“No, I came straight to you because you were so upset, and I couldn’t imagine that it could be worse than it already was. But you’re still not going home until I get whatever it is cleaned up. What happened there? You never answered my questions.”

I looked up at him, my face screwed up in confusion. “What? You couldn’t imagine it could be worse? I’m confused, Ian. Did you go home and check it out or not?”

“No, I-” he started, but I cut him off.

“Then you have no idea what that…that…fucking cunt…did. So how could you say that it couldn’t be worse than it was?” I stared at him for a second longer, rage still burning me up. But then it clicked in my head. “What else?”

Ian’s fingers tightened on my shoulders and he tried to pull me into his embrace. “Baby.”

“No. Don’t you ‘baby’ me, Ian. Tell me. What else? What else did she do, because it’s obvious there was more, and it wasn’t at the house.” I was practically growling at him, and I knew it was getting to him because I saw him swallow hard, but I was beyond caring, though it wasn’t him I was pissed off at.

It was Victoria, the fucking she-bitch from hell that was due to get her face rearranged just as soon as I got my hands on her.

Ian looked over my shoulder at Emma. “You might want to take Everly out of the room for a minute. I’m so sorry, I know this is your house…or we could go outside. I just know this isn’t going to be pretty.”

Emma stood immediately and walked over to pluck Everly up from the play yard before she walked toward the stairs. “It’s fine, she probably needs changed again, anyway.” She suddenly jolted, like she’d remembered something, which she had. She reached into her back pocket and pulled out the folded, crumpled up note that I’d shown her at my house. “You’ll need this,” she said, stopping to hand it to Ian.

Just…” she bobbed her head around, her mouth opening and closing like she had something else to say, but just couldn’t get it out.

Ian nodded and said, quietly, “I know. I will. She’ll be fine.”

Emma sent him one last look that faded into relief at his words and ascended the stairs.

Ian didn’t speak until they heard the door close upstairs. “Here.”

I took his phone from his hand when he held it out. It was an automatic movement, one I regretted just as soon as he said, “Text messages.”

My stomach dropped and I felt sick, my mind making up a million and one scenarios as to what I’d find when I clicked open his messages. But none of them could even come close to what I saw.

Picture after picture of Victoria, naked, sprawled across my bed. Our bed. The bed Ian and I slept together in every night, the one we cuddled, played around, and made love in every night. Each image was different, and each was more graphic than the last. They started with her just laying in the middle of the bed, arms outstretched.

Then they moved to her spreading her legs, holding her breasts. And from there, it got worse. On all fours, spread wide so every inch of her pussy and ass was on display for the camera, while she bit my pillow. MY pillow!

On the edge of the bed, legs still splayed, fingers shoved inside herself as she (I’m assuming) masturbated.

But the last one…the last one made one thought crystallize in my mind, ice-cold, and sharper than a blade…and that thought was, ‘I’m going to fucking murder that bitch.’

Because it was a picture of Victoria, once more spread eagled on the bed, but this time her head was thrown back in what looked like the throes of an orgasm with her hand buried between her thighs, fingertips pressed against the apex of her cleft…and she was wearing my new fingertip massager toy. The picture was with a text that read, ‘OMG, this thing was amazing. Bring it with you when you leave the tramp. It’ll make it interesting when we fuck again.’

My skin was prickling with heat, my stomach was roiling, and my eyes were boiling over with scalding hot tears of rage. My arm cocked back automatically, but Ian wrenched his phone out of my hand before I could let it fly. As soon as it was free from my grasp, my hands clenched so hard I could feel my nails biting into my flesh, and my mouth opened on a scream so terrifyingly long, loud, and so full of angry pain that it would have put a hellcat to shame.

Then I was moving, shoving past Ian towards the door. I felt him reach out to catch me, but I sidestepped and flung the door open, shoving open the screen door and rushing blindly through it, my scream still echoing off my lips.

I didn’t get very far, though, as I slammed into a solid wall of unyielding man-chest. The owner of that man-chest’s arms wrapped around me and held tight as I fought to get free, my only thought just to get away, find Victoria, and rip her apart from limb to limb.

But I couldn’t move as those arms banded around me, and I went limp when Luke’s voice boomed above my head, hard and sharp enough to get my attention. “LEAH!”

“I’m sorry!” The words were wrenched from my lips on a sob, and the damn broke completely, leaving me bawling into my brother-in-law’s chest as he just held me and rocked gently from side to side.

I registered movement at my side, but couldn’t stop crying enough to know what was happening until I was being swung up through the air into Ian’s arms. I clutched at him, burying my face in his neck as emotion poured itself out of me in the form of a gut-wrenching sob-fest that left me drained, my breath coming in on hiccupping little gasps.

Through it all, Ian just held me, settling on the couch, whispering soothingly in my ear as he rubbed my back and rocked me.

Finally, I lifted my face to see Ian’s right above mine, looking every bit as ravaged as I imagined mine did. I looked away, ashamed of how I’d acted, feeling even lower when I realized that Luke was sitting beside us, watching me with concern etched across his face, and my sister was standing at the top of the stairs, looking down at me with tears streaming unchecked down her face.

“Oh, God…” I whispered, turning back to look at Ian. “I’m so sorry, baby.”

“Shh…it’s okay. I’m the one who should be sorry that this is happening.” He shook his head sadly, his handsome features pinched with worry and pain.

I felt a tentative touch on my ankle and looked up as Luke asked, “What happened?”

Emma rushed down the stairs, reaching for the crumpled up piece of paper that had fluttered to the floor, forgotten in the craziness of the moment. She met my eyes and I could see the question in hers. I nodded my assent, knowing exactly what she was asking and, frankly, relieved that I didn’t have to say it.

“The note explains it. Most of it, anyway. I’m not…not really sure what was on Ian’s phone and I don’t know that I ever want to know. But, when I went to pick her up, she was standing there looking down into her dresser.” She winced as she went on. “The room smelled straight up like bleach. Lots of it. And that’s because Victoria opened every single one of Leah’s drawers in her dresser and poured bleach over everything. I didn’t see the damage, but I had Everly and Leah made sure we weren’t around it.”

Ian’s arms tightened around me almost painfully.

Emma reached out with the note and handed it to Luke. “Read it. Out loud. Ian hasn’t gotten to see it yet. Oh, and there was a stack of luggage on the floor that looked like it had all your stuff packed into it, Ian. So…I don’t know if that’s something she did? Or…”

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