Shade's Fall

Page 28


“Sweetheart, I’m not selling your home,” Beth said firmly.
“It’s not my home; it’s your home. You worked and paid off our parents’ debt. You’ve paid for this house. It’s yours.”
“It’s ours.”
Lily shook her head, getting to her feet. “I don’t have a home.”
“Are you deliberately trying to hurt her?” Razer snapped.
“I’m not trying to hurt Beth, Razer. I’m trying to set her free.”
Lily went upstairs, leaving the couple staring at each other.
When she came back down later to study, Beth and Razer were still home despite Lily’s protests. She made herself stay downstairs, studying at the kitchen table. She didn’t want them to feel like she was avoiding them.
She had trouble concentrating, thinking about Shade at the clubhouse. She was constantly flipping the band on her wrist when her thoughts would inadvertently go to him.
Finally giving up, she said goodnight and went to bed.
The next morning she was dressed and gone before Razer and Beth could wake. She left a note that said she was going to the church.
She got there early enough that Rachel hadn’t arrived yet. Lily felt guilty seeing that Rachel had made good progress on sorting through the donations without her.
She started going through several boxes, managing to empty several before she heard Rachel coming in the door.
“Well, hello, Lily.”
“Hi, Rachel.” Lily smiled without her usual warmth.
“I’m glad you’re here. I don’t mind the work, but it’s not fun talking to myself.”
“I’m sorry I left you in a lurch. I should have told Pastor Dean and made arrangements for someone to replace me.”
Rachel looked at her curiously. “Beth said you went back to school and she offered to help, but I told her no. She keeps busy enough. Pastor Dean offered to find someone else, but I was too afraid of who he would replace you with.” Rachel shuddered in mock horror.
Lily couldn’t blame her; some of the women from the church would be hard to be around for several hours at a time.
“Well, I’m here today,” Lily said, trying to infuse enthusiasm in her voice.
They worked steadily for the next few hours before going to the diner for lunch. They returned to work again after the short break.
“How’s school going?”
“Good,” Lily replied, opening a box of clothing.
“I thought you had decided to stay home your last semester?”
“I changed my mind,” Lily replied.
“Did you and Beth get in a fight?” Rachel asked in surprise.
“Not exactly.”

“I’m sorry. It seems I’m always prying. I need to learn to mind my own business.”
“You’re not prying. I just decided to stay at school and give Razer and Beth the alone time they need. I’m sure it gets old having me around all the time.” Sometimes the truth was the hardest thing to take when it involved oneself.
“I don’t think Beth feels that way at all. She misses you when you’re gone. I saw her last week and she looked terrible, and you don’t look much better. I can tell you’ve lost weight.” Rachel’s concern for both sisters was evident.
“I’ll adjust.” Lily shrugged off her own feelings.
Beth had a whole clubhouse of friends and a husband. She was better off without Lily being so dependent on her time and finances.
“I’m sure you will,” Rachel said doubtfully then went on to talk about how she could use some space from her brothers. “I want to get an apartment in town, but they keep putting me off.”
Rachel’s brothers were very protective of her.
“I don’t suppose you would take one off my hands,” Rachel pleaded. “All three are still single,” she reminded Lily.
Lily laughed, shaking her head.
“Oh, well, I like Holly. Maybe I can convince her.”
They spent the rest of the afternoon plotting matches for her three brothers as they steadily sorted through the boxes.
Lily was taking a drink of water when Rachel came up with a surprising choice.
“Miranda’s sister’s divorce became final. I can see her with Greer.”
Lily choked on her water and Rachel patted her on the back.
“I think Kaley is seeing someone,” Lily told her.
“Darn. Who’s she seeing?”
“One of The Last Riders,” Lily answered, wishing Rachel would drop the conversation.
“Really? Which one?”
It was everything Lily could do not to say all of them; instead, she said the ladylike thing. “I’m not sure which one.”
“Maybe it’s not serious?”
“I think it’s pretty serious,” Lily said between gritted teeth.
“Oh, well. How about…”
Lily zoned out, losing track of the conversation as her mind played out visions of Shade and Kaley together.
“Lily, are you all right? You just went as white as a ghost,” Rachel asked, stretching out to touch her arm.
“I’m fine.” Reaching down, she picked up a box, moving away before Rachel could touch her.
At the end of the day, Lily told Rachel she would see her next week then walked home, refusing Rachel’s offer of a ride.
She had just begun to cross the street to get to her block when a loud screech of tires sounded and Lily froze as a black car sped toward her. The next second, she went flying when a person pushed her out of the way. She lay on the pavement with the wind knocked out of her, her palms and knees burning. She turned to see the car speeding down the street then turning another corner.
“Motherfucker.” Lily looked up in shock at the profanity coming from the man who had saved her life.
“Are you all right, Lily?” Pastor Dean’s voice didn’t sound like it did on Sundays in church, nor was the harsh expression the same affable one that she was used to seeing.
“I think so.” Lily took his hand, getting shakily to her feet. He then helped her to the sidewalk after picking up her purse from the middle of the road.
“Whoever was in that car was going so fast I didn’t even see them when I started to cross the street,” Lily said, brushing her messed-up hair out of her face.
“That’s because they were parked,” Pastor Dean replied grimly. “I was coming out of Mr. Isaac’s house when I saw the car wasn’t going to stop.”
“Maybe their brakes malfunctioned?”
“No. I saw the brake lights come on when they slowed down to make the corner.”
“I’m sure it was just someone out joy-riding then. Anyway, it doesn’t matter. It’s over now and no one’s hurt.”
“Your hands and knees look pretty busted up,” Pastor Dean refuted her claim.
“I’ll go home and put some antiseptic on them,” Lily promised, reaching out to touch his jacket with her fingertips, not wanting to get blood on him.
“Thank you. If you hadn’t reacted so fast, it could have been much worse.”
“That’s what I’m worried about,” Pastor Dean said, his eyes still searching the empty street.
“Don’t be. Accidents happen, and they always manage to find me,” Lily said ruefully.