Twisted Roses

Page 93

Stitches races off to go make my request happen. I get up and close the door, ensuring our privacy.
“Phi, what the hell happened to you?” I ask, caught between wanting to care for her and wanting to crush the skull of whoever she fought with. I pull her closer and cup her chin, but she shirks my advances, pushing against me.
No surprise she’s pissed—I have kept her in the dark the past twenty-four hours. I instructed my men to withhold all information and demands to see me. I’m told she even came by the compound insisting they allow her through.
It wasn’t an ideal circumstance. I get no joy out of shutting her out. Stealing her necklace and then disappearing hurt her. From her point of view, it was a complete violation of trust. I’m sure all kinds of heartbroken thoughts ran through her mind.
But I had to be sure.
I had to be one-hundred percent positive my accusation was true before I told her the truth. She never would’ve agreed to giving me her rose pendant if I’d asked. If I told her my suspicions about her father. I had to take it by force and ensure all the pieces of the puzzle properly fit together, or else she’d never believe me.
“You’re pissed with me,” I say, sighing. I reach into my pocket and retrieve her broken rose necklace, gently lowering it into her lap so she can see it for herself and know I have no intentions of keeping it. “You have every right to be, Phi. I can explain everything. But, first, I need you to explain. Tell me what’s happened.”
“I called you. I left you a message. I told you what I was going to do.”
“You’ve left me twenty voice messages in the last day. I haven’t worked my way through all of them yet—after the first five calling me an asshole I picked up on a pattern.”
She remains quiet, her expression no less dazed.
I slide an arm around her shoulders and squeeze her against my side. Concern clenches inside my stomach at what she’s been through this evening. As if what I’m going to have to tell her isn’t bad enough.
So bad, I’ve spent the whole day checking, double checking, and triple checking all the information I’ve gathered. I’ve spent hours agonizing over how I’ll tell her the truth…
“Chester Bailey was NorthamNeptune,” she says in a hollow tone. “I killed him.”
“Chester Bailey…” For a second, I’m lost on recognizing the name until it comes to me. “The kid from high school? The one Gannon used to terrorize?”
“He’s been out for revenge on everyone he considers part of the elite. He’s wanted payback for being treated like an outcast and loser, while so many with dark secrets flourished. Brenda was dating him. She was his accomplice.”
“Did you… is she…?”
“I didn’t kill her. I let her go. She’s a victim. One of Bernstein’s when she was a girl. She’s never supposed to come back. I told her if she does, I’ll kill her too.”
Hearing Delphine speak so casually of murder still leaves me conflicted. Though she’s only gone after bad men who have victimized others, it’s not good for her. I’d rather bear the blood and violence in her place. Anybody she needs handled, I’ll take care of. It’s what I’m here for.
But right now, it’s more important we iron out the details of what happened and save the personal feelings on the situation for later.
“His body?” I ask.
“He fell into the Northam River. We were at the deserted shopping center off Charleston. He… he kept coming toward me. I told him not to. He did anyway. So I pulled the trigger.”
“I’ll have my guys take our boat out and do some checks in the area. They should be able to recover the body. Any other witnesses?”
She shakes her head. “He killed Flynn. He fell into the river too.”
“We’ll have to try and piece something together. Chester, a.k.a. NorthamNeptune, met up with Flynn to extract cash. Then it went wrong. They fought and finished each other off.”
“Salvatore…” she trails off, her voice breaking. Tears shine in her eyes.
My protective streak swells up inside me faster than a light switch being flipped. I pull her into a tight embrace, cradling her head as she quakes and breaks into a sob. Few things make me more uncomfortable than when Delphine cries.
I hate being around women when they cry in general, because they annoy me. But when it’s Delphine, it’s out of a helplessness that I don’t like. It’s my instant urge to want to fix whatever it is that’s upset her so she’ll stop.
As she shudders out another distressed breath, I realize there’s still more she hasn’t told me.
Something even more startling that’s shaken her to her core.
Unfortunately, it’s only the beginning given what I have to tell her…