“Jack,” I sobbed, “I’m so sorry.”
“Get the fuck away from me,” he growled as he limped over to help Kade.
“You have to believe me, I didn’t mean for any of this to hap– ”
He wheeled around in a berserker rage, spittle flying from his mouth. “GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!”
I shrank back in terror. Lou’s gun at my head might have been scarier, but it didn’t hurt like this.
Jack stood there staring at me, chest heaving, eyes burning with hatred. When he finally spoke, he pointed at the Roadhouse.
“Three years. Three goddamn years of my life, gone, just like that. Hell, MORE than three years – half my fucking life was wrapped up in that club! Those guys were my brothers – I cared about them more than my own flesh and blood. Yeah, there were some fuck-ups, but every family has those – and that’s what they were: they were family. And I was turning them around. I was dragging them out of the shit and cleaning them off, getting them on their feet. I was making something better for all of us, and then you – YOU – ”
His face contorted in rage, and he bowed his head towards the ground as though trying to control himself. When he finally looked up, his eyes were cold and dead. I knew at that moment that anything he’d ever felt for me was gone.
“You lied to me,” he said, his anger barely under control. “I asked you fucking point blank – ”
“I know,” I whispered.
His words from earlier that night were burned into my brain:
If you are from the DEA or the FBI or whatever, please, just leave town. Now. And don’t come back. Lou gave me 24 hours to find out the truth, and then he’s going to hurt you. And I might not be able to stop him.
One sentence in particular stood out in my memory.
If you care about me at all, don’t fuck me on this.
It felt like a shiv in my gut every time I thought of it.
Jack stared at me. He seemed almost as bewildered as he was angry. “I risked everything – I lost everything – because you fucking LIED to me!”
“She was my cousin, Jack,” I cried, tears streaming down my face. “I had to find out who killed her.”
“You could have told me that!” he bellowed. “You should have told me that!”
“I… I didn’t know if I could trust you.”
The words sounded lame even as I said them.
“YOU DIDN’T KNOW?! When did you ‘not know’?! When I fucking pleaded with you to get out of town? When I said I didn’t care if you were DEA, or FBI, just so long as you left – so I could keep you safe?! Instead, you let me walk in there without a fucking clue! You almost got all of us killed – and now I’ve lost everything – EVERYTHING!”
Tears poured down my cheeks. “I should have told you – I know that now, I should have told you, I should have – ”
“Fuck you, Fiona,” he seethed. “You’re a fucking lying whore, just like all the goddamn rest of them.”
He turned back to Kade and did something to his handcuffs. Seconds later, I heard the crrr-CHK of one of the ratchets falling away.
I stood there, my heart breaking, feeling like I was losing my mind. It couldn’t end like this, it couldn’t –
I reached out and touched Jack’s arm.
He pulled away like I’d burned him with a hot poker. “GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME!”
“Jack, please,” I sobbed.
“Keep away from me, Fiona,” he warned, his voice hoarse. “Do NOT touch me.”
Behind him, Kade sat down on the ground and undid his shackles with whatever Jack had used on the handcuffs. I noticed he avoided looking at me.
“Jack… please. I have to know.”
He looked shocked, like I’d sucker-punched him. Then he laughed – a dark, vicious, ugly sound. “That’s what you want?”
My face felt like it was cracking from all my grief. I wanted to say, I want YOU, but I knew that would just invite another tirade.
“Yes,” I whispered.
“I got there minutes after she died. I don’t know much, but I know I didn’t kill her. Kade didn’t kill her… and as much as I hate that goddamn son of a bitch, Lou didn’t kill her, either. I have no fucking clue who did.”
My entire body shook. Hot tears ran down my face.
All this sacrifice – the man I loved, a chance at real happiness – and for what?
“You know what I do know?” Jack snapped. “I know I tried to keep her alive. I tried to get her to kick. I tried to save her. But you? Where were you? You weren’t there to help her when she needed it.”
He couldn’t have hurt me more if he’d stabbed me.
You weren’t there to help her when she needed it.
“You know what else I know?” he raged. “Every single goddamn thing I just said, I would have told you two hours ago – before you destroyed my life.”
My heart broke, and I sobbed like I was dry-heaving. I dropped to my knees there in the parking lot and doubled over like a gut-shot animal, howling in agony.
As I bawled, I heard their boots crunch through the gravel. Two bikes fired up and then sped away, the roar of their engines receding into the night.