Posts tagged “Future

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 29

Posted on 10/01/2020

“When is he leaving?”

Mari sprawled out on her bed with the phone tucked against her shoulder. The day had been fun, but it had also been long. Exhaustion made her eyes heavy.

“In a day or two,” she told Tyler absently.

 “I didn’t expect him to leave so soon. Then again I didn’t expect him to come out here at all. Have you made any plans to stay in touch? Visit?”

She lifted her shoulders in a small shrug even though he couldn’t see it.

“Not really. Nothing solid anyway. I mean, I guess I assume we’ll talk on the phone at some point. This whole thing was just…a lot.”

There was silence from Tyler’s end for a moment. “I get that. Confirm with me once you know when he’s leaving for sure.”

Mari opened her eyes to stare at the ceiling. “Have you been doing…whatever it is you were planning on doing?”

“I thought we agreed you were going to let me worry about that?” he prodded gently.

“It was a simple question.”

“Then yes. Now will you let me know when he’s leaving for sure?”

Mari pinched the bridge of her nose and let her eyes close again. “Yeah.”

Before she could get comfortable and wrap up the call with Tyler, a knock sounded on the door. She sat up with a groan.

“I’ve gotta go. Somebody’s at the door.”

“Who is it?”

She pushed up from the bed and padded over to the door to look through the peephole. A smile tugged at her lips when she saw her father standing there.

“It’s Blake. I’ll talk to you later.”

Ending the call without waiting for a response, she opened the door. 

“I’m surprised you aren’t passed out,” she greeted with a tired smile.

“I was close,” he admitted. “I had something I wanted to discuss with you though.”

Curiosity raised her brow as she stepped back to let him inside. He sat down on the couch and she curled up on the opposite end with her elbow propped against the back. 

“What’s on your mind?” 

“I want Reese to stay here with you for a little while.”

Mari straightened immediately. “Why? He’s your bodyguard.”

“I would feel more comfortable if someone was here to keep an eye on things for a little while.”

She didn’t dig too deeply into that, instead choosing to focus on him. “If Reese is here with me, then who’s with you?”

“I have other people I can count on if I need to.”

“But Reese is the one you brought here, which means he’s the one you trust the most.”

Blake paused with his lips parted before he gathered himself. “I can see you’re planning to be difficult about this.”

“I’m bringing up valid points. If you want to call that difficult, then fine.”

He heaved a heavy sigh. “Yes, Reese is the one I trust the most, which is why I want him here with you for a few days. Just in case. I don’t expect any trouble, but I don’t want to take unnecessary chances with you either.”

She paused thoughtfully, turning over his words. He wasn’t expecting any problems. That was good and she couldn’t deny the relief filling her knowing that. This was just another part of him being careful.

“Okay, I’m not saying no to that. I’m saying I’m not sure Reese is the one who should be the one staying with me. And you said a few days. How long exactly are you planning for someone to stay here?”

“A week or so.”

“That’s a long time to be without your guy. Gage could just stay. People know him here, are used to him so there wouldn’t be anything to explain. If Reese stays, we have to explain who he is somehow.”

“Calling him a family friend should be enough. Gage has already been here for a while. He has some things he needs to see to.”

“Does Reese know this is your plan?” she asked curiously. “What does he think about it?”

“You know, when I pictured this conversation, I saw you bowing out to my expertise and accepting my already-made plans.”

“How on Earth did you come up with that scenario?” she asked, laughing in disbelief.

“I still can’t figure it out myself,” he admitted with a chuckle.

“I want to talk to him about it myself. Alone.” Because she had a feeling Reese wasn’t keen on the idea of letting Blake head back without him either. 

Blake considered her and she wondered what he was thinking, what he would say.

“I don’t want you any closer to this mess than you already are. I considered when I brought Reese that it might bring you in more than I wanted. It would be better if you let me keep as much distance between you and my life as I can.”

“It’s too late for that. At least with Reese. He’s been here this whole time. I know who he is. We’ve talked. Trying to go back now doesn’t make any sense and if he’s going to be staying here for another week, it’s definitely not avoidable. I want to talk to him.”

“You’re a very hard woman to argue with.”

“So don’t,” she suggested with a grin.

Shaking his head, he pushed to his feet. “I’d like to settle this tonight if possible. I’ll send Reese to you now if that works.”

“That’s fine.”

He turned for the door then hesitated. He turned back a moment later.

“May I have a hug?”

The quietness of the question, almost as if he feared her rejection, melted Mari. She unfolded from the couch and wordlessly wrapped her arms around him. He pulled her close. She thought she felt the gentle press of his lips to her thick curls. A soft sigh escaped him and he squeezed her before letting go.

“Thank you. I’ll send Reese over now.”

“You may want to give him a fair warning in case his expectations are anything like yours were,” she teased.

His laughter shook his body and widened her smile.

“I think I’ll do that.”

He walked out the door then, leaving Mari still smiling. She settled back down on the couch. Meeting her father and spending time with him hadn’t gone anything like she imagined. She hadn’t expected to like him, to joke and laugh with him. She wanted a chance to build a real relationship with him and yet Tyler’s accusations sat in the back of her mind. If Blake were the criminal Tyler suspected he was, that would change everything. There was an inch of worry, of doubt that maybe it wouldn’t, though. She wasn’t sure what to do with that. 

There was a rhythmic knock on the door before Reese let himself inside and pulled her from her thoughts.

“I’d prefer you keep this locked,” he said closing the door and tapping it.

She bit back a smile. “I’ll remember that.”

“Good. Blake said you wanted to talk.”

“Yeah. Has he run this little babysitting plan of his by you?”

Reese’s gaze went carefully blank as he came farther inside. “We’ve discussed me remaining here for a few days after he leaves. Precautions are smart.”

“I won’t deny that and I’m definitely not saying I’m able to handle anything that might come up, but I think I’d feel more comfortable if he didn’t break pattern by leaving his right hand guy behind.”

Reese blinked and she continued on.

“I suggested Gage stay on for a few days if he’s truly worried or he can send someone else to stay with me although I understand the less people who know about me, the better.”

He continued watching her with that steady gaze. “Do you have a problem with me staying?”

She waved the question away. “It’s not about you. It’s about who you are to him. You’re not just a bodyguard. I don’t have to know everything to see that much. To me, it just seems like maybe someone would want to take advantage if he was running around without his usual guy.”

He tipped his head to the side as he studied her.

“It would be nice to get to know him before something happened to him,” she mumbled looking down at her hands as she locked her fingers together.

“You care,” he acknowledged. “And that’s good. Blake knows how to be smart and careful. Gage will travel back with him most of the way to make sure there aren’t any issues.”

Mari frowned thoughtfully. She couldn’t find fault with that plan. There was no doubt that Gage could be trusted with his own brother’s safety.

“Well.”

He laughed. “Any other objections or concerns you want to share while I’m here?”

“This isn’t going to be a lockdown situation or anything like that, right? I still go to work, hang out with my friends, do all the stuff I normally do with no problems?”

“Right.  You just do all of those things with me.”

“And when my very nosy, super-in-my-business best friends ask me who you are? Or anyone else for that matter?”

“I’m a friend of the family visiting for a while. Stick to the truth.”

He was clearly a friend of Blake’s who was indeed her family so he was right. 

“We keep it simple then.”

“Simple’s best.”

She nodded and rubbed the palms of her hands over her thighs.

“Mari.” Reese waited until she looked at him. “There shouldn’t be any issues. If there are, I’ll be here to handle them.”

She blew out a breath. “Yeah, I’ll be counting on that.”

<< Chapter 28 Chapter 30 >>

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