Posts tagged “Betrayal

Lighthouse, Chapter 17

Posted on 20/07/2016

Chapter 18>>Phoebe and Geraldine quietly watched Darah pace in front of the fireplace while she gnawed on her thumbnail, her brow furrowed in deep thought. The two sisters-in-law glanced worriedly at each other before facing Darah. “You’ll wear out the carpet that way, Darah,” Geraldine cautioned.

“And the dizziness barely stopped,” Phoebe added, reaching out a hand to the frazzled girl. “How about you sit—”

Darah edged around Phoebe’s hand and started for the door. The women hurried after her, Geraldine grabbing her shoulders while Phoebe barred the path to the exit. Darah wriggled under Geraldine’s hold. “Let me go! They’ll kill him if I don’t do something.”

“Do they have reason to?” Phoebe queried, noting the frantic glint in Darah’s eyes.

“Besides,” Geraldine grunted when Darah’s skinny elbow jutted her side. She gripped her shoulders. “J.R.’s there with them—stand still.”

“That’s the problem,” Darah persisted, struggling in Geraldine’s arms. “One look at his face and they’ll figure out who Jeremy is.” She looked to Phoebe with pleading eyes. “Please help me.”

“Who is this Jeremy guy anyway?” Brows furrowed in concern, Phoebe parked her hands to her hips.. “The father?”

Darah froze and Geraldine gaped at Phoebe. “Seriously?”

Phoebe nudged her chin towards Darah. “Look at her face and tell me who else it’ll be.”

With a dry scoff, Geraldine immediately released Darah. “Well then, we better go or else we’ll have to bail out three men tonight.”

“What about the kids?” Phoebe glanced over their heads at the staircase.

“It’s fine, I’ll go by myself,” Darah pushed away from them and hurried to the door, flinging it open. But she came to a stop at the sight of three shadows standing in the doorway. Her feet inched backwards as the shadows stepped forward.

Phoebe and Geraldine came to stand on either side of a frightened Darah as bedraggled Abe, Bart and J.R. stepped into the house, their hooded stares on Darah.

Instantly, Phoebe put a hand on Darah’s shoulder as though pre-empting her response. “What happened?” she asked her husband gently.

Face unreadable, Abe shifted his hooded gaze to his wife and pursed his lips, not saying a word.

Geraldine sighed and attempted with Bart. “Where is he?”

“He’s outside,” J.R. muttered, face hard as stone and his dark eyes remained on Darah, expression unreadable. “He wants to speak with you.”

Darah didn’t dare move; a relief to both Phoebe and Geraldine. “Can I go?”

Phoebe tamped a sigh as Abe and Bart clenched their jaw simultaneously. She squeezed Darah’s shoulder and released her. “You have ten minutes.”

“Five,” Abe and Bart said in unison.

Darah nodded and edged around J.R. to exit the house, careful not to meet J.R.’s gaze. She only released the breath she’d been holding once the door closed behind her. Her eyes sought Jeremy’s shadow and found him standing in the driveway. She hurried down the steps to meet him.

He turned at the sound of her hasty footfall and reached out a hand when she tripped over an uneven stone in the driveway. When she veered from his touch, he drew his hand behind his back and eyed her shrouded features. “Careful…”

Folding arms across her chest, she sniffed dismissively. “What are you doing here?”

“I came to see you.”

Heart skipped a beat at his softly-spoken words and Darah clinked her teeth at the unsolicited response. “Rubbish.”

Jeremy gave pause, the night’s refrain filling the silence. Then he sighed. “I see you’re still angry.”

Her lips curled in a sardonic smile. “Not at all.”

“You must’ve told your brothers about me,” he continued. “Why else would they threaten me?”

She arched a brow. “Is that all they did? Disappointing.”

Jeremy kissed his teeth. “You’re terrible.”

“And you’re trash. What do you want?”

He blew out a frustrated breath. “Just when I think we can have an adult conversa—”

“What do you want, Jeremy?” She snapped, tightening fingers against her arms. It was bad enough that she had to live with the memories of him for a lifetime through a child she wasn’t ready for, but having to see him so shortly after their breakup was pure torture. “And how on earth did you know where I live? You a stalker now?”

“Get over yourself.” Jeremy heaved out a sigh. “Tess told me.”

Darah started in shock. “Excuse me, what?!”

“Dumb fool has no idea,” Bart groused from the window, watching his sister and her ex-boyfriend speaking. “Lucky J.R. was there to prevent his untimely death.”

Geraldine patted J.R.’s shoulder. “I owe you one.”

J.R. nodded distractedly, watching Darah’s shadow and growing agitated by the moment. He wondered what they were saying, and why she stood with arms around herself. Was she threatened or nervous around the man she’d once loved or still loved? His brow furrowed deep at the thought and he curled his hands into fists in his pockets.

“What did you say to him?” Phoebe asked Abe, her hand tucked under his arm.

“Nothing,” Abe muttered, frowning out the window. “Just wanted to put his lights out.”

“Isn’t five minutes over yet?” Bart growled over Phoebe’s gasp. “What are they talking about?”

“Maybe she’s telling him he’s a father…” Phoebe noticed J.R.’s shoulders stiffen and trailed off in thought.

“Or he’s telling her the reason he’s here,” Geraldine mumbled, rubbing tension from Bart’s neck. “Calm down or I’ll deal with you if you have to take hypertension meds like Abe.”

The brothers scoffed, her threat ineffective in their frustration.

“Easier said than done, when this girl’s determined to send me to an early grave,” Bart gritted through clenched teeth.

“Over my dead body,” Geraldine countered, kneading his tense muscles.

“No one’s dying today or any day,” Phoebe said firmly. “Right, J.R.?”

All eyes shifted to J.R. standing there with a storm etched on his face.

“Buddy,” Abe said, nudging J.R. on the arm.

As though stepping from a trance, J.R. shifted his attention to the couples staring at him. He raised both brows. “Hm?”

“You alright?”

J.R. didn’t answer for a moment and the couples exchanged curious glances before he nodded. “Yeah.”

Darah gaped in silence at Jeremy for a brief moment before she choked out a laugh. “Of all people…”

Jeremy scuffed his feet against the stones lining the driveway. “I know you’re shocked.”

“Actually, nothing shocks me these days…” She shook her head. “I don’t even want to ask when you two met each other because it’s none of my business and I could care less.”

“Okay…”

Darah shook her head incredulously. Despite her bravado, she couldn’t begin to wrap her head around the thought of her friend and ex-boyfriend together. She huffed a shaky breath and met his face. “It seems I was right all along. You are scum.”

Jeremy sighed. “Can we stop with the name-calling?”

“Sure, scum. We can do that when you stop being scum, Scum,” Darah said breezily.

He snorted. “You’re still very much a child, I see.”

Darah’s lips twitched a crooked smile. “And you’re still very much pure, unadulterated trash. So what did you come here for? To inform me that you and my former best friend are engaged?”

“I already told you it’s complicated—”

“Actually save the details for someone who cares.” Darah fought the tears that threatened; not tears of sadness but mounting indignation. “What do you want?”

Jeremy dragged a hand over his face. “Look, you have something that belongs to me and I want it back.”

Alarmed, she took a step back in alarm as a cold shiver skittered down her spine. “W-what thing?” Her hands instinctively wrapped around her front. “What did that wench tell you?”

“Ugh, enough with the dramatics already!” Jeremy snapped. “I know you took it, so give it back.”

Her eyes widened, shielding her stomach. “What are you, a monster? How can I give this back?”

Jeremy inched forward. “Darah, I’m trying to be patient here but you’re trying my last nerves. Stop your games.” He grabbed her arm before she could turn away. “Give it to me!”

Heart in her throat, she attempted yanking her arm from his tightening grip. “Let me go!”

“Not until you give it to me,” he insisted, his voice hardening as the hold on her arm.

She whimpered as he hovered dangerously too close, his grip unrelenting. “Let me go!”

“Not until–!” A force hit Jeremy from the side and with a grunt, he released Darah’s hand.

Cradling her hand, she gaped as two bodies rolled in the grass. The smaller of the two scrambled on top the other; fighting with merciless fists, and eliciting pain-wrought grunts from the one on the bottom. Her eyes widened in recognition and she stood upright. “Eli!”

The front door opened, all five adults hurrying down to where Eleazar and Jeremy tousled in the grass.

At first, Phoebe and Geraldine crowded Darah while the three men rushed to Eleazar’s side. Then Bart jumped into the fray, followed by Abe. Screaming at their husbands, the women left Darah’s side and hurried to help J.R. break up the fight.

Eleazar flinched as the metal doors slid close, while Bart sat cross-legged and stone-faced on one corner of their holding cell. The seasoned police officer clucked his tongue in disappointment as he locked the cell door. “If your parents could see you now… may their souls rest in peace.”

“They’re at peace, Officer Holden,” Abe drawled with his arms folded. “Thanks for your concern though.”

“I’d expected you’d outgrown such behavior.”

“Aren’t there criminals to arrest?” Bart countered, eying the older gentleman only a few years younger than his late parents. “Or you’ve got nothing else to do than eat donuts and harass innocent citizens?”

“Innocent my butt. I’ve got criminals sitting right here,” Officer Holden replied breezily, moving to the edge of the cell. “You’ve gotta be careful, since you’ve got a record. Aren’t you a father now?”

Eleazar gaped at Bart. “You do?”

Bart’s expression turned rueful but he remained silent.

Officer Holden turned to the youngest Teka male with a mock grave expression. “Yeah, misdemeanor when he was about your age. And it seems you’ll have one too.”

“Not on my watch,” a voice drawled behind him and all eyes turned to see J.R. stroll into the office.

The officer arched a brow. “And you are?”

“Our family lawyer,” Abe answered, standing from the bench. “Are we clear?”

J.R. nodded solemnly. “He won’t press charges. But we’ll have to bail you out tomorrow.”

Puzzled, the three men frowned.

“Why tomorrow?” Bart asked, standing also.

“Phoebe and Geri said to let you stay here for the night.” J.R. shrugged. “They don’t want to see you right now.”

Officer Holden chuckled and all the puzzled gazes shifted back to him. “It’s true that hell hath no fury than a wife’s anger… or something like that.” He smirked. “In any case, it’s a more suitable punishment for you boys.” Whistling, he walked away jauntily, leaving the men reeling in silence.

Abe recovered first and met J.R.’s solemn stare. “What did he say? Why’d he do that to Darah?”

J.R. sighed. “He alleged Darah stole a file from him.”

“Alleged. That piece of trash!” Bart sneered, gripping the cell bars.

“I should punch him again,” Eleazar added, scowling.

Abe frowned. “What file?”

J.R. shrugged. “The details aren’t clear, but it seems Darah knows what he’s talking about.”

“Did she take it?”

The brothers waited for J.R.’s response, but in that pause, they realized the truth.

Bart groaned and turned away. Frustrated, Abe dragged a hand over his face and Eleazar just stared past J.R., all four believing Darah was guilty as charged.

<<Chapter 16 || Chapter 18>>

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Chasing Truth: Chapter 16

Posted on 03/10/2014

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Mari snuck what felt like her fiftieth look at Tyler as he drove toward the Drake estate. He was subdued, his jaw set and eyes hard just as they’d been that night on the beach and then again with Sam. This time she had no clue what caused it and it unnerved her. He’d already been in his mood when he picked her up from work ten minutes ago. Unbidden, her father and Gage’s reaction to him came to mind.

“Tyler,” she probed gently.

“Yeah?” Short and terse.

She hesitated but pushed on. “Is everything okay?”

He blew out a sharp breath. “Yeah, honey. Everything’s good.”

She didn’t call him on the blatant lie. Obviously something was wrong but she didn’t push him further. She couldn’t hide a sigh of relief when he pulled up in front of the guesthouse and turned off the truck. For a moment she’d worried he would leave. He stroked a hand over her hair before cupping her neck.

“Let’s get you inside.”

She gave him a weak smile and climbed out of the truck.

“Give me a minute to change and we can go down to the beach. Sound good?” she asked over her shoulder as she unlocked the door and pushed inside.

He nodded and dropped down on the bed, kicking his feet up as she pulled her bathing suit and a pair of shorts from her dresser. She paused in the door of the bathroom to look him over. He was relaxed in the bed, even smiled at her but there was still something wrong. She smiled back and shut the door behind her.

She took her time stripping out of her clothes. Something was eating at Tyler and she wanted him to share that weight with her like he always encouraged her to do with him. She just wasn’t sure how to coax him into it. Usually he shared so easily.

As she dressed she remembered the night they talked about Sam and how he’d let her in when she teased him. A smile curved her lip as she tied the strings of her bikini top and settled on her strategy. She unhooked the hunting knife from her other shorts to put away and swung the bathroom door open.

She stopped there in the threshold, a frown marring her features. Her laptop hadn’t been on when she went to change from her tour. Tyler moved fast but not fast enough to hide the light of the computer screen before it went black. That wasn’t a big deal. He could use her computer but her cell phone wasn’t where she left it either. He knew the passcodes, she was sure. They’d been together long enough and she never tried to hide them from him.

Raoul, Todd, Gage and even Julia’s words all echoed in her head. They all tried to warn her in their own ways. What would Tyler need with her computer and phone?

He looked up at her and smiled from the chair he relaxed in. She loved that crooked smile, the way his lips quirked up in lazy pleasure. She had a sinking feeling it wasn’t genuine and it wasn’t really for her. Whatever Tyler wanted, it wasn’t her.

“You ready to hit the beach?” he asked pushing up from the desk and coming toward her.

She forced a small smile and let him wrap his arms around her waist. She automatically curved her arms around his neck in return. It was natural, easy. Everything always was with him, maybe too much so. Why hadn’t she seen it when the others had?

Because she couldn’t imagine having anything he thought he had to seduce her to get.

“What is it?” he asked quietly.

His thumb caressed her lower back as she continued to turn the question over in her mind. Maybe he worked for another touring business. Something in her ached to believe otherwise but she wouldn’t turn a blind eye to the things she noticed and heard. He unsettled the three most important men in her life and one of her best friends. She’d seen the hard glint in his eyes on more than one occasion. She knew the way she left her things. She wouldn’t live a lie, no matter how tempting that lie was. She sighed and cupped his face, letting her fingers fan out close to his eyes.

“Is there a reason you’ve been going through my things, Tyler? Uh uh. Please don’t move.”

“What makes you think I’ve been going through your things, sweetheart?”

“I don’t think. I know. You’ve got one minute to explain before I decide I don’t care and ask you to leave.”

They locked eyes in silence. She felt his abrupt turn moments before he tried it and drew back, instinctively pulling her hunting knife free as her heart began to race. For the first time since she met him, she feared Tyler Ross.

“Tyler, please don’t.”

God, how had it come to this? This was the man who held her in his arms at the end of a long night, teased her, made her laugh, and kissed her senseless. She adored this man. Yet, here they stood with her hunting knife between them.

“You ever use that on a person before?”

“You want to find out how well?”

They stared each other down until Tyler raked a hand over his hair. “Put the knife down, Mari.”

She wanted to. More than that, she wanted to start the whole night over. She wanted to spend an extra minute in the bathroom and miss the signs that said Tyler wanted something from her other than her company. She couldn’t. The only thing she could do, would do was face this head on.

She wanted to chuck a book at his head. He stood there looking like the same man who picked her up from work and greeted her with the sweetest kisses while simultaneously putting her on edge. What was going on?

“Why are you looking through my things? I won’t ask again.”

His eyes searched her face until he sighed and sat down on the bed.

“What I tell you can’t leave this room.”

“I’ll decide that. Start talking.”

“It doesn’t leave this room.”

There was the security face again. Whatever he was about to reveal she had a feeling it wasn’t as simple as a rival touring business conspiracy and she suddenly wished it were.

“The men on this island will tear you apart if Raoul or Gage don’t get to you first. I decide what leaves this room and what doesn’t. Now start talking.”

“Raoul Drake is not your father.”

“He’s the only father I acknowledge.”

“Your biological father is Blake Mason.”

She stilled. No one knew who her biological father was. It was a secret Miranda Drake kept from her and Raoul, ultimately taking it with her in death. There was no way Tyler could know the truth when they didn’t.

“And what makes you think that?”

“I don’t think. I know,’” he echoed her earlier words and stared her squarely in the eye. “And I know because I’m here to get to him when he comes for you.”

<< Chapter 15 || Chapter 17 >> 

  

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