Posts tagged “Caution

Chasing Truth: Chapter 47

Posted on 05/06/2020

A sandy path through the sand dunes to a beautiful beach with an ...

Reese was silent during the walk from the beach back to Mari’s place. Only once the house was in sight did he speak again.

“Pack a bag for the night when we get inside.”

She hesitated to question him, but the order made no sense. “Where are we going?”

“Raoul’s.”

He said no more as he led the way inside to complete his normal inspection of the house. Certain the house was as they left it, he gestured her toward the bedroom. She hurried inside to gather what she needed. Her mind raced the entire time. Reese was clearly angry with her. Blake was guaranteed to be as well. Raoul would be upset she hadn’t told him the truth.

The second she walked into the living room with her bag he hustled her out of the house to Raoul and Allie’s. They were in the living room watching TV when Mari and Reese let themselves inside. Raoul glanced over his shoulder, saw Reese’s face, and immediately reached for the remote to turn off the TV.

“What is it?”

Mari cupped her arms, trying to avoid Raoul’s gaze while Reese explained the truth about Tyler.

“I want to keep her here tonight while we dig into Tyler. We don’t want any surprises. I need to make another sweep of the house for bugs before I take her back too.”

“You don’t even have to ask,” Raoul said the second Reese finished.

“I appreciate that. I’ll give Blake a call now.”

He retreated into the kitchen, leaving Mari to face her surrogate parents alone.

“I told you I had a bad feeling about him,” Raoul grumbled predictably. “Why didn’t you say something?”

Mari threw up her hands. “What was I supposed to say? Hey, the guy you’ve been warning me about is actually a spy here to investigate the father everyone’s pretending they don’t know?”

“Yes!”

She rolled her eyes. “Yeah, and you would’ve had a heart attack.”

A weak laugh slipped from Allie even as tears threatened to fall. Raoul immediately wrapped his arm around his wife even as he glared at Mari.

“You both are nothing but trouble.”

The worry was plain in Raoul’s eyes despite his teasing words. He upended his entire life for her when her mother died by taking her in. She put the same look in his eyes many times in their life together, but was starker now. Fear was woven into the worry because the risks were far higher. She hated she was the cause of it and hated even more she couldn’t change it.

“Speaking of trouble,” Mari said forcing a lighter tone, “you gave Reese your steak recipe?”

“Are you serious right now?”

“Yes! He’s not even family.”

Raoul stared at her before muttering, “It’s not like you were going to do anything with it.”

“Not an excuse!”

“Mari,” Reese called.

She turned to see him in the doorway of the kitchen holding his phone up. Knowing she couldn’t delay the talk, she forced herself not to drag her feet as she crossed the room to him. She took the phone from him and walked into the kitchen. Reese wordlessly followed.

“Hi, Blake,” she answered hesitantly. She was braced for any possible reaction. Except for the one she got.

“Thank God he didn’t hurt you,” Blake breathed. “All I can think about is the things he could’ve done before I even met you. My security failed you. I’m sorry, Mari.”

She blinked, slowly letting out the breath she was holding. “It’s not your fault. He was here before I even got back from school. There was no reason to think he was here for me.”

“We should’ve looked harder when he started getting close to you.”

“He didn’t hurt me. I’m fine, and so far, it’s worked out okay.  I’m…I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner.”

“I was a stranger,” he said in quiet understanding that smoothed out her remaining tension.

“You’re taking it easy on me, but I’m glad. So…ummm…what exactly are you going to do now?”

“Figure out who Tyler is and what he wants. You’ll break up with him. I don’t care what excuse you come up with. Use whatever works best. You’ll know.”

“I can’t just randomly break up with him. He’ll know I told you.”

Reese was immediately beside her and reached for the phone. A quick press to the screen put the call on speaker.

“Blake, that’s a risky move.”

“That’s why you’re there.”

“I’d really rather not go risky,” Mari interjected before Reese could speak. “And besides, I don’t really know anything about what he’s doing. If I stay with him, I could find out more about what he’s planning so you have warning.”

“No.” Blake’s rejection was sharp and immediate. “I want you safe and out of his reach.”

“He’s going to be suspicious if I break up with him and that might make him do something stupid. That’s not me being safe. And there’s really no way to be out of his reach on the island.”

“Reese will keep you safe until we have Tyler under control.”

“So I was trying not to point this out, but it’s not your decision to make,” Mari finally said bluntly. “You can’t make me break up with him.”

“He’s using you.”

“And now I get to use him back.”

“Petty revenge is not worth risking your life,” he ground out. “What happens when he turns on you? Because eventually he will. You’re a means to an end.”

She shot Reese a quick look from the corner of her eye. “Like you said, that’s what Reese is here for. You don’t even know who he is yet and I’m assuming you guys looked into him already. You need as much information as you can get and you know it.”

“I don’t like it.”

“Noted.” She hesitated before she made herself push forward. “I think we need to talk about your life and what exactly it is that you do. The time to protect me with ignorance is over. Knowledge is protection now.”

Reese stiffened.

“No, it’s even more important now Tyler believes you don’t know anything,” Blake said.

“Obviously, I’m not planning on telling him or I wouldn’t have warned you. I need to know what I’m dealing with.”

There was a long silence. It was so long she thought he would deny her. Then she heard him sigh.

“You may be right, but that is not a conversation for the phone.”

“I don’t think you should come to Sakina right now,” she blurted out in protest.

Tyler was gone, but she had no clue what he was doing or planning.

“We’re in agreement there. I don’t want any other eyes drawn to the island. Reese will bring you to me.”

Mari’s brow jumped. “I’ll be coming to where you live?”

“We’ll work out the details. You’ll just need to pack and be ready when Reese says it’s time to go.”

“I can manage that.”

“Then I’ll be seeing you soon. In the meantime, stick close to Reese and listen. Don’t make me regret doing this your way.”

“For someone who just started doing this father thing, you got that part down pretty fast,” she complained.

“How,” Blake started on a soft chuckle, “in the middle of all of this mess can you still manage to make me laugh?”

“It’s a talent,” Mari said with a shrug, but her eyes were on Reese. His lips twitched and a seed of hope took root he wouldn’t hold this against her forever.

<< Chapter 46                              Chapter 48 >>

Chasing Truth: Chapter 9

Posted on 15/08/2014

Beach-At-Night-Wallpaper-2_zps4f57bc37

Weeks passed, marked by tours during the day and nights with Tyler. The more time she spent with him, the more she liked what she saw. He kept her charmed and laughing, effortlessly wiping away the stress and strain of packed days. They went swimming, biking, and hiking. They lied out and watched the stars. He cooked for her. Amid the sandcastle competitions, movie choosing ceremonies, and the hilariously competitive game nights, spending time with him became the highlight of her day and she was looking forward to their night together.

Unfortunately she was currently stuck cleaning up from a late diving tour with Keon. She peeked into the boat to see how much equipment there was and glanced down at her watch.

“Got another date with the resident wannabe?”

“Actually, yeah. Are you going to be a brat about him forever?”

Keon hadn’t softened his stance about Tyler since their first time out together. The times Tyler stopped by the shop he alternated between ignoring him and watching him like a suspected thief. Then there were the snarky comments. She chalked it up as the protectiveness of a man who was like a brother to her and ignored him most of the time. Tonight his attitude bothered her.

“He’s a good guy, Keon. Really. He hasn’t even tried to kiss me, let alone make any type of move. You can relax.”

Tyler was the perfect gentleman. He never pushed or went beyond holding her hand , a hug, or a playful wrestle. She hadn’t dated since her freshman year of college and hadn’t missed it. She didn’t want to get into another relationship, but with Tyler she found herself not only willing to, but also wanting to.

Every outing with him was fun. It was more than that though. He made her feel cherished. He was always caring and considerate. He was an amazing listener and whenever she brought something to him he knew when to help her work through it and when to just let her vent. He was honest, some might even say to a fault, but she liked that about him. He never left her wondering what he was thinking. A smile curved her lips.

She glanced at her watch again.

“I just don’t like the vibe I get from him.” Keon passed her two tanks before grabbing two of his own. “He’s a stranger.”

“Have you tried actually getting to know him?” It wasn’t like Keon to act like this. Sure he was always a little overprotective but she expected the animosity to have faded by now. She frowned back at him as she unlocked the shop and preceded him inside.

“Just be careful, alright? We don’t know a ton about him.”

“You know me. I’m always careful.”

The sound of Tyler’s truck pulling up cut off whatever else he planned to say. They went through the required equipment checks before returning them to their proper place. Mari took one last look around the shop to make sure everything was in place.

“Go ahead. I’ll lock up.”

She raised a brow.

“Go ahead before I change my mind. Just remember what I said.”

She smiled and kissed his cheek. It was more than him letting her leave a little early. This was his way of trying to show his support of whatever made her happy and they both knew it.

“Thanks, Keon.”

The passenger door was already open when she walked out. She hopped in and leaned over to give Tyler a hug. He knew her schedule almost as well as she did and had taken to picking her up and helping her wind down after full days of work. Tonight he drove her down to the beach to enjoy the stars over her favorite order from Joe’s Shack.

“You’re getting really good at this.” She popped a piece of shrimp into her mouth.

“We’ve been doing this for a while now. I’d like to think so.”

She nudged him and stole one of his fries, drawing laughter from him.

“And no matter how well I think I ordered, you always find something of mine you want.”

“The fact that it’s yours adds a different flavor to it.”

She said it with a straight face, but couldn’t maintain it when he stared at her in amused disbelief.

“Finish your food, woman.”

When she finished her dinner he took her hand for a stroll down the beach. A soft smile touched her face and she inhaled the rich ocean scent. Tyler and the beach. It didn’t get much better than this. It would be very easy for a woman to get used to being the center of his focus.

“What are you smiling about?”

She cocked her head to the side and her smile widened. “You.”

“Ah sweetheart, you don’t look at a man and tell him something like that.”

“You asked a question. I’m just being honest.”

He gently tugged her to a stop, water lapping over their feet. “A man could really like the look of you,” he murmured as he trailed his fingers down the side of her face. “And I’m only being honest.”

“Oh yeah?” she challenged with a smile.

“Yeah,” he breathed seconds before he leaned in. “If you don’t want this, now’s a good time to stop me.”

He was so close the words were practically said against her lips. Without realizing it, she brought her hands up to grip his arms when he cupped her face.

“I don’t see anyone stopping you.”

No sooner than she said the words, he took her lips in a strong kiss. It was a shock to her system. He never did anything in half measures and this kiss was no different. She was on the tips of her toes, meeting him in the hungry kiss. He drew her in tighter until she was flush against him and her arms locked around his neck.

It was every bit as intense as the man holding her. She didn’t want it to end.

“I was afraid of that,” he murmured when he finally pulled back.

She rested her forehead against his shoulder and felt his fingers comb through the loosened strands of hair.

“Afraid of what?”

“You. Wanting more if I had a taste.”

She lifted her head to look into his eyes. He smiled that crooked smile she was coming to love.

“Just being honest.”

She smacked his chest lightly and then smoothed her hand over the fabric there. “Yeah, well if it makes you feel any better…I want more too.”

He groaned softly. He pressed a kiss to her forehead, her nose, and finally her lips. She melted into his hold with her lips clinging to his. Kissing with Tyler was more than it ever was with anyone else. She wanted to sink in and never come back up.

“Easy.” He was breathing hard when he ripped his mouth from hers. “You could kill a man.”

“Same goes.”

He pressed his forehead to her and laughed breathlessly. “Yeah, we’re going to do this. You’re mine, sweetheart.”

“You weren’t sure up until now?”

He laughed again. “Don’t be cute right now.”

“Sorry, I’ll see what I can do about turning that off.”

She barely got the last word out before he kissed her again.

“I’m trying to find some control,” he murmured against her lips. “Help me out.”

“Sorry.”

He stole one more kiss before he pulled back, grabbing her hands and squeezing.

“Let me get you home.”

“Scared?”

“Out of my mind.”

She laughed and let him turn her back toward the truck. When his arms wrapped around her waist she nestled into him. They walked back up the beach like that, laughing and teasing each other as they went.

He helped her into the truck and stilled, his eyes on something in the distance. She settled into the seat and frowned up at him. All signs of amusement left his face. His eyes were hard and his jaw set as he scanned the night.

“What is it?” she asked, trying to find whatever held his attention.

“Nothing.”

He gently swung her legs into the truck and closed the door with a smile. With more look out at the road, he climbed in and drove off.

By the time he pulled up to the house, she was exhausted but still reluctant to leave him. He surprised her when he opened his car door. Usually he pulled up to the guesthouse, waited for her to get inside, and then left. He was helping her down from the truck when she found her tongue.

“What are you doing?”

“Walking you to your door.”

She studied him, but he seemed as easygoing as he was earlier. Whatever bothered him before, he was over it now. She searched through her pack for her keys and came up with them just as they reached the door.

“Get inside, sweetheart.”

“I’m going. Thank you for tonight. I needed that. Somehow you always seemed to know.”

He kissed her temple. Then her cheek. “You’re welcome. Go.”

She grinned up at him. “You really like me,” she teased.

“I don’t know why. You’re a brat.”

“You like my mean streak.” She stroked a hand over his cheek. “Goodnight Tyler.”

He turned his head to kiss her palm. “Goodnight sweetheart.”

She reluctantly pulled away and unlocked the door. He was already backpedaling toward the stairs.

She couldn’t resist one last tease. “Still scared?”

“Shaking in my boots, baby. Lock up.”

She nodded and shut the door, waiting. A knock sounded against door and she burst into laughter. She turned the lock.

“Better?” she asked the door.

“Brat.” And then all she heard were his footsteps and the truck starting back up.

 

<< Chapter 8 || Chapter 10 >>

  

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