We talked for a little while longer, bouncing theories off one another—an exercise that came to nothing—until Adam glanced at his watch and said, “We best get going. Master K’s bedtime is coming up.”
A few minutes later, we were gathered at the front door as everyone said their goodbyes. Emma, Adam, and Kyle were just walking out the door when Blake’s cell began to ring. Whatever he saw on the screen made him frown. “This won’t take long,” he told me. He gave his family one last wave and then disappeared into the apartment to take the call.
I would have closed the door if Emma hadn’t planted herself in the doorway instead of following her son and husband over to the elevator. “So,” she began, “you’re living with my stepbrother.”
I just looked at her, trying to get a sense of whether this pleased her or not. She was giving nothing away. “How did you know?”
“I’m a PI. I notice things. Like how well you know your way around the kitchen. Like the coffee machines that are clearly yours. Also, he told me.”
I shifted from foot to foot, awkward. “It’s temporary.”
“Ah.” She smiled, looking oddly amused. “How are things going with you two?”
I shrugged. “Fine.”
“He’s open with you?”
She sighed, disappointed. “I was hoping he’d tell you what haunts him—or what he lets haunt him, I should say. He will eventually. I take it, then, that he hasn’t taken you down to B3 yet?”
She tutted. “That must have you imagining all kinds of messed-up scenarios. Honestly, Kensey, what’s down there isn’t so bad. Really, it’s not. But you’ll learn that for yourself soon enough, just as you’ll learn other things. I’m hoping you’ll show the same spunk you showed at the garage when you stumbled upon that scene, because I think you may just have the power to hurt Blake. And I’d hate to see him hurt again.”
“So would I,” I said, and she beamed at me. Then she was gone, and I closed the door.
Following the sound of Blake’s voice, I soon found myself standing in the doorway of his sleek, modern, executive-style home office.
He was sat at his desk, eyes intent on his large computer monitor as he spoke, “You don’t need me for this. You’re perfectly capable of meeting with him alone … Not possible … I already told you, it will be a while before I can leave Redwater overnight.” He sighed, seeming exasperated. “For the same reason that I haven’t gone away on any business trips lately—I have a personal situation to take care of … That’s all you need to know, Tara.”
Tara again? I barely held back a snarl.
“Because it’s not your business … We are friends, but that doesn’t make you privy to everything that goes on in my life … No, I’m busy … Yes, as a matter of fact, she is.” His face scrunched up into a grimace of disbelief. “Dumping my friends for pussy? Jesus, Tara, you need to get your fucking head straight.”
She needed to get a fucking bitch-slap—that was what she needed. Almost as if he’d heard that thought, Blake’s eyes snapped to me. I probably should have at least looked embarrassed for eavesdropping, but I was quite sure he wouldn’t have bought it anyway.
“I’ve told you before, Tara, she’s not a faceless fuck to me,” he said, gaze locked with mine. “If she was, I wouldn’t have her living with me.” With that, he hung up. And I had to smile, because it was highly unlikely that she took that news well.
“She drunk again?” I asked.
“No, just being a bitch.” Standing, he rounded the desk and crossed to me. “You all right? Emma and Adam threw a lot of information at you.”
“They did. And ironically, I’m more confused than I was before.”
Blake’s hands cupped my hips. “Linton could have the perfect motive, but it just doesn’t add up. Same with Ricky.”
I nodded. “All the pieces just won’t fall together.”
He kissed me. “I’ll find out who it is, one way or another.”
“Blake, you shouldn’t put your life on hold because of this situation. If you have business you need to see to outside of Redwater, you should—”
“I won’t be leaving you until this shit is over, Kensey,” he stated firmly, jaw set.
“I wouldn’t be alone.”
“Doesn’t matter. I’m not willing to trust your safety to others. I fully believe what I already said to you—you’re never safer than when you’re with me.”
“But it’s interfering with your project, isn’t it?”
“No, it’s not. Everything is happening exactly as it should. Tara simply …”
“Resents the time you’re spending with me,” I finished.
He sighed. “The way she’s been talking, it’s like she’s always thought of me, her, and Bastien as the three fucking musketeers or something. Now I have you. Bastien has Sarah. Tara’s acting like we’ve abandoned her or something like that.”
“She’s trying to make you feel guilty.”
“Tara’s good at mind games and manipulating people, but I know every move in her playbook. Her efforts are wasted on me.”
“She’s right, though,” I began, shaking my head in mock disapproval, “it’s not nice to dump your friends for pussy.”
His mouth curved. “But the pussy in question is so pretty and tight.” He kissed my cheek, whispering, “And it responds to me so nicely.” He pressed a kiss to my other cheek and then spoke into my ear, “And when it comes around my cock, rippling and squeezing, it feels like sheer fucking heaven.” He slowly snapped open my fly, adding, “And there’s something I love about your clit, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.”
I laughed, but that laugh quickly turned into a moan when his finger slid between my folds. For about the millionth time, I caught myself thinking that, damn, he was good.
On Saturday, I once again found myself in the prison’s dull visitation room. Clear and I sat at a different table from last time as we waited for the inmates to file out. As usual, she was excited. As usual, I wasn’t.
I nodded along as she chatted non-stop. Although long waits weren’t uncommon, she got increasingly agitated when no one appeared. An hour went by before the prisoners were finally brought in the room.
Michael grinned when he saw us. Of course, Clear hugged him like he just got back from war after a two-year stint in the army.
Patting her back, he kissed her cheek. “Missed you, sweetheart.”
She released him and gestured at me with her hand, as if I was a gift she’d brought along with her.
“Hello, angel,” he said to me with a smile as he and Clear sat. “I’m glad you came to see me, even if it’s only to update me on what’s been happening.”
“Hi,” I greeted simply.
“Your mother tells me you have a boyfriend.”
I shrugged, nonchalant. “I’ve had boyfriends before.” None of whom he’d mentioned.
“She says this one is different; that he treats you well.”
“If you could see the way he looks at her …” Clinging to his hand, Clear smiled dreamily. “And now she’s living with him.”