Two sets of eyebrows lifted at my hesitation. I knew I hadn’t sounded believable, but what else could I do?
If I were placed under witness protection, I would never get the answers I needed. I would be carted off to some undisclosed location, far away. Keiran would think of a way out of being tried, and where would that leave me? Besides, he threatened my godparents. I couldn’t leave them unprotected, and I couldn’t tell the detectives he threatened them either. They would place me under protection for sure.
“What if I can get you the information you need without setting him up or getting close to him?”
“Naturally, we are inclined to use any information we can get so long as it’s done legally.”
“How are you planning to get this information?” Detective Daniels questioned. I could see the suspicion in his eyes.
“By using my wits.”
* * *
As soon as I had left the station, I headed for school and phoned the one person who could help me get the information I needed. “Jesse, we need to talk. Can you meet me?”
“Sure, but what is it about?” He sounded hesitant and nervous, but I shrugged it off thinking he may have been distracted or busy.
“I need your help digging up more information on Keiran.” An extended silence fell over the line so I checked the connection. “Jesse?”
“I don’t know…”
“What do you mean?” Just a few weeks ago he was insisting on helping me and now he was hesitating? Something was up.
“The guy is under investigation for a double murder. Do you really think this is the best time to piss him off by playing detective?”
“Just a few short weeks ago you were insisting I do something about him.”
“That was before he murdered two people, Lake. It’s obvious he is something much more than your average bully. I just don’t want you getting hurt.”
“If I don’t stop him, he will hurt more than just me. Please, Jesse. I don’t know who else to ask.”
I could hear him take a deep breath and release it. “Lake, I have something to tell you. It’s about Keiran.”
“Yeah?” My heart was already racing but from what? Anticipation? Fear?
“I saw him while he was in jail.”
Whatever I had expected him to say, it wasn’t that. Why would Jesse visit him in jail?
“W—wh—why?” I stammered. Not only was my heart racing now, but my mind was racing at a catastrophic speed, as well.
“He asked me to.”
“And you went?” The hitch in my voice was a testament to the turmoil I was currently feeling.
“I didn’t exactly have a choice. His henchman paid a visit to my home. I’m just glad my family wasn’t here.”
“Who?” Oh, God, did he send Mario?
“Keiran called him Q.”
Quentin! I never would have thought Quentin would be involved in something like that. He was the silent and brooding type, but he didn’t give me the impression of a criminal. The realization of how far Keiran was willing to go had me reeling. It wasn’t until Jesse’s next revelation that I lost it.
“Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
“He threatened my family if I told you. I hadn’t realized how dangerous he really is, Lake. I’m sorry for pushing you before. I had no clue what you were really up against.”
I swallowed down the guilt that rose up. Jesse’s apology reminded me of what I was asking him to do. His reluctance now made sense, but it also strengthened my resolve and my need to fight back.
Keiran was done collecting victims.
“Jesse… We need to do this. He’ll hurt our families if we don’t.”
“What can we do? This guy is like a cat. He always lands on his feet, and it’s like he has nine lives or something.”
“He’s not invincible, Jesse. His lives will run out sometime, and he has weaknesses, too. It’s about time we found them.”
When he released a reluctant breath, I knew I had him. “All right. Give me a week or two.”
* * *
I was on edge all day, and it had everything to do with Keiran never taking his eyes from me. Even during the periods when we didn’t share a class, he always seemed to be around before and after each class. I knew him well enough by now to know he was making his presence known.
He may not be able to approach me, but this was still his kingdom. He had eyes and ears everywhere so I constantly found myself in the vicinity of a henchman or two. Yesterday, we each issued threats, and it seemed as if we were both intent on keeping them. Other than watching me during class, and each time we passed in the hall, he proceeded to ignore me while I failed to reciprocate.
By lunch, I was too freaked out to be able to endure sitting through lunch in the cafeteria surrounded by him and all his faithful followers. It seemed as most people were slowly but surely getting over his involvement in Trevor and Anya’s death. The cafeteria might have been bearable if Sheldon wasn’t skipping to hide God knows where and Willow hadn’t disappeared to argue her way into a better grade. This might have been the third time this week. I think she was also looking for reasons to skip lunch and avoid Dash.
I ventured outside, prepared to eat my lunch in the frigid air that I didn’t exactly care for, but I figured anything had to be better than risking my sanity or dignity. The night before last was still very much fresh in my memories. Even now, I could feel my body tingle from the remembered sensations of all I allowed him to do to me.