Dragging her feet through the sand, Mari avoided looking at Reese. For once, the sound of the waves didn’t relax her. Was she really going to tell him the truth about Tyler? The truth she hadn’t told anyone and barely acknowledged herself? Was it even the right thing to do? Was she judging Tyler too harshly? Was she about to give criminals the advantage and potentially the help they needed to get away with crimes?
She wished she could talk to Julia and Leilani first, but even that had grown complicated because they didn’t know the entire truth. Reese knew something was on her mind and yet he hadn’t pressed once since they started their walk along the beach. He just walked alongside her. Steady. Present.
Unable to stall any longer, she broke the silence. “I need to tell you something. You’re going to be mad. I’m sorry, so please try to remember that after I tell you.”
A smooth mask slid into place, removing all traces of the friendly Reese she’d come to know. Mari mourned the loss even as she told herself she needed to get used to it. Things would never be the same after this.
“I’m listening,” he said.
She inhaled deeply and blurted out the words, “Tyler knows who Blake is.”
Reese straightened as his eyes narrowed. “What do you mean?”
“He was only on the island to find a way to get closer to Blake to investigate him.”
Blank Reese was gone. In his place was a hard man she never wanted to cross.
“Start from the beginning. How did you meet Tyler?”
“He was at my welcome home party and showed up at the shop the next day asking to go hiking with me sometime. Things just developed from there. I caught him on my laptop one night. It wasn’t a big deal except he was clearly trying to hide he’d been on it and my phone. I confronted him and that’s when he told me about Blake.”
“That’s when you asked Raoul about him?”
“A couple of days later, yes.”
“What is he investigating?”
“He told me that he suspected Blake was involved with trafficking and it’s his job to find out.”
“Did he say who he works for?”
“No, he wouldn’t tell me that.”
“What have you told him? And now is not the time to hold anything back, Marielle. I need to know everything you’ve told him, everything he knows.”
Mari scrubbed a hand over her face as she tried to recall all of the conversations she’d had with Tyler. Being on the other end of Reese’s cold demeanor was harder than she thought it would be.
“He knows Gage is Blake’s brother. He knew that before you guys ever came. He said that was his confirmation that Blake was my dad, because Gage came around after we started dating.”
“He knew when Blake was coming. He wasn’t expecting you. He asked questions. I figured you were his bodyguard the first day, but I just told Tyler you two had been friends for a long time. He probably guessed it was more than that, but I never confirmed.”
“Keep going. I need you to think. Anything you might have told him, no matter how small it seems.”
She scratched the back of her head. There were so many conversations, so many questions Tyler asked.
“I told him when Blake was leaving. That Gage was leaving with him. He knew that you were staying to keep an eye on me. I told him a few days, didn’t say exactly how long. He wanted to know when Blake was coming back or when I might be going to visit him, but I just told him we hadn’t talked about that. He told me they were just monitoring Blake and he would let me know if anything major changed.”
“Anything else that stands out?”
“No…well…there was a group with a particular guy Tyler was pretty tense about. His name was Damon. He made me nervous when he showed up so I had Keon do the tour with me, but Tyler had stopped by. He was adamant Keon go with me, even before he knew I had already asked him to. It wasn’t really anything either of them said, but their interaction felt tense. Tyler said it was jealousy but…” She trailed off with a shrug.
“Give me a description.”
“Tall, broad shoulders, solid and kind of bulky build. His hair was a light brown, his skin a darker brown. It was a while ago, so it’s not exactly fresh. Brown eyes too, I think.”
“How did he pay?”
“Any chance he’s on tape from the shop?”
She shook her head. “It was too long ago now.”
“Nothing else?” he pushed.
“No. I didn’t really have much to tell and what I did have, I…I didn’t tell him a lot…It didn’t feel right, but it didn’t feel wrong. Until it did.”
“You didn’t know who to trust,” Reese finished for her. “So what changed? Why tell me this now?”
The sand became fascinating. “I started getting to know Blake…and you…Tyler’s lied before. He said he was going home to spend time with the man who raised him, but when he called today he asked about Blake and said he couldn’t just put work on hold. It made me…nervous.”
“We’re going back to the house,” he said simply and turned in that direction. “You need to act like everything is normal when we get there. Don’t talk about this conversation.”
Her brow wrinkled as her shoulders slumped, but she didn’t argue. She was busy wondering how much the truth was going to cost her.
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