Beneath These Lies (Page 51)

“Fuck off. He wasn’t dirty. I don’t believe it.”

I untwisted his hand from my shirt and stepped back. “Then find the tape. Someone in the cop shop has to have it.”

We stared at each other for long moments before Hennessy backed away toward his Jeep.

“This isn’t over, Rix. Not by a long shot.”

“I didn’t figure it was.”

“Keep looking.”

“Stop sniffing around my woman.”

“Keep her safe and happy then.”

“Don’t fucking need to tell me that.”

“Later, Rix.”


THE GRAZE ON MY SIDE kept bleeding, and I wasn’t about to bring the blood that colored my world into Valentina’s bed. A visit to an old friend, a retired ER doc in a subdivision near Lake Pontchartrain, fixed me up.

He raised his eyebrows plenty, but he didn’t ask questions. We’d met when his kid had gotten tangled up in the wrong crowd—my kind of crowd—and he’d been desperate to get him back on the straight and narrow. I’d run my own version of Scared Straight and the kid had nearly pissed himself. This life was hard, and some middle-class kid who had plenty of other options for his future and parents who gave a shit didn’t have any business getting involved.

We’d capped off his experience with a trip to the morgue, and a few looks at the unfortunate sons of bitches who’d been on the wrong side of a drive-by bullet had him puking up his lunch in a trash can.

That was the best way I could explain this life. If you want to live until you’re old and rocking on your front porch, your white-haired woman beside you, then don’t get in it.

But what did that mean for me? Fuck, I’d never intended to fall in love. Didn’t even see that shit coming. But I also couldn’t deny it. Couldn’t stop it. Didn’t want to change it. My path was filled with land mines. I couldn’t bring her down it. I couldn’t do that to anyone I gave a damn about.

So that left me with two options: find a new path or let her go.

Hennessy would be fucking waiting with open arms if I did it. Might be better for her, but I wasn’t about to give her up. No one’s future was final. I had plenty of power, and just maybe I could find a way to have it all. I liked that idea. Having it all.

As I made my way through the darkened yards of the Garden District to get into Valentina’s the back way, I moved slower than normal because of the pain in my side. Didn’t want to tear the good doctor’s stitches out. Maybe the first thing on my list of having it all would be a key to her place.

As I slipped through her back gate and up to the door I used routinely to break in, I laughed to myself. A guy like me didn’t need a key because you couldn’t keep me out anyway. I also needed to upgrade Valentina’s security system. It wasn’t much of a challenge anymore.

Making my way quietly through the house because I knew Trinity was sleeping somewhere, I headed for the stairs.

The girl’s voice stopped me. “Did you get an update on Derrick?”

Trinity had asked me more than once. All three times I’d forced the FNDs to let me talk to her to assure her safety, and then again after shit had gone down and we’d gotten out of there. I wasn’t the only one to catch a bullet, but my guy’s wounds had been superficial compared to the FNDs. We’d left two bodies behind when shit had gone south. Trinity didn’t know that either. She’d been a good kid and run when I’d told her to run.

But D-Rock. Fuck. I’d kept telling her he was recovering from the car wreck, which was true, but he was also recovering five states away and had been banned from coming back to NOLA because he’d pissed me the fuck off. She didn’t need him screwing up her life again. Because of the respect I had for Valentina, I’d keep D-Rock as far away from the girl as I possibly could.

“Not tonight.”

Her face fell.

“Shouldn’t you be in bed, girl?”

Shuffling her feet, she shrugged. “Yeah, but I wanted to talk to you first.”

“Okay. Talk.” My patience was running thin after the clusterfuck of a night, especially now that I was only steps away from Valentina’s bed.

“You’re going to tell her what happened, right? Because I didn’t tell her anything.”

Well, that was good at least.

“I’ll tell her.”

The girl finally met my eyes, and concern lined her face. “She’s good people. Please make sure you know what you’re doing with her. I don’t want to see her get hurt. She doesn’t know that I know, but she’s been through some tough stuff. She deserves her happily-ever-after.”

Getting warned off from another source wasn’t doing anything to improve my mood. But these two shared a bond that I didn’t quite understand, so I wasn’t going to question it.

“You’ve got my word.”

Trinity’s face lit up. “You’re going to make sure she gets that happily-ever-after, right? She needs it. She won’t ever admit it, but she wants to get married and have babies, and I know she’ll be the best mom ever.”

I held up a hand. “Whoa. Slow down, girl. One step at a time.”

Trinity’s smile didn’t fade. “You might not realize it, Rix, but you’re a knight, whether your armor is shiny or not. You saved me, and I know you’ll protect her. Sometimes the dragon is a better choice for the princess than a prince.”

Now the girl was talking in so many mixed fairy-tale metaphors, I didn’t even know how to respond.