I left her side to retrieve the medium sized, designer bag that was strewn on the floor. When she had come home, I took her by surprise and managed to restrain her with little fight, but not before she had tossed her purse at me.
To be honest, I hated it. It was hard being victimized in your own home, but it was just as hard to be the aggressor when you didn’t want to be. I wasn’t by any stretch of the imagination a psychopath. I didn’t enjoy stalking and terrorizing but I did what any person would do when threatened. I retaliated.
I grabbed the envelope from her purse, and instead of ripping into it immediately, I eyed her up and down. There was something I needed to say before I saw whatever it was in there that had her convinced I had killed her daughter.
“I’m sorry you lost your daughter.”
It was the most I was willing to give her. Saying that I regretted her daughter was dead would be a lie. Anya chose to be a part of a very sinister plan against Monroe and she lost.
Mrs. Risdell’s face was masked in confusion before she seemed to catch on. She didn’t nod or acknowledge what I had said as she continued to stare. It didn’t matter. I wasn’t here to make amends. I needed to save my ass.
I opened the envelope and ripped out the only thing inside.
A fucking sympathy card that read ‘Sorry For Your Loss’ on the front in colorful cursive print. I flipped open the card and almost swallowed my tongue.
A picture—with enough evidence to put more than just me away for a long time—was inside. The edges of the card crumbled under my tight grip when thick bold writing on the inside caught my eye:
* * *
I’d left her house as silently as I had come. Twenty minutes later, I was sitting in the hospital parking lot, unsuccessfully beating down panic and the feeling of failure.
A game plan was needed fast. Dash was on speed dial, so in less than ten seconds, I had him on the line. “Dash, we need to meet.”
His voice was full of sleep when he growled, “What? Right now?”
“What do you think man?”
“The hospital. I’m already here.”
I hung up the phone and peered down at the photo again, studying it, and hoping it might change and that I hadn’t royally screwed up. I had the good sense to know when I was fucked, but now I’d made the mistake of bringing my friends down with me.
I waited outside for Dash to arrive, and less than twenty minutes later, he pulled up wearing a grim expression and with bed mussed hair. Lately, his attitude had been worse than a bear with a thorn in his paw and a certain voluptuous redhead had everything to do with it.
“What was so important I needed to be out here at one in the morning?”
“She still isn’t talking to you?”
“I don’t want to talk about her. She’s nothing to me.”
“You don’t act like it.”
“Look, I did what you asked, and now I moved on from it. You got whatever the hell it was you needed out of Monroe and cleared your name. It’s over and done with.”
“Except you caught feelings.”
His expression contorted with barely concealed rage before he expertly recovered. “I didn’t catch feelings. She was an amazing fuck.”
For some reason, hearing him speak about Willow like that, and knowing Monroe wouldn’t like it, pissed me off.
And then, the realization that I wanted to defend her best friend to make her happy pissed me off. I wasn’t her savior, and I wasn’t her friend. I tried that route, and she stabbed me in the back the first chance she got for trying to protect her.
I had no right to be pissed with Dash. I put him in the situation to mess up a chance with the only girl he’d ever been crazy about despite his firm denial. I knew it was only his ego talking. The girl was definitely giving him a run for his money when any other girl just wanted to run with his money.
It was the reason why I decided to break my own rule.
“Dash… I know it won’t help but… if I could go back…”
His grim expression was quickly replaced with astonishment. I wouldn’t bother to say more because apologies weren’t something I ever did. In fact, this may have been the only time I ever had. There were many times I’d come close to giving in to the torment in Monroe’s eyes but never did.
I never would either.
Because she was also the only person who could destroy me.
She just didn’t know it.
His eyes widened and then narrowed. “Are you actually apologizing?” I’d caught him off guard, so naturally, he would be wary being the person he is. He may have grown up with a silver spoon, but it didn’t mean he wasn’t street savvy. He trusted as little as I did.
I shrugged and watched his shrewd eyes assess me. When he found whatever he was looking for, he nodded and turned to the building. “Let’s get this over with.”
We headed to Keenan’s room in silence. Quentin was still standing guard when we arrived, but someone else was in the room, which explained the nervousness I noticed when I entered.
I groaned in frustration before asking, “What are you doing here? I told you I had it tonight.”
“Where have you been?” my uncle barked and stood up in my space. He towered over me by a good three or four inches, but I refused to feel small next to him.
“I had something to take care of.”
“It’s almost two in the morning! What could require you to be missing for over eight hours?” he shouted.