Page 39 of The Other Man

“What is it and where did you find it?” he asked.

I sighed.  If he knew about the calls, he probably knew about the pregnancy by now, too.  “Five home pregnancy tests, ones that I had used and thrown out in my trashcan, lined up on my bathroom counter.”

He whistled.  “That’s definitely not normal.  And you thought it was Lisa?”

“I don’t know her name.”  I described her in detail.

He nodded.  “That’s Lisa.  I can promise you it was not her.  She was taken off this detail, now I’m on it.  She’s nowhere near here, so if this happened today, that’s impossible.  Can I take a look?”

I grimaced, and let him, stewing as I followed him through my house.  If it wasn’t her, Lisa, than I was fresh out of ideas.

He didn’t touch anything when we reached my bathroom, just studied it closely for a long time.

“Heath’s the father?” he finally asked, his tone unreadable.

I flushed, but answered, “Yes.”

“You’re certain?”

I couldn’t really blame him for asking, here he was investigating an odd situation for me, and if he’d been the one spying on me recently, he knew that up until mere days ago, I’d been seeing someone else.  But still, it smarted a bit.

I tried not to make my voice sharp when I answered, “Absolutely.”

He just nodded, like that settled an issue, and went back to studying.

“I guess the whole idea of privacy sort of flies out the window when you date a man like Heath,” I said, tone light, though in truth I was still coming to terms with that.

“You guess right.  But, you know, it’s all for your safety.”  He waved his hand at the objects on the counter.

Finally he spoke again, “Has anything else in your house been tampered with?  Anything been taken or moved?”

I thought about it, glancing around my room.  My house was neat enough, it wasn’t messy, but it wasn’t particularly organized, either.  I had a lot of stuff, especially in my master suite—clothes, shoes, jewelry, lingerie that never got to be properly utilized.

“I haven’t noticed anything,” I said slowly, “but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been.  I hadn’t thought of it.  I wasn’t looking for anything like that.  I only saw this because it stood out.”

“Will you look around now?  Take inventory?  Tell me if anything seems off.  Any detail would be helpful.”

I nodded and began a meticulous search through my house, starting with my closet.

I didn’t even know how many shoes I owned.  I only noticed that a pair was missing because they were my favorite.

My black Lady Peep Louboutins were gone, a cubby on my shoe wall empty.  Whoever had taken them hadn’t even tried to hide it.

“At least one pair of shoes is missing,” I called to Mason.

“Okay,” he called back.  “Keep looking, and tell me if you find anything else, especially if it’s something . . . more personal.”

I didn’t explain to him that my favorite Louboutins missing were very personal.  That was nothing a man like him would understand.

“A silk robe,” I called when I noticed another missing item from the closet.  I thought about it and figured I should add, “It was my favorite.  I wore it all the time.  The shoes were a favorite, too.”

He appeared in the doorway of my closet.  “So whoever did this knows you well.”

“I guess,” I said.  “Someone could have found that out by spying on me, like you guys do.”  It was kind of sad how much I’d become resigned to the idea of being stalked.

He cursed.  “I just got put on this detail, but I’ll have to touch base more thoroughly with the person I relieved.  It seems they were slacking on their job.”

“Lisa,” I said coldly.

“Lisa,” he agreed.  “If someone else has been stalking you, she should have noticed it.”

“She hates me,” I pointed out.

“Yes.  I’m guessing that’s why she did a shitty job keeping an eye on you.  Normally she’s the best at her job.  It’s why she was chosen for this, but it was clearly a mistake on our part.  My apologies for that.”

I just nodded at him.

“Keep looking,” he prompted me.

I finished with the closet, but nothing else stood out to me.  That didn’t mean things weren’t missing, though.  Courtesy of my retail addiction, I just had too many shoes, bags, and clothes to keep track of.

I started on my bedroom, going through each drawer of my dressers carefully.

“Are any of those missing?” Mason asked as I was going through my panty drawer, sounding about as uncomfortable as I felt.

I shot him a look.  “I honestly have no clue.  Someone would have to take a lot before I noticed any missing.”

He just nodded, then pointedly looked away.

I kept searching, combing through everything.

I saved the most mortifying thing in my room, for last, of course.  Mason, at least, was still keeping his gaze averted as I opened my toy drawer.

Well, that sounded bad.  It wasn’t an entire drawer of toys, more like a few toys hidden at the bottom of a certain drawer.

I lifted the bit of lingerie that covered the more pertinent contents of the drawer and couldn’t hold back a gasp as I saw what’d been done.

I saw Mason moving out of the corner of my eye, gaze glued on the huge serrated blade set amidst my personal things.  It wasn’t mine.  I’d never seen it before.


Mason started cursing.

I started shaking.

“I take it that blade isn’t yours?”

I shook my head, and he cursed some more, then crouched down next to me and bagged up the knife.

“Anything else odd about this drawer?”

I was so shaken up by the knife that I didn’t even feel awkward about the subject matter.  I was beyond embarrassment at this point.  “A vibrator is missing,” I said dully.

There was a long pause then, “Your favorite?”

I grimaced and nodded.

His slew of curses that time went on for a while.

“Anything else?”

It took me a minute more of staring before I caught it.  “A set of handcuffs.”

He didn’t remark on that, and for some reason that made me add, “They were technically Heath’s.”

By then he was searching the room himself.  “Start packing a bag,” he told me, standing on my bed to reach my ceiling fan.  “You can’t stay here right now.  This house has been compromised.”

I started to pack, my mind spinning.

I thought of something.  “My son is on his way over.  I need to call him to tell him if we’re leaving.”

“You do.  But you need to pack first.”

I complied, but inside I balked at that.  I was a mother, first and foremost, and I felt that the first thing I should do was call my son and tell him not to come to my house, which was apparently unsafe now.

Mason started cursing again, and I glanced at him just in time to catch him taking something small out of the light fixture attached to the ceiling fan.

I started to freak the hell out.  To the point that I had to tell myself to calm down.

“What was that?” I asked him, unable to hide the unsteady cadence of my voice.

“Camera,” he said tersely, getting down from the bed.  “This is even more fucked than I thought.  I need to call this in, get something out of the car.  It will take me exactly five minutes.  And you need to pack quick, and I mean quick.  We have to be out of here in ten minutes.”

I nodded that I understood him, but the second he was out of the room, I was dashing for my phone and calling Raf.

A mother, first and foremost.

The other end picked up, but Raf didn’t say anything, so I started in.  “Sweetie, you shouldn’t come here now.  It’s a long story, but you and Gustave need to steer clear of my house for the next few days.”

I was trying to pack one handed while I rattled that off.

“Hello, Lourdes,” a blank voice said in my ear.

I froze, the toothbrush I’d just grabbed fell from my other hand.  It was odd; one hand had gone limp, while the other clutched my phone against my ear in a death-grip.

I knew who it was, even while my mind stuttered to a halt at the words.

It was Kevin, I knew his voice, but it was wrong, so off I almost didn’t recognize it.

A few realizations came to me then, all at once.

All of the worrisome things about him shifted into focus, all of the contradictions and quirks gaining enough substance to finally get my full attention, at last overwhelming my distracted mind.

Whoever I’d thought Kevin was, he was not.  The man on the other end of the phone was a mystery to me, a terrifying one at that.

Kevin was a lie.  A myth created to lure me in.

There was no Kevin.  He was a stranger.

A stranger who had known me well enough to feign my same interests, to customize himself into a man I’d fall easily into dating.

Tags: R.K. Lilley Romance