Callie down in one place long enough to wipe that horrible look of pain and betrayal from her eyes.

  God, he never wanted to see such a look on her face for the rest of his life. If she’d let him, if she’d just give him a chance, he’d make damn sure nothing—especially him—ever hurt her again.

  Just as he was getting into his car, he glanced up and saw Lily Colter walk out of the sheriff’s department and down the sidewalk toward the small grocery store.

  His pulse ratcheted up. He slammed his door and sprinted across the street to intercept Callie’s sister-in-law.

  When she looked up and saw him, she took an instinctive step back. Her eyes hardened and her lips curled into a snarl. For such a small, dainty woman, she could look damn mean.

  He put out a placating hand. “Lily, please. I need your help. ”

  Her glare froze him to the nuts.

  “Look, I know you think I’m the biggest asshole on earth, but I have to talk to Callie. Is she up at her parents’?”

  The anger in Lily’s eyes faded and the same raw grief he’d witnessed in Callie’s eyes now stared back at him.

  “She’s gone. ”

  His brows furrowed. “Gone? What do you mean gone?”

  Lily stepped forward, her fist balled like she’d love nothing more than to hit him. “She left. Cleaned out her bank account, all the money she’d saved for her dream house. She’s off somewhere and we don’t know where. She’s out there hurting. Devastated. And we can’t help her because she’s gone. Because of you. Because of what you did to her. ”

  His stomach fell. His chest caved in as a wave of despair nearly crippled him. He had to grip the light post to keep his knees from buckling.

  “No,” he said hoarsely. “Oh God, no. I have to find her. ”

  Tears shimmered in Lily’s gaze. “Good luck with that. All we know is that she flew out of Denver on a nonstop flight to London. She could be anywhere right now. Callie doesn’t stay in hotels. She doesn’t travel like most people. She’ll disappear for weeks—months at a time. Then one day she’ll come home. I hope and pray she comes home this time. Her entire family is devastated. ”

  He stared at the woman and didn’t even try to hide the horrible grief festering inside him. “Lily, I love her. I love her. Do you understand that? Things happened so fast. I never had the chance to explain. But God, I love her so damn much. ”

  Lily gazed at him for a long moment until finally her expression softened. “Then why? If you love her so much, why?”

  “I was never going to go after her meadow. I couldn’t. Not once I met her—fell in love with her—saw how much that land meant to her. But that is why I searched her out. I’m damned by my own actions, but things changed after I met her. I swear to you they did. ”

  Lily put her hand on Max’s arm. Her touch was so gentle that he wanted her hand to stay there. It was the only soft thing in his world right now. His only comfort where he had none.

  “Then you have to find her, Max. And you have to tell her. You have to make her listen. It won’t be easy. I’m not sure she’ll listen this time. ”

  Max took Lily’s hand and raised it to his lips to press a brief kiss across her knuckles. “Thank you, Lily. For listening. It means more than you’ll ever know. ”

  She smiled ruefully. “My husbands will tell you my heart is too soft for my own good. Callie will tell you I have a vicious streak that she loves. I’ll fully admit, what I really wanted to do was kick you in the balls. But I can’t fault you for loving her. And I believe you when you say you do. ”

  Max smiled for the first time since everything had gone to hell. “I think you’re a very special lady, Lily. ”

  “Just find her and bring her home to us,” Lily said softly.

  For the first three weeks after Callie’s departure, Max spared no expense in his efforts to locate her. The problem was, as Lily had said, Callie wasn’t most people. She didn’t check into hotels. She didn’t often stay in one place for more than a day. He only had London as a starting point, and all he’d been able to determine was that she took the Star to Paris. After she reached the continent, she could literally be anywhere.

  He didn’t eat. Didn’t sleep. He was consumed with finding Callie so he could bring her home. Or not bring her home. He didn’t care as long as he could find her and confront her.

  It was nearly a month before he realized that his efforts were misdirected. Callie wouldn’t be found if she didn’t want to be. But eventually she’d come home, wouldn’t she? He didn’t believe for a minute that she wouldn’t return to the family she loved more than anything.

  It was then he realized that he needed to focus his efforts on making her homecoming special.

  And that precipitated a trip up the mountain to see her family.

  With a little help on the sly from Lily, he made damn sure that the entire family would be assembled when he arrived. It was time to take the bull by the horns. It wouldn’t be pretty, but he wasn’t about to give up without one hell of a fight.

  He parked by the myriad of vehicles and got out, spoiling for a fight. He strode to the front door and knocked briskly.

  He didn’t have to wait long. The door opened and Adam Colter stood there unsmiling, his steady gaze brewing with anger.

  “What the hell are you doing here?”

sp; Knowing he wouldn’t get through the door without a little shock value, Max thrust the document that Callie had signed at her father.

  “We need to talk about this. ”

  Adam took the paper and scanned the contents. His expression grew darker and darker until he resembled a black cloud of fury.

  “You son of a bitch,” Adam seethed. “I’ll fight you on this. It will never hold up in court. She signed this under duress and great emotional strain. When I’m through with you, the entire world will know what a calculating bastard you are. ”

  Max held up his hand. “I don’t give a shit what that paper says or whether it will hold up in court. I never intend to sign it or pursue ownership. ”

  Adam paused and then looked back up at Max, open speculation in his gaze.

  “Like I said, we need to talk. Preferably without violence, although after three weeks of searching all over Europe for your daughter, I’m about ready to shed some blood. Yours will do just fine. ”

  Adam continued to stare at him for a long moment, and a glimmer of a smile shadowed on his lips. “You love my daughter. ”

  “Yeah, what was your first clue?”

  “You can cut the sarcasm, son. Your actions haven’t been those of a man who loves a woman. ”

  “Just let me in so we can talk about this. I want things to be perfect if and when Callie comes home. ”

  Adam hesitated a moment. “I didn’t take advantage of your mother, Max. I can show you the letter she sent me. I can show you the bill of sale. I paid her more than a fair price. The last thing my brothers and I wanted was to take advantage of a young widow with two children to raise. ”

  Max swallowed and then slowly nodded his acceptance. He had to let go of his anger. These were Callie’s dads. The past couldn’t be changed. He’d been a boy when his mother had sold, and he’d viewed the transaction through the eyes of an angry child. It was time to consider that he’d been wrong. He’d been wrong about so many other things.

  “I owe you and your brothers an apology,” Max said in a low voice.

  “If you make my daughter happy again, that’s all the apology we need. ”

  “Thank you, sir. I plan to do exactly that. ”

  Adam stepped back and then motioned Max inside. Max walked past him and into the living room where all of Callie’s family was assembled.

  Lily met his gaze and shot him a look of sympathy about the time the rest of the room exploded into chaos.

  It took a full five minutes for Adam to calm everyone down. Even Holly stood to the side, her face drawn into tight lines of anger—and grief.

  He went to her first, wanting to ease her fears, her worries, even when he didn’t have any information to do so.

  “Have you found her?” Lily asked just as he approached Holly Colter.

  Max turned to look at Lily’s hopeful face, his own drawn into an unhappy grimace. “No, I haven’t. ”

  Then he turned back to Callie’s mother. “I want to apologize to you for all the hurt I’ve caused. I love your daughter. I love her more than I’ve ever loved anyone else. I’ve done nothing for the last three weeks but try to find her. I’ve come to the realization that she’ll come home when she’s ready, and when she does, I want things to be…right. ”

  Adam handed the paper to Holly. “He brought this. ”

  Holly scanned the paper and then her eyes filled with tears. “No. Tell me this isn’t real. ”

  Max took the paper from her shaking hand and then calmly ripped it into a dozen tiny pieces. “I don’t care if it was real or not. It doesn’t matter because I won’t sign it. ”

  “Thank God,” Holly whispered.

  “Someone want to tell us what the hell is going on?” Seth demanded from across the room.

  Max turned to face the forbidding faces of the Colter men.

  “Callie tried to give me her meadow. I won’t accept it. I love her. I’m not going to lose her without a fight. You need to accept that. She loves you. You love her. I love her. There has to be room for all of us in her life if she chooses it. I’m here to make my peace with you, but I’m also here because I need your help. ”

  Silence fell and perplexed looks replaced the anger of just moments before.

  “What do you have in mind?” Ryan Colter asked cautiously.

  “All Callie’s ever wanted is to build her dream house. She takes ridiculously low-paying, dangerous jobs and she saves. She drives a truck that’s about to fall apart, and she doesn’t even have a home of her own because she saves every penny for that dream.

  “She took that money she’s been saving and she left. She gave up on that dream. I’m going to give it back to her. ”

  “Okay,” Ethan said slowly. “How do you propose to do that?”

  “I’m going to build her house in that meadow so that she has it to come home to. Whether she takes me back or not, I want her to have that safe place—a place of her own. Something she can always come back to no matter where she travels or where her path takes her. But I can’t do it without your help. ”

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Turn Navi Off
Turn Navi On
Scroll Up