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Southern Storm (Southern #3)
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Buried secrets never stay hidden in the South.
Did I sleep with the prom king? No. Did I sleep with the town’s golden boy on vacation from college? Yes.
Did I believe that he was going to marry me? Wholeheartedly.
Did he? Not even close. He got engaged right in front of me and then his father threw two hundred dollars at me and told me to take the trash out.
So, I raised my son in a town where people love him because they think that his father is the sheriff.
It was going great, everything was working out till my lie got out.
I was getting ready to take over the mayoral office from my father, who was my hero.
Until I heard the secret he hoped would stay buried forever.
My brother has a son, not just any son but a son with the woman who was my best friend.
The woman I secretly have loved from the moment she stood up to me and broke my nose in kindergarten.
I need to protect her and in order to do that, we need to get married.
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“Tell me that my brother is not Ethan’s father,” I hiss. My heart pounds in my chest while the tears stream down my face as I stand here looking at who are supposed to be my best friends. The tie around my neck suddenly feels tight. I have the white paper clenched in my hand so tight that my whole body feels like it’s shaking. Savannah stands there looking more beautiful than she has ever looked in her whole life, and trust me, I know. I’ve been watching her for what feels like my whole life.
“Tell me!” I shout, and the tears flow down her face.
“Ethan is mine,” says Jacob, my best friend and father of Ethan. Kallie, who left eight years ago when Savannah found out she was pregnant and said it was Jacob’s, stands beside him. When I learned the news, I was cut off at the knees. I was gutted and hollow, thinking that my best friend had slept with the only woman I have ever loved. I pretended to be supportive of them, but deep down inside, I died. A piece of me was gone forever.
“Really,” I say. Shaking my head, I walk around the big brown desk that belonged to my father for the past twenty-five years. And before that, it was my grandfather’s. Today was supposed to be a day I never forgot, and after this, it will be. Jacob and I would always sneak into this office and take a couple of swigs of the top-of-the-line whiskey my father kept in here. More than once, we got caught, but my father would just smile and walk back out of the room.
“Beau.” Casey says my name, and my eyes fly to his. Casey is Kallie’s brother and another one of my best friends. I look at everyone in the room and wonder if they all lied to me. Was it all a lie? Was everything a lie? “Sit down.”
I shake my head. “Imagine my surprise …” I start, my voice low so Savannah can hear me. She stands there watching me, her face wet from tears. “When I walked in here to take a drink with my best friends.” I swallow. “To take one shot of whiskey. Then my leg hits something on the desk, and the sound it made caused me to stop. But it would sound weird since the desk was one hundred years old. But when I bent down, this little box was under there. And if you look closely, you can see it is a hidden compartment.”
“Beau.” Savannah whispers my name, and my heart shatters in my chest.
“I had no idea what could be that confidential that he would have to lock it up this tight.” I laugh bitterly, looking down at the paper. “I flipped over a couple of things and then found this.” I hold up the paper being crumpled by my tight fist. “My brother is Ethan’s father.”
“No,” Jacob states loudly. “He’s my son.”
“Is he?” I ask, wondering how he could stand there after all he’s been through. He’s tolerated the judgmental looks from the townspeople for the past eight years. He heard all the whispers from everyone when Kallie left. He lost fucking Kallie, and he still takes Savannah’s side.
“I, Savannah Harrison, relinquish Liam Huntington from all parental duties.”
“I can explain,” she finally says. Sobbing, she puts her hand in front of her mouth. Ten minutes ago, I would have been the first one rushing to her side to hold her in my arms. I would have given her anything. But now I look at her, and I can’t give her anything.
“Explain this to me!” I shout at the top of my lungs, and it startles her. The music from outside at my party can be heard. A party my parents put together to honor me for being the third generation to fill the shoes of mayor. “Why you would sign this paper?”
Jacob steps forward to stand in front of me. “You need to calm down and let her explain,” he tells me. When I push him away from me, Casey now coming forward to make sure that nothing else happens. The anger radiates from me now, and I brush away my tears.
“You lied to me.” I point at Jacob and lean forward, hissing in his face. “Everything was a fucking lie.” My normal calm and cool demeanor is now out of the door. Suddenly feeling hot, I throw off my jacket. “This whole time, it was all a lie.” Laughing, I shake my head and loosen my tie. “What a fucking joke this was.”
“You need to stop talking right now.” Jacob has tears in his eyes, his chest rising and falling the whole time. “Seriously, you need to just stop.”
“Stop,” I growl. “After everything.” My hand grips the white paper even harder in my hand. “After standing there beside you all this time. Supportive, stupid Beau.”