Heartbroken Hero (Falling for the Stars #7) - Jeannine Colette

CHAPTER ONE

“Similar to the Paul Manafort tax scandal of 2018—”

I change the radio station as I cruise down I-95, heading south and far away from Manhattan. With every mile, I’m distancing myself from my life, my family, and the headlines of my father’s betrayal.

“Big news out of New York. Political consultant and attorney Carl Darnell has been indicted in a major case of stock and securities fraud. In what is another—”

“Don’t you have anything else to talk about?” I shout into my empty BMW.

I turn the radio off completely and drive in silence.

It’s been two weeks since news broke that my father is being indicted on eighteen criminal charges, including falsification of income tax returns and bank fraud. My first reaction was disbelief. The kindhearted man who had taught me how to ride a bike and sat in the front row for my school plays was not the kind to steal money from the government.

Apparently, I was wrong.

He left a trail of deceit that impacted the life of his partners, his friends, and his daughter.

I look over at the large portfolio that sits on the passenger seat. It holds the documents to my trust fund that was financed by my father. Twenty million dollars sits in a bank account in Guernsey. Before today, only three people knew the account existed. Now, it’s four.

My cell phone lights up with a call from my best friend, Robin. I turn the radio back on and let the Bluetooth connect us.

“You know I’m only answering for you, right?” I’ve been avoiding calls all morning.

“Sophie Darnell, did you really just skip town during the biggest financial investigation of the decade?” she squeals on the other end.

I take a deep breath. My hands grip the steering wheel so hard that I’m leaving indents in the leather. I’ve spent the past nine hours doing nothing but thinking about the scandal. Hell, I’ve spent the past fourteen days obsessing over it. Last night, when I found out about the trust fund, it was my breaking point. I threw a handful of clothes in a suitcase and drove down Park Avenue without a destination in mind.

“I had to get out of there. Between the reporters lingering outside my door, my mother breathing down my neck, and the lawyers constantly telling me what not to say … I couldn’t stay. The detectives know where to find me.”

“What about your clients?” she asks.

I let out a sarcastic laugh. “What clients? Once word got out that Sophie Darnell, corporate accountant at Mercer Financials, was the daughter of the man on the cover of every paper, they threatened to move their money unless they had new representation. My boss put me on temporary leave until further notice. That’s just the nice way of saying, We’d fire you if we could, but we can’t.”

“That’s horrible. I heard your father’s firm closed too.”

“Every file was turned over to the federal government. Darnell Litigation is gone.” Even as I say the words, they don’t seem real.

“Joshua has been calling everyone, asking where you went. You have to call your boyfriend and let him know you’re safe.”

I pull on the collar of my Yves Saint Laurent blouse. The air is blasting, yet I feel warm and claustrophobic. “I told him I need space.”

“Because of the investigation?” she asks slowly and with an air of skepticism.

“Yeah,” I answer even though it’s a lie.

The truth is, I’ve been having doubts about Joshua for a while. My parents have been pushing me toward him for years. He’s handsome and educated, and he holds a seat on the stock exchange. His family is worth ten times what mine is.

Well, now, it’s more, like, a hundred times.

Eyeing the portfolio on my seat, I try to think about what the future of my family’s lifestyle means. The penthouse, the house in the Hamptons, trips to Europe, and expensive cars are soon to be a thing of the past … unless I make the “right” decision.

I push down on the gas and cruise the interstate, weaving in and out of cars as more frustration fills my mind.

I need silence right now.

“Listen, I’m about to stop and grab something to eat. I’ll call you later.”

“Where exactly are you going?” she pries.

“I don’t know, but I’ll call you when I get there.” I hang up the phone and put it on Airplane mode.

I pass a blue sign that reads Smiling Faces. Beautiful Places. Welcome to South Carolina. Another sign alerts me to being forty miles from Myrtle