Read Here Without You Online

Authors: Tammara Webber

Here Without You

Tammara Webber
HERE WITHOUT YOU
 
Contents
 

Chapter 1

 

Chapter 2

 

Chapter 3

 

Chapter 4

 

Chapter 5

 

Chapter 6

 

Chapter 7

 

Chapter 8

 

Chapter 9

 

Chapter 10

 

Chapter 11

 

Chapter 12

 

Chapter 13

 

Chapter 14

 

Chapter 15

 

Chapter 16

 

Chapter 17

 

Chapter 18

 

Chapter 19

 

Chapter 20

 

Chapter 21

 

Chapter 22

 

Chapter 23

 

Chapter 24

 

Chapter 25

 

Chapter 26

 

Chapter 27

 

Chapter 28

 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 

Tammara Webber is the author of
New York Times
and Amazon bestseller
Easy
, and four novels in the
Between the Lines
series. She is a hopeful romantic who adores novels with happy endings, because there are enough sad endings in real life. Before writing full-time, she was an undergraduate academic advisor, economics tutor, planetarium office manager, radiology call-centre rep and the palest person to ever work at a tanning salon. Tammara married her high-school sweetheart and is mom to three adult kids and four very immature cats.

Books by Tammara Webber
 

EASY

BETWEEN THE LINES

WHERE YOU ARE

GOOD FOR YOU

HERE WITHOUT YOU

To Charles
Who was the dad he didn’t have to be

1
 
REID
 

My girlfriend hasn’t told her parents about me.

It’s been a week, but we’re still a secret – hanging out but never going out, just like we did last fall. Despite my appreciation of how she’s willing to spend that time, I don’t want to be confined to my house with Dori. She’s like a new toy that I can’t show off – which was a dick thing to slip and say, but she just rolled her eyes at me for it.

As it is, John is the only friend I have who knows about my new relationship status, although my co-star on my last film – Chelsea Radin – smirked perceptively whenever she saw us together during the last few cast volunteer days at the Habitat house. I’m guessing
she
knows. Especially after she caught us emerging from an alcove on the side of the house, Dori’s ponytail loose and her face flushed, me wearing a shit-eating grin.

John and I are hanging courtside when he decides to bring up my clandestine affair, because his concern for timing is identical to his regard for tact – non-existent.

‘So when are you revealing this so-called
relationship
to the world already?’

The level of noise in Staples Center keeps our exchange confidential, but that doesn’t mean I want to discuss Dori in the middle of eighteen thousand people – never mind several hundred cameras broadcasting the game to millions more. Plus, he pronounces
relationship
in a tone most people reserve for
STD
. When I shoot him a look, he blinks innocently. I suspect this guise worked on his father for years before he figured out that John really was a next-generation version of himself.

‘What? Reid Alexander has a
girlfriend
.’ His voice dips at this last word – not like he’s obeying my gag order – more like this fact is too appalling to divulge at full volume.

I stare at the three-point shot, lined up and missed. We both curse.

‘It’s Perez-worthy news, bro! What’s with the containment?’

If John is waiting for my answer, he can fucking keep waiting.

Kobe gets penalized for travelling – which
never
happens – and I slump back in my seat, crossing my arms tightly over my chest. ‘
Shit
.’ That expletive defines my current feelings for the Lakers
and
Dori, both of whom I love, both of whom are pissing me off.

Elbowing me, John smirks. ‘C’mon, man, you know I’m the soul of discretion.’ Oddly enough, that’s true. When I don’t spill immediately, he starts guessing. ‘So it’s over? Is that it? Dude, I said it wouldn’t la–’

‘She hasn’t told her parents yet.’

From the corner of my eye, I watch him frown in confusion and peer at me like I’ve just spoken a foreign language and he’s waiting for the translation.

Staring at the game, I add, ‘I feel like I’m stuck in a fucking teen drama.’

John arches a brow. ‘Wait. You’re serious.
That’s
the reason? Because she hasn’t told her parents? I could line up a hundred girls who’d be jacked as hell to go out with you –
once
. You’ve made this girl your girlfriend, and she’s not telling everyone she knows?’

I shrug, but it stings when he puts it like that. Like I said – tact is not John’s thing.

He shakes his head. ‘Never thought I’d see the day some girl got Reid Alexander pussy-whipped –
Ow!
Dude!
’ Glaring, he rubs his arm where I punched him. ‘What is it about this girl that makes you so fucking
violent
?’

I laugh, because now we’re on the screen over centre court. Time to appear as if we’re screwing around rather than beginning a private brawl that would unseat the Lakers and the Jazz as tonight’s primary entertainment. ‘
Camera
.’

At that word, John switches gears and plays along with the horseplay ruse, shoving me back.

‘That was your last warning, man.’ My on-camera smile doesn’t conceal the sharp threat in my voice. ‘Don’t talk about her like that.’ He’s lucky I gave him a deep bicep bruise instead of rearranging his face.

‘I was talking about
you
,’ he growls in return, his fake smile mirroring mine.

BROOKE
 

‘Ms Cameron? Bethany Shank here. I’ve located him.’

I shouldn’t have answered her call in the middle of a pedicure, but when I saw her name pop up on the screen, my curiosity was overpowering. No way that was going to voicemail. When I hired a private investigator, I expected her to find my kid. I mean
duh
– of course I expected her to find him. Even so, this news floors the hell out of me. My heart is thrashing like I’m mainlining espresso.

‘That was … fast.’

The woman currently patting my feet dry is pretending she isn’t listening to my side of this conversation, and I wonder if she can hear the thundering slam of my heart.

‘Yes, well, I told you it would go quickly once you gave me the go-ahead to conduct the search.’

‘So what’s next?’
I’ve found him
. Despite my superficial confidence, my hands start to tremble. I wish I was at home, alone, so I could lie down or pace in circles – anything but sit here with my foot on some stranger’s knee, shaking like my mother’s inbred Pekinese, which pees if someone sneezes.

‘There’s a lot of sensitive information here. Too much to relay over the phone. Would you prefer to come by the office tomorrow, or would you prefer that I come to you?’

Okay … he’s four. How much information can there be?
He finally stopped wetting the bed. Throws an occasional shit-fit tantrum. Learned how to write his name in preschool. Has a normal life.
That last bit is all I care about: I just want
to hear that he has a normal life, so I can go back to mine in peace.

Part of me feels like a hundred kinds of idiot for doing this at all. Except that for months now, I’ve had a recurring nightmare about the baby I’d refused to see or hold before my attorney and the social worker transferred him to the adoptive parents. In the dream, I’m holding him and he’s staring up at me. And then he bursts into tears, crying like his heart is breaking, and I wake up buried in a landslide of guilt.

There’s no reason for me to feel guilty –
no reason
. Why the hell am I dreaming of him crying? And why do I wake up with tears on my face?

I just want closure, finally. Closure, and maybe a photo.

‘I assume he’s fine. Right?’

If she provides that one syllable of reassurance, I can stop here. If he’s
fine
, I don’t need details. A photo is probably a bad idea, even. I don’t really want to know if he looks more like me or Reid.

‘It would be best for us to meet in person. I’ll just transfer you to my admin to set up an appointment.’ Bethany Shank is all detached and impersonal – typical for her. But her clipped demeanour is more grating – and alarming – than usual. There’s a small thread of something unsaid, and I can’t help but tug at it.

‘Is something wrong?’

There’s an unexpected pause in place of the quick denial I expected, and suddenly I need privacy. Like
now
. I direct a scowl towards the pedicurist’s head – because how goddamned long does it take to dry a
foot
for chrissake?

Glancing up as though she feels my eyes bore into her, she blanches.

I slide my fingers over the phone. ‘Could you give me a moment?
Thanks
.’

Once she shuffles away, I ask Bethany Shank to repeat herself.

‘I’d advise an office meeting for this exchange, Ms Cameron.’ Her keyboard clicks in the background. ‘I believe I have an open spot tomorrow afternoon at three …’

I don’t like this at all. She’s not answering my question, which means there
is
something wrong. Now my brain is off on a new loop:
mental disability … terminal illness … dead
?

‘No. Today. And come to my apartment.’

My PI sighs into the phone as though I give a shit that I’ve just disturbed her Very Important Schedule. I wait, silent, until she concedes defeat. ‘I won’t be free until seven this evening –’

‘Seven’s fine. I’ll see you then.’

She’s mid-sigh when I click off. If I wasn’t in the middle of a Beverly Hills spa with the nosiest pedicurist on the planet, I’d have forced her to tell me what the hell she found out right
now
instead of having to wait three hours.

‘Ready for the oil massage?’ The pedicurist returns, a little cowed.

‘Sure. But I changed my mind about the French tips. French tips are for summer. It’s almost February. I want red.
Blood
red.’

She nods. ‘Yes, of course, Ms Cameron.’

Other books

A Taste of Submission by Jamie Fairfax
0.5 Deadly Hearts by SM Reine
Corsican Death by Marc Olden
Anything For You by Sarah Mayberry
Twin Passions: 3 by Lora Leigh
Calamity and Other Stories by Daphne Kalotay