Posts tagged “Hesitation

Chasing Truth: Chapter 46

Posted on 29/05/2020

Valentine's Day Sunset Beach Dates in Tampa Bay Clearwater St Pete

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.”

“What else?”

“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?”

“In cash.”

“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.

<< Chapter 45                              Chapter 47 >>

Chasing Truth: Chapter 23

Posted on 28/11/2014

f36843b1-f114-4852-a83d-f800d06495bc_zpscdb7499a

She couldn’t sleep. All night Mari tossed and turned in an attempt to get comfortable and find sleep. The sheets were a tangled mess around her. The pillow had been bunched up, flattened out, and then bunched up again to no avail. She rolled onto her back and glanced at the blue digits to her left. 4:00. In less than eight hours she would come face to face with Blake Mason for the first time she could remember. As promised, she’d called Tyler after Gage’s visit and told him when Blake would arrive. Unease was her silent partner when she made the call and not for the first time she wondered if she was making the right decision keeping Tyler’s secret.

She blew out a harsh breath and reached behind the clock. Her hand came up against the square picture frame and she pulled it in, holding it above her face. She’d memorized the features long ago; natural coily brown hair, warm brown eyes, and a smile that engaged her entire face.

She always thought her mother beautiful. To grow up and hear others remark on how much she looked like Miranda was the world’s greatest compliment to a girl who missed her mother more than anything. She traced a finger over Miranda’s face in the picture. There was unadulterated joy on her face as she wrapped her arms around a young Mari and squeezed tight, the two of them laughing into the camera.

Mari shoved the covers off of her and climbed out of the bed. She was already moving toward the door as she tugged on a pair of jeans and reached for a long-sleeved shirt. In minutes she was walking out into the dark of the morning. She considered sitting out by the water or up at the overhang, but her feet didn’t hesitate to find that old familiar path winding up the hill.

She didn’t stop to breathe in the ocean or admire the view. She leaned the picture frame up against the headstone before she lowered herself on the ground beside the grave and propped her chin up on her arms. She lied there in silence for several minutes just staring at the picture. Gradually some of the starch left her shoulders thanks to the video loop of memories with her mother in her head; the two of them building sandcastles together, lying on their stomachs in front of pinwheels and blowing on them when the wind was still, and just the sweet sound of Miranda’s laughter.

She rarely ever talked about Blake. Young Mari had questions about her absent father Miranda answered vaguely. Then she was gone before Mari was old enough to know the right questions to ask. Still, there was one thing she said about him more than anything else. “He is a good man, Mari. A very good man who loved you.”

“I don’t know about the love thing and I don’t know if he’s still a good man, Mama. I am going to meet him. I already gave my word on that and it’s too late to go back. I just hope he’s still the man you fell in love with and not the man Tyler thinks he is.”

She freed a hand to tuck strands back away from her face. “I worry about that too, if I made the right decision or not agreeing to let him dig around. I feel like I’m stuck in the middle trying to make decisions with not even half of the information. I’m walking blind here.”

As usual there was no response, but something in her eased at sharing her concern.

“It’s hard trying to figure all of this out…I wish you were here.”

She kept the picture within view but rested her cheek against her arms. The sounds of the night were a quiet reassurance compared to the silence of her bedroom and the next thing she knew, she was waking up to the sun warming her face and the kiss of the sea breeze.

She blinked sleepily and lifted her head just as Gage climbed up the hill. She dropped her head back down and watched him reach the top. His eyes touched on the picture by the headstone before they came back to rest on her.

“We’ve been looking for you. Did you spend the night out here?”

“No, just a few hours. I couldn’t sleep.”

“Neither could he I’ve heard.”

She wasn’t sure what to do with that bit of knowledge so she let it lie and pulled herself into a sitting position.

“What time is it?”

He squatted down beside her. His dark eyes searched hers and she knew he would see far more than she wanted him to.

“A little after nine.”

She combed her fingers through the wild strands of hair and ducked her head. “I need to go shower and stuff.”

He cupped the back of her neck until she lifted her head to look at him.

“He already loves you.”

“That doesn’t mean I don’t need to shower.”

He laughed and sat all the way down, pulling her into him as he did. She went willingly and wrapped her arm around him as she leaned in.

“I just want him to be the man Mama was crazy about.”

“Everyone changes over time. I think losing you and Miranda would have done something to him. It would have changed him, changed anybody. But when it comes down to it, who we are at our core is who we are. And I think your mother knew your father’s core better than anyone.”

“He didn’t ‘lose’ us. He left us. There’s a difference.”

Gage just hugged her close. “You’ll find out the truth from him soon enough.” With a kiss to the top of her head and a pat to her hip, he encouraged her to let it rest. “Come on, time to get moving.”

Only a few short hours later she was pacing the length of her living room. Blake would arrive any minute now. She’d asked to meet him at home alone rather than at the house with everyone else. Raoul hesitated over the request, but bowed out to her wishes. He, Gage, and Allison left her to the guesthouse by herself. Nerves tap-danced in her stomach while she fought to think of something other than Blake’s impending arrival.

A soft but firm knock against the door penetrated the silence. She froze in the middle of her circuit. The lack of anyone calling out to announce his or her presence confirmed it could only be one person. She swallowed hard and scrubbed her hands over her thighs before she stepped to the door. Another deep breath and she pulled it open.

Two men stood on her porch, but it was the man directly in front of her who stole and kept her attention. He was taller than her; not tall enough to make her neck ache but there was an inch or two difference. He wore his black hair shorn close to his head.

She was her mother’s mini-me, but as she stared at the man before her she saw him in her too. It was in the height of his deep brown cheekbones and slant and color of his hazel eyes; eyes that were hungrily taking her in.

“You look just like her,” Blake breathed and the emotion touching his eyes nearly broke her. “I always told her you would.”

No matter who Blake was or what he’d done, he’d loved Miranda Drake. It was in his voice and his eyes. She didn’t know what to say to his words. Her hand tightened on the doorknob and she fought to find some calm.

“I get that a lot.” She tore her eyes from him to wander over the man witnessing their awkward reunion.

Stubble coated the rich brown-bronze of his jaw and chin. His amber brown eyes took in everything from her to the house to Blake in mere seconds. He commanded every inch of his height, which only seemed to emphasize the three or four he had over her. He carried the weight of fine muscles like a man who knew how to use them to his advantage. Her heart tripped. He had the same edge about him she saw in Tyler. His speculations about Blake’s activities came back to mind.

“This is Reese,” Blake introduced them when he caught the direction of her gaze. “He’s a very good friend of mine.”

Mari didn’t look away from Reese. Her mind was supplying her with a myriad of different meanings for friend. “Mari, but you probably know that.”

He nodded and she pulled her attention back to Blake. “Is he going to be our audience while we stumble through this?”

His answering smile was pained. “No, he’s going to go with your family. They said you wanted us to be alone.”

I nodded.

“Anyone else in the house?” Reese asked reclaiming her attention.

She arched a brow and stepped back to open the door wider. “You want to search?”

There was the start of a smile near the corners of his lips. “Your word is good enough for now.”

She didn’t miss the “for now”, but it was hard to fight a faint smile of her own. “Then there’s no one here.”

He nodded and looked to Blake. “Call when you’re done.”

Blake barely nodded before Reese turned and jogged down the stairs to walk to the main house. She watched him go, sucking in another breath before she met Blake’s eyes and let go of the door. He took the invitation for what it was. She could’ve sworn she heard him draw in a deep breath of his own before he stepped inside, shutting the door behind him.

 

<< Chapter 22 || Chapter 24 >>

  

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