Beneath These Scars (Page 35)

I slammed on the brakes after I pulled into my parking spot, and eyed the stairs to my apartment. The locksmith had installed all new locks, and the security people had installed an alarm system. Neither of which I’d run by my landlord, but he was going to have to get over it because all I cared about was my own damn safety.

I stomped to the stairs and climbed them. Despite the warm evening, I was shivering in my soaked clothes. As I jammed my key into the lock, the deep purr of an engine sounded from behind me.

If that was an Aston Martin . . .

I glanced over my shoulder. A strange pang hit my chest when I saw it wasn’t an Aston Martin, a reaction I refused to believe was disappointment.

Get real, girl. Like Lucas Titan would ever chase after you like that. Not that I wanted him to.

I walked back down the stairs to meet Geneviève in the middle of the small backyard at the cheap bench I’d put out there.

“Ginny. What brings you here?”

Ginny didn’t do her hug-and-air-kiss routine. She didn’t comment on my destroyed dress or my surely bedraggled appearance. No, she crossed toward me and grabbed my shoulders.

“He’s out, Yve. He’s already out.”

“I heard.”

Ginny’s eyes widened. “How did you know? I didn’t even know.”

How could that be? That mystified me. She was the matriarch; she knew everything that happened in that family.

“A friend who was keeping tabs.”

“Good. Good.” She nodded with each word. “You need friends right now because I’m very concerned about his mental state. All those years in prison . . . he’s not the same person anymore, Yve. I . . . I don’t know what he might do.”

Then why did you let him get out? I wanted to scream. But I didn’t. Something about being around the usually unflappable Ginny helped me gather my composure. I thought about the glass and the missing perfume. It was harmless stuff, which was why I hadn’t gone to the police. If he’d left a dead cat on my doorstep, then I would have had something to point to and tell anyone who would listen that they needed to throw his crazy ass back in prison.

“Do you know where he is?”

She shook her head. “My son won’t tell me anything. He’s kept me out of it completely. After I pushed the divorce through, he’s never trusted me with anything about Jay. He thinks I’ve chosen sides, and obviously chosen wrongly.”

I gritted my teeth in frustration. “Could he be at the hunting cabin? Any rental properties?” Any new mistresses’ houses?

I wanted to say the words, but didn’t. Not just because it seemed wrong to ask something like that of Ginny, but because Jay’s daddy had actually been pretty faithful to my mama over the years—more faithful than to his wives. But still, even for a woman who looked fifteen years younger than she was, my mama was in her waning years. He was due to move on eventually.

I hadn’t talked to my mother since the day I’d woken up in the hospital and she’d been sitting in my room, waiting for me. The scene was still so vivid in my mind.

The first words out of her mouth had been, “What did you do?”

She’d refused to believe that I hadn’t goaded Jay into almost killing me. When I told her that I’d finally had the courage to ask him for a divorce, she’d raised her hand to slap me, but my face was covered by bandages.

“All you had to do was make the boy happy, Yve,” she’d said. “And you couldn’t even manage to do that.”

“But, Mama, he—”

“I don’t care what he does, you’re his wife. You’re screwing up the best thing that ever happened to you. And if this ruins my relationship with his daddy, I swear to the Lord above, you’re dead to me.”

Tears had streaked down my face, soaking the bandages. My voice had shaken when I’d ordered her to get out, because she was already dead to me.

After Jay had left me broken in our house, he’d gone out that night and picked up Valentina at a bar. I could almost picture him putting on the Southern-boy charm I knew he still possessed. She’d been on the rebound, looking for a one-night stand, and he’d pocketed his wedding band. According to her, when she’d gotten into his car, he’d gone into a rage, screaming at her and calling her my name. And then he’d driven like crazy so she thought they’d crash. When he’d finally pulled off on a long, deserted road, he’d dragged her into the backseat, raped her, then tossed her and her purse out of the car. She’d called for help and ended up in a hospital room just down the hall from me.

I hated that my actions had affected Valentina, but she’d forgiven me. That didn’t mean I’d forgiven myself, though.

“Yve, are you listening to me?”

I snapped out of my trip down the memory lane from hell, and met Ginny’s eyes. “What?”

Fear came off Ginny in waves. “You’ve got to leave town, dear. I’m afraid he’s going to come after you. My offer is still good. All you need to do is pick a city. You can leave tonight. I’ll arrange to have your belongings packed and shipped. He’ll never find you.”

I laid a hand on her shoulder. “What do you know?”

“Nothing, and it scares the living hell out of me. I don’t trust him, and I don’t trust my son.”

I squared my shoulders and tried not to upset her with my words. “I’m not leaving. This is my home. This is my city just as much as it’s his. I didn’t let him run me out of it before, and I won’t let him now.” Ice coated the steel reinforcing my spine as I added, “Whatever he’s gonna do, he’s gonna do. I won’t change my life just because I can’t predict what that might be.” Even as I said the words, the possibilities and risks flipped through my brain, along with the potential for this to be a downright stupid decision.