Beneath These Lies (Page 48)

Oh. Fuck. I didn’t use the F-word very often, even in my head, but using it right now made a hell of a lot of sense.

I didn’t turn to look. Maybe Rix would see Rhett and duck back up the stairs. And how the hell did he get upstairs? He had to have used the front stairs in the foyer.

Rhett’s eyes went wide with shock.

Oh shit. Oh fuck. I bit my lip, which was a good move considering the voice I heard next.

“I’m right here.”

I spun around, shock and relief coursing through me. My eyes searched every inch of Trinity for evidence of injury or mistreatment. Sweeter relief followed when my inspection revealed a well-rested, well-fed, unmarked girl. She’d never looked more lovely to my eyes. Her hair wasn’t in its usual intricate style, but it looked like she’d recently showered.

My gaze darted to the stairs for a moment. Rix had to be up there. He’d gotten my girl back, and I couldn’t wait to deliver on what I owed him, even though technically I already had. Mostly, I just wanted to throw myself at him and climb him like a tree.

My chaotic thoughts and emotions ran together as Trinity came toward me and stopped beside me, leaning slightly against my side. I wrapped an arm around her and hugged her tight.

“As you can see, we’re having a bit of a slumber party tonight.”

Rhett’s eyes were every bit as assessing as mine had been on Trinity. “You just happened to be upstairs?” Skepticism edged his words like blades.

She nodded. “It’s almost time for me to go to bed, so yeah.” A ring of attitude came through loud and clear. She was still my feisty little trooper. And thank God for that.

“Where’ve you been the past few days?” Rhett asked. “I stopped by to talk to your grandmother today, and she’s been worried about you. She said she hasn’t seen you in over a week.”

Trinity stiffened, and I thought for sure the gig was up. We were screwed.

I opened my mouth to interject something, anything, but Trinity beat me to it. “I was staying with my boyfriend. Gran just didn’t want to admit it to you because she doesn’t approve of pre-marital relations. But I’m eighteen and I’m not committing a crime.”

Rhett’s gaze sharpened on both of us. “So, why aren’t you with your boyfriend tonight?”

Trinity trembled beside me. “We got into a fight today and we broke up. When I asked Valentina if I could crash here, she said yes. I’ll go home to Gran soon, but I’m not ready yet. She’s just going to tell me she told me so, and then I’ll get a lecture about why would he buy the cow when he’s getting the milk for free. I couldn’t handle it tonight.”

Rhett nodded, and I wondered if he was buying it. If I couldn’t feel Trinity’s shivering against me, I might have bought the whole story too.

“I’m glad you’re all right then. You should definitely keep the people around you informed of your whereabouts. They worry. Especially your boss.”

“Thank you for your concern, but I’m all good,” Trinity replied.

Rhett looked to me. “So, how does that explain the brick?”

Again, Trinity came to the rescue. “It’s my fault. I told my boyfriend I was breaking up with him to spend more time on my art, and that was how he decided to show me how he felt about it. Dick.” She looked to me. “You’re right to avoid men. They’re all assholes.”

Trinity’s comment showed just how out of the loop she’d been since she’d been gone. I hoped Hennessy would assume that I didn’t share my personal life with her.

He laughed. “Yeah, we are dicks, but some of us are worth it.” He turned to me, and all I could see was the mocking skepticism in his eyes. “Valentina, I’ll see you soon. I can show myself out then. I’m sorry for disturbing you so late, ladies. Thanks for the coffee.”

I followed Rhett as he strode toward the door, my gaze darting up the front stairs. Was Rix up there watching and waiting?

Rhett paused, hand on the doorknob, and looked at me. “I know there’s more going on here than you’re ever going to admit, which means you don’t trust me. I hope to fuck you know what you’re doing, and you know who you’re trusting. Just . . . be careful.”

For some eerie reason, I had the distinct impression that Rhett didn’t need any late-night confessions from me because he already knew everything. But that couldn’t be right. And did I really know Rix? Maybe not, but I knew I could trust him with the life of someone I loved. And I really needed to hug the crap out of Trinity, so Rhett needed to get a move on right now.

“There’s nothing to worry about other than the jerk boyfriend of Trinity’s who tossed a brick through my window—”

Rhett interrupted me. “Save it, Valentina. You don’t need to keep lying to me. But I’m willing to listen if and when you change your mind.” He glanced over my shoulder to where Trinity stood. “My door is open to either of you. Anytime.”

With that, he stepped outside and pulled the door shut behind him. I threw the dead bolt and spun, running to Trinity. She met me in the middle of the foyer and threw her arms around me. Tears soaked the shoulder of my shirt.

“I’m so sorry. So sorry,” she said as she sobbed.

I smoothed her hair and squeezed her tight. “Oh, baby. You’ve got nothing to be sorry for. None of this is your fault.”

Her words were broken by shaking breaths. “I dragged you into all of this. I’m so sorry.”

“Shhh. It’s okay. Everything’s okay now that you’re safe. That’s all that matters, honey. It’s okay.”