Dane yanked his cell phone out of his pocket and turned on the flashlight. The moon and the stars were out, but there wasn’t enough light on a night this dark. He pushed beyond the palm trees and stepped out onto the sand.
“Allyson!” he shouted.
The light from the flashlight bounced across the sand as he sped towards the ocean’s edge. Adrenaline pumping, he used the light of his phone to scan the inky black water for a sign of his wife. The thought of finding her hurt, or worse, made his temples throb.
There was a roar in his ears as he started racing up the beach, his eyes never leaving the water. Each time the waves ebbed away from the edge, a stabbing pain twisted through his gut. What if the water pulled away from the shore and revealed her body?
What if the reason she had been acting strangely was because she wanted to get away from him? What if she had tried to get away from him and ended up hurt?
His thoughts were insane, but he no longer cared. All that mattered was finding Allyson. He had almost lost her this year when she had been arrested. Dane refused to lose her now.
“Allyson, can you hear me?”
Plunging further into the darkness, Dane quickened his pace and rushed up the sand. If he kept this up, he would run out of his own beach soon and end up on someone else’s private property. Maybe she had gotten lost, wandered away from their property, and ended up on someone else’s beachfront. Dane didn’t know his neighbors very well, but if it came down to him having to trespass or intrude he would do it.
“Allyson!” He stopped in his tracks the moment he spotted her. There she was, speaking in hushed, conspiratorial tones, her cell phone pressed against her ear.
When the light of his cell phone hit her she jumped back, startled. She abruptly ended the call and shoved the phone back into her pocket.
Pulse racing and out of breath he demanded, “Where have you been all this time? Who were you just talking to?”
SHE HAD BEEN CAUGHT. Her heart froze. Struggling to find the right words, she licked her dry lips. “Dane—”
“Who were you talking to?” he repeated.
Allyson could see his intense gaze, even in the darkness. “I... it’s not important.”
His harsh tone made her mind race. Race with the right lie to tell him. If she could find a way out of this, maybe her husband wouldn’t suspect anything. Obviously, trying to be nonchalant wasn’t going to convince him. “Sorry, I meant that it’s nothing to worry about. I was just checking in with work.”
“At this hour?” he demanded, sounding skeptical.
“Some of the junior executives weren’t sure what to do now that they have to deal with the storm,” she replied. “It’s already started to snow, and it’s only going to get much worse tomorrow. I know you already instructed everyone to close Prescott for the next few days because of the storm, but I think some of the junior executives just wanted some last-minute reassurances. Prescott really is like a family, after all.”
Though it hadn’t been a complete lie, it still felt like poison on her tongue. Earlier today she really had checked in with work, sending and receiving texts from staff members. But that wasn’t who she was on the phone with when Dane found her.
This wasn’t who she wanted to be. She didn’t want to be the wife who told such bold-faced lies to her own husband. The last time she had told Dane such a huge lie was when she had agreed to let him take her place in prison during the whole crazy embezzlement scandal. Somehow this lie felt worse. Worse because someone other than her husband was in on the truth. At least partially anyway. Her assistant, Cameron, knew. So did the technician on the other end of her call.
Even in the darkness she could see the confused expression on his face. “That’s why you’ve been gone for so long?” he demanded. “You were checking up with Prescott executives?”