The snide remark makes me ignore my phone call. “My attacker is exactly right—yet you insist on meeting here, at her coffee shop? No one looking out for my well-being would do that.”

“Just because you don’t understand my reasoning, doesn’t mean it doesn’t make sense.”


“Just because you think you’re a hero, doesn’t mean you’re not a jerk.” My phone starts ringing again and I hit Ignore, but I don’t put the phone down. I punch the auto-dial Chris programmed for David.

“Ms. McMillan,” Detective Grant begins, just as David answers the call with, “What the fuck is going on, Sara? Chris just called and told me you’re with Detective Grant.”

“That’s why I’m calling. He’s right. I’m with Detective Grant right now.”

“You only talk to him when you’re with me. No other time. What part of that don’t you understand?”

“He threatened to show my personal journal to Ralph if I didn’t go with him—”

“What journal, and go where?”

“Notes I took on people Rebecca knew. He acquired my journal at the gallery during yesterday’s search. And he took me to the coffee shop.”

“The coffee shop that’s owned by the woman who tried to kill you?”

“Yes.”

“Put that lousy piece of shit on the phone.”

I hold out my cell phone to Detective Grant, who looks amused rather than irritated. “Smart lady. I’m impressed, Ms. McMillan.” He puts the cell to his ear and says, “Hello, David.” There are several moments of silence before he chides, “Calm down. I’m aware of all of that.”

They begin going back and forth, and I can’t make heads or tails out of who is winning what battle. Afraid the detective is getting a little too loud, my gaze lifts and lands on the counter again. Frowning, I watch Corey, the college-aged kid who’s worked here as long as I’ve been around, and Raf in a deep, animated conversation. Corey seems to be getting more agitated, swiping his hands around to make his point. Raf holds up his palms stop-sign fashion, as if trying to calm the kid down.

The detective nudges me and hands me the phone back. “Your turn.”

Reluctantly, I drag my attention from the counter and accept the phone. Detective Grant glances over his shoulder, immediately moving his chair to the side of the table where he can observe the action.

The moment I speak, David launches into a rant. “I’m not sure what kind of Jack and Jill trip he thought he was taking you on, but get up and leave. He snuck over there and pulled that shit knowing I was here. He won’t be showing your journal to anyone.” It’s hard for me to believe that, after my conversation with the detective, but I’m not going to argue. David doesn’t give me time to anyway. “Text me when he’s gone or if there’s a problem. I won’t be able to take the call unless it’s critical.”

“Yes. I will.”

“Good. Now get up and leave. Oh, and you did good calling me, babe. Kudos, sister.”

Babe and kudos, sister. I almost laugh. Really, what else can I do at this point? It’s like I’m living in a soap opera with really bad writers. I stand up and the detective follows me. “I’m sure you know I can’t talk,” I tell him.

“We’ll talk,” he assures me. “Maybe not now, but we’ll talk.”

A loud crash thunders from the counter, and suddenly Raf is on top of it with Corey straddling him. Raf manages to kick him away, and the next thing I know, they’re both tumbling behind the displays.

“Well, well,” Detective Grant murmurs, “isn’t that interesting. I was hoping our little meeting would stir up some sort of reaction, but this is even better than I hoped for. I might be a jerk, Ms. McMillan, but I’m a calculating jerk. Sometimes you have to put flames under a pot to make it boil.

“And just so you know, Ava will likely get out on bail, but I’ll get you your restraining order and I’ll get you a conviction. I’ll be in touch.”

He dashes toward the counter and I stand there stunned, watching as he climbs over the counter and throws himself into the scuffle. He grabs Raf and Corey hits him, and I dart for the door for help, bursting through the exit for Jacob.

“Fight,” I pant. “There’s a fight inside and the detective needs help.”

Jacob curses and opens the door. He takes one glance inside and grabs the walkie-talkie on his belt. “Kelvin, I need backup. Come get Sara now.” Then to me: “He’s two blocks away. Don’t move.”

“Okay. Be careful.”

He enters the coffee shop and I turn to watch for Kelvin, whom I’ve met before and trust, only to discover instead that I’m staring into the eyes of the worst mistake of my life. “Michael.”

Eighteen

Michael presses against me, his hands shackling my waist, and the feel of his hands on my body makes my skin crawl. “Let go of me,” I hiss, shoving at his unmovable chest. I hear the sound of sirens nearing in the background, but they aren’t here to rescue me. I need to rescue me.

He dares to slide his hand down my waist to my hips, and anger explodes from some deep, pent-up place I had forgotten existed. “I said, let go,” I growl, swiftly lifting my knee and fully intending to plant it in his groin. He captures my leg, the touch wrong in every way.

“You have two seconds before I start screaming,” I warn.

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