Posts tagged “Honesty

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 45

Posted on 22/05/2020

Mari doubled over in laughter with the phone Blake gave her pressed to her ear. Every attempt at talking was quickly ruined by more laughter. Tears streamed down her face.

“She didn’t,” she finally gasped out.

“Oh, she did,” Blake assured her with laughter in his voice. “Miranda loved her pranks. You would have thought I’d get used to it and be suspicious, but she always managed to catch me off guard.”

Mari leaned back into the couch as her laughter faded. “That was priceless. I love that you can tell me stories about her.”

“I’m glad I can share them with you too.” He paused for a moment and she heard the sound of another voice. “I have to go. I’ll talk to you soon, Ri.”

Her smile softened and her eyes slid closed. Her mother often called her “RiRi.” Hearing the shortened “Ri” gave her a piece of that back.

“Talk to you soon, Dad,” she echoed before he hung up.

Reese leaned against the archway to the kitchen with an indulgent smile. “Sounds like you two had a good talk.”

“We did.” Her smile was permanent as she kicked her feet up on the couch and rested her back against the arm. “Is that dinner I smell?”

“It is. Raoul taught me the secret to his steak, so I’m trying it out.”

Mari’s jaw dropped and she jerked upright. “He what? There’s no way he told you.”

“He said he didn’t have a son to pass it on to.”

“He has a daughter!”

“Who is not a son,” he quipped with a teasing smile. 

“You’re lying.”

“Say that after you eat.”

“I will because there’s just no way,” she said stubbornly. 

Shaking his head in amusement, he retreated to the kitchen.

“Do you need help with anything?” 

“No. Use this time to prepare yourself for the shock and acceptance!” he called back.

“I don’t need it because he didn’t tell you the secret!”

A few minutes later, he returned carrying plates. Steak sauce was tucked in the crook of his arm, making her laugh at his determination to do it all. She grabbed it and set it on the coffee table.

“I could have helped.”

“You just did.”

“I swear I’ve gained weight since you’ve been here,” she said. Their fingers brushed as he handed her the plate. Ducking her head, she set the plate on her lap and picked up the silverware. “Not that I’m complaining or anything, but how am I supposed to go back to granola buffets after this?”

He sat down on the opposite end of the couch, his thigh brushing against her feet. “It’ll be a tough adjustment, but I have faith in you. You’ll get through it.”

“Shut up.”

He chuckled. She cut into the steak and tentatively took a bite. The flavor stunned her. The smug look on his face only added to it. She pressed a hand to her chest.

“The betrayal!”

“C’mon Ellie, what would the queen of the granola buffet do with a supreme steak recipe?”

The name only her family used should have sounded strange coming from him. Instead, it felt like he’d been calling her that all her life. 

“She would have made steak once a year to carry on the family tradition, duh!”

“I took the pressure off you to make that sacrifice.”

“Oh, that’s so generous of you.”

She was doing a poor job of fighting her grin when her phone rang. A glance at the screen showed a picture of her and Tyler along with his name. She hesitated before she answered the call.

“Hey, Tyler.”

“Hey, sweetheart. It’s good to hear your voice.”

“It’s good to hear from you too. How are things at home?”

“Things are good. He’s being stubborn, but that’s nothing new.”

“Dads,” Mari lamented in sympathy and saw Reese’s lips twitch.

“Have you talked to yours recently?”

“Yeah, he’s called.”

“Has he given you any indication he’s coming to visit again or having you come to him?”

“No, why?” She peeked at Reese who was scooping food into his mouth with his eyes on the TV.

“Just asking. I may not come right back to the island.”

“Your dad doesn’t wanna let you go, huh?”

Silence filled the line and her smile began to fade.

“Tyler?”

“Something came up with work,” he admitted after a moment,

Her hand clenched on the phone and she leaned forward to set her plate on the coffee table. The confession on the heels of asking about Blake set off warning bells.

“I thought you were going to see family and coming back.”

“I am, Mari. It was just a question.”

Anger fueled her silence as she walked into her bedroom for privacy. 

“Mari.”

“It was not just a question. Don’t lie to me.”

“Didn’t I promise I would tell you if something bigger was happening?”

“You also told me you were going home, not using that as a segue into something else so I’m not thinking too highly of your promises right now.”

“Mari, you want answers right? I’m trying to help you get them. I didn’t come out here for this, but I can’t ignore work either. I’m not my own man in this situation.”

She went quiet again.

“You’ve been trusting me,” he reminded her. “I haven’t done anything to break that trust.”

He wouldn’t tell her if he had. “You called in the middle of dinner. I’m going to go finish eating before my food gets cold.”

“Do we have a problem?” he asked quietly.

“No.”

He hesitated. “I’ll call you back later tonight.”

“Okay,” she said simply and ended the call.

She sat on the bed, staring at the phone. Tyler promised he would let her know if he was taking any serious action. He also warned her he’d do it in a way she couldn’t jeopardize whatever action he planned to take. He lied to her once. There was no guarantee he hadn’t or wouldn’t again.

Blake’s visit and their conversations played in her mind. He cared about her. He left Reese, someone he clearly relied on, with her to ensure her safety. Reese quickly became a friend and shared his own personal experiences to show her the man her father was. She turned the phone over in her hand as her gaze moved to the door. Standing, she sucked in a fortifying breath.

Reese tilted his head back on the couch to look at her when she came out of the room. “Everything okay?”

She paused before softly asking, “Can we take a walk after we finish your supreme steak?”

He studied her then nodded once. “Yeah, we can do that.”

Mari reclaimed her seat and spent the rest of dinner trying to figure out how she was going to tell Reese the truth.

<< Chapter 44                            Chapter 46 >>

%d bloggers like this: