Escaping too You ~book 3

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Chapter twenty-nine

Laying in bed, I run a hand over my face forcing myself to look away from the ceiling and to Ryann’s sleeping form.

She’s sleeping soundly with the sheets wrapped around her naked body and looking so serene. Reaching for her, I trail a line down the side of her arm until running into the sheet. The nightmare slowly dissipates as flashes of me trailing kisses from her head all the way to her sweet spot start to wash away the fear. Her moans filled the room until she begged me for more until I made her scream out my name.

Since being back in New York, we’ve broken all kinds of rules when it’s come to Ryann’s healing. Mainly in the sex department. I finally got a taste of her, and I can’t stop. It’s like this craving I have. I can’t curb it. And neither can Ryann.

We are supposed to abstain from sex until her recheck appointment tomorrow. But....ya, that didn’t happen. I mean, in our defense, we were celebrating. Celebrating our engagement and celebrating the end of Pearl and Dax’s reign.

And keeping our minds distracted.

After Ryann told me about the unknown bank account in her sister’s name, it’s like her memories are flooding back. If I’m not laying with her when she falls asleep, her nightmares return. And they’re all over the place. They’re never the same and seem to span from being tied to that damn bed to being dragged out into a field to waking up in the hospital. But Ryann can’t seem to make sense of any of the flashes of memories. She’s confused, and I can see her slowly retreating. I’m trying to keep her from shutting down, but I don’t think I’m succeeding very well—my only hope, Teresa, who should hopefully be here sometime Friday.

God, and we’re supposed to meet up with Betty and Jen tomorrow for a late lunch, early dinner after her therapy appointment. I think it’s a terrible idea, but Ryann is insistent, and Travis and Samuel will be present too. Maybe even Heather. It’s probably a good idea to have as much security detail as possible because I’m not sure how Ryann will hide her engagement ring from them.

Although, she’s made it abundantly clear that she’s not taking it off, and they’ll just have to accept it.

I, on the other hand, I don’t believe it will be that simple. Betty is going to fucking kill me.

Swinging my legs over the edge of the bed, I get up and put on a pair of athletic shorts before quietly leaving the room. I need to shake this dream and my thoughts. It’s the same fucking nightmare I’ve been having since the accident, but this time, it escalated. One minute I’m holding Ryann, screaming for her to wake, and the next, I’m frozen in place watching Max corner Ryann. I try to get to her, but I can’t. And before Max can do anything, I wake.

Walking down the hall, the condo is nearly pitched black. The only light is from the kitchen, but I don’t see anyone around, nor do I hear anyone. I know Travis is lurking in the security room with either Jonathan or Heather. Samuel was sent to the apartment I’m renting out for my team to get some sleep since he’s been tracking Max for a few days. Even after I returned, Travis had him following Max to try and figure out what he’s up to. The best we got......

Fucking nothing. That is what we have. We have no fucking idea what he is still doing in New York, and we have no idea what his angle is. Not even Travis’s informants have any new information for us.

Walking into the home office, I softly close the door behind me before flopping down in the office chair. Flying through the contacts in my phone, I finally rest on a name I’ve been debating on calling the last few days.

I can’t sleep, and Ryann is passed out. This may be my perfect time to talk with Benjamin without Ryann knowing. I’m not sure what he wants with Ryann or what he feels she’ll share with him, but I’m sure as hell going to determine if it’s worth her time and potential trauma to talk with him.

Hitting his number, I listen to the ring and realize, probably should be doing this when it’s not three in the morning. He’s probably asleep or on duty. That and he has no clue who’s calling his phone. I did the number one stupid ass thing possible: I’m calling this Benjamin guy from my personal number.

I should just hang up. I should just......

“Benjamin.”

Well, fucking shit hell, guess I’m talking to him.

“You don’t know me....” Why the hell am I starting the conversation out this way. What did I do? Lose my fucking balls? Clearing my throat, “My name is Thomas Copeland, and I was informed by Allison Drake you are trying to reach out to Ryann Anderson.”

The line goes into an awkward silence. More awkward than ten seconds ago. Maybe this was a mistake. I should have sat down with Ryann and told her about Benjamin wanting to reach out to her instead of going behind her back. She’s going to be pissed when she finds out.

“Pretty convenient,” he says evenly. “Do you think I’m really that stupid enough to believe Thomas Copeland would be calling me? Come off it, Max. Now, if you return back home, I may be able to work something out. Though, I really don’t want to.”

“I’m not Max,” I grind out. “Max is currently sneaking around New York. Do you happen to know why?”

There is a small part of me that is hoping Benjamin may hold an answer. But he doesn’t answer; instead, the sound of crickets greats me through the phone line. Getting him to believe I am who I say I am may be a challenge. Though, I do have one idea.

“I saw the police report you filed. I know you are the one who found Ryann tied to the bed, and I know you are the one who beat the shit out of Max and Jamie.” I pause a moment, trying to figure out my next course. “Ryann is remembering, slowly. She has distanced herself from Max, and she hasn’t seen him since being discharged from the hospital.”

“Erm...” Benjamin clears his throat, “And where is Ryann now?”

“Asleep in our bed.”

“So the rumors are true.” The statement is judgmental, and I know he’s done his research. Thanks to Travis, I seriously doubt he’s found anything that doesn’t extend past the media reports.

“Which ones? We live in Hollywood; rumors are everywhere.” My tone is dry as my fingers tap against the top of the desk.

“I’m assuming you didn’t call to talk about rumors.” The tone reminds me of Travis’s. One that screams, I’m not amused by your tone and smartass remarks, and I’m sure Benjamin is glaring at his reflection or some random object wishing he was face to face with me.

“Why are you reaching out to Ryann? She’s won’t testified or press charges. So, what is your end game here?”

Once again, the line goes silent before Benjamin finally clears his throat, “I need her to recount that night I found her.”

Not gonna happen. Every protective bone in my body is screaming and ready to squash that statement altogether.

“I need her to tell me what she remembers.”

“Considering she thinks Max found her in the front yard of his parents’ lawn, you’re not going to get the answers you want. And I’m going to be damned if you pressure her to remember.” I warn. “That will not happen.”

“Why?” He retorts. “I have the drive.....”

“Show her that fucking flash drive; I’ll beat you to the inch of your life. And I don’t care if you’re a Sheriff or not. She will not watch what is on there.” Trying to keep my voice caged is proving to be very difficult.

“And who are you to decide that?”

No one. Ryann will do what she wants. Even if I speak against said idea.

But I also know Ryann.

Because if she wanted to know what was on that flash drive, she would have already watched it. She would have kept it close to her. Ryann has told me that she already knows what is on there, but I know she has no desire to actually view the contents herself.

“Her fucking fiancé.”

Benjamin scoffs, which only irritates me more. Fucker thinks I’m bullshitting him. But the longer we sit in silence, the more I think he realizes I’m not joking. “You’re serious?” Deadly. “She doesn’t date. Not since Jamie.”

“And how would you know that? The last time you saw her was what? After taking her to the hospital and leaving her.” Before he even speaks, I know a nerve has been struck.

“I didn’t leave her,” the venom in his voice nearly melts my phone to the side of my head. “Do you have any idea what it felt like hearing her scream for help and finding her like that? Tied to that fucking bed.” I read the report; each word was like a vivid fucking painting. It felt like I was there witnessing it. “I got Ted off her and out of the room. Max fled when my back was turned. I was expelled from school because I beat the shit out of Jamie.”

Good.

Jamie deserves a fucking casket. Max deserves a slow and torturous death with pieces of his body slowly and methodically amputated while he watches. But, even for me, that thought is a little demented.

“I ran into Ryann at school the following week before I was expelled. One look, I knew she didn’t remember a thing that happened. And I knew Max had covered his ass. She said hi to me like nothing had ever happened.”

Sighing, “That’s because she doesn’t. She still doesn’t.”

“She’s told you? About her past? All of it?”

I sure as hell hope Ryann has told me all of her past. But, even if she hasn’t, I’m not going anywhere. And I sure as hell hope she sees that. Because if she doesn’t, I’m clearly doing something wrong. “She’s told me.”

“And that didn’t make you run for the hills?”

Okay, this fucker is seriously trying to piss me off.

“Does it sound like it?” I grind out. “I love Ryann. Nothing will change that. Not her past, not her addiction. I’m proud of the woman she’s become and the hardships she’s overcome. Nothing will change how I feel.”

This Benjamin can question my intentions and Ryann’s relationship all he wants, but his opinion will not sway me.

“Are you her gatekeeper then?”

Is he trying to make a Ghostbuster sense of humor reference? If I’m her gatekeeper, then she’s my keymaster.

“If you want to call it that, then yes. Because if your whole goal in reaching out to Ryann is to force her into remembering a night when she’s not ready, it’s not happening.” I pause, remembering what Jen and Allison said. Benjamin is trying to get charges against not one but both Jamie and Maxwell. That he is working his ass off to get some sort of justice, closer for the victims. But exposing Ryann in this way, it’s not the answer. “I appreciate what you’re doing. That you’re trying to bring some kind of justice against these clowns. But subjecting Ryann to a past, she’s forced herself to suppress all this time is not the answer.”

“Would Ryann say differently?”

No. Yes. Hell, if she knew I was making this decision for her, she’ll throw her damn shoe at me. Sighing, I open my laptop before powering it on. So many thoughts are running through my head, but I can’t unjumble the words to form a fucking follow-up question. Let alone dispute his damn question.

“Let me come out and speak with her. Jen’s told me.....” So, Jen is clearly in regular contact with Benjamin. More than what she’s lead on, and making me believe there is more to her divorce than just her finding out the truth about her lovely asshole of a fucking husband. “That she’s staying in New York for the time being. I can fly out and meet with her. Wherever she’d like. Whether that be where she’s staying or someplace more public.”

Shaking my head, my fist comes down hard against the desktop in a fit of rage. Pain shots through my hand, and I immediately flex my hand and fingers, trying to ease the throbbing. “I said no. It’s not happening.”

“Thomas, you have two options. Either you talk to Ryann about meeting up, or I’ll reach out to her in one way or another.” He warns. His warning is noted and not at all appreciated. I want to take his warning and shove it right back up his knight and shining armor ass.

“Don’t tempt me. I have more resources than you think.”

Benjamin chuckles, a fucking dry and sarcastic laugh that makes me want to punch the damn wall. “Are you gonna tell me you have her under lock and key?”

Yes. Yes, I do. “Come near Ryann without approval. You’ll be taken down by several ex-Marines.”

“Listen, Thomas,” Benjamin sighs out. “We can fight over what we think should or should not happen. But the decision is Ryann’s. You know it, and I know it. Jamie took that freedom away from her for so long. Max too. Don’t be the third.”

Biting the inside of my cheek, I taste the metallic taste of blood from the edge of my tooth slashing through the skin. Don’t be the third. Don’t be the third. I’m not being the third. I’m protecting her. I’m not making any life-altering decisions that will revise her life.

Right?

“I’ll think about it.” My tone is crisp and final because I’m still unsure if I’ll tell Ryann about any of this conversation. But if I don’t, and Benjamin wants to really talk with Ryann. He’ll go through Jen.

“I know you think I’m trying to inflict some sort of catastrophic memory for her....”

Cutting him off, “Isn’t what that night was? It was horrid and should have never happened. Anyone who stood by and ignored her calls for help are selfish assholes.”

“I’m not disagreeing, but you also need to understand; Jamie ruled the school with an iron fist. Disobey him. He’d made sure to make your life miserable. After being expelled and finding out the criminal report had been dropped, my parents sent me to another school a county over because Jamie started to spread vicious rumors. And Ryann knows the powers of his rumors. He smiles. They stick. He’s manipulative and knows how to prey on people’s insecurities and fears.” He tells me, but I already knew all of this. And the parts I didn’t, I concluded. “But I need to talk with Ryann because I need her statement. If I’m to get charges to stick against Max, I need her statement.”

Sighing, “I’ll talk with Ryann on one condition.”

I can practically hear Benjamin grind his teeth together. Did he really think that I would cave in to his demands so easily? I think my reputation speaks for itself. “Who is Kevin. My team has been following Max, and he met up with a Kevin Bracket. Why?”

“Didn’t Ryann tell you?”

I can feel my brows furrow. “No, she doesn’t remember anyone by that name.”

Benjamin hums, and my blood immediately starts to boil. “She never really talked to him. I remembered her saying she felt like he was judging her, but he’s Max’s cousin. Moved out to New York right after he graduated. The most trouble he got into back home was being picked up for pot. And as far as I know, he’s on the up and up. I think he even runs a successful tailoring shop and flips rundown homes.”

That doesn’t answer my question at all. And actually goes against what we initially believe. “Was he a known druggie in school?”

“If you count pot, yes. As far as I know, he never experimented with anything harder. He pissed Jamie off, and I don’t think I need to tell you how Jamie retaliated.” Ya, I’m sure it was one killer rumor. “Unlike me, Kevin couldn’t just move. The Bracket’s and Johnson’s are big farming families. Just like the Anderson’s. Their families have been farming on their land for generations. And like Ryann, he felt obligated to stay and help to a point. Actually, I think he moved when Ryann went into rehab.”

Running a hand through my hair, this information....well, it’s a confusing helpful, and it fucking isn’t. I mean, what am I supposed to do with this information? It doesn’t give me anything against Max that I can use. Besides, his cousin could be aiding Max because maybe he owes him a debt or some shit. Fuck, I don’t know. I need to turn this all over to Travis to see if he can dig something. Hell, I’ll give him a fucking bonus to go to the douchebag’s house and turn it upside down if it gets him to talk.

“I’ll be in contact,” I tell Benjamin. “Or Ryann will. But I’m warning you, she will not want to get up in front of a courtroom to testify.”

“And she won’t,” the assurance in his face is strong, but I’m still not convinced. “I can work it out that she stays anonymous. Especially if I can get additional charges to stick against Maxwell.”

For the first time, I’m grinning with an arrogant, cocky smile because I can get Benjamin the evidence he needs for additional charges. “Benjamin, I think I can be of some assistance with that.”

Maxwell Johnson, I hope you enjoy your freedom while you can because it will not last much longer.

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