Beneath These Chains (Page 60)

“That’s cool; we can crash there if you want.”

“I mean … by myself.”

I stilled on the sidewalk in front of the bar. “What’s going on, Elle?”

“Do you remember Yve? She manages Dirty Dog.”

“Sure, I remember her.”

“She’s kind of having a rough night. Like, really rough. She found out her ex might be getting out of prison. She’s freaking out, and I don’t want to leave her alone. We’re holed up in my apartment, and she’s sewing a voodoo doll of him. And I think it might be a real one. I’m not entirely sure.”

What the fuck? I opened my mouth to reply, but I seriously didn’t have a clue how to respond.

“Lord? Are you still there?”

“I’m trying to figure out what the hell say to that.”

“I’m so sorry. I just … I think I should stay here tonight.”

“Don’t apologize. You take care of your girl. But can I ask you a favor?”

“Okay. Sure.”

“Don’t go rolling around in the Quarter tonight. Hennessy still doesn’t have any leads, and I don’t want you out there without me at your side.”

“I can do that.”

I relaxed at her easy acceptance.

“I’ll pick you up in the morning. Call me if you need me.”

“I will. Bye, babe.”

And then she hung up.

Voodoo doll? That did not sound like a good omen.

I was back in the shop the next day with Elle by my side. All was right with the world—until it wasn’t.

“Oh shit, it’s my mom calling. Do you think he told her?” Elle’s voice was panicked as she stared down at the screen of her phone. “What am I going to say? Shit. Shit. I’m not ready.”

I moved behind her and wrapped an arm around her waist. “It’s gonna be rough, but we’ll get through it. It’s gonna work out okay in the end.”

Elle swiped her finger across the screen, and answered. “Mother?”

Because I was standing so damn close to her, I could hear every word coming from the other end of the line.

“Elle honey, it’s Margaux. You … you need to come right away. Your mother is … she’s having a time.”

“Is it Denton? Did he—”

“You’ve already heard?” The housekeeper sounded confused.

“That he was going to leave?”

“Leave? No, child. He’s dead.”

“What?” Elle held the phone away from her ear and stared at it like it was a foreign object.

Margaux continued speaking, and Elle put the phone back to her ear.

“—found murdered. Your mama is having a complete meltdown. Calling herself the black widow because her husbands can’t survive her. I’ve been trying to keep her away from the liquor cabinet, but there’s no stopping her. She’s a mess.”

“I’m on my way. Right now.”

Elle hung up and stared at me. “Did you hear—?”

“Yeah, I heard. Let me go grab Mathieu and tell him we’re leaving.”

Elle bobbed her head, her eyes wide and blank.

Jesus fucking Christ.

We hauled ass across town, and I followed Elle in through the kitchen entrance. We both winced at the screeching coming from somewhere within the house. Elle’s ma sounded like a banshee.

Margaux met us in the hallway. “She’s really upset, Elle. I can’t calm her down.”

“Did you call Doc Monroe? He’s got to have a sedative or something to quiet her.”

Margaux raised a hand to her temple. “I should’ve thought of that. It’s just … it’s been—”

Elle wrapped her arms around the woman. “Don’t fret. You’re doing everything right. We’ll take care of her, but if you could call Doc Monroe and get him over here¸ that’d be appreciated.” She released Margaux as another shrill howl tore through the house. “She’s in the library?”

“Yes, come.”

We followed Margaux to the library, and when she pushed open the door, Elle and I both paused at the complete disaster in front of us.

“Holy shit.”

It looked like a tornado had ripped through the room. Books were everywhere—except on the shelves where they belonged. White shards littered the tile in front of the fireplace. Several pictures hung drunkenly on the wall, glass shattered.

“Mama,” Elle breathed when we saw the woman huddled in the corner rocking back and forth, arms wrapped over her head, an empty bottle beside her.


Elle’s face—already pale—drained of any remaining color. I could only imagine the memories this must have been stirring up. I squeezed her hand before releasing it so she could go to her.

She crossed the room, glass crunching under her shoes, and crouched before her ma.

“Mama, I’m so sorry. So sorry.”

Her ma’s head came up, eyes wild. “You hated him. You’re glad he’s dead.”

Elle shook her head and repeated, “I’m so sorry.”

I expected more hurled accusations, but the woman broke down into sobs, and Elle wrapped her arms around her, rocking with her, stroking her back and her hair.

I felt totally and completely useless standing there watching, but there was nothing that could make me move from this spot. Elle might not need me right this second, but I’d be her rock. Together we’d make this right for her ma.

Talk about fucking timing. I’d expected this breakdown to come in a few days, when Denton delivered the news that he was done because Elle hadn’t bowed to his demands. But instead, she’d be helping her mother plan yet another funeral.