I couldn’t hear what he was saying, but I could tell from the deep sound of his voice he was worried and being bossy.

“I’m going to have to talk to them eventually,” she said.

“No, I haven’t . . . I know that . . . not your business . . . yes it will . . . just let me handle it . . . I know you are . . . I’ll call if I need you . . . promise . . . okay, love you, too. Bye.” She hung up the phone and let out a heavy sigh.

“I need some alone time to think. Do you mind if I take a bath and soak a little while?” she asked me.

I wanted to soak with her but I understood she wanted to deal with all this shit, and if I was with her we’d have tub sex.

“Go enjoy yourself. I’ll be right here if you get lonely,” I told her.

She grinned and pressed a kiss to my mouth. “Thank you.”

After this was over she would believe me when I told her I loved her. They wouldn’t be weak words. She would believe them because I would have shown her just how much I loved her. There would be no doubt in those big eyes that had hooked me the first time our gazes met.

I waited until the water was running and the bathroom door was firmly closed before I got up and went to look outside again. The crowd hadn’t waned any. It was still there, and so were the cops. This was bullshit. Why was a f**king rock star’s private life so damn important? My phone rang and I pulled it out of my pocket. It was Rush again.

“They’re still here,” I said.

“They will be until she talks to them. Not sure she needs to, though,” he said.


“Not going to let her.”

“You seen any of the news?” Rush’s tone bothered me. He knew something.

“No, why?”

“Stay away from it for right now. Give Harlow time.”

What was that supposed to mean?

“I’m keeping her from it.”

“You, too. Stay away from it. She needs you right now.”

“Yeah, of course.”

“Call if you need me,” Rush said and hung up.

I walked over to the counter and grabbed the television remote and turned the volume on low. Rush was hiding something, and I wanted to know what the f**k it was. If I was going to keep Harlow safe, I needed to know what from.


Idried off with a towel and walked into the bedroom to look for one of Grant’s T-shirts to wear. I didn’t have any clean clothes here. I was surprised he let me take that long a bath alone. I wouldn’t have minded him joining me after I got past the conversation I had with Mase.

He said I needed to tell Grant. They were showing pictures of me as a baby in Dad’s arms as he took me from the hospital all those years ago—when the miracle baby had lived. They were talking about how, when his wife was believed dead, he’d forgotten about the child, as did the world.

Pictures of me coming and going from his mansion in L.A. had also surfaced. People who went to school with me were being interviewed. I was now the world’s biggest sob story. My heart condition and my life were being broadcast to the world.

Grant would find out soon. I needed to tell him. I had congenital heart disease and should never have lived. I’d been defying every doctor’s prediction since I started walking at nine months old. My parents had been told I wouldn’t develop as quickly as other children my age.

The fact still remained that my heart was defective. Pregnancy would be impossible for me to handle. I took medication that I kept in my purse with me at all times. I didn’t drink alcohol. I ate healthily. I took care of myself. My grandmama had made sure to do everything she was told to do in order to keep me alive.

I took a deep breath. I had to tell Grant all this. I would be going to L.A. in two weeks to see my cardiologist and have a regular testing. He would tell me how I was, and I would hold my breath until I knew no surgery was needed at this time. I was defying the odds. I intended to keep doing that.

Opening the door, I stepped into the living room. Grant was sitting on the couch with the television remote in his hand as he stared straight ahead. I glanced in horror at the television, but it wasn’t on.

His blue eyes shifted to look at me, and I knew he had been watching it. The knowledge I had kept from him was there in his gaze. Hurt, betrayal, fear—it was all there.

“You know,” I said simply, and walked over to get my skirt, which was now folded and resting on top of a bar stool. I suddenly felt na**d and exposed.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” Grant asked, with such raw emotion in his voice I felt like crumpling to the ground and sobbing at the unfairness of it all. I had wanted to be the one to tell him.

“I never tell anyone. I hate being looked at like a broken person who people are afraid to get close to,” I replied, unable to look at him.

“I’m not just anyone, Harlow. You should have told me. You let me get close to you and care about you, yet you kept this huge secret to yourself.” He looked almost dazed. His eyes stared at me and the fear in them was obvious.

“I was going to tell you. I just didn’t know how. I was afraid to lose this . . . this thing we have.”

He dropped his head and sat there without speaking. I wasn’t sure if he was angry or if he was scared, too.

“I’m the same person you’ve always known. I just have a condition that has to be monitored. I needed to trust you before I told you about it.”

He lifted his head. Disbelief in his eyes. “Trust me? Trust me? You had to trust me to warn me that falling in love with you might be a dangerous thing to do? Can you see how unfair that is? I was terrified to let myself have feelings for you because I was haunted by the idea of losing you. It controlled me. Then, when I decided to let that go and do what my heart wanted . . .” He shook his head and let out a hard laugh. “All along you were sick and you never told me.”

Sick? I wasn’t sick! “That is the exact reason I don’t tell people. They treat me like I’m sick. I’m not sick. I’ve been sick and I know what that’s like, but I’m not sick now. And you think me not telling you is unfair? You know nothing about fair. There are a lot of things in life that aren’t fair, but protecting myself is fair. Wanting to live life and not be left out of it is not unfair.”

Grant stood up and shook his head. “You can’t just let people get close to you and not trust them with that kind of information. When were you going to tell me? When I fell in love with you? When I told you I loved you, were you going to say ‘Oh, yeah, I may not live for long.’” He paused as pain sliced through his features, and he looked away from me. “Was that your plan?” he asked with a hitch in his voice.

“NO! I was going to tell you now. I didn’t expect you. I didn’t expect this thing between us, but I wanted it. I wanted you.” Tears burned my eyes as I jerked my skirt on and looked around for my shoes. I had to leave. I would face the vultures out there. It was time anyway.

I hated seeing him like this. I hated seeing the fear in his eyes. Maybe I should have told him sooner. Maybe it was selfish of me to keep it a secret from him, but I already knew how things went once someone knew. I never would have known what it was like to have Grant. I didn’t regret that.

“I had been planning on telling you today. I sat in the bath going over how I would tell you. I knew it was time that you knew. I didn’t want you hearing it on television or from someone else.” Tears burned my eyes.

“You lied to me,” he said with his voice devoid of emotion. It was as if he were shutting down inside. It was how he was going to cope. He didn’t intend to fight for us and make this work. He was going to protect himself. That told me what I needed to know. He didn’t have to tell me it was over. I read that loud and clear.

I walked over to my phone and texted Rush.

I need you to come get me. I’m about to walk out into this and deal with them now, and then I’m going home. Please.

“What are you doing?” Grant asked as I slipped my phone back into my purse.

“I’m leaving. It’s time for me to go,” I replied, then picked up my shoes and slipped them on.

“You can’t leave.” He slammed his hand against the wall, “Fuck! Why didn’t you tell me? I need time to process this, Harlow. You can’t just leave.”

I walked over to him and stood in front of him. This was it for us, and when I looked back on this day I would always have regrets. But telling Grant the truth before I left was important to me. “Because you would have treated me differently. I didn’t want to see in your eyes what I knew would be there. I wanted to be near you. I wanted to know what it was like to have a guy want me. I wanted to live. My heart may not be whole, but it still beats. I’m still alive. Why should I live like I’m dead?”

I stood there and waited for him to respond. He said nothing. The emotions in his eyes as he stared back at me were too much to define. I knew he was hurt. I also knew he felt betrayed, and I hated that I had made him feel that way. But for once in my life I chose me. I wanted Grant Carter and his sweet-talking magic words. I let myself have him and forgot about the facts. Hearing him say I may not live long was like being slapped in the face. No one said that to me. Everyone who loved me talked about my life being long. They believed and had faith. Grant was already digging my grave. I couldn’t let myself be near someone who expected me to die young.

“Don’t go out there. Just give me a moment to process this. You just let me get close and didn’t prepare me for this. I don’t understand how the sweet, selfless Harlow I know could do this.”

I stopped as my hand touched the doorknob. His words hurt deeper than anything else. Maybe because I knew they were true. I had been wrong. I should have told him.

“Well, now you know. I’m not the kind of girl you plan forever with. At least you found out before your heart got involved,” I said.

“Can’t you at least see my side of this? Don’t walk out that door,” Grant said, taking a step toward me.

Staying any longer would just hurt worse. Grant would tell me good-bye. I was saving myself from that memory. It was one I could do without. I hadn’t told him that my heart was weak. I hadn’t warned him. I had let myself live. And now I would live with the fact he couldn’t forgive me for it. That he didn’t have the courage to love me anyway. I opened the door to walk out into the crowd. Flashes went off and people came running toward me.

“Miss Manning, are you seeing Grant Carter?” someone yelled, and I looked over as a camera was shoved in my face. Before I could think of an answer, someone else shouted, “Miss Manning, is your mother still alive?”

That was the question I had been prepared for, but I was pushed and I stumbled forward.

“Miss Manning, where is your father? Is he still in Paris?” another voice shouted at me. I couldn’t focus. There were too many of them. Too much.

“Miss Manning, can you tell us if you have seen your mother?”

“Did you know?”

“Have you been living in your father’s Beverly Hills mansion since the death of your grandmother?”

My head was spinning. Questions were yelled at me, and I could hardly see over the flashes of light in my face. I shouldn’t have come out here. I wasn’t going to be able to do this.

“Get the f**k off her.” Grant’s voice broke through the tunnel of people and voices. His hand closed around me and pulled me away, and he shoved me into a truck. At first I thought it was his. Then I saw Rush sitting in the driver’s seat.

“You okay?” he asked, his face hard as stone as he glared out at the people now calling out his name.

“Get her out of here,” Grant said without looking at me and closed the door.

Rush backed his truck up as I watched Grant walk back toward his condo. Not once did he look back at me.

“I’m sorry, Harlow,” Rush said.

“Me, too,” I replied. I couldn’t go back to Nan’s. I needed to leave all of this.

“Can you take me to the airport?” I asked him as I pulled my purse closer to me.

“Where are you going to go?” Rush asked.

“L.A., Texas, I don’t know. Dad needs me but I don’t know if he wants me. I could go to Mase, but I don’t want to take this insanity to his ranch.”

“Grant just needs time to deal. He’ll come around,” Rush said.

“No. That’s over. Things were said I’ll never forget. That chapter is closed.”

Rush didn’t reply as he pulled out onto the main road that led out of town.

“He’s just scared,” Rush said, defending him.

“I’m gone now. Nothing for him to be scared of,” I replied. “Could you get my things from Nan’s and ship them to the L.A. house?”

Rush let out a loud, defeated sigh. “Yeah, I can do that. So you’re going to L.A.?”

It was better for Mase if I did. “Yes, for now. I’ll hide out there and help deal with Dad.”

Rush nodded.

We drove in silence for a while. I tried to think about Dad and what he was dealing with. I didn’t let myself think about Grant. I couldn’t. I would break down on Rush, and he didn’t need to deal with that. I would have plenty of alone time once I got to L.A. Plenty of time to cry.

“I never knew,” Rush said quietly.

“I didn’t tell people. Dad didn’t either. After Mom’s accident, the world believed she was dead and they forgot about me. It was like I had died with her.”

Rush’s phone rang, and I hated how hope soared through me. Even if it was Grant, I couldn’t get over what he’d said.

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