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“Is everything okay?” I asked when he hung up.

“It was Colton.” Reece frowned as he placed his cell back on the nightstand. “He’s outside. I’ll be right back.”

Before he swung his legs off the bed, he kissed my cheek and then my temple. The act was both sweet and tender, and really made me want to flail around the room like a broken ballet dancer.

Reece closed the door behind him and for a moment I lay there, and then I grabbed my shirt, because knowing my luck, I’d get caught naked in his bedroom. Pulling the shirt over my head, I let it pool around me and then worked on getting all the huge knots out of my hair while I resisted the urge to go out and see what Colton was doing here. I didn’t have to resist for too long.

Less than five minutes later, Reece came back in, leaving the door open behind him. I grabbed for the comforter to cover my bare legs. “Is Colton still here?”

He stopped a few steps from the bed. “No. He had to head back out.”

“Okay.” I cocked my head to the side, eyeing him closely. Something was definitely off about him as he dragged his hand across his chest. “Did something happen?”

Reece nodded. “Yeah, something did.”

Now I was starting to get anxious. A lead ball formed in my belly. “What?”

“Kip’s dead.”

I blinked once and then twice. “Come again?”

His throat worked. “He was found dead in lockup this morning. A few hours ago, actually. Fucking bizarre.”

All I could do was stare at him.

“The thing is, he choked himself with his shirt by tying it to the bar and letting his weight drop. Doable. But really unlikely considering who would do that to themselves, plus he wasn’t alone. Colton said there were eight other guys in lockup.”

I still hadn’t found any words.

He shook his head slowly as he stared over my shoulder. “He left a suicide message, supposedly.”

“Supposedly?” There. I could speak. Well, I could parrot Reece.

“He told one of the guys locked up with him where Shelly Winters’ body could be found, and then, according to the witnesses, he proceeded to hang himself. No one stopped him.” He paused, confounded just like me. “There’s a unit heading out there now, since the location is in our jurisdiction.”

All right, I was bowled over by surprise. “No one tried at all to stop him? They—eight people—just watched him choke himself to death by tying his shirt around his neck and to the bars?”

“Yeah,” he replied. “But here’s the thing.” He stepped closer to the bed. “News broke about him by Monday night, right? When we were in the hospital, it was on the evening news. Word got out fast that he was suspected of assaulting all the other women and that he was incarcerated.”


“Colton tells me that about a day and a half ago, a guy was brought in for robbing a liquor store. Strange situation. The dude walked in, grabbed a bottle of whiskey off the shelf and then sat outside and drank it. Sat there until the cops showed up. He was arrested and has been in jail. Still is. City cops say the guy they brought in has a history, but guess who he’s also tied to.”

I shook my head. “Who?”


My eyes widened. “Holy shit. Wasn’t it Isaiah’s cousin that was attacked?” When Reece nodded, it all started to come together. “Oh my God, do you guys think this guy was ordered by Isaiah to get arrested, then end up in the same jail to take out Kip?”

“Remember Mack? The guy who was threatening Calla over the money her mom owed? He ended up with a bullet in his head, and we all know Isaiah is capable of it, especially when someone has fucked with someone in his family. Even more convenient is the fact the camera on the cell went down during the early-morning hours.”

Holy . . . “So one of the officers was in on it, too?”

“We’ve known for years that he had people on the police force. God knows how much he paid this guy to do this and whoever fucked with the camera. Probably more than enough to take a man’s life and risk getting caught. The department is launching an investigation into it.”

“But no one has ever been able to pin anything on Isaiah. Ever. Like in the history of ever and ever.”


I didn’t know what to think or how to feel when it came to discovering that Kip was dead. That he’d either taken his own life or Isaiah had someone take him out. Either way, there would be no life in prison or deals being made. If what the guy in the cell was saying was true, Shelly’s body would be found and that was the only light at the end of this messy tunnel. I searched through my emotions for something, but I was kind of like . . . meh. And didn’t that make me the crappiest person ever? It wasn’t that I didn’t care. I just didn’t want to waste any more time or energy on that monster. I couldn’t.

Reece sat on the bed, scrubbing his fingers through his hair. I watched him in silence. As he lowered his hand to his knee, he shook his head. “Does it make me a shit person to say I’m not too torn up about what just happened?”

Crawling over to him, I plopped down so my knees were pressed against his legs. “I think it doesn’t . . . I mean . . .” Sighing, I raised my hands. “You know, I could lie and say it sucks that someone died, but I’m not sure if that’s the truth. And lying is a sin, right? I mean, is being glad someone is dead a sin? You know, I really don’t know if that is. We need to find someone who’s super familiar with the Bible or something.”

His lips twitched.

“I bet Melvin would know.”

He arched a brow. “Melvin? The old guy who’s usually drunk at the bar?”

I nodded. “Yep. Melvin kind of knows everything. Actually, I bet Katie would know. She’s another one who kind of knows everything. It’s weird. Oh!” I clapped my hands. “I never told you what Katie told me once about you.”

Both brows flew up this time. “Should I be worried?”

“No,” I laughed. “She told me once, about two years ago, that I’d already met and fallen in love with the person who I’d spend my entire life with. I didn’t believe her, even when she said it was you.”

His eyes widened. “For real?”

“She did. And I didn’t want to believe her, but I think I knew in the back of my mind that she was right, because I already knew you and I’ve loved you a lot longer than even I wanted to admit.”