Thief (Love Me With Lies #3)
Author:Fisher, Tarryn

She nods.

 

Eight months, one week, that’s how long it has been since she spent the night at my place for the first time. Acissej — it doesn’t really roll off the tongue like some of them do. What she just said feels strange, but I can’t pinpoint why. Maybe it’s time to move in together. I climb into my car and put the AC on full blast. She likes my facial hair. Leah wouldn’t tolerate facial hair. She said it chaffed her face. When she used the word “chaffed” I wanted to divorce her. Or maybe I just always wanted to divorce her. When I think about Leah, I feel sick. Not because of her — she has very little power over me anymore. It’s that little girl.

 

I pull my thoughts away from that. When I get to work, my mother is at the office, visiting Steve.

 

“He’s never home anymore, and you hardly come to visit,” she says, hugging me. “I have to come here to see my two boys.”

 

She doesn’t mention my brother. She’s just as pissed at him as I am for sleeping with my ex-wife. Leah dropped that little bomb on me the same night she told me I wasn’t a father. I’d be lying if I hadn’t thought a million times over that Estella might be his. That hurts the most.

 

“How’s Jessica?” my mother asks.

 

I half smile and sort through the papers on my desk. She has taken a seat in my office, so I know she’s here to chat. If I don’t give her something, she won’t go away.

 

“She told me she loved me this morning.”

 

“Well, did you say it back?”

 

“No.”

 

She’s quiet for a few minutes.

 

“I really liked Leah,” she says. “When you lost your memory, she really just stuck with you. As a mother, I appreciated that.” She sighs. “But, I know you still love that girl.”

 

My turn to sigh.

 

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. And even if I did, I wouldn’t want to talk about it. So talk about something else. How are your roses?”

 

“Don’t even,” she says. “Jessica is great, Caleb. Really, she is. But, she wants a commitment. You do know that, don’t you?”

 

“Yes.”

 

“Do you want to be married again? Have … children?”

 

I flinch.

 

“Not really.”

 

“You can’t let one woman steal who you are.”

 

I appreciate my mother, I do. But, she has no idea what she’s talking about. My heart is still broken. I’m trying to figure out how to live without what I really want. That includes letting go of old dreams and making some new ones. I think, anyway.

 

“I don’t want those things anymore,” I say firmly.

 

“I saw Estella.”

 

I freeze.

 

“What?”

 

“At the mall. I ran into Leah and she was with her.”

 

I’m quiet. I don’t know what to say. How is she? Was she talking? What does she look like?

 

I run a hand across the back of my neck and stare at the armrest on her chair.

 

“She was my granddaughter. I love her.” Her voice drops off at the end, and for the first time, I consider my mother’s feelings in all of this. She lost Estella too.

 

“She’s yours, Caleb. I feel it.”

 

“Mother, stop it…”

 

“No, I won’t. You get a paternity test. There is something not right.”

 

I stop what I’m doing and sit down. “Why would she lie to me about that? She loses child support, babysitting, and claim on me, by lying.”

 

“Oh, Caleb. Leah is the type of girl who values revenge more than practicality.”

 

I get goose bumps. Honest to God.

 

I shake my head. “You want that to be true. I do too. But, it’s not. There is a good chance she is your grandchild. Talk to your son.”

 

She pulls her mouth tight. It makes her look older.

 

“Just think about it,” she says. “If she refuses, you can get the court to order one.” She leans forward. “Caleb, she has your nose.”

 

“Fuck. Okay, we’re done here.” I never curse in front of her. I stand up and walk her to the door. Before I push her out, I kiss her on the cheek. “You’re a good mother. But, I’m a grown up. Go meddle in Seth’s life.”

 

She smiles, pats my cheek and looks more worried than before.

 

“Goodbye, my son.”

 

 

 

 

 

I had her. It wasn’t a firm grip, but I finally had her. We fell into a relationship easily. The day-to-day routine was light and airy. We played, we kissed, we talked for hours about things that mattered and things that didn’t. I could never predict what she was going to say next. I liked that. She was so different from the girls I was used to. Even Jessica — who was the closest thing I’d come to falling in love — had never elicited the feelings from me that Olivia did.

 

There was one day in particular when we were talking about how many kids we wanted — or maybe I was talking about it. Olivia shied away from the future.

 

“Five — I want five.”

 

She raised an eyebrow and crinkled her nose. “That’s too many. What if your wife doesn’t want that many?”

 

We had taken a drive to the beach and were lying on a blanket pretending to look at the stars, but mostly we were looking at each other.

 

“I guess you and I can come to a compromise.”

 

She started blinking rapidly as if something had flown in her eye.