“But, it’s the last,” I repeat, before her brothers can ask more questions. “Eli, can you please have the locks on the house changed today?”
Sirens call in the distance as the ambulance gets closer. My fingers shake as I push Van’s hair behind her ear. I want to fall apart. For me. For Van. For this whole family that has been shaken to the core by an evil that none of us quite understand.
But I can’t. Not yet.
“Come with me,” Van whispers.
“Every step of the way, friend.”
“Love you so much,” she says, and begins to cry again.
“Love you more.”
“Where the fuck is he?” Beau asks the room at large for the fourth time in twenty minutes, and continues to pace my office.
“We’ve been all over the city,” Declan answers, clearly as frustrated as the rest of us. And, out of all of us, Dec is the calmest one. Seeing him agitated is always unnerving. “Maybe he skipped town.”
“We’ll find him,” I reply and sip my brandy. “He can’t go far. We’ve frozen his bank accounts.”
“Maybe we shouldn’t have done that,” Beau replies. “If he uses the bank accounts, we know where he’s been.”
“He’s not getting one more dime from this family,” I reply coldly, my gut churning as I remember the look in sweet Van’s eyes as they held mine and asked why?
Because he’s a piece of shit. Because he wouldn’t know what it is to be a man if it fucked him up the ass without lube.
Because he didn’t know a good thing when he had it.
But none of that would have made her feel better. Nothing can make her feel better, except time and love.
“We should have known,” Declan says as he rubs his face, his elbows planted on his knees. “I should have known.”
“We all should have known,” Beau replies in resignation.
“We did,” I say, and sip the brandy. “We knew he wasn’t a good man. Even if Savannah never would confirm it; we knew something wasn’t right.”
“It was her choice to be with him,” Beau says, and holds a hand up when Declan starts to argue. “Think about it. She was young and convinced and proud, Dec. There was no talking her out of it.”
“But it’s our mother fucking job to protect her,” I reply softly. “And we didn’t.”
We all blink at each other for a long minute. Our fists clenched. Our jaws tight.
“Dad would have killed that fucker himself.”
“He would,” I agree with a nod. “No one ever fucked with his family and lived to tell the tale.”
“Dad never killed anyone,” Beau replies with a half smile, as though the thought is entertaining.
“No one dared fuck with us before to test him,” Declan says.
“He’s going to pay,” Beau says, and swallows his glass of brandy.
“He already has,” Ben says, as he stalks into my office. We all still when we see him. He’s sweaty, dirty, and has blood on his shirt.
“What the fuck?” Declan demands.
“What happened?” I ask, much more calmly than I feel.
“You don’t need specifics,” he replies, and takes my drink from my hand, gulping the brandy, and holds the glass out for more. “I found him.”
“Is he alive?” Beau asks.
“He’s wishing he wasn’t, but yes.”
“Do you need an attorney?” I ask my friend since childhood. He shakes his head and swigs more brandy.
“Not necessary. He’s already turned himself in.”
“He’s turned himself in to the police?” Beau asks incredulously.
Ben nods and leans his hips on my desk.
“How did you pull that off?” Dec asks.
Ben simply smiles, a cold, hard smile that would make most grown men piss in their pants. “I made it very clear that it was either turn himself in, or I’d kill him.”
“You would have,” I say, with a bit of surprise, although it shouldn’t surprise me. Ben has been in love with Savannah since puberty.
“Without hesitation,” he replies coldly, and takes another sip of brandy. When his glass is drained, he slaps it on the desk and walks toward my door.
“Ben,” Declan says, stopping our friend when he grips the doorknob. “What exactly is Savannah to you?”
Ben glances over his shoulder at Dec, shakes his head, his eyes suddenly sad, and leaves without a word.
“Fuck,” Beau whispers. “This could turn into a shitstorm.”
“It won’t,” I reply. “Our people will take care of it. He’ll pay. Dearly.”
“What an idiot,” Declan says with disgust. “He did this over a piece of ass?”
“He did this because he’s an evil son of a bitch,” Beau replies. “It really has nothing at all to do with Savannah. It was never about her.”
“I’m going to go grab a shower and then head up to the hospital,” Declan says.
“I’ll go with you,” Beau replies, just as my phone rings.
“Hi.” Her voice sounds tired. “Gabby is here at the hospital with Van. She’s going to stay with her tonight.”
“They’re keeping Van overnight?” I ask and check my watch. Damn, it’s almost midnight.
“Yeah, it’s late, and she’s pretty hurt. They want to watch her. Can you please come get me? I wouldn’t ask, but Charly already went home and—”
“Of course I’ll come get you.” I grab my keys and head for the door. “I’ll be there in fifteen minutes.”
I hate hospitals. The smell, the sounds. I fucking hate that Savannah is lying in a bed here.
I walk into her room and curl my hands into fists. Her face isn’t marked at all. The fucker was sure to not bruise up her pretty face. But her arm is in a sling, and she’s cradling it against her like it aches.
My own chest aches.
Gabby sees me first and runs to me, launching herself into my arms. Our girls are always so strong. So fierce. But they aren’t afraid to lean on their brothers when they need us.
And, as far as I’m concerned, that just makes them all the stronger.
“It’s okay, bebe,” I murmur and kiss the top her of head. Gabby is not just the baby, she’s also the smallest. The rest of us are tall, but she’s petite. And if you didn’t know her, you’d mistakenly think she’s fragile.