“How did you get my number?” Sydney Williams dropped her purse on the chair.
Curiosity prevented her from hanging up on the other woman. It was no secret she couldn’t stand Laney, but she couldn’t help but wonder why she was calling her. “Look, I’m doing you a favor,” Laney said. “The least you can do is treat me with some respect.”
Syd’s interest turned to dread at Laney’s snide tone. The last “favor” from Laney had almost destroyed her relationship with Caden. It took months to get over the fact that he’d cheated on her while she was away at graduate school. She gripped her phone. “Laney, what the hell do you want?”
“I’ll just cut to the chase,” Laney sneered.
“Please do.” Something told Syd to have a seat, but she remained on her feet. Although the other woman couldn’t see her, she didn’t want to give even the slightest impression that she was affected by anything Laney had to say. “I don’t have all day.”
“If you think you’re going to be happy with Den, you’re fooling yourself.”
“What do you know about it?” Sydney asked with a snicker.
“Everything. I know that Den has been lying to you for months. He told you that you could trust him. That he’d never hurt you again. That he wanted to start fresh, confess everything…the random woman at a bar story…then he realized that he couldn’t live without you…couldn’t wait to make you his wife.”
Syd felt sick to her stomach as Laney droned on. The fact that this woman knew all of her business wasn’t the worst part. It was what she feared was coming next that was giving her fits.
“Sydney, did you hear me?” Laney called through the receiver.
She swallowed, then cleared her throat. “Just say what you need to say and stop wasting my time.”
“And I’ll bet you believed him, too.” Laney laughed, and the sound made Syd’s skin crawl. “The thing is, he may be ready to make you his wife, but he surely can’t keep that promise of never hurting you again, because I was the woman at the bar and it definitely wasn’t a random hook-up. We’ve been seeing each other for months now—at your house, in your bed.”
Closing her eyes, Syd barely flinched when the phone landed on her toes, then the carpeted floor, with a thump.
Allina rushed over to her. “What’s going on?”
“This can’t be happening,” Syd cried.
She vaguely felt Allina nudging her, heard her begging her to say something, anything. It seemed like everything was happening in slow motion. Over the last eight months, she’d spent thousands on the details, the plans, the invitations… Oh God, her family was coming. They’d purchased tickets and paid for hotel rooms. What would they think of her? How would she face them?
“Sydney!” Allina yelled, shaking her out of her thoughts. “What’s wrong?”
Syd wouldn’t bother calling Den to confirm Laney’s story. In her heart, she knew the other woman was telling the truth. She was sure it had happened just the way Laney described. And it wasn’t because Laney was such a truth teller. It was only because Den had lied to her more times than she cared to admit, more times than she ever told anyone. He’d promised her he was a changed man, but she knew change didn’t come easy to Den. She wanted to drive to his job and embarrass him in front of his employees, demand that he explain himself, order him to do something—anything—to make this seem less real, less devastating. Would there be anything he could say to justify this? Wasn’t it her fault for believing the lies, taking him back, and choosing to never hold him accountable every single time he’d hurt her? Yet, even as her heart seemed to split open and the pain crept into her bones, she couldn’t muster up any blame for the man that she loved. No, there was no one to blame but herself.
Blinking, Sydney zeroed in on her phone lying on the floor and picked it up. She didn’t bother checking to see if Laney was still on the line. She turned it off and tossed it into her purse.
“Do me a favor?” she asked Allina, grabbing her keys and heading toward the door. “Call Calisa. Tell her to cancel…everything.”
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Excerpted from The Forbidden Man by Elle Wright. Copyright © 2015 by Elle Wright. Excerpted by permission of Forever, Grand Central Publishing. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.