Beneath These Scars (Page 52)

HANDS BRACED ON THE COUNTER in my guest bathroom, I stared at myself in the mirror.

What was I doing? I handled everything that came my way, but I didn’t insert myself into someone’s life and try to fix it. But I wanted to fix it all for Yve, even though she’d never let me.

What did I do with her now? That was the question. I’d walked out of a meeting when Jerome had called and said she’d finally answered her phone. A meeting I shouldn’t have walked out of and needed to return to in order to deal with the aftermath. An empire like mine didn’t run itself.

But I didn’t go. Instead, I’d sent Jerome to find Yve some clothes and handle Dirty Dog. Hennessy had told us that there was nothing left of her apartment, and I’d seen it for myself when I’d sped over there immediately afterward to discover Yve was nowhere to be found. I’d known she’d be taken somewhere by the Red Cross, but no one knew where. Rather than scour the neighborhood, I’d gone to the office and commenced calling her a ridiculous number of times.

Why did I do that? I wasn’t sure.

Probably because she was the most stubborn woman I’d ever met, and if I were right, she wouldn’t ask for help. She’d find her own way through a situation that no one should have to deal with on her own.

My phone buzzed in the pile of clothes on the floor, and I bent to fish it out. Hennessy again.

I’d gotten to know the detective when I’d been chasing after Vanessa Frost, and by chasing after I meant blackmailing. It had been expedient at the time, but hadn’t ended the way I’d planned.

Before I answered, I glanced into the bedroom. Yve was tucked under the blanket, her eyes closed. Her chest rose and fell in a slow and even rhythm.

I could’ve lost her today. That was unacceptable—as was the helplessness it dredged up inside me. No one would take her from me.

I closed the bathroom door and answered the call. “What else do you know?”

Hennessy didn’t miss a beat at my lack of greeting. “My buddy in arson says the dogs didn’t pick up any traces of accelerants around the exterior, but they won’t know more until the cause-and-origin guys get in there. Structure is still too hot to get inside and check it out. Still, even though the dogs didn’t find anything, he says he doesn’t usually see this kind of destruction from a simple gas leak. This is more along the lines of a major leak or an intentional leak. It definitely came from the downstairs unit that’s been empty a few days while the lady was on vacation.”

Not Yve’s place.

Relief came hard and fast until Hennessy added, “But the weird thing is that the lady whose apartment it was? She says she won the ticket to go visit her sister in a radio giveaway . . . from a station that doesn’t exist. No record of it. The ticket was couriered to her house the same day she won it and had to be used within forty-eight hours, which doesn’t sound like any radio giveaway I’ve ever heard of.”

“Hell no, it doesn’t.”

“What it sounds like is someone trying to make sure the place would be empty to potentially rig the stove and cause the explosion.”

“What about the other tenant? What did she have to say? Did she have any enemies?”

“From what I’ve been told, she worked at the postal service until she retired a couple months ago. Got bored and decided to take a job working third shift a couple weeks back. I need more time to dig, but from what she told me, she lives a pretty quiet life. So, the question is . . . what about Yve?”

“Have you started digging?”

“You know this isn’t my case, right? I’m just telling you what I’ve gotten from my contacts.”

“Come on, Hennessy. You can’t tell me you’re not curious now.”

“Sure I am, but I’ve got a ton of other shit on my desk that is my job that needs to get done today.”

“Fine. I’ll ask her myself.”

“Let me know what you find out.”

“Yeah, I will.”

We hung up, and I wondered if Yve would tell me any more than she’d told me last time, that night in my study after I’d found her in my pool.

Now that her life could have been the price, the time for bullshit answers had passed. This all felt way too planned, and Yve’s fear made her the most likely target.

I opened the door and crossed over to the bed. I’d let her sleep for a little longer, and then I would get some answers.

Even if I had to fight Yve herself, I would keep her safe. She didn’t need to know it, but she’d joined the small circle of people I’d kill to protect.

Jerome still hadn’t returned an hour later, and Yve hadn’t woken, but my patience to figure out what the hell had happened was wearing thin. I retrieved shorts and a T-shirt from my room and went back into the guest room.

I was still six feet from the bed when Yve’s eyes snapped open.

“I wonder if I’ll ever be able to sleep through any noise again,” she murmured, clearly talking to herself and not me. Sitting up, she pressed the heels of her palms into her eyes before dropping them to her lap and meeting my stare.

“What?” she asked.

I crossed to the bed and held out the clothes. “Here. Put these on. We need to talk.”

Her expression shuttered immediately. “Can’t I just keep forgetting for a while?”

“Forgetting isn’t going to help us figure out who tried to kill you.”

All the ease that had remained in Yve’s body drained out instantly, and for a second I regretted it—but only a second.