I exhaled a breath and nestled against his side. “Alli told me he was sentenced when I got back. He was on his way to the station to get booked.”
“What did he say to you?” Tension laced his words.
“Nothing,” I lied.
Max was gone now. A closed chapter. At least until they let him go again. I couldn’t think about that, though. He’d promised Clay he’d never see me again. I could only hope that might be true.
Blake was silent, yet somehow I could hear him demanding that I give him what he wanted. His muscles tensed beside me.
I sighed. “He said, ‘He’ll ruin you.’ ”
I drew circles over his jeans where the muscles in his legs bunched. “Assuming he meant you, yeah.”
I lifted my head to gauge his reaction and try to read his thoughts. He closed his eyes and looked away, effectively blocking me out.
“Talk to me, Blake,” I pleaded.
“What do you want to talk about?”
There was an edge to his voice that gave me pause.
“How about we start with yesterday? What happened?”
“The FBI and the police took turns interrogating me for nine hours. That’s what happened.”
I hesitated over what I wanted to ask. He seemed wound tight already, and we’d barely spent five minutes together. But I needed to clear the air. Above all, I needed to get him talking so we could get to the bottom of this.
“What did you tell them?”
“I told them whatever I felt they needed to know.”
I didn’t like the ambiguity in his tone. We’d been incredibly close last night, and now we felt a million miles apart again. Was he hiding something from me? I twisted the diamond bands on my finger, contemplating all the things he might not be telling me.
“Is there anything you didn’t tell them that you want to tell me?”
Then our gazes locked. I searched his eyes but found nothing.
“What are you talking about, Erica?”
“I mean . . . What happened with the election?”
He laughed lightly but there was no humor in his voice. “Are you asking me if I did it?”
I left the warmth of his side and stood. I paced a small circle in the room, suddenly needing some space. I swallowed over my next words, not wanting to admit that’s what had been burning in the back of my mind ever since he walked out of sight with Evans yesterday. “I guess I am.”
He leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees. “You think I took time away from a month-long honeymoon with my bride to rig Daniel’s election, ruin his career, and risk mine? No. The answer is no. I did not do that.”
My shoulders softened, tension releasing. “I’m sorry, Blake, I—”
“Me too, Erica. I thought that would go without saying, but maybe I haven’t given you enough reason to give me the benefit of the doubt.”
“It’s not like it’s beyond your capabilities.”
He grimaced. “So everyone keeps reminding me.”
“I just thought—”
“I would never hurt you, Erica. I fucking hate Daniel.” His jaw tightened, as if he were biting down on a thousand things he wanted to say. “I won’t deny that I despise the man, and I’ll be the first to admit that I relish the thought of ruining him. But I don’t hate him enough to put you and me in harm’s way again.”
A few minutes passed between us. He sat back into the couch, arms crossed, his gaze landing everywhere but on me.
“What did the police say? They couldn’t have found anything linking you to it, right?”
“They consider my connection to you motive.”
According to Carmody, that could play out against us either way, depending on whether Blake intended to hurt or help Daniel. But the way Gove shut down that line of questioning assured me that it wasn’t nearly enough to hold Blake on.
“That’s not enough.”
He was silent, yet somehow the silence told me there was more.
“What else do they have?”
“The voting machines were rigged using my code.”
Ice hit my veins. I stilled my aimless pacing. “What code?”
“Code I wrote years ago when I was developing the banking software. There are unique encryption routines that were used, and the feds have spent the past two weeks studying them, linking them to me.”
“You can’t be the only one who could have done that.”
“It’s banking, Erica. With billions of dollars on the line, there are only a few people with access to the source code.”