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She sighs deeply and looks around. “Do not tell the boys okay? I don’t want them dealing with it until I know more. There are some inconsistencies in the books. Payments coming in on big policies but the records are all over the place and it looks like there are some funds that are missing. I’m taking care of it. I just don’t want the guys going in, guns blazing, and causing more trouble than necessary.”

“Um, Dee, I hate to point out the obvious but how exactly are you going to take care of this without one of them catching wind? You know they wouldn’t do anything without asking first.” Izzy knows them better than I do, but even I think she is full of shit. If they know that one of ‘their’ girls is in trouble they will move heaven and earth to fix the problem. I decide it was wiser to keep my mouth shut at this point and watch them hash this shit.

“I have it under control, Izzy. Once I figure out what’s going on, I will let them know and they can help me figure out where to go from there. I don’t want this made into a big deal. I could lose clients if this got out.”

“Not to point out the obvious,” I interrupt, “but isn’t Maddox like computer geek to the stars? He could probably hack into the servers up there and figure out the trail before you even had time to fly up there. Why not let him in and get it done quick?”

“That’s not a bad idea, Dee.” Izzy chimes in.

“No. You know he might be all silently supportive of you Izzy, but if he knows there is trouble, he won’t keep his mouth shut.”

“I think you’re wrong, but then again, you know them better than I do. I’m going to run to the restroom and hit up the bar for a refill; y’all want something other than beer?” I get up from the table and let them have a moment to hash it out. Izzy can get through to her better than I can.

Maybe if I hadn’t been running through all the things that might be wrong with Dee and her company, or between Emmy and Maddox, or what is wrong with Greg, I might have noticed the trap I was walking straight into. I take two steps into the bathroom and there she is. Legs braced apart and arms folded over her ridiculously large tits, she has what I assume is a scowl on her Botox face.

“Jesus, what do you want? You do realize you’re breaking your restraining order right?” I ignore her and continue into the stall. When I finish up, she is still standing there in the same position. Hard to tell if she is glaring at me or if her face is frozen. “What?! You really don’t want to piss me off tonight Mandy, like really do not want to.”

“Where is your boyfriend tonight?” God, even her voice makes me want to poke my ears with knives.

“Where my man is definitely isn’t any of your business. How about you tell me what this shit is about so I can get back to enjoying my evening and get back to MY man.”

“You really are a stupid bitch.” She throws her head back and laughs. Sounds like an evil little troll.

I walk over to her and get close, close enough to make sure if she pisses me off, I can take care of her without too much effort. “What. Do. You. Want?” I drive each word home with small jabs into her fake tits. “Hmm, they even feel rock hard. Surely that isn’t the look you paid for?”

“Shut up!” She squawks. Yes, squawks. The sound that comes out of her mouth sounds like the noise you hear when you’re standing on the beach and millions of sea gulls attack. This bitch is insane.

“Mandy, I’m tired and don’t want any shit right now. Can you please just get this shit moving?”

“Tell me, does Greg tell you everything? Is it complete happiness in paradise? I know how to please a man like him, and I can promise you he isn’t happy. He likes it a certain way, and I doubt you have that kind of… spunk.”

“Spunk? Do you know what the hell spunk is? Trust me, honey, when it comes to Greg, I get plenty of spunk out of it.”

She looks at me confused for a few seconds, clearly confused by my comment. I had a friend in high school that had just moved to America from London and every time my mom would call her spunky, she would die. She said that to her, spunk has always meant sperm. We liked to call people spunky when they were pissing us off, because to us, being called sperm was hilarious. I don’t care how old you are, that shit never gets old.

“What? Never mind. Answer me. Do you two have any secrets? I know you do, which is a shame because he never kept anything from me.” My stomach drops, because even though I know she is bat shit crazy, we do have secrets. Or at least he has secrets from me. Two days ago I would have laughed in her face and maybe popped one of her tits but today, no today I already have that seed of doubt planted so deep all she did was water it and watch it grow.

“Really? Are you this demented that you need to start making up lies?” The smug smile that curls her fake features chills me to the bones.

“Went to see him today. When he saw me last night, he begged me to come to the office and talk with him. I knew it would only be a matter of time before he was sick of you, so I waited. I waited and I was right. But, I was shocked to learn just why he was done with you.”

“Mandy, you are fucking nuts. I’m gone. Not going to stand here and listen to you lie about MY man. You hear that, and get it through your fucking head; he is not yours and he never will be.” I move to walk around her but she sidesteps me, blocking my path to the door.

“Who is Simon, Melissa?” Her question stops me cold. How in the hell would she know about Simon.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Mandy. Is this a new man you plan on getting your hooks in?” Thank God, my voice comes out strong, despite how I feel on the inside. On the inside I am slowly dying. There is no way in hell she would know about Simon if it didn’t come from Greg.

“Oh you stupid, stupid girl. Let me fill you in on what I know. Was your sister married? Hmm? Maybe married to Simon? Well, what you don’t know and what your darling Greg is keeping from you, is that Simon was also married to his sister.” It takes everything I have, every single ounce of control, not to react to her words. She doesn’t wait before landing the final blow. “You know what he told me today? He told me he was sick of looking at you because every time he did all he could think about was how you are connected to the man who killed his sister. He couldn’t stand to be around you any longer because you remind him of everything he hates.” She spits the last word out and even though I’m sure all of the color has drained from my face, I stand my ground and offer her nothing.

“You will have to do better than that if you plan to scare me off, Mandy. Have a good night.” I walk around her and down the hall. I don’t even see the bar around me, or the patrons enjoying their meals and laughing at all the happiness in their world. The happiness in mine has just been stripped from my body. I feel completely gutted.

How does she know about Simon? She knows about Fia. And Grace? If I even could believe her, that means Greg has been keeping something huge from me. Grace was married to Simon? He knew this, the whole time I have been opening up to him about Cohen, my sister, her death… he knew who Simon was, and he knew who Cohen was.

Oh my God, he could have stopped him! As soon as the thought hits my brain, I almost fall over at the enormity of the situation. Greg’s sister died over a decade ago and he knew Simon did it. He told me he disappeared after it happened, but if he would have stuck around and made sure Simon paid, then MY sister would still be here. My heart is pounding so quickly and my breathing is coming too fast. I have to get out of here.

I make it back to the table, but the girls must have had their eyes on me because they are up in a second and by my side.

“Meli? What’s wrong?” Izzy, or maybe it was Dee, asks. I just shake my head and reach for my purse.

“Meli, please talk to us. What happened?” Pretty sure it was Dee that time.

“Is that fucking Mandy?” One of them asks and my body jolts at the name. I have to get out of here before Mandy sees that her words have had their desired effect. I can break down and lose it later, but I will be damned if I let her have the satisfaction of watching me do it.

“Not here,” I croak and pull some cash from my wallet. After throwing it down, I take off to the door, making sure I don’t give away to Mandy how upset I am.

I feel like someone has just removed my heart. My skin feels tight and my face hurts from holding my emotions in check. The burn that has taken up residence in my chest is making its way up my throat and I know that in seconds I won’t be able to hold back the sobs.

“Meli, wait… please!” I can feel Izzy running up to me but I have my car in sight and escape on the horizon. “Melissa!”

She grabs my arm hard enough to prevent me from walking any further and turns me to her. I can feel my tears bubbling over, and when I open my mouth to tell her to drop it, I hardly recognize the sound that escapes. It’s the sound of my heart shattering into millions of unbreakable pieces.

“Sweetie, what is going on?”

“Did you know?” I whisper, my voice wobbling and the tears still streaming down my face. “Did you know?” I ask again with more force.

She jerks back slightly at my question, her brow furrows, and she shakes her head, “Meli, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Did I know what?”

I shake my head a few times and try to get to my car again. I don’t know where Mandy is, but I know with that bomb, she isn’t going to miss her chance to make sure it hit its mark. “I have to leave, Izzy. I can’t be here when I fall apart.” I beg.

“You can’t drive either. Come on, you can come with me and I’ll take you home.”

“NO!” I start to force my way around her but she holds firm. Jesus… I have the size advantage on her short frame; how is she able to hold me back? “I’m not going home, not going to him!”

She seems even more confused at how fiercely I am refusing to go to Greg.

“Please, I can’t go home.” My strength is crumbling and my body is starting to shake with the effort it is taking to hold it in.

“Fine sweetie, that’s fine. Come on. Let’s figure out where you want to go while we’re on the road, okay?”

She folds me in the seat, hands me my purse, and makes quick work in getting around the car and taking off. I have no idea where I am going to go, but I know I can’t see Greg right now. At this point, I don’t know if I will ever be able to face him again.

The last thing I see before we pull out of the lot is Mandy bursting through the front of Heavy’s with Dee hot on her heels. She looks around but when she doesn’t see what she is looking for, she turns on Dee and starts waving her hands around.

At least I’m out of there before she is able to watch me crumble. I can hear Izzy asking me where to go, and talk on her phone a few times, but I am in my own world. I pull my legs up toward my body and welcome the tears.

Chapter 22

When I wake up on the couch, I am slightly confused. The house is still dark and silent but glancing at the clock and seeing it is well past midnight, I know something is wrong. Melissa would never let me stay on the couch if she had already come home.


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