The rasp on my door shredded through my head like a sledgehammer.
“Go away.” I groaned.
I kept on my stomach; my face was turned to the side and I squinted, trying my best to make out the red bold digits on the alarm clock atop the night stand.
Does that say ten a.m.?
I wasn’t sure.
Nor were the memories of last night. Those remained rather vague. Well, that is anything after sucking down my third martini.
The rasp continued. I breathed deep and closed my eyes, my head pounding to the rhythmic beat coming from the door.
“Whoever it is, it better be important.” I grumbled to myself. I gripped the edge of the blanket with the intention of tossing them aside when I heard, “It’s probably just your brother.”
My eyes flew open.
What was he doing here?
How did he get in?
When did he get in?
“Stay here, I’ll get it.” he said.
Feeling the mattress move beneath me, my arm flailed to the side as I rolled over. The spot atop the covers where he’d laid was still warm. I lifted my head and watched uncertainty as he left the room. He lacked a shirt but his cargos were in tack.
I was clothed…right?
I had to check.
There is no way the two of us would get drunk enough to pull a stunt such as this.
Not with each other.
If anything happened between us, I’d die of mortification and pray to God that he wouldn’t have recalled it either.
Grabbing the edge of the blanket, I peeked.
I was fully clothed in my pajamas. How I managed to get into them, who knew. “Oh, thank God.” I let my head drop back onto my pillow.
Hearing Spencer open the door, I tossed back the covers and slid out of bed.
“Why didn’t you answer your phone?” Knox demanded as I entered the living room.
“If I had heard it I would have.” I placed my hand on my temple. “Could you please talk quietly? My head is killing me.”
He took a deep breath to calm himself. “Sorry. I was just worried about you. You just never not answer your phone.” Taking a seat on the couch, he looked at Spencer. “When did you get here?”
“I ended up crashing here. After carrying her up last night I was too tired to walk to my room.”
I snatched a Starbucks frappuccino from the refrigerator, said, “You carried me to my room?”
“You don’t remember?” Spencer was all amused.
“No. But did I um…you know, do anything that I’m going to be embarrassed about?”
Spencer grinned; letting me stand on pins and needles waiting for his answer. My brother must have taken pity on me for he spoke up with, “If you call Gage holding your hair back while you puke over a public toilet bowl, then—”
“You’re joking.” I was mortified. “Please tell me you’re joking.”
“’Fraid not.” Spencer chimed. “Though I do have to ask...Did anything happen between you two?”
“What do you mean?” I was genuinely confused.
“He called you ‘baby’ last night.”
“He did?” It made my insides flutter hearing that. It shouldn’t have though. I don’t want to know how many women he’s called ‘baby’ to get into their pants.
Inwardly I cringed. Knox’s tone rang of authority and man did I know it well. “Yeah?”
“What happened that Brock couldn’t make it?”
I knew I had to tell Knox, but I was rather hoping that I wouldn’t be right when I opened my eyes. “We’re not together anymore.”
Brock had become more distant in the last six months; especially the last three and I was only fooling myself if I thought that my brother never noticed.
Or anyone in the town for that matter.
Now’s the time when the shit hits the fan…
“He proposed. I refused. So, we broke up. And I ended up staying at your place for the night.” The less he knew the better.
“You stayed there alone?”
“Fuck, Jayden. Why didn’t you go to Spencer’s or to Lily and Eagan’s house?”
“I wanted to be alone. Tell me something Knox, were you up for discussion when your wife left you?” That was a cheap shot and I regretted it big time the moment it fell from my lips. It does take two I believe, but she had skipped out on him nearly a year ago and he hadn’t seen her since. In the beginning he knew her whereabouts only because she tried running up his credit cards and tried to buy a house in his name. He wanted a divorce, but couldn’t. He had to first find the broad in order to get her to sign the divorce papers.
Her name was Candy…enough said.
“Keep that bitch out of this, Jayden. I came home after work one night and found half my shit gone and my accounts empty.”
My hand flew to my chest. “I understood as to why you wanted some alone time Knox, and I respected that. Why can’t you?”
“Because it’s not safe for you to be, that’s why, Jayden. Fuck.”
I wished I could have failed to see his point. And the text last night only gave more ammunition in his corner. He just didn’t know it yet.
There was a break of silence.
Spencer shoved his hands in his pockets as he leaned back against the wall. “That’s not all of it.”
I shot my gaze to Spencer, pleading for him not to continue.
“I called her in the morning. She was having car trouble so I came out and picked her up. I drove her home. Long story short, Kierra Scott was there, I doubt I have to highlight why.” Spencer removed his hat and raked his hand over his shaved head before putting his hat in place. “Keirra’s pregnant.”
You just had to bring that up, didn’t you?
It’s not that my brother wouldn’t have found out eventually. Without doubt the news had already spread through the town like a plague. This was Spencer’s way of expressing his happiness over the break up. He’d never admit it, but he wasn’t the least bit sorry about it.
Biting my bottom lip, I fixed my eyes on Knox. He had remained silent. And that was never a good sign. The more enraged he became, the more relaxed he looked. He was never one to explode; unlike Spencer.
Knox rubbed his battered jaw, his voice remained calm. “Pack your things, Jayden, we’re taking the next flight home.”
In other words— He planned to go looking for Knox the moment we stepped off the plane. “Knox, I’m okay, really. And honestly, what does it say about our relationship if it ended like it did and I’m not at all upset about it? I’m just glad that I found out now and not later down the road.”
Knox rubbed the part of jaw that wasn’t bruised. “Is that who texted you last night?”
“I didn’t get a text last night.” I lied. I didn’t make it a habit to be dishonest. But, this...I didn’t want to add to my brother’s burden.
“When you came down and visited me before the fight, yeah you did.”
I never play stupid, but I desperately didn’t want to discuss whoever this psycho was that was stalking me. “Oh, that…it ah, wasn’t Brock.”
He studied me closely. “Whatever it was, it bothered you.”
I altered my weight to one leg. He was waiting for me to elaborate. It was my fault that he’d lost the fight.
I looked him over. He had had a good fight, his face proved it. His left eye was swollen shut, his cheek bone wickedly swollen. The marks along his jaw once red had now formed to bruises. And just above his brow were stitches of where he took his big blow.
“I’m sorry about the fight.”
“Don’t be. It wasn’t your fault. And stop placing the blame on yourself, alright? I control my head, not you. Now if you please…tell me what went down last night.”
“I don’t know who he is!” I burst out. I was beyond frustrated at being berated and I hadn’t meant for it to slip like it had. My eyes filled with tears. My lower lip trembled. I’m not sure why I didn’t fight harder in trying to keep last night a secret. Perhaps it was because I was tired. Perhaps it was because I was scared of what was to come. The cat was now out of the bag. “But it came from Him.”
“Him?” Knox knew who ‘Him’ was. I watched as he tried registering as to what I was saying.
“The— The man,” I started to say with a shaky voice, but then it broke off. And though time had passed, talking about it brought a painful weight on my chest. I set my drink on the counter and wiped the tear that skimmed down the length of my cheek. “The video…it came from Him, who attacked me. I didn’t even know he was in the house with me.”
Knox looked slightly confused but full of caution. I knew that he didn’t want to second guess me after all the hoops we went through, but we were told that the man was most likely a traveler just passing through. “You know it was from Him, for sure?”
“Yes.” I choked. My lower lip trembled. “He…he showed himself…in his mask and his clothes…glasses, gloves. It was all the same.”
Knox gained to his feet and held out his hand. “Let me see it.”
“Jayden, let me see it.”
“I said, ‘No’.” My voice escalated.
“Because I’m naked in the shower, that’s why!” I shouted and crossed my arms in front of me. “He was in your house with me the other night, filming me. How he even knew I was there and he didn’t…I don’t know. I just wish somebody could fill me in because I’m sure as shit not figuring it out on my own. Why me huh? I’m no more of a prize than any other girl. What…did I just happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time again is that it?”
Spencer’s eyes flicked between Knox and I. “Jayden, why don’t you ah, go lie down and rest for a bit. You’re looking tired.”
“I am tired.” I snapped out. I rubbed my forehead and tried to ease the pounding. My hands became clammy and back broke out in a sweat. I went to my purse and popped a Xanax under my tongue. “I thought all this was all over and behind me. I guess…I guess I was wrong.”
Knox spoke up as I passed by him. “How long has he been sending you these videos Jayden?”
“Let it go for now bro.” Spencer advised.
Knox raked his fingers so hard over his scalp, it made Spencer wince. “I want to know…”
“I said let it go. Look at her man, she’s funckin’ worn out. She’s been through a lot of shit these last few days.”
I stopped short of my room. I took a deep breath and tried to not to cry as the feeling of dread consumed me. “It’s all right Spencer. He’s just worried about me. You both are. And there hasn’t been anything before this.” With that being said, I entered my room and climbed into bed just as the border of my peripheral began to darken.
“I can’t believe this. When I catch that son-of-a-bitch, I’m going to— How the fuck did he get her phone number?”
“Why don’t the two of us head out for a few.” That was Spencer’s way of saying he had a few things to say, that he didn’t want me to hear. “I think it would be good for her to just rest a while longer.”
I knew by the silence that Knox was hesitating.
“He’s not going to show up here.”
Knox was clearly fighting with himself over this and finally agreed to go.
I heard Spencer grab my purse and began to poke around. After finding what it was he was looking for, he ambled to my room and approached me as I lay settled beneath the covers.
I opened her eyes but didn’t speak.
With my cell in the palm of his hand he held it out. “Here.”
I took the phone, a questionable flicker lingered.
“Don’t worry neither of us looked. I just wanted to tell you that I grabbed your room key from your purse. Knox and I are going to step out for a minute, we’ll be right back. Is that alright with you?”
I followed his hand, as he placed my pills on the night stand beside me. “Can you bring me back a coffee?”
He smiled. “I think I can manage that. Grande Cinnamon Dolce Latte?”
“You know I’m a sucker for those.”
“No way, really?” he grinned.
“No need.” he replied, and turned away.
“Yeah?” He turned back to me.
“I thank you for everything. You’re there for me, always have been. You’re a major part of my life…I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate everything you do. Thank you.”
“I’d do anything for you, Jay. You know that.” He grinned at me then. “You know why?”
As I said before...My parents took Spencer in as if he were their own. And when they died, he took it every bit as hard as Knox and I. There’s nothing that we wouldn’t do for one another.
I grinned back. In unison we said, “Because blood isn’t always thicker than water.”