The Villain

Page 61


Of course.

Maybe he just tore the fountain prior to the wedding ceremony. Either way, I knew asking Cillian was futile. I was never going to get a straight answer.

“Thanks. Next question.” I cleared my throat. “Do you know what his beef with Andrew Arrowsmith is about? There seems to be buckets of bad blood between them, but your older brother isn’t the most forthcoming man of our generation.”

“Criminal understatement. You could extract more information from a garlic press.” Belle unscrewed a bottle of water, rolling her eyes. “Hashtag fact.”

“I know of Arrowsmith.” Aisling frowned, weighing her words. “There’s an age gap between Cillian and me. I was still in diapers when he and Arrowsmith were friends, but from my understanding, they were inseparable at a point. The way the story goes—mind you, I picked scraps and pieces of it from different sources and puzzled it all together in my head—Kill and Andrew were best friends from birth. They were born on the same day, at the same Boston hospital, both a little underweight. My father had met Andrew’s father while both of them were watching their newborn sons through a glass window. Shortly after, Athair had hired Andrew’s dad as an accountant for Royal Pipelines. Cillian and Andrew did everything together, and when it was time for Kill to go to Evon as per our family tradition, Athair footed half the bill and sent Andrew along with him. Kill and Andy were like brothers. Spending their summer vacations together. Riding together, having sleepovers, planning world domination side by side. Until Athair fired Andrew’s dad and sued him for all the money he’d stolen from Royal Pipelines, leaving the Arrowsmith family penniless and struggling to make ends meet. Athair cut off the cash flow to Andrew’s education, punishing the son for his father’s sins. Andrew’s dad refused to admit defeat and pull his son out of Evon the first year. He wanted to save face. The family resorted to begging their relatives for loans. Some say Andrew’s mother, Judy, became some rich guy’s plaything to keep their heads above water. Andrew’s parents divorced not long after. He dropped out of Evon the following year and moved into a tiny apartment in Southie with his mother and sister. Their lives fell apart, and so did the close friendship between Andy and Kill. The families drew an invisible line in Boston, splitting it down the middle, avoiding one another at all costs.”

Andrew knows my secret, Kill had said.

I couldn’t think of one thing that would embarrass the immaculate, flawless Cillian Fitzpatrick. But if Andrew used to be his best friend—he had access to his soul, too.

Back when he had one.

“Did Andrew try to retaliate for your father’s decision through Kill?” I asked.

Ash shook her head, hitching a shoulder up, in a beats-me kind of way.

“Mom said the one year Andrew and Cillian spent in Evon together almost cost her a son. My older brother lost a lot of weight, quit playing polo, and withdrew completely from the world. My brother has always been cold and different, but after that year, everyone agreed he’d become, well…” Ash took a deep breath, dropping her gaze to the scarred table in front of us. “Soulless.”

The word slammed into me, bursting like acid. I wanted to flip the table and its contents over and scream, he has a soul. So much soul. More than you’d ever know.

Belle passed me a drink of water, sensing the threads of my poise tattering. Andrew did something terrible to Cillian. That much I was certain of.

And Cillian, in return, became who he was today.

“Thanks for sharing this with me, Ash.” I reached to squeeze her hand.

She sealed my hand in hers. “That’s what sisters-in-law are for, right? Just please don’t tell Kill. He’ll never forgive me.”

“Your secret’s safe with us,” Belle assured her.

The question was, was my husband’s secret safe with Andrew Arrowsmith?

One thing was for sure: I wasn’t about to wait to find out.

Later that day, I walked into an empty apartment.

The nakedness of it didn’t register at first, maybe because I never considered it fully mine.

The furniture remained in place, shiny, futuristic, and cherry-picked by the interior designer. The kitchen appliances twinkled, the quirky family pictures and scented candles I’d brought with me when I moved in were still perched over the mantel.

I strode into my walk-in closet to get ready for a yoga class and realized it was empty.

My clothes were gone. So were my shoes, my toiletries, and the few personal belongings I’d stashed in one of the guest rooms. I tiptoed through the apartment, my pulse stuttering against my wrist. Had I been robbed?

It made no sense. Byrne and Kaminski exited my life, leaving skid marks in their wake. I knew I was under Sam Brennan’s protection for as long as I was Cillian’s wife, which had added a perverse sense of invincibility to my existence.

Besides, burglars would have taken the expensive Jackson Pollock paintings and flashy electronics I hadn’t even bothered to learn how to use.

I padded barefoot to the kitchen and found a note on the granite island.


In the spirit of trying to knock you up and get rid of you as soon as possible, I am moving you to my estate until you are with child.




My initial instinct was to pick up the phone and inform my husband, in decibels more fitting to an Iron Maiden concert, that the pigs called—they wanted their chauvinism back.

I bit my tongue until warm, thick blood filled my mouth, then drew a ragged breath and decided—again—to beat Kill at his own twisted game.

Cillian was concerned about his position in my life and wanted to keep me close. Whatever bullshit excuse he gave himself for moving my stuff into his mansion—the Arrowsmiths, my visiting Mrs. Veitch, the shape of the moon—didn’t matter. The bottom line was, he was breaking his own rule—no living under the same roof—to keep me close.

It surprised me that he had let me get away with breaking the non-compete clause. When I’d told him I was going to work for Andrew Arrowsmith, and that if it didn’t suit him, he was welcome to file for a divorce, I was almost certain he’d kick me out of his mansion and life.

It had also surprised me how he seemed to accept that I kept in touch with Greta Veitch. Not that he had any say in the matter, but I figured he’d put me through hell once he’d realized I wasn’t going to cater to his whims like everyone else did.

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