The Insiders

Page 88

I let the warmth take over. Again.


* * *


I was lying in Kash’s arms the next day.

I first woke around five in the morning. Brushed my teeth. Bathroom.

Went back to bed.

The next time we woke, it was because someone was knocking on our door.

A guard stuck his head inside, keeping his eyes averted. “Guests have arrived, and they refuse to leave.”

Kash sat up. “Her mother?”

“Yes, sir. Matthew. A girl named Torie.”

I grinned at that.

He kept on. “Her father.” He hesitated now, before saying, “And a police detective.”

Kash hauled himself out of bed, crossing to the closet. “Lawyers?”

“They’ve been here since eight this morning.”

A second grin from me. I had a picture of three lawyers sitting on a couch together, hands on their knees, backs sticking upright, dressed in their fancy long coats, with their briefcases at their feet, and then sitting, sitting, more sitting as the hours literally ticked away.

“Okay.” Kash pulled on pair of pants and a Henley.

Good God. That Henley.

Mouth not dry anymore.

There’s a fair chance I was doing everything I could do not to focus on what had happened to me, but the cavalry had literally arrived. They were outside, in the living room of wherever we were, and my vacation away into Sleepland was done.

Time was up.

Kash nodded, saying, “Give us another minute.”

The guard nodded, pulling back and shutting the door.

Kash swung those piercing eyes my way, and he stared. His brows pulled together. The seconds ticked away before he sighed. “I have things to say to you, but none of that’s happening with the brigade outside. I just need to know, are you ready for all of this? If you’re not, shake your head and we’ll slip out without anyone knowing.”

Oh man. When he said things like that, I was drooling.

But I sighed too, and nodded. “I’m ready.” My voice came out hoarse. His eyes darkened, but he just nodded, raked a hand through his hair, and stepped into the bathroom. I had gotten up and gone through a bag my mother must have packed. All sorts of Brookley clothes were in there. I had on an old pair of jeans and a sweatshirt when he came back out.

He stopped, taking me in, before his top lip tugged up.


Amusement flashed in those eyes. “Nothing. I just got a glimpse into how you must’ve looked in school.”

I flushed. “I was a nerd in school.” Well, kinda.

“I doubt that.”

Yeah. His voice dipped low, sending tingles through me, going low as well. I tried to school my features into a scowl. I was sucking at it. My lips kept curving up, and then I just sighed and lay back on the bed.

He came over, leaning over me. His arms rested on both sides of my head. He held himself up, just gazing down at me, and all sorts of promising swept over his face. “Your mother is going to come in and fuss all over you.”

He was saying this, asking if I was okay with it.

I nodded.

He added, “Matt is going to curse, look angry, but he’s just terrified about what almost happened to you.”

Another nod.

I didn’t want to think about that, either.

“Your father is going to bark orders, probably fight with your mother, and get irritated with Matthew. It’ll be because he has no idea how to talk to you, but he’s just as scared as Matt about what almost happened to you.”

Again with the reminder. Did he have to go there? But I nodded a third time.

Kash gentled his tone. “Torie is here for you. That’s her job. If you need me, tell her. She’ll get me. If you need space from your mom, she’ll scurry you away for a breather. She’s informed me she’ll do anything you need except perform sexual favors, unless it’s on a specific guard that she’s had her eye on. She wanted to make sure I quoted her exactly with that. You okay with all of that?”

Oh boy. I was smiling, just slightly.

He took it as a fourth nod, and his tone hardened next. “The police will need a statement from you. You passed out from the drug Quinn gave you, and they tried to question you at the hospital when you were checked over. You weren’t even lucid. The detectives weren’t happy when the lawyers pushed back, saying you needed to know what you were saying before saying anything. They’ve been impatient, and that’s saying it nicely. But in the end, they just want to make sure they have a good enough case to make Quinn do time.”

Quinn. Time.

It was now sinking in what she’d done to me. I felt a woosh inside of me, a wave crashing over my mind, and I was back there.

Rafe. Clemin. Arcane. They were coming for me.

Quinn. How she grabbed me.

I winced now, feeling it all over again.

Kash tensed, then cursed under his breath. He was gone, and I cried out. I didn’t want him to go away, but he was saying something in the hallway. Then the door was shut and he was back. The bed dipped under his weight and he pulled me back into his arms. He rolled around me, as if his entire body could cushion the nightmare ripping through my mind. It couldn’t. He couldn’t. But I was grabbing on to him, too, as if he could.

I was sobbing. Or someone was. It was probably me. I heard myself outside of myself, and I knew it was inevitable.

I was sinking once more.



Everything happened as Kash had warned me.

Chrissy fussed.

Torie was my guard dog, complete with her own drool.

Matthew couldn’t sit still. He kept going in circles around the room.

Peter was a mess. He was sniping at Matt, then bickering with Chrissy, then asking Kash questions in a serious voice. He’d stop, stare at me, and his mouth would tremble before he’d bark something at Matt and the cycle would start around again.

The detectives were nice. I’d expected gruff and impatient, but the session with them was just long. The lawyers intervened at times, but not much. Everyone wanted the same thing: to make sure Quinn paid for what she did.

Quinn. Man.

Over the next two weeks, I didn’t really let myself think of her.

The day the detectives finally got my statement, once I wasn’t a blubbering mess, I stuck to the facts. If they needed more detail, I gave it to them. They were surprised at how much I did remember, until Peter said I had his photographic memory. Their eyes got big, and I swear their ears perked up after that. That just meant more questions, though, and it was a long time later that night when they finally left.

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