Tricking Astrid

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Chapter 43

When the police and emergency services entered the dilapidated residence in the woods, they found a bloodbath no one would forget for years to come. News reporters caught wind of the violence that occurred, but by the time they descended the authorities tucked Astrid, Calder, and Remy away at the nearest hospital.

Remy came out of the house of horrors unscathed except for busted knuckles, but mentally he hung on by bare threads. Sitting in a chilly room with two officers waiting to take his statement, Remy didn’t think he would ever recover from what Jay did to him and those he loved.

He received a shock when Detective Laramy’s wife showed up and he knew her as Mrs. Cleaver. They stared at each other with silent understanding. She lost her husband, and he’d serviced her for over six months. If he had known it was Laramy’s old lady — the one who enjoyed being tied down with a dildo stuffed down her throat while being ass fucked — Remy might have done things differently, but now only felt deeply remorseful. The detective turned out to be an honorable man and didn’t deserve to die the way he had. June never uttered a word about their relationship and he picked up her cue, leaving another mark on his black soul.

The video camera Jay kept running recorded everything. Two hours of irrefutable proof he raped and beat Astrid within an inch of her life before murdering Detective Laramy and how he acted in self-defense by shooting him — forever ending his psychotic schemes. It was clear to everybody who arrived on the scene or spoke to Remy there wasn’t any other choice. Many called him a hero from that moment on.

They stitched, hydrated and made certain the hairline fracture on Astrid’s skull wasn’t life-threatening before placing her in a private room next to Calder’s with officers outside to prevent anyone from disturbing them. Almost twelve hours after passing out in Remy’s arms, she finally woke.

Remy hadn’t slept at all. He signed every report after saying the same story to ten different people and departments until they allowed him inside Astrid’s room. Just as he sat, exhausted and grief-stricken, she stirred, and he hastened to be by her side.

Astrid gasped, black and blue arms flailing until he gently took hold of her covered wrists and when she gazed into his concerned hazel eyes, relief flooded her system before she whimpered. She wasn’t sure if it was someone touching her or the agony radiating across her sore flesh that opened the flood gates.

“You’re safe, Astrid,” he cleared his throat, letting go when she let out a sob, “I hope you’re not in pain? Want some water? The doctor will come soon, but we need to talk.”

Astrid’s entire body was wrapped in bandages. Deep dark bruises colored her skin and even though she wanted no one to pity her wounds, she had to get over it. Vanity didn’t compare to surviving forty-eight hours of torture. Resembling a mummy was the least of her problems.

She sipped water gingerly and although her split lips stung, the cool liquid felt heavenly on her tongue. It gave her time to acknowledge she rested safely in a hospital with the man she loved. Remembering how Remy point-blank blew Jay’s skull in two disturbed her already fragile state, but knew he did it to save them. He wouldn’t have stopped, but there was too much irreversible damage between them with or without Jay’s death.

Remy stared at her anxiously, waiting for answers. She desired his solace but required space at the same time. So many thoughts flitted through her mind, but the one that stuck out was she lived while Jay laid in the morgue. No threat lurked in the shadows, and the way he behaved in the past now made sense. The push and pull of their complicated relationship had been over Remy’s fear she would disappear or perish. Because everyone he cared for died and never figured out why. She peered up at his handsome face, feeling stupid for not figuring it out sooner.

He exhaled, eyebrows pinching together, “We should’ve found you quicker, baby.” tears glistened at the edge of his eyelashes, “I… I can’t begin to sympathize with what you went through. I’m so sorry. It’s all my fault. I-I never suspected…”

“Remy,” she croaked, throat burning with every word but had to comfort him, “Don’t. You… not… your fault.” He clenched his hands, and she struggled to find the right words, “It’s on him. He’s crazy.”

“The sick fucks rotting in hell — is what he is,” he growled, “But yeah, we know that now. I murdered a man, Astrid. I killed Jay. The police say I had no other choice because he had a gun.” he made a face, “They call me a hero. Laramy’s dead. Calder almost bled to death and you…”

“Don’t,” she repeated, reaching for his hand and he slipped both over hers, “We’re alive. Is Calder okay?” Her heart squeezed at the thought of losing Calder on top of everything else.

He sniffed, looking puzzled, “Yes, he’s fine. His asshole family won’t let me see him, but still in recovery from surgery. How are you so strong? I can barely stand to look at you because of what Jay did to you. He hurt you and if I could I’d bring him back to life to inflict more pain, I wouldn’t hesitate.”

Astrid hated the fact she looked like raw hamburger and he said as much, “Then don’t look. Just listen. Jay raped me when I was eleven. I kept it to myself out of shame. After it happened, more and more men came sniffing around until I believed I deserved what he did. That’s why I seconded guessed our love. Jay is dead, and we get to live. You saved me. Joyce and Alice can finally rest in peace. You can start over too.”

Remy leaned close, sounding miserable as he held her gaze, “Oh, baby. I know. Jay prepared a video confessing his crimes. I will never look away from you. Fuck, you amaze me. We’re meant to be together. You deserve everything! We saved each other and I love you.”

A doctor and a nurse briskly strode into the room, shooting Remy curious glances. Everyone recognized him now. “Sir, she needs rest. You’re welcome to return in a few hours.”

Remy seemed about to argue so Astrid slipped out of his grip saying, “Please, go eat and rest. I’m not going anywhere,” she tried to smile but winced when her hot skin pulled tight and throbbed.

He brushed his lips softly across her forehead, “Two hours, baby. I’ll be back.”

Calder nearly died. His father harassed the doctors and staff until told to sit in the waiting area or leave the hospital. Chris, Cameron, and Cody anxiously stood by to see their little brother. Even Julia took up vigil Remy noted when he left Astrid’s room. The bitch pretended he couldn’t describe the color of her pussy lips to her asshat of a husband, casting dirty looks along with the rest.

Cody approached him after Cal Sr. failed to have Remy arrested for what happened to his son. It was clear Calder acted heroically, but his dad blamed Remy for his youngest walking into a death trap. He activated security laws ensuring only family members had access to Calder, blocking Astrid and Remy from having any contact.

“How is Astrid?” Cody asked, stuffing his hands into his wrinkled pants, “Is she awake?”

The Lewises gathered nearby listened but acted as if they weren’t. After spending time with them, Remy understood Calder’s contempt for his large family. He’d never had one, but if he had relatives like these people, he probably would have run away.

“Yeah,” Remy rubbed his tired eyes, “She’s strong. Kept saying we’re alive, but I can’t believe she’s taking it so well.”

Cody nodded as if he knew she would and he wanted to come back with a hurtful remark but held his tongue. No one could comprehend what Astrid went through. He himself had a hard time wrapping his mind around the horrific events. Nightmares were sure to pop up if he ever slept.

“I noticed Astrid’s always been self-reliant,” Cody said thoughtfully, “Losing parents at a young age can do that. We lost our mother when we were kids, and it made me perceive things differently. Jay’s attack years ago may have played a part in how Astrid turned out, but hell, she’s nothing but a wonderful person. Remy, I want to say you can’t support her if you don’t seek help yourself. I plan on encouraging Calder to find a therapist when he’s discharged.”

Remy decided he liked Cody. He was all right, and he sounded the closest to Calder. “Yeah, time will tell. Your brother did a brave thing,” he smiled at his shocked expression, “Even with our differences he didn’t hesitate to protect her. She planned on breaking up with him the night Jay kidnapped her.”

He glanced at his family, looking uncomfortable. Cal Sr. paced nearby, glaring at them with obvious disapproval. Remy resisted the urge to flip off the dickhead.

“Calder seemed happy with Astrid,” Cody muttered, leaning on his heels, “I never saw him so content with one woman. If she left him, it wouldn’t have affected his judgment. Calder would be there for her, no matter what. He’s made of better stuff than that.”

Remy took a deep breath, realizing he should’ve kept his mouth shut. It was too soon, and Calder risked his life, still needed to recoup after having surgery. He was an asshole. Then he wondered if Astrid wanted anything to do with either of them after everything that transpired. She maintained it wasn’t his fault but hadn’t said she loved him. He felt exhausted and thoroughly depressed, needing time to process and not jump the gun.

Gun.

He closed his eyes, replaying the image of Jay’s head exploding and Astrid’s scream of terror. Fuck, he should have made Astrid look away or leave the house before doing something so evil in front of her. He had no regrets killing Jay, only the fact she watched and didn’t need to see what he could do when someone he loved was in danger.

“Hey man,” Cody patted his shoulder awkwardly, “They said he won’t be awake for a while. There’s a quiet room down the hall. I’ll wake you when visitors are allowed. Don’t worry about my father, I’ll make sure Calder knows you and Astrid are here for him.”

He nodded, “Great, I need rest, but have other stuff to deal with first. It’s strange, you know? I’ve done a lot of fucked up shit but never thought I’d kill someone. Someone who tried, again and again, to have me locked up after killing my girlfriends. I feel… numb. Not relieved or sad. Odd way to be, huh?”

“Nah,” Cody shook his head with obvious pity, “It’ll pass the more time goes by. You should see the reports! Shit is crazy! The news will tell you how to feel if you trust half the things they’re saying about the incident.”

He smirked, “Is that what I should call it? An incident that nearly killed Astrid? Fake news, fake feelings? Thanks, Cody.”

His face fell, “Sorry, that’s not what I meant.”

Remy waved a hand, knowing he didn’t mean to be so dismissive about the situation. Cal Sr. snarled when he body-checked the insufferable fucker, heading out to shower and eat a proper meal. He’d had enough caffeine to last a lifetime over the past eighteen hours. An officer caught up when he neared the exit, offering to protect him from the media. He thanked the woman, realizing he had to be more vigilant until things cooled down.

When he spoke to Arlo earlier, he’d just arrived at the police station to learn where his sister might be or if she were even alive. He wondered if their friendship would last after everything they found out, another causality of their so-called friend’s sick ploy to sabotage his peace of mind.

There were so many people Jay shuffled around on his demented chess board seeking to destroy Remy, but the man chose Astrid as their queen and although she suffered tremendously, glad she wound up in his life. His love for her would never waver, no matter how much guilt he carried after hearing she required over eighty stitches due to severe knife wounds.

After talking to Cody, the path to having a healthy future with Astrid came with getting over his insecurities and planned on finding the best therapist in the city for them both to work out their issues. He needed to heal as much as her and hoped she regained light in her once-bright doe eyes because losing her to what Jay did was not an option.

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