He releases me and with long, confident strides, he crosses to the door, leaving me wanting to pull him back. Leaving me feeling like every time he walks away it might be forever. Hunter is dead. Someone killed him. And I didn’t drown that DNA test. It was silly for me to think that would work at all. The person who gave me the test has a copy. And the damage intended by giving it to me has yet to be realized.
I’m furious, anger pounding inside me.
Randall threatened Emma.
Or was it the brother she loves and protects who threatened her through Randall? Is that what this comes down to?
I open the damn door, and, as expected, Savage awaits with a scowl on his face. “We need to talk,” he announces, motioning for me to step outside on the porch.
“Not a chance in hell,” I murmur, aware that Emma will read all kinds of wrong things into a private powwow between me and Savage. I don’t need to strike lightning into the middle of the shitstorm someone has ignited around us. “Inside,” I say, inching back into the living room, allowing him to enter.
I’m also aware of the fact that Emma is, in fact, no longer in the room because I can hear the sound of running water in the kitchen, our kitchen if this mess doesn’t blow up in my damn face. It’s pretty much already blown up in my damn face. Savage steps into the house, and he’s like having the WWE in my living room, consuming more space than one man should. He shuts the door, locks it and holds up a finger, a silent demand in the action that he doesn’t give me time to reject. He steps closer, but I take the initiative.
“What do you know about Randall being here?”
“He came. He went. Emma freaked out and tried to get me to catch him when he did. It was too late. What don’t I know, aside from too much?”
“He threatened her. I’ll let her tell you more. How the hell did he get to her?”
“He was on the guest list. Unless you tell us that he can’t be here, we don’t know. Clearly we have a communication problem. I’d like to think that we’re about to fix that problem because these secrets and private conversations in the middle of a manhunt, doesn’t fucking work.”
My lips press together. He’s right. “You’re right. We’re ready to talk.”
“Thank fuck,” he says, “because I was about to beat the facts out of you. For your own good, of course.” He lowers his voice and changes the subject. “We tried to hack for that DNA test,” he says. “There’s nothing in the public records, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.”
That’s predictably shitty, I think, my hands settling on my hips. “What about the camera feed?”
“Nothing. The person with the red coat is not on our feed.”
“Which means they knew the exact line to walk to stay within the power outage. That means it wasn’t Randall.”
“And before you suggest Jill, one of my men was at the party as a guest. He had eyes on Jill the entire night. It wasn’t her. I’m leaning toward that missing groundskeeper.”
“Or just the ghost of the castle,” Emma says.
I turn to find her in the kitchen doorway, her worried eyes meeting mine, and the message in her words are clear: she means my mother and no matter how much I want to keep this topic off the table, I can’t. “I made coffee,” she adds, disappearing back into the kitchen.
Savage scowls. “Is she shitting me? The ghost of the fucking castle? What fucking ghost? Because I don’t like that shit. Paranormal Activity scared the fuck out of me.”
“I don’t even know what to say to that, man.”
“Hey, we all have our things. I know a badass SEAL who almost got kicked out over spiders. Screamed like a pussy bitch every time he got near one. That doesn’t work in a jungle warzone.
He had to do some sort of shock therapy.”
Sounds like me with my mother, I think.
“Start talking,” he presses. “What fucking ghost?”
“She means my mother,” I say, my lips thinning. “She left when I was a small child, and we never saw her again. She wore a lot of red, and, no, I’m not going to share the story behind that. Just—” I scrub my jaw, “look into her. I need to know where she is right now.”
“Right, man. Of course, you do. Fuck. I get it. Everyone wants—”
“Needs,” I correct. “I need to know where she is. I don’t want to know. And on that note, if I don’t drink the coffee Emma made I might finish off a bottle of whiskey.” I start walking.
“I vote yes for the whiskey,” Savage calls after me, but I ignore him. What I don’t ignore is the whiskey that is still open on the bar. I seal it, store it, and enter the kitchen to find Emma standing at the window that looks across the darkness consuming the ocean crashing to the shore. The same darkness that claimed the last seconds of my brother’s life when he was pushed off of that landing.