I spoke around the painful lump lodged in my throat. “Yes, it does.”
Finding out my parents were FBI agents was the final blow to the very fragile memories I held of them. The meager leftovers crumbled and shattered when I realized it was all a lie.
She looked at Jackson and a silent message passed between the two. If I didn’t know before, I knew now something was going on between the two of them. Something more than an investigation.
When he nodded, seeming to give her the strength she needed, she started to speak.
“Mario Fulton is an ex-FBI agent who was let go on suspicion of corruption. He was assigned to investigate the disappearance of Liliana West. She was a little girl around your age at the time she was kidnapped.”
Oh, no… Lily.
“Mario was a part of the same division as your parents. He knew them well.”
“My parents were partners then?”
She shook her head and then wiped a tear away. “Your father was Mario’s partner.”
“What?” My breathing slowed to single harsh breaths.
“He was the one to raise suspicion against Mario after he uncovered evidence of a child slavery ring. But when that evidence started disappearing, and the organization became harder and harder to track, he began to suspect Mario.”
“It was agreed between them that one of them would infiltrate and one of them would hang back as a backup just in case things went south. Mario volunteered to be the mole.”
I nodded and then asked, “Where does my mother come into all of this?”
“When your father reported Mario, he was suspended until further evidence could be found that he was dirty. After that, he went rogue. When your father had enough to implicate him and find the man behind the child abductions, he offered to bring him in. Your mother didn’t want to leave him at the mercy of another untrustworthy partner, so she went with him.”
I was already crying, but I didn’t feel my tears as my body numbed from every piece of the story that came together.
Mario was the one to kill my parents. I just knew it.
“How did it happen?”
“I don’t think—”
“Just tell me! Please.” My voice trembled as my world spun on its axis.
My answer came swift and brutal. It was Jackson who spoke for the first time. “They were gunned down.”
I stood above them, still and silent, as I listened to her cries. I felt every tear she shed through my bleeding heart. I knew hearing about her parent’s death would destroy her. She avoided it for too long.
After they went inside and I drove off, I parked down the street and double-timed back to her house. I climbed the tree that stood near her window and broke through the window. I dislodged the lock a few months ago when I was intent on using her for revenge.
I sat and waited for hours, clutching the banister while they attempted to console her, and in those hours, I plotted her revenge. Around midnight, she finally had enough and broke away from them while I quickly disappeared inside her bedroom to wait.
When she entered the dark bedroom, her eyes immediately found mine, and I could see the need in her eye. It was one that I was familiar with thought it was the first time I’ve witnessed it on her.
“Do it, Lake.”
She took the invitation and was across the room in a flash. I encouraged each blow to my chest and slap to my face as she silently screamed through her agony.
She never let up. She never stopped seeking.
She needed an outlet. A way to release. I knew what it felt like to need to unleash your pain on someone. It would get pretty dangerous if it built up.
“Take what you need to get past the pain…”
I hit my chest indicating where she should strike, and she mimicked.
“…because I will not let you break. It would kill us both.”
I bared myself. Let me become vulnerable for her. Only for her. Always for her. Her hits didn’t affect me physically, but much deeper, it was fucking lethal. She killed me over and over.
“Why?” she wailed as her arms grew tired, and her screams fell to hoarse whispers. She fell against my chest and I could feel her tears soak through my thin shirt immediately.
“He won’t live another day.”
* * *
The next morning, I sat and watched her sleep while battling over what I wanted to do and what I had to do.
“Don’t kill them.”
It was the last thing she had said to me before she succumbed to sleep. It amazed me that, even after all she had gone through, she still managed to be so damn innocent.
I needed to move and I needed to move fast. Mario was still in the area, which meant Arthur was also close by, as well.
I’ve sat on this and pretended everything was normal for far too long. Since finding out Arthur had come to Six Forks, Mario had been laying low. We stopped meeting, and any phone calls placed were kept short, but on my end, they were tapped. I gave only enough to the police to keep them interested and without raising Mario’s suspicions.
I knew Arthur would still have eyes on me, and with Keenan back in the hospital, I wasn’t able to protect him. His condition had begun to worsen, and John immediately admitted him at the first sign of strain. The patch had run its course, and if he didn’t get a lung soon, he would die.
Monroe began to stir, so I silently stood and crossed the room to her. I wanted to be gone before she awakened. She would try to stop me. Either she would succeed or I would end up hurting her again.