Dare To Play (Dare Nation #3) - Carly Phillips Page 0,1

only for her to take off on her once again. The less time she was exposed to Lilah, the better.

“It’s okay, honey, I can stay at the hotel.” Lilah sighed dramatically.

Ignoring the guilt Lilah tried to lay on, Macy smiled. “Good. Now that that’s settled–”

Hannah pushed back her chair and rose to her feet. “You’re such a–”

“Watch it,” Macy said before Hannah could finish her sentence. “Don’t be rude to me. Now I think we should order dinner.” Gritting her teeth, she turned to Lilah. “Would you like to stay?”

She shook her head, and her brunette hair highlighted with blonde swept beneath her cheeks. Lilah rose to her feet and gathered her Chanel tote, which must have cost four thousand dollars easily, and smiled. “I wish I could but I have a date.” As she stepped around the table, Macy took in her obviously designer outfit and shoes.

So she was divorced again and hunting. And here playing up to Hannah. Why?

“Come walk me out,” Lilah said to Macy, her tone not boding well.

Macy waited for Hannah to say goodbye to her mother, glare at Macy, and storm off to her room before turning to her ex-stepmother. “Okay, cut the sweetness-and-light act. Why are you back? It can’t be for Hannah since you haven’t bothered with her since you left.”

Lilah straightened her shoulders, her attitude turning into the real bitch of a woman beneath the fake nice façade. “Because she’s my daughter. When I left, I knew your father would take good care of her when I couldn’t–”

“Wouldn’t,” Macy corrected her.

Lilah pursed her lips. “Listen, she’s my child. Her father died, and I needed to wrap up a few things before I could come back for her, but I’m here now.”

Bullshit, Macy thought. “Nobody heard from you after Dad passed away. You didn’t even come to the funeral or extend condolences. I’m not buying this act. I don’t know what your angle is, but I know you have one.”

Lilah’s cheeks flushed red. “It’s no act. I plan to take care of my girl.”

“Good luck. I have custody. You signed it over to Dad, and I’m her legal guardian now that he’s gone.”

“Something a court can easily overturn.” Lilah had started for the door, then turned back to face Macy. “It’s not like you’re doing a decent job parenting. Not only was she alone, she told me she’s grounded for no good reason, that you’re strict and difficult. She’s mine and I plan on getting custody.” On that note, Lilah walked out the door without looking back.

Macy’s heart pounded inside her chest, fear and concern filling her at the thought of losing the sister she loved and the only family she had left. Macy’s mother had died from ovarian cancer when Macy was six, and it had just been her and her dad. True, he’d dated like crazy, hating the idea of being alone, but he’d loved Macy and been a great dad.

Life had been good until the stepmother from hell arrived when Macy had turned thirteen. Her teenage years had been a nightmare with Lilah picking on her to be perfect, but Macy had managed. And when Lilah had disappeared, Macy was there for Hannah.

At twenty-eight years old, Macy had moved into her own apartment a few years ago, and though she’d helped her father with her half sister, Macy had had a life of her own. But when it became clear her father couldn’t handle raising Hannah alone, Macy had moved back into her childhood house, a patio home in a residential neighborhood just north of Miami. With her father gone for eight months now, killed in a car accident, it was just Hannah and Macy.

She’d all but raised her sister, and she had no intention of losing custody to a woman who didn’t know how to be a parent.

* * *

Although Macy hadn’t slept well because Lilah’s threat to take Hannah stayed with her, she pushed herself to go to Damon and Evie’s twilight wedding that evening. She dropped Hannah at a friend’s for the night and headed over to Damon’s mother’s house.

She placed her present on the gift table, picked up a glass of champagne, and because Damon’s sister, Brianne, Macy’s friend and the connection that had brought her to this party in the first place, was upstairs with the bridesmaids, Macy wandered around by herself. She glanced out the windows, the flowers and white arch for the ceremony a beautiful sight.

When everyone made their way outside, she