Sidetracked (Page 13)
“You lost a lot trying to get me and my brother justice.”
Her face changes, a coldness washing over her. “That’s not your fault. I tried to tell everyone, but no one wanted to listen. Kyle tried to shut me up. He…He…”
Her voice breaks, and my lips tighten. “I know. He’ll have his day, Lindy. He’ll suffer the worst.”
She nods, her strength renewing as she angrily bats her tears away.
“Antonio left me when he believed Kyle. Kyle said I had sex with him. I told my husband I was…raped. He believed my rapist over me. Just left me.”
I nod, already knowing this. Antonio is on my list, but not for death. He’s marked for penance. Should be fun.
Jake has already started the process of ruining him, starting with bankruptcy. With any luck, the bastard will kill himself within the year when he’s homeless, penniless, and pointless.
“No one cared. No one wanted to listen. No one wanted to be bothered with something so horribly, inconceivably evil. They wanted to pretend it just didn’t exist.”
A dark smile takes over my lips. “They’ll never keep their silence again. They’ll quake in fear every time the lights go off. They’ll be the ones scared for a change. The town will burn, Lindy. It’ll burn to the ground. Trust me. I have a plan. And no one innocent will get caught in the crosshairs.”
She blows out a shaky breath. “I can’t believe you’re alive.”
She bats away fresh tears, looking over at the little girl, who is eating gratefully, oblivious to our conversation. “I’ll do whatever you need me to.”
“Make Laurel understand she can’t tell the cops I’m a woman. Make her understand she can’t tell them anything, or else I can’t stop other monsters.”
“I won’t tell them a thing,” Laurel says from the living room, proving she’s not as oblivious as I thought. She swivels her head, steely determination in her eyes. “I want you to catch all the monsters.”
Maybe she’s more like me than I thought.
As she turns back around, returning her attention to the sandwich, Lindy whispers to me, “I want you to catch all the monsters too. Your secret is safe with me, Victoria.”
A chill runs up my spine. “It’s Lana now. They killed Victoria that night,” I tell her quietly.
She nods, understanding. “What about Diana? She tried to—”
“I know. They threatened her son,” I interrupt, waving off her concern. “She’s going to play a different part. My ducks are in a row. I’ve been patient. I’ve thought it all through. Now I just wait on the chips to fall in place, and while they play poker, I’ll be playing dominoes.”
She smirks, leaning back to grab me a bottle of water. As she hands it to me, I take one last look at Laurel.
“She’s strong. Make sure she turns out like you and not me,” I say to Lindy, whose eyes turn a little duller.
“I’m weak. I quit fighting and ran away.”
“You survived. You fought against a war alone. You’re stronger than you realize, and you’re exactly what she needs.” I sigh as I look into her teary eyes. I wish I could stay longer. “I have to go.”
I start to turn away, but suddenly she launches herself at me, and I wrap my arms around her, feeling a hug connect to so many dormant emotions. It’s the first time I’ve faced my past with a face I didn’t want to cut off.
It hurts as much as it heals.
She hugs me tightly, and I return the affection, though I’m not sure how long we stay that way.
As she pulls away, I hand her a piece of paper. She studies it, reading the directions, and nods at me, proving she’s ready to play her new role.
Just as I’m about to leave, Laurel stands on shaky legs and makes her way to me. I kneel just as she tosses her arms around my neck, catching me off guard.
Slowly, carefully, I hug her back.
“Kill all the monsters,” she whispers. “That way they don’t hurt anyone else.”
Lindy’s breath catches, and I frown. I hope her influence outshines mine in the long run.
“I’ll kill them all so you never have to,” I whisper back, even though it’s highly unlikely that it’s the right thing to say.
“You want a shower?” Lindy asks her.
She nods, tears coming to her eyes, as though she’s never wanted anything more.
Lindy swallows again, trying not to cry in front of the heartbreaking little girl.
“I’ll turn it on for you and give you privacy. I’ll even let you lock the door so you feel safe.”
She speaks from experience.
I used to lock my bathroom door too.
You feel vulnerable when naked and distracted by the shower. You feel like you’re too easily a target.
“I know the angel won’t let me be hurt. I don’t like locked doors,” Laurel says quietly.
My heart flutters, and Lindy swallows again. “I’ll start the shower.”
She moves down the hall, and I nod toward Laurel, letting her know she’s right; I won’t ever let anything happen to her.
She was locked up. Her scars are different from ours. She was held captive. She needs air like we need confined security.
Lindy’s scars don’t run as deep or painful as mine. One man ruined her.
So many more took a piece of me.
But the pain is just the same. Just as scary. Just as unrelenting.
She returns, and I see the bathroom door open. Apparently Laurel requested that.
“She has different scars,” I say quietly.
“I’ll learn to be what she needs. Thank you for trusting me with her. I’ve felt so pointless all these years, but if I can reconcile what happened to me by being what she needs…maybe it won’t all seem like it was pointless.”
I know the feeling.
“What do I say if they ask about Delaney Grove?” she asks quietly as the shower hums in the distance.
Her brow furrows. “Why?”
A dark smile curves my lips. “Because there are so many more to kill. I’m not ready for everyone to know why.”
A cold look crosses her eyes.
“Then they won’t hear it from me. I’ll do whatever you need. Just make sure those sons of bitches never hurt anyone ever again.”
I hold up six fingers, and she cocks her head, confused.
“That many are already gone.”
Surprise flits across her eyes.
“Then you have a long list ahead of you.”
Never contract friendship with a man who is not better than thyself.
When I reach the drop spot, I leave the car and keys in the parking lot, along with a couple thousand dollars under the seat. The drop spot changes all the time, and they only get a five minute warning before I’m gone.
I grab my bag of wet clothes, and the black bag from the trunk that has minimal supplies, just as all the warehouse cars have.
I toss the clothes into a trashcan, and start hiking down the road, ignoring the cars that pull over to ask if I need a ride. It isn’t until a motorcycle rolls up that I smile and roll my eyes.
“Really? How’d you make it out of your house on a motorcycle?” I groan, hopping on the back as Jake gives me a helmet.
“I didn’t,” he says with a shrug. “I picked it up from the warehouse when I went to make sure your car didn’t have any trackers or anything on it.”
I put my arms around his waist, and he pats my hand.
“Did he confess?”
“More than you know. I don’t want to talk about it right now. In fact, I never want to tell you the things he confessed to. I want to scrub it from my mind so that I’m not tempted to run down the list of every pedophile out there and repeat the same ending for them. However, there is something I need to tell you, but I’ll wait until I have the energy to deal with your rant.”
He sighs harshly while revving the bike, and he drives me all the way to the warehouse.
“I’ll send the link to the new cameras to you so you can watch Anthony in your free time,” he says as I head toward my car.
“I’ll be waiting.”
With that, I drive straight home, not even acknowledging the patrol cars at the end of my driveway.
I can’t stop them from hanging out on the street, unfortunately.
My house is unnaturally quiet, something I find peaceful instead of eerie like most people. I hurry through the motions of stepping into the shower, feeling the warm spray of the water against my back.
The sounds of footsteps have me turning off the water and stepping out of the shower. With silent movements, I wrap up in a towel and open the shower door, watching with a wary eye.
Just as silently, I open the drawer, and pull out the gun I have hidden there. Why is there a gun hidden in my bathroom? Have you ever seen a horror film? The girl always gets stabbed in the shower. Or she runs into the bathroom and locks the door, but has no way to defend herself when the psycho killer breaks in.
I could defend myself and have no plans of hiding in the bathroom, but a backup plan never hurts.
Clutching my towel with one hand and holding the gun in the other, I carefully open the bathroom door. Movement has my hand jerking to the right, but a strong hand clamps around my wrist, and my eyes swing up to meet a devastatingly familiar pair of blues.