Beneath These Chains (Page 65)

Mathieu’s grip on his bottle tightened. “Why the fuck would they be looking at her for it? That girl couldn’t hurt a goddamn fly.” His tone was adamant, his nostrils flaring.

I pulled the unloaded gun from the waistband of my jeans and laid it on the kitchen island between us.

“Because her gun was the murder weapon.”

Mathieu’s eyes darted from the gun to mine and held. He slammed his bottle on the counter. “Then you better fucking get rid of it.”

The time for bullshit was over. “Why? Just tell me why?”

I wasn’t sure what I expected him to say, but it wasn’t what came out of his mouth next.

“You know why. You’ve known all along. What I want to know is why you look so fucking surprised. This is how shit works on the street. You know it. I know it. Just because I’m livin’ the good life doesn’t mean I don’t know how to take care of my own.”

“I don’t know shit, Mathieu.”

He crossed his arms, confusion creasing his features.

“How could you think I’d let Bree disrespect you that way? Or Jiminy? He was a piece of shit from the beginning, and you saw the way he looked at your girl. He wasn’t gonna leave her alone. He dug his own fucking grave.”

Bile rose up in my throat. Mathieu—the kid I’d been trying to keep on the straight and narrow and out of fucking prison—had done this for … me.

Death wasn’t new to me. I’d seen plenty. But this … I couldn’t even grasp what he was saying. There had to be some kind of mistake. All of it had to be a mistake.

“And Denton Fredericks?” I choked out.

Mathieu’s eyes narrowed. “Why the fuck do you look so goddamn surprised? You knew I’d take care of that prick after he threatened her.”

His words made no sense, and my brain was spinning out of control. “I didn’t fucking know, Mathieu. Are you even listening to yourself? I’d never expect you to take care of him—any of them.”

It was the wrong thing to say, because his posture shifted and his eyes took on a crazy light.

“You knew. You knew I’d handle it. That’s how we roll, brother. You’re the only family I got. People fuck with you and yours, and I fuck them up.”

The words—and his absolute conviction in them—slammed into me. Somehow, some way, I’d let this happen. I was partially responsible.

“Why the fuck would you use Elle’s gun? Were you trying to pin it on her?”

“Pin it on her? Why the fuck would I do that?”

“Then why use her gun?”

He blinked and shook his head. “She’s a rich white chick; who the hell would ever ask to see her gun? And if Hennessy is looking at her for this, then I gotta take him out too. She’s family now. Nothing touches her.”

Jesus fucking Christ. I was still trying to figure out how the hell to respond to him when a knock sounded at the door.

The crazy look in his eyes intensified into something twisted and hard. “You didn’t know. You didn’t know. And you called the motherfuckin’ cops, didn’t you? That’s how you thank me for taking your back? The cops?”

“What the hell are you talking about?” I strode to the window and looked out into the street, searching for Hennessy’s sedan.

“Can’t fuckin’ believe it.”

I turned back as Mathieu lunged for the gun on the counter and bolted for the slider.

He already had the door open as I took my first step toward him—bent on tackling him the same way I had two years ago. But the voice that filtered through the door stopped me cold.

“Pawn star, you in there?”

Did I chase down Mathieu? Tackle him like I had when he was seventeen?

Did I tell Elle that he’d inadvertently framed her for three murders?

Did I just hope to fuck I woke up and this was all a goddamn nightmare?

I grabbed the door handle and yanked it open before I ran to the slider where it hung open and looked out.

Nothing but darkness.

“Ummm … is everything okay?” Elle asked.

I looked back at her and shook my head. “No. Everything is not okay.”

The sound of a car firing up out front had me changing directions and heading to the front window.


“Was that Mathieu? Where’d he go?”

“Ain’t that the question? Fuck. How did you get here? How’d you know where I was?”

“I’m getting that you’re not happy to see me … but do you need to follow him?

I stared out the window, but he was gone. Leaning forward, I pressed both hands to the windowsill and dropped my head.


I could feel Elle beside me before her hand landed on my shoulder.

“What did I miss?” she asked quietly.

What the hell was I supposed to say? How did I answer her? How did I explain the fucked up conversation I’d just had with Mathieu? The kid—someone I trusted—had thrown my world into chaos.

“It’s a mess. A goddamn mess.”

“We’ll figure it out. Whatever it is, we’ll figure it out together.”

The words reminded me of what I’d said to her. I pushed off the windowsill and stared down at her. She was dressed in yoga pants and a ripped T-shirt. She looked so … fucking innocent.

I had to respond. Had to think of something to say to ease the lines in her brow and worry in her eyes. But I had nothing. Nothing at all.

I glanced back out the window. There was no cab waiting out front, no idling Mercedes with a driver.