Chapter 23

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Zach was riding in a separate vehicle with his parents and Liam. He didn’t see Julianne since last night and he was dying to get her alone to know exactly what was on her mind. He was very well aware that she was bothered about something.

“I hope Kim is alright,” his mother said from the back.

“She’s gonna be fine,” he answered, driving the four wheel drive along the cemented road toward the orphanage. It was one of the only few concrete road in the area. “The other crew members were left behind and she’ll be fine.”

“Wonder why Jack didn’t come along,” Liam uttered beside him with a frown. Liam had grown fond of the man since they started talking last night.

He didn’t try to answer that one. One, because he didn’t care what Jack Carter was doing with Kim right now, and second, he was pissed with his friend. He was supposed to be away and long gone by now. Sure, his parents were welcome to visit and it would be beneficial for him that they would like Julianne more than her mother already did. But what he couldn’t figure out was why Liam was still clinging to him to the point of being a nuisance. The secret knowing glances he threw him brought him on edge. The bet was what brought his friend here and he was here to assess. Liam was good at assessment since he works with Astor Industries as a consultant apart from being a shareholder.

“Dad,” he called out, calling the attention of the old man sitting beside his mother. He tried to sound casual as he asked, “You talked with Julianne last night, didn’t you? What about?”

He looked through the rearview mirror to see his father’s face. “Nothing.”

“It’s definitely nothing,” he uttered matter-of-factly. “What did you tell her?”

His dad knew he could read his mind. They think alike despite their differences. “I warned her, okay?” his father finally sighed out.

“You did what?” he boomed, screeching the vehicle to a stop.

“What did you do?” her mother demanded at her husband.

Liam just looked on the family scene with amusement.

“What?” his father looked at all of them in disbelief and shock. “I warned her to keep her guard up.” Then he looked at his son with accusation on his face. “I know you very well, Zachary. You might say you like that woman, but I know you.”

“What did you tell her?” his mother demanded, her face ashen. “I can’t believe you would actually—”

“What did you tell her, dad?” Zach cut in, trying to keep his cool. He had turned around to face his parents.

“I told her that I know you very well and that what you might think you believe might not actually be true,” his father answered, his gaze leveled with his son’s.

His mother gasped.

A very long deadly silence followed as father and son glared at each other.

“I think we better drive on, Zach,” Liam uttered, clearing his throat.

Zach thought that was a good idea and maneuvered the wheels back on the road. His jaw clenched. “We’re not done talking, dad,” he stated.

His father did not answer.

They drove on in silence.

 *****

Julianne’s hands were sweating as they entered the gates of House of Angels Orphanage. She was starting to shake and she fought the fear and the memories that started to creep up inside her. The ladies in the van with her were quiet too, their faces curious as they looked out the window at the white edifice before them. The windows were large, the curtains covering them plain and dark. Julianne tried to do some breathing exercises to relax her nerves.

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