Beneath These Scars (Page 50)

Jerome. What the hell?

I picked up the call. “Hello?”

“Oh, thank God, dear, we’ve been worried sick about you ever since Detective Hennessy called to tell us about your house, but he couldn’t tell us where you were.”

Hennessy. The man seemed to pop up everywhere. Did NOLA’s finest not have enough to do other than spread the word about my house burning down?

“I’m okay, Jerome. I’m fine.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.” I wasn’t about to explain that I was physically, mentally and emotionally drained, and it wasn’t even ten a.m. but I felt like I could sleep for a week. Except I’d probably be sleeping with one eye open because who knew what would happen to the next place I slept.

Would I ever sleep easy again? Maybe in a decade.

“Okay. Good. Very good. I need to hang up now, because I need to tell Mr. Titan that you’re answering your phone. And please, if you would, answer his call.”


“’Bye, dear.” And Jerome hung up.

Within twenty seconds, it lit up again with Titan’s name and number. Did I really want to answer it?

My brain was moving too slowly to execute sophisticated reasoning right now. Screw it. I answered.


“Where the hell are you?” Titan demanded.

“I’m about to grab a shower, not that it’s any of your business.” Apparently I still had some sass left in me. It hadn’t been completely knocked out by the blast.

“Tell me where you are, and don’t move. I’m coming to get you.”


“Don’t push me.”

I told him where I was. I might have had sass, but I didn’t have the energy to argue. Besides, his shower was nicer than the gym’s. I still needed clothes, though. I had some extra stock at Dirty Dog that was in my size that I could buy, but that wouldn’t hold me for long. It seemed so stupid, but now that I knew there was no loss of life, it seemed less ridiculous to mourn the loss of my stuff. Mostly vintage, one of a kind, and irreplaceable.

I swallowed back a lump in my throat.

Well, if buying Dirty Dog didn’t work out, I’d still be able to put my unique skills to work rebuilding my wardrobe. But if I didn’t have Dirty Dog and I had to work at some other job, would I have to dress . . . less like me? The thought horrified me like no other. It was crazy that something so small and inconsequential could set me off, but tears spilled over my lids as a devastating sense of loss swamped me. I sat on the stoop next to CVS as I clutched my purse and let them fall.

Just a few minutes of self-pity, and I’d pick myself up and move on.

I pressed the heels of my hands to my eyes and the tears fell faster and harder. It’s all gone. My home. My place. My stuff.

It’s just stuff, Yve. And your home didn’t even feel safe anymore. My inner, more logical self tried to reason this one out, but I wasn’t exactly consolable, because I wasn’t ready for logic. I just wanted to cry.

The low purr of the Aston slowed by the curb much too quickly and my pity party hadn’t yet concluded. I swiped the back of my hands across my cheeks, wondering how much of a mess I looked. No makeup, bed head, tear-stained face, hadn’t yet showered after an explosion had destroyed my house.

Screw it. I deserved a pass today.

And I would rip his head off and feed it to him if he was a jerk. I didn’t think I could handle it right now. I didn’t have my walls up, and armorless was no way to go into battle with Titan.

Based on our past encounters—especially last night—I wondered if he’d just tell me to get in. But he didn’t. I heard the car door open, and I looked up in time to see him crouching in front of me.

“Rough morning?”

I tried to laugh, I really did, but instead I burst into tears again.


He didn’t say anything else, just lifted me off the stoop and into his arms before carrying me to the car. He set me inside, secured my seat belt, and closed the door.

I was swiping my tears away for what I hoped would be the final time when he climbed into the driver’s seat and shifted into gear. He still didn’t speak as he drove out of the neighborhood near what used to be my house, and headed back to the other side of town. When we reached his home, he still said nothing as he helped me out of the car, into the house, and to the guest bathroom.

I sat on the edge of the tub and gripped my purse and the CVS bag. For some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to meet his eyes. Too raw and vulnerable.

“You want me to start the water for you?” His words weren’t harsh and they weren’t soft. They were just . . . normal. As if I hadn’t just bawled all over the front seat of his car.

“I’m fine.”

From beneath my lids I saw him reach out. He pulled my purse and the bag from my grip and set them on the floor. A hank of my hair fell forward over my face, and he tucked it behind my ear before backing away and leaning against the door frame.

“You’re not fine. But you will be.” He grabbed the door’s handle and pulled it closed behind him.

I hadn’t known what to expect from him, but it wasn’t this. Especially not after last night.

I glanced from the tub to the shower and decided that a shower was better. I didn’t want to soak in the grime I’d accumulated from being flung to the ground behind my apartment.

So I turned on the shower and waited for steam to fill the enclosure before stripping off my clothes and stepping inside. I pressed both palms to the cold tile and dropped my head, allowing the hot water to pour over me.