Three hundred thousand dollars. I don’t know what Laura did to get this money, but maybe I can give it right back to her. I don’t think Jase gives a shit about the debt. A very large part of me believes it’s more than that.
I won’t know until I do this. Although sickness churns inside of me at the possibilities, I focus on the one thing I want to happen. I hand it to him, telling him honestly where it came from. He hands it back, telling me it’s not my money and he doesn’t want it.
“That’s what will happen,” I say for the dozenth time under my breath to no one. Maybe the dozenth is the trick, because I’m starting to believe it.
He wasn’t home when I got back last night and he wasn’t home when I woke up after only sleeping a handful of hours. He didn’t answer my texts. He’s nowhere to be found. The money was in the car while I paced inside waiting and waiting. I finally had to come out and make sure it was still there. I ended up getting in, just to kill time rather than pacing and pacing. I drove past the graveyard a few times, but I never got out of the car.
Pulling out the keys from the ignition, I stare up at the large estate, going over the dialogue in my head one more time.
The debt is paid. The time we had together was time I spent with you and nothing more and nothing less. That’s what I’m going to say to him. I can do it.
I’m burning up in the car, the sweat along my skin won’t quit. I know part of it is from the duffle bag in the back. I look over my shoulder once again, just like I have the entire drive down here last night and even an hour ago to make sure it didn’t magically disappear.
Part of this anxiousness though is because I don’t know what Jase will say or what he’ll do with me once the money’s handed over.
It’s not just a debt. I know that. It can’t be just a debt to him.
Opening the car door lets the cool air hit me and I relish in it. Calming down and shaking out my hands.
This world Jenny brought me into… I’m not fighting it anymore. I’m walking into it, ready for what it will bring me. It’s another step forward. I can feel it. Just like telling Laura everything. Maybe it’s a small step, but it’s one I’m taking.
My heels click on the paved path to his door. The door that I open on my own.
He could take that away, but why would he? The doubts swirl and mix with the fear that what we have is only about the debt. Maybe he likes holding it over my head; maybe he thinks he won’t have the upper hand if I pay it off.
That thought actually eases the tension in me. He’s never going to have the upper hand when it comes to me. He should know that by now.
Calm, confident and collected I walk into the foyer and then past the hall, listening to my heels click in the empty space. The clicks, the thumps, they all only add to the urgency to tell him. To get it off my chest and to get that cash out of the back of my car.
“Jase,” I call out his name, seeing the bedroom door open, but he doesn’t answer.
A chill follows me, bombarding me even as I stand in the threshold of the dark bedroom and see only the light from the bathroom.
There are moments in time when you know instinctively everything is wrong. You know you’re going to see something that you don’t want to see. It’s like there’s a piece of our soul that’s been here before. A piece that’s preparing you for what’s to come. Warning you even. And maybe if I was smarter, I’d take the warning and I wouldn’t step foot into his bedroom.
I’m not smart enough though.
With the sound of running water getting louder as I approach, I creep quietly to his master bath.
The water’s so loud I’m sure he couldn’t hear me. That’s what I tell myself.
Thump, my heart doesn’t want to be here. Thump, it wants me to stop. I test the doorknob, and it’s not locked. Something inside of me screams not to take this step. Not to go forward. It’s the wrong time, I’m not ready for it. I can feel it trying to pull me away.
But I’m already turning the knob and with a creak, I push the door open.
I catch sight of his clothes on the floor first; he’s still hidden from view from where I’m standing. The mix of bright and dark red splotches and smears wraps a vise around my lungs.