Beneath These Scars (Page 71)

“GPS says twenty minutes. I’ll be there in ten. I’ll call you if it’s nothing. But this doesn’t feel right.”

“Agreed. Please try to keep from killing yourself on the way there,” Jerome replied.

“Done.” I hung up and roared out of the parking lot.

Hennessy was my next call. Maybe it was overkill, but this one felt bad all the way to my gut.

“It’s Yve’s ex-husband. He’s obsessed with her,” I said as soon as he answered.

“Hello to you too, Titan. What the hell are you talking about?”

“Yve’s ex-husband. He has to be the one who caused the apartment explosion.”

“We’ve still got no leads, so I’ll take what I can get.”

I relayed the information about the estate sale and my gut reaction.

“Could be harmless,” Hennessy remarked.

“I’m not taking any chances.”

“Shit, man. You driving out there?”

“Right now.”

“Call if you need backup.”

“I’ll call you if we need body bags.” I hung up before he could reply.

JENNIFER CAME CLOSER TO ME with the knife, but my fight-or-flight response was thwarted by the damn duct tape. I needed to keep her talking. I really, really needed to avoid the pain that would come with that knife. You know, or getting dead. I had too much left to live for.

Taped to a chair, facing down a crazy bitch with a knife, a lot of things became perfectly clear. I was in love with Lucas Titan.

I’d sworn I’d never fall again—especially for a rich guy—but with Lucas, it hadn’t been a choice. He’d never made me feel like a possession to be owned. To the contrary, he’d made me feel like I was precious and worth protecting. I couldn’t hold who he was or what he had against him, because it was all an integral part of what made him Lucas Fucking Titan. And I loved him.

I didn’t know if he loved me too, but I wasn’t going to die before I found out.

“Why did you pretend to want to buy the store?” I asked, both to get a conversation going and because that part still didn’t make any sense.

Jennifer smiled in that crazy I’ve got a whole mess of screws loose way of hers. “Because Jay seemed so impressed that you were running it. It’s just a silly little store. How hard could it really be? And it wasn’t pretend. I am going to buy it and run it. Then he can be impressed with me running it.”

I wondered if the same argument applied to taking the perfume. Because if Jay liked it on me, then he’d like it on her. She was too blond and skinny to come anywhere close to looking like me, but her style was remarkably similar, right down to the dress and pumps and hairstyle. Had she been trying to copy me in hopes that she’d somehow be more secure with Jay? Why would she even want to?

“Does he hit you?” The question was out before I could weigh whether asking it was a good idea.

She raised her chin. “Jay would never hurt me. I would never give him a reason to.” Glaring, she added, “Unlike some people.”

Oh, this again. The idea that I’d been abused because it was somehow my fault. Awesome. Glad we were still on that. Fuck her.

“Does he know you blew up my apartment? Does he know what you’re doing right now?”

She laughed, and the sound sent ice water trickling down my spine. “Men don’t need to know every little thing, silly girl. And this is for his own good. You know why? Because once he sees your name on a tomb, he’ll never worry about you again.”

“Aren’t you afraid he’ll despise you forever if he knows you hurt me?” It was a crazy assumption, but maybe if she thought he was still in love with me, then he wouldn’t want her to hurt me. And I was desperate.

“He loves me. He’ll thank me someday.”

I tried a different tack. “I think you’re miscalculating. Jay doesn’t want me back. And if anything, he’d want to hurt me himself. So you’re taking away something he’d prefer to do. How is that fair?”

It was the sickest and most messed-up argument I could offer, but again—desperation.

“Then maybe I’ll never let him find out what happened to you.”

“You think he’ll just stop wondering if I go missing? You don’t think that’s going to make him even more likely to keep looking for me? This isn’t going to work out how you planned, Jennifer. I promise.”

She came closer and lowered her face into mine. “It’s going to work exactly how I planned, and he’ll never know any different.”

The sound of gravel crunching in the driveway out front got our attention. My stomach churned again.

“Are you sure about that?”

Her head jerked up. “It’s not him—” The sound of a mechanical motor droned from a distance.

The garage door. It was him.

I never thought I’d be happy to see Jay Haines again, ever, but I was hoping and praying it was him. Anything to buy me enough time to try to get away. Even if it was my worst nightmare come to life.

Jennifer dropped a hand to her hip, looking put out and maybe the slightest bit panicked. “He’s not supposed to come home for a few more hours.”

“Looks like you’re going to have some explaining to do.”

A door opened somewhere in the house and heavy footsteps thudded on the wood floor. I braced myself for the first sight of my ex-husband in years.

My heartbeat ramped up as he crossed into the parlor. He was still tall with blond hair, but was now about fifty pounds heavier—and none of it muscle. His blue eyes landed on me, and his rounded face pinched with confusion.