* * *
I jerked awake, covered in sweat and filled with anger. The blanket and sheets were balled up at the foot of the bed as usual. I rarely felt the need to cover myself when I slept. I snatched the corner of the cover up to my face and wiped off the perspiration, fighting to relax my aching jaw muscles. I must have clenched them in my sleep again.
I shook off the remnants of sleep and what was left of my memories of Frank. He was an evil son-of-a-bitch, and now he was a dead son-of-a-bitch. He was the only person I’d ever killed willingly. As usual, I waited for the feeling of guilt or remorse I should have felt but never did.
I felt the onslaught of the familiar yet intense need for Monroe, and when I get her, I will do one of two things—kill her or fuck her.
“I don’t think this is such a good idea.” My gaze passed over everything in sight in frantic repetition, looking for the source of my anxiety even though I knew he wouldn’t be there.
“Come on, Lake,” Willow huffed. “I thought you said you weren’t afraid of him anymore, starting today.”
“When did I say that?” I shot my best friend of ten years an accusing look.
“Five minutes ago,” Sheldon teased.
That’s three words.
Keenan’s condition had only worsened, and he was quickly becoming critical. Two weeks ago, when Sheldon called me in near hysterics, she told me Keenan’s only working lung was beginning to fail. To make matters worse, after the doctor’s questioned the probability of both John and Sophia being Keenan’s parents due to their blood combination, a paternity test was advised.
Just who is Sophia Blackwood anyway?
She is the only mystery remaining in this tangled web I’ve been repeatedly fucked in.
With Keiran arrested, I wasn’t able to breathe as easily as I thought. In fact, I was more worried than ever. When Keiran came back into my life a few months ago, he came with a vengeance. As it turns out, his vengeance was misplaced, but this time I earned it.
I turned Keiran in.
I fought back.
And somehow, I knew it wasn’t over. He would be back.
“Yeah, so come on. It will be fine because we’ll make it fine,” Willow ordered. Willow wasn’t taking any prisoners. She and Sheldon spent the last two weeks campaigning for me to stay. I think there was even a threat or two thrown in there.
In the end, I relented because what else could I do? I loved them too damn much. Now here I was, about to walk the halls of Bainbridge for the first time in three weeks. Thank God I was caught up on my work or else I wouldn’t be graduating this year, and that just wouldn’t do.
“Besides,” Sheldon added, “he can’t get to you now. You’re safe.”
“But what about tomorrow? What happens when he gets out?”
“He burned two people alive. He won’t get off.”
But did he really do it? The question burned my throat, and I almost blurted it out but resisted. It didn’t occur to me until it was too late that I had no real proof of Keiran’s guilt. Sure, he was the last person to see them alive but—
The shrill of Sheldon’s phone broke through my thoughts and she immediately answered. The look of relief mixed with pain on her face held my attention as she spoke into the phone. Her side of the conversation consisted of terse, clipped answers as she looked down at her feet, sometimes only nodding. If the sunlight hadn’t picked that moment to break through the clouds, I might not have ever caught the lone tear that trailed down her throat.
“I can’t, Dash. I just can’t. I’m sorry. No. Yes. Oh, God,” she sobbed and hung up the phone. Willow and I were on her instantly as her knees buckled.
“What? What is it?” I asked fearfully. We fought to hold her up but eventually, let her crumble to the ground as we followed her.
“The doctors were able to patch the part of his lung that was failing, but it’s only a temporary fix. He’ll need a lung transplant or he won’t live a full life.”
“Oh, no,” Willow whispered with a sheen of tears in her own eyes.
“Oh God. He’s—” She brought her knees to her chest and began rocking back and forth. We were oblivious to the fact we were in the parking lot of the school. Most of the other students were inside, but there were a few who watched us while talking behind their hands.
“He what?” I urged.
“He’s awake,” she forced out through trembling lips.
“Well, that’s good news… isn’t it?” Willow asked
“Yes but—” She shook her head furiously. “Dash said he’s barely able to talk, but he did ask for one thing.”
“What did he ask for?” I asked while fighting back my own tears. Her eyes were filled with sorrow and complete desolation as she looked at me.
* * *
“How was your first day back at school?” Aunt Carissa asked as soon as I was through the door after school.
If you don’t count Sheldon’s emotional breakdown in the school parking lot. I attempted to make a clean getaway to my room, but my aunt’s next words stopped me in my tracks.
“A Detective Daniels came by here today.”
A lie immediately spilled from my lips. “Oh, really? I wonder what he could have—”
“So help me, if you are seriously thinking to lie to me…” she growled and stood up from her seat on the couch, planting her fists on her hips.