Posts tagged “Concern

Chasing Truth: Chapter 48

Posted on 12/06/2020

Spy shop' surveillance gear cheaper than ever, but you get what ...

Mari’s life was a mess. Her boyfriend was using her to spy on her biological father. Her bodyguard was upset with her. Her surrogate dad was annoyed she kept the truth from him. Her biological father was more than likely wary of her now. Her friends were completely in the dark about everything happening. All of that and she was still no closer to discovering what kind of life Blake led. She blew out a harsh breath as she slouched down on the couch in Raoul’s living room. Her phone chimed twice, drawing her attention to the group chat she had with Julia and Leilani.

Leilani’s text was first. What r u & Reese up to 2nite? Let’s do something fun. 

Beach tonight? Or Joe’s? Julia’s response was immediate.

Mari looked up from her phone when she heard the front door open. Moments later, Reese came into view. The tight line of his jaw wasn’t reassuring given he left earlier to check her place for bugs.

“You found something,” she guessed while setting her phone to the side.

“Anything sensitive or not public knowledge is only discussed here. That includes any of your conversations with Blake. You’ll continue to take calls from him there, but never discuss anything of consequence. You need to keep your conversations normal. Are we clear?”

Mari anxiously thought back on all the things she said at home. What did Tyler know that she hadn’t actually told him?

“Mari?” Reese prompted sharply.

“You don’t need to snap. I’m not the one who missed the bugs.”

She almost missed his wince. His eyes skittered away from her. “I had to work hard to find them, harder than anyone would in a standard check. Tyler is…advanced.”

Mari tugged at her ear. She tried to ignore the guilt creeping in. He had missed the bugs, but his clear shame over it made her feel awful for pointing it out. Shame wasn’t a look she ever saw on him, wasn’t something she thought she would ever associate with him. It made him more human even as it freaked her out about Tyler. How good did he have to be to get bugs past Reese?

“We’re clear,” she murmured in answer to his earlier question. It wouldn’t be hard. She was unlikely to ever forget Tyler was listening in. “I was just trying to think of anything he might know because he had my place bugged.”

“Did you come up with anything?”

She hesitated, but she shook her head. “Not that I can think of. I’ve been pretty careful about saying anything to anyone, but I’ll let you know if anything comes to mind.”

He nodded. She rubbed at her arms. Knowing Tyler bugged her place left her unsettled. He preached trust to her, yet he didn’t trust her enough not to listen in on her conversations. The complete violation of her privacy only made it harder to move past. She squeezed, moving her thoughts from Tyler’s underhanded methods.

“Jules and Leilani texted,” she told Reese when he said nothing else. “They want to hang out…I need to tell them the truth.”

“No.”

She blinked at the whip in his voice. “Reese, I grew up with them. They know me. They’re going to be able to tell something is off with me.”

“If you can’t move forward like normal, then we’ll call this off now. I’ll take you to Blake and we’ll figure out the rest.”

The firmness of his words left her stunned before frustration started to bubble up. “I’m not saying I can’t pretend with Tyler. I’m telling you two women who’ve known me my whole life will probably get a clue that something is off. If we tell them what’s going on, they can help with Tyler.”

“Julia has never liked Tyler. Leilani would struggle to keep a secret, let alone act like everything is normal.”

“My point exactly! Well, not about Lani. Jules being her skeptical and critical self wouldn’t concern Tyler. Neither would her watching him. Lani is friendly and she likes Tyler. He wouldn’t think twice about her being around either. They can help.”

“This is not a negotiation.”

She stared up at him as it dawned on her she didn’t really know this man. He joked with her, spent time with her family and friends, and even shared some of his past. She was never in true opposition to him though. She never saw the stone-faced man in front of her now. He was not a man she wanted as an enemy.

“Okay. Telling them the truth isn’t an option,” she said slowly. “They could be extra eyes on Tyler though. Your focus is on protecting me, which is great. I’m all for that. It just means you can’t be as proactive about dealing with Tyler. I could say things feel different lately. I can ask them to pay attention when he’s around, see if they notice anything different. If he does anything sketchy, they have a chance of seeing it because they’re looking for it. I won’t tell them any more than that, just that I’m having second thoughts about him and our relationship.”

He stared at her. It took sheer will not to shrink under the force of it.

“You do understand you are not in control of this situation, right?” he asked.

She bit back the bitter response on the tip of her tongue. She lost control of everything when she met Tyler. It was beginning to piss her off. Telling Reese he was just the latest dictator in her out-of-control life wouldn’t win her any points with him.

“Yes,” she said, “but I’m not wrong. Think about it, Reese.”

He sighed, dragging a hand over his head. “You tell them you’re having second thoughts about the relationship. They’ll ask why. You tell them he’s been distant lately and it’s making you rethink. That’s it. Nothing more. Understood?”

She gritted her teeth. “You don’t have to talk to me like I’m a child. I heard you just fine.”

“This isn’t a game, Marielle. The wrong decision could mean somebody gets hurt or killed. From now on, we’ll be on the exact same word of the same sentence on the same page because we can’t afford not to be. I’m not going to sugarcoat anything for you.”

“Got that loud and clear.” She grabbed her phone and rocketed to her feet. “We done?”

“There isn’t room for temper tantrums either.”

Her nostrils flared as her nails bit into her palm. “Anything else you’d like to dictate while you’re at it?”

“You kept the truth from me.” The softness of his voice was a warning, sapping some of her ire. “Time has been wasted. I’m still working to get up to speed in a way that doesn’t leave your father or you exposed. You already made my job hard. Don’t make it harder.”

Guilt and frustration were an ugly combination. “I said I was sorry.”

“That doesn’t change anything about the situation. What I need from you is for you not to work against me or let emotions get the best of you. That won’t end well for either of us.”

She sucked in a deep breath. “Okay.”

“Good. We’ll meet the girls at one of their places. I want you in a controlled environment tonight.”

“I’ll call them now,” she said as she rounded the couch to retreat to the patio. She hesitated at the door. “For what it’s worth, I really am sorry. I’m not trying to make this hard, but it’s new territory for me.”

Then before he could respond, she slipped out the door to call her friends.

<< Chapter 47                        Chapter 49 >>

Chasing Truth: Chapter 22

Posted on 21/11/2014

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Yet again to Mari’s surprise, Tyler didn’t take off after she agreed to give them another shot. Instead, he turned on soft music and warmed up her dinner just as he would’ve before all of the craziness started. When the food was ready he sat down at the table with her, declining anything of his own. She just dug into her plate when he rested his arms on the table and spoke.

“I’m guessing you and your family have talked about Blake.”

“Yeah, a couple of times. We talked about it again tonight. We’re going to be meeting soon I guess.”

He shot back upright. “He’ll actually come here?”

Her fork hovered just in front of her mouth and her brow furrowed. “That’s what I’m understanding. Raoul didn’t say anything about me going to him.”

He looked at her, but when she said nothing else he shook his head. “I guessed he would’ve had you brought to him. I didn’t think he would come to you.”

His words reminded her he knew far more about her father than she did.

“Why?”

“It would’ve been safer for him that way. Less risky. He has enemies and him being outside of his usual areas is a vulnerability. When is he coming?”

“I don’t know yet. Raoul is handling all of that. He’ll let me know when everything is sorted. I should have at least a day’s warning.”

“You’ll let me know when you find out?”

She hesitated and set her fork down to give him her complete focus. “On one condition.”

Tension lined his shoulders as he met her eyes. “Are we going to have conditions on everything now?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“I was asking a question.”

“No,” she gritted out. “But if we’re going to do this, we’re doing it together and that means there’s going to be times when you need to take into consideration what I need and want.”

“What’s the condition?”

The lack of agreement planted a seed of unease within her and she didn’t tear her eyes from him as she made her condition known.

“I want to meet him alone the first time. You’ll have plenty of time to do whatever. I want that first meeting for me. Just me and him.”

“I can give you that.”

Relief stole through her. “Good.”

“But you’ll still let me know when he’s coming.”

“I can give you that,” she returned.

They both went quiet and Mari focused on her dinner until Tyler stood to his feet. She looked up and found him staring down at her.

“We lost something when you found out the truth. We’re going to get it back. Not tonight, but we’ll get it back.”

She wasn’t so sure, but rather than voice that she just swallowed her food and nodded. He leaned down to kiss her forehead.

“I’m going to clear out. What time’s your last tour tomorrow?”

“4:30.”

“I’ll see you after work then.”

“Okay.” She paused, searching for the right thing to say. Tyler was right. They’d lost the easiness of their relationship. “Goodnight.”

“Don’t forget to lock up,” he added before he walked out the door.

She sighed as she finished up her dinner. She thought she finally had a plan, but tonight with Tyler showed her it wasn’t going to be as easy or smooth as she once predicted. Knocking interrupted her thoughts a few minutes later. Assuming it was Tyler forgetting something, she tossed her plate and answered the door to find Gage there. Her uncle. The truth still rattled her every time she saw him. All these years the connection to her father was right in front of her teaching her how to fish, introducing her to the world through stories of his many adventures, and helping her navigate the tricky waters of teenage years.

“I saw Tyler head out,” he explained with a small smile. “Do you mind if I come in for a few minutes?”

Shaking her head, she pulled the door open wider and turned to let him follow her into the house.

“You two fixed whatever the problem was?” he asked sinking down onto the couch.

“There wasn’t a problem to fix. I’ve just been busy so it’s been harder for us to get together like we used to.”

The lie didn’t sit well. She’d never had a reason to lie. Not to Gage. Sure as a child she’d told Raoul a few to stay out of trouble or sometimes, to go get into trouble, but not since high school had that been an issue. She wondered just how much playing Tyler’s game was going to cost her.

The knowing look in Gage’s eyes was all too clear. “To hear everybody tell it, busy didn’t stop you two from getting together before. So again, you two fixed whatever the problem was?”

She settled into the armchair across from him and laughed. “Sometimes I forget how well you know me. We talked and got some things sorted out. The only thing we can do now is see how it goes from here. We’re good for now.”

“You really like him.”

She drew in a deep fortifying breath. Blake hadn’t arrived yet, but they were already on stage. Still, Gage knew her and that meant the closer she stuck to the truth the better things would go.

“He’s…different from anyone I’ve ever dealt with. Sometimes I can’t imagine anyone better than him. Other times I tell myself to slow down and not get carried away. Time tells you a lot about a person, the things they can’t hide. We need more time under our belt. I know you and Raoul worry.” With good reason, she added to herself. “Still I want to see where it goes. I don’t want to look back later and have regrets.”

He was silent for a minute before he leaned in. “That’s your decision, Ellie. I wouldn’t take that from you. I want you happy and if he’s part of that happiness then okay. If not, you know I’m obligated to break his neck.”

She smiled at the threat Gage gave ever since she was old enough to be interested in boys. “I haven’t forgotten.”

“Good. Make sure he knows it too.” He shifted on the couch. “Raoul talked to your father.”

Her breath caught and she released it slowly. “And?”

“He’d be here tonight if you let him, but we agreed to Friday.”

Friday. In less than two days she would meet the man Miranda loved until death, the man who fathered her. She would finally meet Blake Mason.

 

<< Chapter 21 || Chapter 23 >>

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