Beneath These Scars (Page 69)

Disgust at his whole explanation, already twisting my stomach, grew stronger. “Picked the wrong girl?”

“Bitch said he raped her, and her dad was a judge. They were on federal land when she said it happened, which was lucky for him. I got him into a minimum-security federal prison so he didn’t have to be inside with all the animals in Angola.”

I was speechless. Utterly goddamn speechless. And Johnson Haines was on a roll.

“My mother, without my knowledge, pushed their divorce through, and then Yve ceased to be my problem. Her mother cut ties with her, and I thought she was done causing me trouble for good. But no, of course not. That little bitch has to complicate everything.”

“Stop right there.” Any more words, and I might kill him.

But Haines didn’t heed my warning and was already spewing the rest of his sordid story. “Jay, my boy, finally met a sweet little girl while he was in prison, and then he got paroled. I arranged for the two of them to move outside of town and live a quiet life, but Jay can’t seem to stop fixating on Yve. His fiancée is understandably losing her patience, and afraid she’s going to lose my boy. So I need Yve out of the way. Need it clear to Jay that he’s never getting another shot with her. And one thing Jay has always hated was the idea of keeping a woman. That’s why he married her to begin with. Didn’t want to make her a whore.”

Haines gave me an evil smile. “Well, guess what? That’s exactly what you’re going to do. Make Yve your whore. Put her up in a nice little house, let it get around town, and then find yourself a decent woman to be seen with in public. Maybe then Jay will finally see her true colors, that she’s just like all the other women in her family. He’s got a good thing going, and I don’t trust him not to fuck up again.”

A red haze clouded my vision. “You’re a piece of shit, Haines. You and your kid. There is absolutely nothing I would do to help you, and you better understand that Yve is under my protection—not like your fucked-up mistress-keeping definition—but in the way that means I’ll come after anyone who threatens her with every goddamn thing I have.”

He snorted. “And you’re willing to sacrifice this bill—and potentially billions—for that little whore? She’s not worth it, I can promise you that.”

I stepped toward him. “You say another goddamn word, and you’ll have a mysterious accident involving that window and your dead body on the sidewalk.”

Haines’s face twisted, and he stepped away from the window. Good—he should be afraid of me. I was a scary motherfucker.

“You’re making an enemy of the wrong man here, son.”

“Fuck you, Haines. I’m not your son, and I’m sure as hell glad of that.” I took another step closer to him and grinned when I saw his double chin tremble.

“You touch me and I’ll make sure you end up in prison, Titan.”

“You think you’re not the kind of person someone would want as an enemy? I could buy you, sell you, and bury you so fast no one will have a chance to come to your rescue. Do you understand me? And if you ever come near Yve Santos, or do anything to cause her even a moment’s loss of sleep or concern, that’s exactly what I’ll do. You fuck with her, you’re fucking with me.”

“Your bill is dead.”

“Fuck the bill. I’ll kill the project myself before I’d accept your help.”

Haines slammed the glass down on the sideboard. “You’re making a huge mistake. She isn’t worth it.”

“That’s where you’re wrong. She’s worth all that and more.”

I turned and strode to the door. I needed to get to Yve. Now.

I CAME TO SLOWLY. MY head ached and my tongue stuck to the roof of my dry mouth.

What the hell happened? I tried to piece together where I was, but nothing was making sense. I opened my eyes and didn’t recognize the high ceilings of what looked like a parlor in a plantation house.

The mansion. The sale.

I tried to move, but my hands and feet were bound to a chair. I looked down, but the instant I moved my head, my stomach churned with bile and fear.

Duct tape. I was duct-taped to a chair.

The old wooden floor creaked as someone entered the room, and I reinforced every bit of mental and emotional strength I had in me.

The sound of a woman humming softly preceded her entry into the room. When I saw her, the flash before everything had gone dark came back violently.


“Oh, Yve. You look rather uncomfortable,” Jennifer drawled, her tone mockingly devoid of any real concern. “I’m so glad you could join me, though.” Her hands were folded at her waist, and I marveled at how the skinny blond bitch could jab a needle into my neck and somehow drag and duct-tape me to a chair without mussing a single hair in her perfect chignon.

But what I didn’t understand was why.

“Who are you?” I demanded.

Her triumphant smile made no sense until she explained. “Why, I’m the next Mrs. Johnson Haines Jr.”

My head spun like I’d been forced into an alternate dimension. “You can’t be serious.”

“Of course I am.” She stepped forward and held out her hand, showing off the diamond sparkling on her finger. “He proposed the day he was granted parole.”

She was crazy. There was no other explanation. “You met him in prison?”

“You don’t think prisoners need someone to talk to? Someone to love them? That’s not very kind of you, Yvie.”