Page 28 of Hush Now Love

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Propping my head up on the stuffed bear that Callan won me, I unlock it to play one of those stupid games that I like but startle when I immediately get a text message from an unknown number. Frowning I open it up, reading,

You do know you’re not under witness protection by now, don’t you?

My heart starts slamming in my chest and I text,Who is this?The next message floods me with relief but also confusion.

Sorry, it’s detective Racket. Thought I should tell by now why Callan whisked you away to that small town.

What? Why? What are you talking about?

He wants to have you all to himself. Wants to bury you with his kin.

Bury me? I swallow.Excuse me?

Haha, just an old Irish expression. Means he wants to propose to you. Marry you.

In response I freeze as shock fills me and the next message comes quickly.

Heck, did I blow his surprise? Don’t tell Callan.

My fingers loosen around the phone and I stare at the texts when Callan’s shadow shows up in the doorframe and I sharply look up. At first glance he looks relaxed and a little bit out of it but then his eyes land on me, narrowing when I hide the phone behind my back.

“What’s there behind your back?” he asks with sharp and shrewd eyes and he crosses his steely arms.

“Nothing,” I say quickly because I know he will get mad. He told me not to bring my phone, but I did it anyway since I only use it to play games or receive information from my boss. That’s all. Besides, if it’s true what Harvey is saying maybe it’s a good thing I brought it...

Shaking my head, I nod at the TV. “Your game is still playing.” He doesn’t look, seemingly uninterested in rugby all of the sudden. Licking my lips, I add, “I just need to go check something. I’ll be back quickly.”

Simultaneously, I tuck my phone behind the cushions of the couch.

“What are you holding behind your back, Melody?” Callan says. “Tell me or I will pry your fingers open and I don’t think you’ll enjoy being manhandled by me.”

Having no other choice, I show him my now empty hands. He doesn’t say anything, so I slowly turn and rush upstairs and I can tell that Callan is watching me. Once on the top floor, I give him a quick look. He’s down by the staircase, his face turned upward and there’s a strange, suspicious glimmer in his eyes.

Swallowing, I wonder if it’s really true what Harvey told me. That I’m not under witness protection, that Callan took me here to...propose? It confuses me because even if I know that Callan is intense, I don’t think he’s the kind of person who would do something quite like this.

Turning on the light in his bedroom, I walk over to the bags he brought with him, quickly planning on going through all the small pockets to see if there’s an engagement ring anywhere and I zip up the bag...

Time stops. My world crumbles. I go numb on the inside.

A scream lingers down in my throat, my sight dim as I with trembling fingers pick up the mask. The mask that Romeo wore. It stares at me while I stare back. Mocking me. Hurting me. Hating me.

“Melody...” Callan slithers from downstairs in an impatient voice but he might as well have been screaming in my ear, because it makes me jolt so hard that I fall on my ass from my crouching position.

I start shaking, feeling like I’m about to shatter. I’m going to die tonight. He’s going to kill me.

But why go through all this trouble? Why play this cat and mouse game, why...?

Tears burn behind my eyes when I look at the ruined sheets in the bed and the smell of our joined bodies still lingers in the room. Why make love to me if he all this time never even had an ounce of love for me?

I wipe the tears off with a furious hand. Because he’s sick. Because he’s Romeo. Clenching my fist, I let out a wounded cry, almost bending over from the pain in my heart. How could he do this to me?

I trusted him. I trusted him more than I trust myself but I should have seen it all along. He fits the criteria. His strength, his rough childhood...But I still can’t believe it. Can’t believe I was intimate with him, felt protected and loved by him...

“Melody get down here, before I come up,” he snaps, his voice full of power and dominance and I never thought about him that way before. He always took care to be gentle with me, be sweet with me, luring me in...

“Coming,” I say and I’m proud that my own voice is steadier than it should be. But it still feels like I’m having an out of body experience as I walk down the staircase. Callan is waiting in the hallway, blocking the entrance.

His face is tense, eyes narrowed and he looks like he knows that I know.

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