Killing Julie

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Chapter 24

She stared at the phone in her hand, hearing its insistent line-dead beep. He was wrong. He had to be. I didn’t kill Julie. All I did was… Rory couldn’t finish the thought without breaking down. All she could do was stare at the table, still covered with her research.

You deserve everything he gives you. Next time he’s hitting you, pretend it’s me.

He hated her. But she expected that, hadn’t she? She broke up with him. He hated her. Wouldn’t that be expected? He doesn’t mean any of it. He’s just angry. He sounded drunk, too. That’s all. Getting up, she got her own beer. The thought appealed to her. It would calm her. He was drunk. He knows I didn’t see her that night. Taking a long drink herself, she felt a rush of warmth. I wasn’t there. I didn’t kill her. But he was. He saw her that night. Both Alex and Richard saw her. Not me.

The papers before her were useless. They weren't Julie. God, Cade, why didn’t Mags give this to you instead? She didn’t want to write about someone killing Julie. She needed to get away from it, compose herself before Paul came home. He wouldn’t understand this. He would say she was hanging on to this too long and that she had to forget about it.

I didn’t kill her.

Pushing her chair away from the table, her eyes still on the papers that now summed up her best friend’s life and death, Rory forced herself to walk away before she lost what was left of her control.

A soak in the tub would calm her down. While it filled, she pinned her hair up into a loose knot and shed her jeans and t-shirt, dropping them on the floor. Unhooking her bra, a sedate and sensible beige, she hung it on the bathroom doorknob, then studied her naked reflection in the full-length mirror on the back of the door while she took another drink.

You deserve everything he gives you. Next time he’s hitting you, pretend it’s me.

Rory traced her fingers over her upper arm where Paul had grabbed her during their last argument. The bruises were nearly gone, just a slight discoloration remained.

Her cell phone rang. Still staring at her reflection, she ignored it. She wasn’t capable of words right now. A beep signaled that she’d received a text message. Fishing the phone from the back pocket of her jeans, she saw that it from Cade.

GETTING WORRIED. TEXT ME IF YOU’D RATHER NOT TALK. I’D REALLY LIKE TO HEAR FROM YOU.

There were three missed calls from him as well. She deleted everything, turned the phone off, and slipped it into her robe pocket.

She had to admit he was tenacious – but she couldn’t talk to him. Not tonight. Tonight and tomorrow, Julie had to be just another topic. Tonight and tomorrow, Julie was just another assignment. Once the interviews were over and the article was finished, Julie could become Julie again.

I wish Selina was here. She’d know what to do. She’d understand, Rory thought. But Selina was somewhere else. Gone after one dinner when she saw too much too quickly and refused to believe Rory’s lies that everything was fine and that Paul was just stressed out over work.

Her tub was ready, filled nearly to the brim with water that would take her breath away with its heat. She slipped in, immersing herself. Let me know when it’s safe for you, Selina had said, as she hugged her good-bye. With that, finally, Rory closed her eyes and began to sob.


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