“Son of a bitch. Say it ain’t so. Is it really you?”
“Whether or not you can help me?”
“And why would I want to do that? I haven’t seen you in ten years. I assumed you died a long time ago.”
“Because I can hand-deliver your mole and the person who helped me escape.”
“We should go catch the rerun of Breaking Dawn. It’s showing in the old theater tonight.”
“Why the hell would I do that?” Sheldon stopped in her tracks to snarl at Willow, who rolled her eyes. Sheldon hated any and everything to do with a chick flick. Give her the guns, explosions and raging muscles. She said she tolerated them because Keenan secretly liked them, but he would put on a front when around the guys.
“Because vampires are cool?”
“Not cool enough to make me watch that movie.”
“Oh, come on. I went to see the freaking Expendables with you last week!”
“Um, excuse me?” I interrupted their bickering for what seemed like the hundredth time today. Willow and Sheldon often fought like a couple who had been married for fifty years. When they each turned wide eyes on me, I popped my hand on my hip, unleashing my attitude on them. “You guys went to see a movie without me?”
“Was there any particular reason why you guys went without me?”
“Well, you were kind of…”
“Kind of what?” My voice rose on the last word as I stared them down and watched them squirm.
“Pouting,” Willow finished and Sheldon nodded her agreement. Just as I was about to argue, I heard my name being called. I turned to find Detective Daniels and his partner, Detective Wilson, approaching with solemn looks on their faces.
“Good afternoon, Detectives,” I greeted while regarding them curiously. Sheldon and Willow wore deep frowns as they looked from the detectives to me. I guess not telling them I had turned Keiran in would make this encounter awkward.
“We need to talk,” Detective Daniels ordered without greeting. His grim expression immediately raised flags. Whatever it was couldn’t be good.
“Lake, what’s going on,” Sheldon asked absently while looking the detectives up and down.
“Could you give us a minute?” Sheldon turned sharp eyes on me when I ignored her question. I looked to Willow for help. She hesitated before tugging on Sheldon’s arm.
When they were out of earshot, I rounded on the detectives and started in on them. “What are you doing showing up at my school?” I stressed in an angry whisper.
“We have a problem,” Detective Wilson spoke up.
“What could it possibly be?” Across the parking lot, I noticed Sheldon and Willow staring at us unwaveringly. “You could have called me or—”
“He was released.”
Time standing still. Thick, heavy, air. Reeling mind. World crashing. I couldn’t figure out which was harder to deal with.
“…I’m coming for you, Lake… Are you ready for me?”
Had it really only been a week since I spoke with him?
I swallowed hard to find my voice. “What do you mean he was released? How could he have been released? We didn’t even go to trial!”
Breathe, Lake. Breathe.
“Miss Monroe, we are as baffled as you are. I assure you this wasn’t our call.”
“Then there has to be some kind of mistake. Can’t you just arrest him again? What am I supposed to do?” I rambled, and screamed and fussed, never letting the detectives get a word into the conversation. Frankly, they’d said enough. “He knows I turned him in. Do you understand that?” I pulled my jacket closer to me to fight the frigid November air and looked around.
“Yes, that’s our biggest concern at this point. Apparently, from your reaction, he hasn’t tried to make contact with you.”
“No, I—” I stopped when the detectives cast nervous looks at each other. “When was he released?”
“Three days ago.”
“Three days ago!” I spoke with him four days ago. “Why am I just finding out? You said if I testified, I would be safe. My aunt doesn’t know anything about this. She’s in just as much danger.” My fingers clutched at the strands of my hair and dug in, but I never felt any of it. “I never should have—oh, God.”
“We can have you and your aunt placed under witness protection. You will be under surveillance. He isn’t allowed to approach you under any circumstances…”
The detective’s words drowned out as I felt a chill run down my back. It could have been the wind, but I knew better. I discreetly looked around, feigning anger, which wasn’t hard to do. I didn’t see anything suspicious, but I knew he was there…
“It’s too late,” I whispered, feeling the impending doom of his arrival wash over me.
I just fucking know it.
“We can still keep you safe.”
“But not forever. So this isn’t going to trial?”
“He was only released on bail, but he will still be tried.”
“That isn’t enough!” I shrieked. “He kidnapped two people and murdered them!”
“Lake, this was above our pay grade, but I want you to know we aren’t letting this go. The son of a bitch isn’t going to walk away.”