Secrets & Lies (Roughshod Rollers MC 3)

Page 58

Was she feeling sad? Angry? Guilty?
Do I care?
I want to say that I don’t. But then I remember her trembling voice as she described the series of events that had led to her finding a partial truth. It had started as an accident, all because I kept that fucking folder.
It’s still sitting on the couch in the living room. I couldn’t touch it again after Jessica shut the door behind her, so I left it carelessly on the couch, uncaring what happened to it by her. Personally, I wouldn’t give a damn if it was gone, but I know I won’t be so lucky. When I leave this room, it will likely be sitting there in silent accusation.
What if I just don’t leave my room then? I snort. Since today is Friday, I have an all-day shift at the bar. I’m tempted to ask Fiona to cover, maybe promise to do the Saturday for her next week. But then I think about rattling around, alone, in my apartment all day, and I feel worse.
I don’t really want to leave. But I don’t want to stay here, either.
Sighing, I leave the bathroom and gather my work clothes. I need to open the bar at eleven, and it’s already ten. If I don’t leave soon, I won’t make it on time.
When I leave my room, the folder is right where I left it. I’m seized by the sudden urge to grab it and toss it in the trash. I even make an aborted move toward it. But then I stop. I’ve kept it all these years. If I was able to throw it out, I would have done it long ago.
It’s a shackle I can never break from.
I slam my coffee cup down on the table harder than necessary, and aggressively make myself a coffee in a carry mug, intending on taking it with me. When I’m done, I grab a tin of coffee powder from the cupboard and shove it in the backpack I pick up; we were out of coffee on my last shift, and I’m not taking the chance that Fiona wouldn’t have remembered to pick up more. I’m going to need a lot of coffee if I’m going to get through today.
I lock up my apartment and head down the stairs, not willing to spend even a moment in stasis while I travel slowly down the elevator. I need to keep moving. If I stop moving, I’ll fall apart.
It’s when I’m on the road, however, that I finally relax. My helmet is sitting snugly on my head, and the motorbike is roaring beneath me, leaving me barely able to hear my own thoughts. I wish, for a moment, that I can just speed away and forget about work, or Jessica or things that were better left in the past.
Then I remember Owen. I’m not going to run away, if only for his sake. I have a son, now. I have a responsibility. I might not know how to be a father yet, but I’m not going to flee before I have the chance to learn.
So I pull up in front of the Anchor Bar and chain my bike up. It’s as I straighten, however, fishing the bar keys out of my pocket, that I hear the sound of another bike approaching. Confused, because it’s rare for anyone to come out this way before I’m even open, I turn to see a figure in a Roughshod Roller’s jacket speeding toward me. It cruises to a halt beside me, and the rider dismounts, pulling his helmet off.
My stomach drops.
“Grant,” Alex says seriously, the sun glinting on his glasses. “We need to talk.”
I don’t know what to say as I clean glasses from last night. Alex is sitting at the bar, nursing a soda, and he hasn’t said anything since I led him inside and directed him to a seat. Is he waiting for me to say something first? Well, tough shit; he approached me.
Is it too much of a coincidence, though, that he would show up just after Jessica finally tells me the truth? Is he still in contact with Jessica?
Then I see the deep bags under his eyes. He doesn’t look like he’s been sleeping. He didn’t look like this when I last saw him, when he had apologized with such sincerity that I had been taken aback.
“You alright?” I finally grunt.
Alex glances at me. He sighs, his shoulders hunching.
“Damn,” he says, closing his eyes. “Jessica told you. I…was coming
to talk to you about my role in it all.”
I glance at him.
“Why didn’t you before?” I ask.
“What did you expect me to say?” Alex replies. There’s a hint of despair in his voice. “I didn’t even know if that was the reason she left. I had a suspicion…but I never gave her my research. I refused to. When someone broke into my office, I did suspect her, but she didn’t say anything. Nearly a month and a half later, she left you suddenly, but I didn’t connect the dots until the other day. There was only one reason she wouldn’t have told you about your son.”
Something in my chest loosened. Alex honestly hadn’t known.
“Why did you take her request?” I ask.
“Honestly?” Alex grimaces. “You didn’t see her. She was half mad with lack of sleep and suspicion. I thought I could put all her fears to rest. But then I found your arresting officer and I knew I couldn’t let her see that interview. So I tried to put her off while I looked for more evidence to disprove him as well as her suspicions.” He scowled. “That officer was a real piece of work.”
I snort in laughter. “You’re telling me.”