Jared gets a phone call from Matt while I’m cooking dinner. His face looks stressed, and I’m dying to find out what they’re talking about.
My phone pings. It’s Shannon. We have plans to go out for drinks tonight. Jared is not happy about it. He wants to keep me safe, which I understand. But I need to live, too. I can’t keep avoiding my best friend.
If he wants to put security detail on me, that’s fine. I just need to see my friend. I miss her.
“Babe, I have to go to the bar. Matt said he will keep an eye on you tonight when you go out. Keep your phone on you at all times, and please be careful.”
“What did Matt say?” I query.
“He has good news, actually. The Irish are backing down. Grady set a deal, so we should be in the clear. I still have yet to figure out what Tony owes, and if they will use that against us or not.” I sigh.
“People can do some crazy shit when they’re going through withdrawal. He was a sick man, and I wish I’d seen the signs,” I tell him.
“Yeah, he was. And now people are asking questions about his whereabouts and I have to make it look like I have no idea. If we play this right we can hype up that he’s on a bender.”
“Well, I’m here for you. We can get through this together.” I give him a kiss on the lips.
“I need to forget about everything, baby. I need you first; everyone else can wait,” he grunts, lifting me up as I laugh.
Jared kisses my lips as I wrap my legs around his middle.
“Get these clothes off,” he rasps, and I comply.
I hope we stay like this forever.
I’m having drinks with Shannon, and it feels good to be out. Matt keeps his distance, but he is all business.
“What’s with the bodyguard?” She nods towards Matt.
“Jared is a little paranoid after his brother went missing.” Her face falls.
“The word around town is he’s on a bender. I didn’t even know he was in to drugs,” she says, and all I can do is shrug because I hate lying to my friend.
“Better to be safe than sorry. You know how dangerous his line of work is.” She nods in agreement.
“Anyway, how are you and Sean?” I change the subject abruptly, but she doesn’t seem to care.
“He’s amazing. I never ever thought I could be this happy. Especially after…” She pauses.
She is thinking about what Jayden did to her, and just the thought of that creep sends shivers down my spine.
“You overcame something traumatic. Not many people can say they got through that and came out okay.”
“I guess so. I still have nightmares.”
I grab her hand and look her in the eyes.
“You don’t ever have to feel like you’re alone in this. I will always be here for you,” I assure her, and her eyes glisten. I grab a hold of my locket that always stays close to my heart when I need the strength to continue. I know my mother is watching over me, and that alone gives me peace.
We talk some more, but the conversation becomes lighter. We start to reminisce about some college parties we went to and continue laughing.
My phone rings so I hold up a finger, seeing it’s Jared.
“Hello?” I say, but when I hear another woman’s voice on the phone my stomach falls to the ground.
“Is this Erica?” the woman says, out of breath.