“I’ll take care of it.” He shifts in the seat, adjusting the denim on his thighs.
His shirt and jeans fit him better than the ones he wore two nights ago. He probably borrowed clothes from Jake or Jarret.
She turns her attention to me. “I’m surprised to see you again, Raina.”
“About that…” I grimace. “I might be the reason he disappeared. I’m sorry.”
“Did you hold a gun to his head and prevent him from calling me?”
“Then don’t apologize for him.” She cocks her head, studying me. “You sticking around this time?”
“Conor.” He flicks a dismissive finger at her. “Give us a minute.”
“You’re not going to abandon me again.” Her jaw sets.
Abandon? I don’t think she’s referring to last night. When Lorne went to prison, he refused contact with her for six years. John made comments about how well that worked at keeping her away from Sandbank. But Lorne didn’t have a choice. Shutting her out of the family was the only way he could protect her while locked up.
“Never again.” He reaches through the window and cups her cheek. “I promise.”
“Okay.” She holds his palm against her face, her eyes glistening as she lowers their hands. “We’re out back on the porch.”
She pivots away and strides toward the house, peeking over her shoulder a few times, as if she doesn’t quite believe he’s not going anywhere.
He releases a long breath. “I really fucked things up with her.”
“You did what you had to do.”
His mysterious eyes shift to mine. “Where’s your mom?”
The change of subject gives me whiplash, and I take a moment to gather my thoughts.
“She died from a Fentanyl overdose the day after Tiana passed.” I never felt sadness about that. Hard to feel anything but anger for a woman who chose drugs over her three-year-old daughter.
“Do you have proof of death? Or is this just what John told you?”
“John was all too happy to provide police reports and death certificates.”
Hospital workers contacted the sheriff’s offices when they were unable to find anyone to take custody of the remains. No one located me as the next-of-kin. I was technically missing, but my mom never reported it. So she and Tiana were cremated without a funeral service.
There’s no grave. No ashes. I have nothing to visit or hold onto.
I have nothing.
Lorne watches me, his expression frosty. But there’s something gentle behind the shadows in his eyes. A flicker of understanding? I peer deeper, and he looks away.
“Why would you help me?” I ask.
“I want him dead, but if I do it myself, I risk returning to prison.”
“Better to let me kill him and take the fall?”
“You’re going after him, with or without my help.”
He has a point.
I can go to the cops, kill John Holsten, or wait for him to snatch me. Involving the police would launch this family into a hairy investigation, one that could uncover a trail of murders. Jake and Jarret murdered every hitman and creditor who threatened Conor’s life. I won’t be responsible for sending them to prison.
Going after John is my only option.
“I’m your only chance at succeeding.” Lorne opens the door and unfolds his muscled frame from the truck.
Without waiting, he ambles to the front porch, his boots falling heavily on the gravel path.
The chiseled definition in his back and shoulders flexes beneath the shirt. Broad on top and narrow around the hips, his dark silhouette cuts a powerful outline against the backdrop of the porch light. Every movement radiates virility, his bearing confident and deadly.
He’s the kind of handsome that leaves a profound, unprecedented impact. Doesn’t matter how mean and unfeeling he is. Most people would revere him anyway, just because he’s so damn pleasing to look at.
If he’d accepted my offer for sex, I might’ve liked the job for the first time in my life. There would’ve been no love in it. There never is. But I wouldn’t have minded running my hands all over that sculpted physique and pretending, just for a little while, that he wasn’t a job, that we were together because it felt right. What would that level of intimacy be like?
My heartbeat flutters as I imagine his arms around me, our tongues tangled, eyes connected, skin on skin, hips rocking in a maddening rhythm. Ten minutes with him and I’d blow his fucking mind.
It’s better this way. Lorne Cassidy might be insanely attractive, but his insides are razor blades and dry ice. I’m under no illusion that he’s the one who could change my attitude about sex.
Besides, fucking him would complicate an already complicated situation.
I grab the backpack, slide out of the truck, and jog to catch up with him. “I don’t think John’s sons will be happy to see me again.”
“No.” He steps into the house and holds the door open for me. “They won’t.”
My insides pinch. Would it hurt him to sugarcoat the truth a little?