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Chapter 45

“Better to be slapped with the truth than kissed with a lie.”
~Unknown


Everly

Will braced himself against the counter, staring wordlessly down at all the information of Lorraine’s betrayal scattered before him. She’d just finished explaining to him everything she’d told me. Silent tears slipped down her face as she stared at Will, anxiously waiting for him to say something.

Lorraine wasn’t the only one. I feared I might face some sort of retaliation if I spoke. I don’t know why I would, but anything was possible at the moment. After all, I’m the reason this came out in the first place, and despite my cousin’s stoic outer appearance, I could sense his boiling rage, the one he’d inherited from his father. It rarely came out, but when it did, there’d be hell to pay.

“Will, please say something,” Lorraine whispered.

“You’re going to give us the location of your sister, and we’re going to get her into a Witness Protection Program,” Will said, his voice eerily steady and monotone. “As for you, there’s no way for you to avoid jail, but because you have given us this information, it will reduce your sentence. When you’re released from prison, you’ll join your sister in Witness Protection until your dad is behind bars. Wait here.”

Lorraine could only nod as Will strode out of the room, returning a few moments later with four guards behind him. Will stood tall and proud, steeling himself as he announced, “Lorraine O’Connell, you are hereby under arrest for crimes against the country of Verona. The guards will read you your rights.”

The guards cuffed her, citing what she could and couldn’t do. Lorraine shuffled out of the room, head hung low to hide the tears trickling down her face. All I could do was watch the scene unfold.

Glancing over at Will, my mouth opened to say something, then quickly shut. I decided I didn’t want to say anything until Will spoke to me directly. I also wasn’t sure if he wanted me to stay or leave, giving me a dilemma on what to do next. I wished Annalise was here for this, mostly because she had a weird sixth sense on how to handle difficult situations. She’d been more in-tune to Will’s emotions. She knew what to do when he was like this. I didn’t.

Will flipped through the pages of evidence before him, staring at photos and the contradictory appointment times. I noticed a continuous tic in his jaw. He did this for over ten minutes, although it felt closer to eternity.

For the love of God, say something, Will…

“How long have you been tailing her?” He asked as if he heard my internal pleading.

“About three months. I suspected she was faking pretty soon after she announced the pregnancy, and Anna helped me find a PI.”

Will’s head snapped up. “Annalise helped with this?”

“I brought my suspicions up to her, and she suggested hiring a PI, even ended up helping me find a reputable one too, but that’s it. Anna doesn’t want people knowing she helped me in the slightest because she’s worried they’ll think she did it out of jealousy of Lorraine.”

“They’re stupid if they think that.”

Not necessarily. I wanted to say. I wanted to say it so badly, but I knew Annalise wouldn’t appreciate it. She needed to tell Will her feelings herself, and vice versa. No one could do it for them. They were adults. Very oblivious ones…

“I did some of my own reconnaissance to validate what the PI was discovering. Mia joined in a few times. She’s the one who got the video of Lorraine calling you…”

“I’m sure you’re happy about all this. You never were a big fan of Lorraine,” Will said, letting out a small, humorless chuckle.

“I’m happy we stopped a plot to get the throne,” I said, “but I’m not happy about how it happened. You might not have loved Lorraine, but you did care for her. It’s still got to hurt.”

“If what Lorraine is saying is true, and her dad discovers you brought this to light, I’m worried he’ll try and hurt you, not to mention Annalise, Mark, James, Mia, too. I want guards watching over all of you.”

“I doubt he’ll come after us. He’s going to be too worried about evading the law once he realizes we’re after him. I’d wait to put guards with us until we’re certain he’s going after us. Besides, I don’t know how Annalise and Mia would feel about that. They’ve tried to distance themselves from the crown as much as possible, and if you add guards to watch over them, it might make Lorraine’s dad believe they had something to do with his daughter’s downfall.”

“So I’m just supposed to hope nothing happens while we search for him?” Will asked in exasperation. “I’d go ballistic if any of you were hurt because I failed to protect you.”

“I live in a super-secure building, and Annalise and Mia live in a relatively safe building and area too. From what I can tell, their neighbors are protective of them. I think, right now, we need to focus on the biggest problem they’re going to face,” I said.

“What’s that?”

“The press is going to hound Annalise again. Mia, too. They’re going to automatically assume they had something to do with this. Annalise needs to be warned. Do you want me to call her?”

“No,” he said, shaking his head, “I’ll do it. If she doesn’t pick up, you call her.”

“Use my phone,” I offered, holding it out to him. “She’ll answer if it shows me.”

“She’ll hang up the moment she hears my voice.”

“Not if I tell her not to.” Will rubbed the back of his head, contemplating the idea. “Are seriously that scared of talking to her?”

“It’s not scared. I… don’t know what it is.”

“Don’t tell her exactly what happened. I can do that later. Besides, when the paparazzi go after her, she can play dumb and have it actually be true. Just tell her something happened with Lorraine, and the paparazzi are going to come after her and Mia because of it.”

Will sighed. “Okay, let’s do this.”

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