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Gordon lifted hamburger-covered hands from the bowl and his look turned serious in a nanosecond. “What?”

I plopped down at the table, across from Megan, figuring I needed to sit through this conversation. Between Reece and me, we told them everything. Well, almost everything. I left out the undies in the dishwasher thing, because seriously, I didn’t need to share that with my parents, and I also didn’t tell them about the wild monkey sex for obvious reasons.

As expected, my mom freaked out and then got angry, really angry. “How dare someone do this to my daughter!” She slammed her fist on the table, rattling the little bowls of food, and then twisted toward Gordon. “You still got that shotgun? Wait.” She held up a hand, glancing at Reece. “Earmuffs, boy. Because I’m about to suggest some laws be broken.”

Reece clamped his mouth shut.

“Mom,” I protested weakly.

That went largely ignored. “You still have that shotgun, right? You go and stay a night at her place and if someone comes in that door, you—”

“Mrs. Arks, I don’t think that’s a wise idea. I think Gordon wants to be home for when his first child is born,” Reece interjected wisely. “Roxy is safe, and right now, that’s what matters.”

“What matters is you all catch this sick SOB.” Dad’s arms were tensed, folded across his chest as Reece explained everything that was being done. The cell phone was being searched for prints. My apartment would be wired with an alarm system. I’d be staying with Reece until that was done.

It took a while to calm down my parents and brother. Not that I blamed them for their reactions. They loved me and were worried about me, and I didn’t want them to be afraid—and I didn’t want to be afraid of a nameless, faceless freak.

Maybe an hour or so passed, the scent of garlic and meat filling the air, when Mom invited us to join them for their weekly Sunday spaghetti dinner, and when I glanced at Reece, he nodded and I felt that stupid fluttering in my belly, like a nest of butterflies were going to gnaw their way out. As I got up to help get the plates, I realized we were missing someone.

“Where’s Thomas?” I asked, placing the stack of plates on the table.

Dad grabbed a beer out of the fridge. “Oh, he’s over at a friend’s, worshipping Satan or whatever it is he’s doing.”

My brows slowly inched up my forehead as I met Megan’s gaze. Grinning, she ducked her chin. “Well, that sounds like fun.”

“True.” Reece grinned from where he sat. “Nothing like a little satanic worship on a Sunday.”

Mom smacked Dad’s arm on the way back to the table. “Thomas is with his girlfriend. And they’re studying.”

Gordon snorted.

“Now, see what you all made me do.” She lifted her hands, clad in oven mitts. “Forgot to get the garlic bread.” When she had the plate out, she spun toward me and the bread shifted precariously along the baking sheet. “Oh! I almost forgot to tell you, since I didn’t get over to see you yesterday, which apparently was a good thing, because I probably would be like Dog the Bounty Hunter on someone’s ass right now.”

Dad sighed.

I couldn’t keep a straight face and giggled as I sat down next to Reece. “I’m picturing you with a blond mullet now.”

“I’d make that look good.” She scooped the bread into a basket. “I ran into Miss Sponsito. Remember her? She’s a curator at one of the museums in the city.”

Oh no. I picked up my glass. “Yes, I remember.”

Thomas brought a vat of spaghetti sauce over while Mom eyed me like a shrew. “Do you also remember how I showed her some of your work?”

“How could I forget?” I glanced at my tea, wishing it had liquor in it. Maybe even some meth at this point. Wait. Could meth be liquid? I’d have to ask Reece. But not right now, because he was eyeballing me as Dad plopped a huge pile of noodles on his plate.

Everyone sat, but Mom was like a pit bull. “She is still very interested.”

“Oh,” I murmured, scooping out the biggest meatball I could find. “You make the best meatballs,” I told Gordon. “Have I ever told you that before?”

Gordon smiled.

“Interested in what?” Reece asked.

“Nothing,” was my immediate response.

Mom shot me a chiding look. “I showed Miss Sponsito several of Roxy’s paintings a couple of months back. She’s interested in commissioning pieces. You know,” she said, looking at me. “You’d get paid doing something you love. Fancy idea. But Roxy hasn’t taken them up on it yet.”

I made a face as I twirled my spaghetti and then almost shrieked as a hand landed on my thigh. Looking at Reece, I raised my brows. He narrowed his eyes. “Why haven’t you done that?”

Good question. No easy answer. I shrugged. “I haven’t had time. I feel like . . . I need to give her something new, something great.”

“That’s why you should drop those damn classes,” Dad said, stabbing at his noodles.

“Dad, I’m trying to get an education. Isn’t that something every parent wants their kid to get?” I asked.

“Every parent wants their kid to be happy,” he corrected. “And you’re not going to be happy with some graphic design degree.”

I drew in a deep breath. “I am happy.”

No one looked like they believed me, and boy, was that kind of hard to swallow. I wanted to shout that I was happy . . . as much as I could be right now. I mean, hello, I had some dude taking pictures of me while I slept, and Henry was out, running around, a total free man, and Charlie . . .

Charlie wasn’t eating again.

I was no longer hungry.

Reece watched me closely, way too intently. “Everything I’ve seen of yours is great.”

“It’s true.” Megan smiled. “You did that painting for the baby’s room. The one with the teddy bear? Every time I go into the room, I’m blown away by how real it looks.”

“Thanks,” I murmured, uncomfortable. When I glanced at Reece, I could see the wheels churning in his head. I’d rather be talking about the stalker and my undies in the dishwasher.

But then, because it was my family, the convo turned even more awkward as dinner wrapped up.

“How’s your father doing?” my dad asked Reece.

I stiffened as I eyeballed him. My dad was oblivious.

“He’s doing okay. On Divorce Number Five Hundred,” he said nonchalantly, but I knew his father’s inability to be faithful and not lie was a huge issue for him. Not a hang-up, though. If it was, he wouldn’t have gotten over the fact I had lied. But still bothered him nonetheless. “Same old same old stuff, basically.”