My anger spikes as I imagine Lia having to go through something else involving her stepfather. She is doing so much better that I hate to bring the memories crashing down on her. “Listen, I’ll talk to them. They can ask me whatever the hell they want, but I don’t want them talking to Lia.”
Max runs a hand through his hair, looking tired but resigned. “I’m sorry, but neither of you have a choice. Carly will be dropping by your apartment this evening to talk to both of you. You need to go ahead and tell Lia what’s happened so she’ll be prepared. I’ll be there, too, if you need me.”
“Fuck!” I snarl, slamming my hand on my desk. Even dead, this bastard just won’t go away.
“Luc, in the scope of things, this is good news for Lia, I would think. She can live her life now without looking over her shoulder and other than being questioned tonight, this ends the police investigation. When her mother turned herself in, she confessed and pleaded guilty, so the judge will decide her fate. You just have to get through this and it’s over.”
“You’re right,” I say, finally relaxing somewhat. This is more closure than Lia could have probably ever hoped for. “Do you think you need to be there tonight when we’re questioned?”
“No.” He shakes his head. “As I said, Carly pretty much let me know that this is strictly for paperwork. If she thought it necessary, she would have made that clear. Have you…thought anymore about telling Lia about her real father?”
I know full well what he’s really doing. Both he and I know it’s a little coincidental that Jim Dawson has suddenly turned up dead a short time after Lee Jacks found out he had a daughter. The lawyer in him doesn’t want to ask me such a pointed question. “As soon as she’s fully recovered, I’ll try to find a way to approach it. I believe he’s out of town right now, though.”
“In Chicago visiting a new company he just acquired,” Max surprises me by volunteering. “I saw it in the business section of the paper yesterday. Pretty high-profile photo-op with the mayor.”
“Hmmm,” I say in the way of a reply. Maybe Lee Jacks is building an alibi should he ever need one. He would have to realize that when his connection to Lia becomes known, he might be a suspect in her stepfather’s death, especially with his sketchy background. I’d find it hard to believe the police would be interested in going after someone of Lee’s influence, though. I imagine he’s banking on that fact but is laying a safety net just in case.
“Listen, I also checked into that other matter which recently reawakened, so to speak.”
My thoughts are immediately pulled from Lee and focused back on Max. “What matter would that be?” I say, curious. The last thing I need right now is another fucking problem on my plate.
“So, you didn’t officially tell me to check into it, but I spoke with Cassie’s care coordinator to get an update as to what’s happening with her…”
“I believe I told you not to do anything right now.” It’s not that I’m pissed that he ignored what I said; hell, I pay him a small fortune to overthink things for me. I just don’t want to be forced to think of Cassie today…or any other day, for that matter. Maybe I’m a heartless bastard, but how much can I be expected to forgive? She already owns my dreams; do I have to give her my waking hours, as well? Even after what he witnessed eight years ago, I know Aidan still wants me to forgive her, if for nothing else than old times’ sake. It’s never gonna fucking happen. As close as we are, there are things he doesn’t know. He wants to blame what she did to me on mental illness. What he doesn’t know is that she was doing her best to end me before she ever took a knife to my throat.
“It’s my job to keep you advised on any changes with her. That’s why you added me as a guardian along with Aidan. I was curious after our last conversation and felt I needed to know what was going on…for your sake.”
“And?” I ask, not wanting to hear him confirm Aidan’s assessment that Cassie is getting better.
“Her coordinator believes she is showing marked improvement for the first time.” My stomach rolls and see by the look in his eyes that he understands the effect his words are having on me.
“Just how much improvement are we talking here?”
“It’s hard to say without seeing her in person, but they seem quite surprised by her rapid turnaround. I believe they called it, ‘communicating effectively,’ whatever the hell that means.” Looking as grave as I feel, he says, “Maybe you should visit her and see for yourself.”
“That’s never going to happen,” I reply, leaving no room for argument in my voice. I don’t want to see her again…ever.
“I understand,” he answers, and I know he does. “I instructed her coordinator to send me weekly progress reports for now. It may not turn out to be anything, but I believe we should closely monitor the situation until we know more.” If it were anyone but Cassie, it might almost seem sad to hear someone reduced to being called a ‘situation.’ In her case, however, it’s a kindness compared to the alternatives. “One thing, though, surprised me from her report this month. I had them email it to me following our conversation.” I wave my hand impatiently, wanting to be finished with this. “There has been one other visitor twice this month, besides Aidan.”
He has my full attention now as I look at him in shock. I never had restrictions placed on her visitors because there was no need. To my knowledge, she had no one in her life other than her father, Aidan, and myself. “What? Who?”
When he says the name, I can only gape at him. “Why in the hell would Monique Chandler be visiting Cassie?” I know Aidan has been casually dating…fucking her, but I can’t believe he would have her accompany him on his visit to the woman he’s in love with. “Aidan has lost his mind.” Actually, that much was apparent when he continued to see the bitch after their initial date. Once had been more than enough for me. Monique was the kind of woman who made a man want to put a hand over his cock and run in the other direction.
“That’s just it.” Max shakes his head in apparent confusion. “She wasn’t there on the same day either time that Aidan was. She appears to have visited her on her own.”
“That makes no sense whatsoever.” I’m truly puzzled by this information and more than a little troubled. If Aidan has gone as far as to tell Monique about Cassie, I wouldn’t be surprised that she would try to check her competition out. She’s a nosy bitch, and it’s something I wouldn’t put past her. Maybe she was double-checking Aidan’s story if he gave her one. But why the second visit?