“Okay, what is it?”
I licked my lips. “I told you there were bodies in the church and that Reed had killed them. Well, one of them was Liza Montgomery. She was the type of victim he went for. A female child abuser.
Blake went completely rigid. I rubbed his arm, knowing he wouldn’t want to be grateful to Reed for anything but was likely still glad that she was dead.
“Do you think he was telling the truth?” asked Blake.
“I don’t see why he would have lied about it, but I guess we won’t know anything for sure until after the police finish their investigation. I just wanted to give you a heads-up before I spoke to them.”
Blake gave me a brief nod. “Let’s get this over with.” He called out, “You can come in now.”
I rested my head on Blake’s chest once again as Bartley and Joshua came inside.
“You look a little better than you did before,” said Joshua. “Thanks for the warning about the church. We weren’t expecting bodies.”
“You still have Reed and Ricky in custody?” I asked.
Bartley nodded. “Yes. Be assured that they won’t be getting near you again. I can see that you’re tired, Miss Lyons, but we really need to ask you some questions,” he said, surprisingly sounding apologetic.
“Okay,” I told him. “But I’m not moving even an inch from where I am.”
Joshua looked like he was fighting a smile. “That’s fine.”
They didn’t take long questioning me, though that might have been because Blake kept gifting them with impatient sighs and asking them if they were done yet.
“I’d like the angel-wing knife back,” I said, having already told them about it.
“At the moment, it’s classed as evidence,” said Bartley. “We’ll get it back to you eventually.”
“If that’s all …” Blake flicked a glance at the curtain.
Taking the hint, Bartley gave me a nod and then left.
Joshua looked at me for a long moment. “Now we’re even.” With that, he followed Bartley out of the cubicle.
I understood what Joshua meant. He’d spent years making my life hell, and today he’d saved it.
“You’re nowhere near even,” said Blake. “He owes you ten times over.”
I let my head fall back and used my finger to smooth away the wrinkle between his eyebrows. “He did shoot Ricky, though.”
“Shame he didn’t aim for the heart.” Blake caught my face between his hands. “When I saw the state of the G80 … Don’t ever do that to me again.”
My brows drew together. “What did I do?”
“Scared me. Really scared me. I should have told you to meet me at Emma’s. If I had, Ricky might not have taken you.”
“I’m pretty sure that if you get a mechanic to take a look at Rossi’s car, they’ll confirm that it was tampered with. Ricky wanted him to break down. Wanted me to be alone.”
“Yeah, but if you’d been heading in the direction of Emma’s house, you would have driven down busy roads. It probably would have made Ricky hesitate to act. And if it hadn’t, someone would have seen what happened. They might have intervened. At the very least, they’d have called the police. And if they’d also helped Rossi, he could have contacted me a lot fucking sooner.”
I put a finger to his mouth. “Don’t think like that. You’ll make yourself crazy. I’m here. I’m okay. Speaking of Emma’s house, what happened with Linton?”
Blake snapped his teeth at my finger, smiling when I lowered it with a frown. “Long story. I’ll tell you later.”
“Give me the short version while we wait for the doctor.” That would hopefully get Blake’s mind off how badly things could have gone.
“He admitted he’d used Laurel to get info on you. Laurel beat him with her purse before I even got the chance to throw a punch. Linton very reluctantly got his laptop out of his trunk and then deleted the book he’d been writing on Michael, you, and your mother. I told him that if he had a copy somewhere and ever released it or even something similar, I’d … well, you don’t need to hear that part. Anyway, he agreed not to publish anything on Michael. Then I punched him.”
Good. “He deserved it.”
“Yeah, he did. Especially since he would have loved to hear that you were almost killed by fans of Michael. It would have added spice to his book.” Blake landed a soft kiss on my mouth. “He’ll never bother you again.”
“And neither will Reed or Ricky.” He stroked a hand down my hair, face all soft as he stared down at me. “I love you,” he whispered.
“And I love you.” Content, I lay my head on his chest again. I just couldn’t resist saying … “Told you it wasn’t Cade.”
Lying naked on the delightfully soft rug and enjoying the warmth of the fire on my skin, I did a long, lazy stretch. “Damn, I love the Vault.”
Earlier, I’d said I wouldn’t mind going to a ski resort some time. Hours later, Blake had brought me to this room within the basement and said that he’d take me skiing one day but this would do for now.
The glass windows offered a fake but utterly breathtaking view of ski slopes. With the wooden ceiling beams, stone fireplace, and antlered heads hanging on the log walls, you could easily believe you were in a ski lodge. Yep, it was pretty damn nice. Especially with the four-poster bed, stuffed armchairs covered in fake-fur blankets, and the little bar. A romantic, peaceful setting—a good place to deliver the news I’d been holding inside all day, waiting for the right moment.
Blake lay beside me on the rug, doodling patterns on my stomach with his finger. I closed my eyes, enjoying his touch and the sounds of the fire crackling and popping. The smell of wood smoke mingled with the scents of hot chocolate and the whipped cream he’d earlier licked off my skin.
My nose wrinkled as I looked at him and griped, “I’m sticky.”
Eyes heavy-lidded with sexual satisfaction flicked to the freestanding bath in the corner. “You can use that before we leave,” he said. “No point in you bathing now. I’ll be getting you sticky again in a few minutes.”
“I do appreciate your quick recovery time. I don’t think I tell you that often enough.”
He put a hand over his heart. “I feel it in here.”
I burst out laughing. I couldn’t resist Fun Blake. I didn’t see him a lot, since he was a mostly serious person.
Blake pressed a kiss to my shoulder. “I checked to see how your book was doing. It’s still number one on the horror genre category.”
I smiled. My newest release was selling well, and the reviews were great. “A publisher contacted me this afternoon. They’re interested in acquiring rights to my series.”
“That doesn’t surprise me. I’d say congratulations, but you don’t look interested in signing them over.”
“I’m not, to be honest. And that makes me feel ungrateful. Plenty of people would love to be offered a book deal. But I don’t want to sign with a publisher. Not just because it would mean exposing my real identity to them, but because I like self-publishing. I like having total creative control. The publisher could help me reach a wider audience, sure, but I’m fine with the way things are. I don’t see the sense in trying to fix what isn’t broken.”