“More cuffs.” I speak the words and fight back the bile rising in my stomach from knowing my own intentions.
Jase’s eyes stay on the knife as he answers me, “In the top drawer of the dresser. To the right side… with the ropes.” His voice is dull and flat. “You’re going to cuff my ankles?” he guesses correctly and I nod without looking at him, simply because I can’t.
Thump. Thump. My heart feels like it’s lagging behind as I pick up the cuffs from the drawer, right where he said they were.
“Why are you doing this?” he asks me; any hint of arrogance or even anger is gone.
I can barely swallow as I move toward him. With the sheet barely covering him but laid haphazardly over his groin still, the rest of him is fully exposed. He is Adonis. Trapped and furious, but ultimately mortal.
“I want answers,” I say, and I don’t know how I’m able to speak. “You lied to me. I know you did.”
His only response is to stretch out his legs, not fighting, not resisting. Putting his ankles close to the rods.
He’s helping me. Or it’s a trick. I decide on the latter, moving closer, but hesitantly.
“Go on,” he tells me, staring down at me.
I stand back far enough away from the footboard, cautious as I click the first cuff into place.
“Go ahead, cailín tine,” he tells me, staring into my eyes. His nickname for me breaks my heart. Even as I look away, feeling shame and guilt consume me even though I know I have a good reason to do this. But it doesn’t make it hurt any less.
With the last cuff in place, and Jase half sitting up in bed, leaning against the headboard and staring at me, I observe him from where I stand.
“What are you going to do now?” I ask him.
“You lied to me.” I whisper the ragged words and turn the handle of the knife over in my hand.
“When?” he questions, and the muscles in his neck tighten.
A sad laugh leaves me and I’m only vaguely conscious of it when I hear it.
“So you did lie?” I ask weakly, feeling the weight against my chest. “And here I was hoping I was just crazy.”
“I’d be hard-pressed in this moment to call you sane,” Jase comments, and my eyes move to his. “Yes, I lied to you.”
“What was a lie?” I ask him and take a step closer to the bed. The floorboard creaks under my step and I halt where I am, taking it as a warning.
“I don’t want to tell you. It doesn’t matter.” He speaks a contradiction.
Wiping my forehead with the back of my hand, still holding the knife, I walk closer to him, gauging his ability to move, even though he’s still as can be.
“I don’t think you could do anything,” I start to tell him as I stand right in front of the nightstand, “if I stand right here.” Holding out my arm, I gently place the blade of the knife on his chest, not pushing at all, but letting him see how far away I can be while still capable of hurting him. “What do you think?” I ask him, wondering if I truly am crazy at this point.
“What do you want to know?” he asks, not answering my question.
“What did you lie about?”
“Anything relating to my sister is relevant.” I grit out the words, pushing the knife down a little harder. Enough so the skin on his pec surrounding the knife, tightens under the blade.
“Did you hurt her?” The words come out unbidden.
“No, I told you that.”
“And you told me you lied,” I counter.
“I lied to protect you, Bethany.” He almost says something else, but instead he rips his gaze away from me, gnashing his back teeth to keep him from talking.
Before I can continue, he tells me, “I have a name, but it’s useless.” His dark eyes lift to mine. “We think he got her hooked, intentionally or not, but he can’t be tied to anything else. Nothing ties him to her death.”
“Give me his name.” The strong woman inside of me applauds my efforts, rejoicing in the fact that it took this much to make him speak and that I was able to push myself to this point.
And that I have a name.
I have someone I can blame and punish, someone I can make pay for what they did to my sister. They tortured her. Broke her body. She was gone for so long, I don’t know how long it went on. And then they burned her. They left nothing of her for me.
There will be nothing of them left when I find them.
“No.” His answer dies in the tense air between us. It takes me a long moment to realize what he’s even saying no to. My mind has gone to darker places, and tears streak down my cheek thinking about what she went through and that I wasn’t there. I couldn’t save her.