Working every day has kept my thoughts at bay. And now I have nothing to occupy my time. Nothing but a debt to Jase Cross and unanswered questions I have no way of answering on my own.
The only thing I’ve been working on is looking up every detail I can on Jase Cross. Hardly anything comes up at all about any of his brothers. All I can tell is that they were a poor Irish family, raised in the hellhole that is Crescent Falls. Back then they were nothing. And now they’re everything.
There are only four pictures of Jase that I could find. Two had the same woman in them. In one, she’s in the background, laughing at something. It’s a candid photo and it seems harmless enough. But in the second, her arm is around him. It was taken nearly five years ago, and Jase looks much younger.
I have no fucking clue who she is.
Although, she looks a little like me in this picture, the second one. Only slightly. But the resemblance spreads an eerie chill over my body when I think about it.
Is this who I remind him of?
Was he with her? The fact that I feel any hint of jealousy is ridiculous.
I haven’t been touched since college, and I haven’t wanted a damn thing from a man since that catastrophe.
Maybe I’ve always been jealous like this, and I just didn’t know it because I had nothing to be jealous of. It only took the strike of a single match to ignite a blazing desire to overtake every piece of me.
Maybe this is what it was like for Jenny. One small change, and everything fell from there. Addiction is like that, isn’t it? No matter what your addiction is.
The sound of my phone vibrating on the kitchen counter saves me from the downward spiral of my thoughts.
It’s only Laura, checking in again since I didn’t respond to her last night.
A few quick texts and I’m free of her prying questions, plus I’ve booked a date with a bottle of tequila, her, and the outlet mall next weekend.
The phone clatters on the kitchen counter when I toss it down, staring at it and wondering what that night will end up being. A few drinks, and I’ll tell her the sordid details.
I know I will.
I can see it unfolding in front of me.
She won’t judge me, seeing as how she’s had a few one-night stands. She’s gone backstage with an out-of-town band before, only to be seen again at 2 p.m. the next day, walking a little funny but smiling so hard that it didn’t matter.
It’s not the judgment that concerns me. I couldn’t care less about what people think of me.
If Laura thinks I’m in danger though, she’ll get involved. The very thought makes me let out a slow quivering breath, calming the rush of anxiousness.
I can’t keep Jase my dirty little secret, but some things will have to be just that. A secret. I’ll let him use me, and I’ll use him. Every encounter with him is a step closer to the world my sister lived in before I lost her. It’s closer to where she was and closer to finding out what happened. At least the thought is somewhat calming.
Knock, knock, knock.
Three raps in quick succession sound through the first floor of my house. I’ve never been so grateful for a distraction before.
Looking out through the peephole, I see a man in a gray wool coat, a man I don’t recognize.
Maybe he has a package, or maybe he’s a neighbor. I hesitate to open the door, my hand gripping the knob tight as I consider getting the gun. That didn’t turn out well last time though, and I refuse to live in fear.
It’s just a man. Not everyone is a villain.
The last thought firms my resolve and I pull open the door halfway, wincing when I feel the sharp coldness in the air.
“Hello,” I greet him easily, immediately struck by how handsome he is.
Classically handsome with striking blue eyes and a charming smile. This man has definitely left broken hearts behind in his wake.
The small smile from the thought fades.
Nervousness pricks along the back of my neck. Every hair is standing on edge when I glance behind him, only to see a cop car.
He’s a fucking cop.
“Ma’am, I’m Officer Cody Walsh,” he tells me, taking off his gloves and reaching out his hand to shake mine.
Every ounce of me is consumed with fear, nausea, and the suspicion that this is a setup. I shake his hand without thinking, without considering a damn thing.
Even though he was wearing gloves, his strong hand is ice cold and I feel the chill flow from his touch straight to the marrow of my bones.
It’s not until I swallow my nerves, nearly ten seconds after shaking his hand while he only stares at me curiously, that I’m able to speak.