Chapter no 41

Never Lie

Luke has cooked us dinner tonight. It’s chicken marsala. Slices of chicken breast braised in Marsala wine sauce, butter, and garlic. It smells incredible, but I have not taken one bite. I have spent the last fifteen minutes pushing it around my plate, pretending to be eating even though I have no appetite.

“Is your chicken overcooked?” Luke cranes his neck to look at the little chunk that I sliced off. “Mine is perfect, but yours was a little thinner. Is it too dry?”

“Not at all.” I force a smile. “It’s delicious. Really.”

“Then how come you’ve barely eaten a bite of it?” He frowns. “Are you feeling sick? Is it a migraine?”

It has been two days since EJ told me what he wanted me to do. I wouldn’t let Luke come over again last night, complaining that my head was still bothering me. But I couldn’t put him off forever, so here he is.

I’m trying to put EJ out of my head, but I can’t. All I can think about is how EJ will destroy both of us if I don’t do what he wants. But how can I? The thought of letting that man touch me makes me physically ill. Not to mention the fact that I can’t even contemplate being with someone besides Luke. A few days ago, I had thought he might be the person I would spend the rest of my life with…

I have thought about nothing else besides my dilemma for the last two days. And I’ve concluded that there’s only

one solution to this problem.

I lay down my fork, push away my plate, and stare across the dining table at Luke. He pushes his glasses up his nose, a curious expression on his face. I fold my hands in front of me on the table.

“We have a problem,” I say.

He nods thoughtfully. “You don’t want me to move in.” God, is that what he thinks? “Luke—”

“It’s okay,” he says quickly. “I know this is fast. I get it. I didn’t want to push you. I mean, I’d love to live with you, but I’m okay if you want to wait.”

He’s breaking my heart, because all I want is to live with this man. To spend my life with him. I have never felt this way before—never imagined I ever would—and it kills me that a vindictive monster is ruining the only relationship in my life that has ever mattered to me. “Luke…”

He reaches across the table and grabs one of my hands, pulling them apart. “I have to tell you, Adrienne. After Darcy died, I honestly couldn’t imagine ever falling for anyone else ever again. And then I met you, and… I just knew right away.” He squeezes my hand. “Like I said, if you want to take it slower, that’s fine. I’ll wait as long as I have to.”

My eyes fill with tears. “That’s not it at all. I want you to move in too. But…”

His brow creases. “But what?”

“There’s another copy of the video,” I blurt out.

For a second, it’s so quiet you can hear the air conditioner whirring. Luke’s jaw tightens as he absorbs this piece of information. “What?”

“He must have had another copy saved somewhere.” I bite down on my lower lip. “He sent it to me. And… he’s pretty pissed off.”

Luke snatches his hand away from mine, the affection disappearing from his face. “Well, I told you that was a possibility. All we could do was get rid of the copy on his computer and his phone.”

That wasn’t all Luke did. He told me he hadn’t searched for any other copies, but he did. I could see him searching the desk drawers in that recording EJ showed me.

“Anyway,” I say, “he’s making demands again. Blackmailing me.” I can’t bring myself to tell Luke what he wants. It’s humiliating. Let him believe it’s just money. “It’s never going to stop.”

He heaves a sigh. “Yeah. I… I don’t know what to say. I don’t think you should give in to him.”

“That video would destroy me.”

“He’s destroying you. He’s controlling your life. You can’t let him do this to you.”

I suck in a breath. “I know. You’re right. He’s going to hold this over me forever. As long as he’s alive…”

I let that last statement hang there. Luke’s face clouds with confusion. “What… what are you saying, Adrienne?”

“I think you know.”

“Are you saying…?” He shakes his head. “Look, you need to let him publish the video if he wants. Accept the consequences.”

“So I should let him wreck my life?”

“No… I mean, I don’t think that video will wreck your life.” He shifts in his seat. “You can spin it.”

“No. I can’t.”

He grimaces. “I don’t know what to say. You don’t have a choice. There’s no alternative.”

“There’s one other thing.” I square my shoulders, knowing that I’ve reached the moment of no return. “He has another video.”

His long eyelashes flutter. “Another…?” “A video of you.”

“Of me?”

“He has a recording of you entering his house and breaking into his laptop.” The words come out in a rush. I want to get this over with. “It even shows you breaking into his desk with a letter opener.”

The color slowly drains out of Luke’s face. “Holy…” “I’m so sorry, Luke.”

“Sorry?” The color that had left his face now appears in two spots on his cheeks. “I told you I didn’t want to do this. I told you it was the wrong thing to do. I said we could get in a lot of trouble. Didn’t I say that?”

“Yes,” I say in a small voice.

He drops his head into his hands and massages his temples. “Unbelievable. This is so unbelievable.”

“I know. I’m so sorry.” I shift my chair around the side of the table to be closer to him. “This guy is a terrible person. I hate that he’s doing this to us.”

Luke grunts in response.

I drop my voice. “If we got rid of him…”

I watch Luke’s expression. Will he go for it? In the experiment from Milgram, more than half of the subjects administered the 450 V electric shock—a dose of electricity which would have proven fatal if it had been real. They didn’t want to do it, but they did it. All because they were told to do it.

He lifts his face from his hands. “I don’t know what you’re suggesting.”

“I think you do.” I pause meaningfully. “It’s our only choice, Luke.”

“It’s not. It’s really not.”

“As long as he’s alive, he’s going to hold this over us,” I say. “You don’t want that, do you? There’s only one way to make sure he can’t destroy us.”

“No. No way.”

“Think about it. What else can we do?” Luke looks ill. “Please stop.”

“It’s our only choice.”

He slams his palms against the table so hard that all the dishes shake. “I’m not fucking killing anyone, Adrienne, okay?”

I flinch in my seat. I’ve been dating Luke for four months, and I’ve never heard him raise his voice like that before. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him this upset, but I can’t say he doesn’t have a right to be.

He pushes back his chair, the legs scraping against the floor. His face is bright red and there’s a blood vessel bulging in his temple. He won’t even look at me. “I need to get out of here.”


I try to reach for him, but he shakes me off roughly. He makes a beeline for my front door, and the whole house trembles as he slams it closed. I run to the door just in time to hear the engine of his car revving up. I crack the door open and watch his tail beams disappear into the distance.

That’s it. He could forgive me for asking him to break into EJ’s computer, but he won’t forgive me for this. I saw it in his eyes—I pushed him too far. I’m not sure I’ll ever see him again. I can’t even blame him.

I’ve lost him. The first guy I ever loved, and I’ve screwed it all up.

I shut my front door and lean back against it. I let the tears run down my face, cursing the moment I laid eyes on EJ. I should have told his mother no. I knew he was trouble. I knew it from the second I saw him.

I’ve ruined my relationship with Luke, but I will not let him be a casualty of this monster. I’m going to take care of this problem. And I’m going to take care of it myself.

You'll Also Like