Without thinking about it, I reached out and tapped the touchscreen again, letting Cade’s voicemail play through a second time. I stared at Adelle’s phone, unable to bring myself to look at my friend. Not that it mattered. I knew she wasn’t looking at me. She hadn’t been able to since I’d taken her phone. The fact that she was acting embarrassed was proof that she knew she had been caught.

It wasn’t that I didn’t think Cade had other clients. And it wasn’t because I thought Adelle shouldn’t hire an escort. I couldn’t exactly judge her for that. I even knew and was pretty much okay knowing that Adelle had probably used Cade’s services in the past. Getting mad at her for having fucked him before would’ve been as useless as getting angry at anyone for their previous relationships.

No, it was because she’d scheduled a session with Cade just two days after he and I had been together. And she’d done it knowing he was my mystery savior, the man I couldn’t get out of my head. She’d done it following my devastation from learning he’d slept with me out of contract instead of desire. I’d gotten past that. I’d forgiven her. I’d placed our friendship as more important. But considering how her deceit involving Cade had nearly destroyed our relationship, I couldn’t believe she’d involved him again. That was the part that really left me stunned.

The thing about this entire situation that hurt me the most had nothing to do with Cade. It had been how my friends viewed me, how little they truly knew me. Adelle, who I’d known as long as I could remember, hadn’t been able to understand why I’d been furious with her for hiring a prostitute without telling me. And now, it seemed like she understood what she was doing would hurt me, but she didn’t care.

As the message ended for the second time, I stood. I pushed her phone across the table. “I’ll be going.” My voice was harsh. “I don’t want to keep you from getting together all your little toys for your session with Cade.”

She opened her mouth but I didn’t want to hear anything she had to say. Apology. Excuse. Angry retort. I was through listening to her shit.

“Feel free to schedule a few more sessions this week. You’ll both have plenty of free time. I’m done.” She called my name, but I ignored her and hurried down the hall and out the door.

As I got into my car, I was glad I’d driven instead of letting Adelle send a car to pick me up like she’d wanted to. I just wanted to get away as quickly as possible. My tires screeched a bit as I drove down the driveway and I kept the speedometer rising even as I turned onto the road. My heart was pounding, my head chaotic, and there was still one more thing I needed to do. I waited until I was at least a mile from Adelle’s house before I pulled into a store parking lot. This wasn’t the kind of call I wanted to make while I was driving, and if I waited until I got back home, I’d either lose my nerve, or Adelle would’ve interfered. There was still a good chance I wouldn’t be able to avoid that as it was.

I pulled out my phone and made the call. I was torn between wanting it to go to voicemail so I could avoid what I knew was going to be an awkward conversation and hoping Cade picked up so he could tell me it was all a horrible misunderstanding.

I scowled. It was that kind of thinking that made me need Cade in the first place. I tried too hard for the romance, for the emotional connection. I was blinded by how I felt. That had been why I hadn’t seen what had been going on between Ronald and the wedding coordinator before they ran off together. There was no misunderstanding this situation. Adelle had hired Cade to do his job. That was it.

I tapped Cade’s phone number and closed my eyes as it rang. I had tears in my eyes and desperately didn’t want to cry or sound as if I was. This part was a business decision, nothing more. I breathed a sigh of relief when it went to voicemail. I hoped it meant Adelle was talking to him already. She could explain what happened so he’d understand my message.

I kept it short and professional. “Cade, I don’t believe I can continue with our arrangement. I’m sorry for any inconvenience this may cause or disruption to your work schedule. I wish you all the best.”

It wasn’t until I hung up that I realized I hadn’t said my name. I assumed he’d recognize my voice. Knowing he might not realize who I was broke the last of my resolve not to cry. My face crumbled and with a sob that torn through my soul, I put my face in my hands and let go.

Casual Encounter Vol. III

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