Home > Requiem (Providence #2)(10)

Requiem (Providence #2)(10)
Author: Jamie McGuire

“You didn’t real y rob a liquor store, did you, Kim?” I said, feeling ridiculous for asking.

“No,” she said, turning in the direction of her class.

I waited in the hal , watching her walk away. I had been so preoccupied with my dreams, I failed to realize Kim’s stories hadn’t added up, and I didn’t catch that she was using her sarcasm to hide something. But hide what? That was al I needed: Something new to obsess about.

Bex was waiting for me when I walked out to the parking lot, in the same spot the Escalade usual y sat. I was stil twenty feet away when Bex relieved me of my backpack, and escorted me the remainder of the way to the BMW. He watched me for a moment, with his big, blue eyes.

“Yes,” I said, opening the passenger door.

A large, boyish grin radiated from one side of his mouth to the other, and he enthusiastical y commandeered the driver’s seat once more. “Jared cal ed, but you were in class.”


“He wanted you to be updated the second you were finished. He hasn’t had much luck. A few leads, he’s carrying them out today, and He’ll be home tomorrow night as promised.”

“Why didn’t he call me himself?” I asked, unable to clear the venom from my voice. The anger stemmed from the pain of missing him. Ironical y, letting an emotion slip now and then made it easier to control them.

Bex sighed. “He misses you. He was afraid hearing your voice would make it worse. He didn’t want you to talk him into coming home.”

One corner of my mouth turned up, but I quickly subdued it. “I’ve got to stop by the office for a sec.”

“Yep,” Bex nodded, turning in the direction of Titan.

The evening consisted of homework and dinner. Bex proved to be an accomplished cook, no doubt learning from Lil ian as Jared did. He whipped up an amazing Pasta Chick Pea Salad, fol owed by Peppered Shrimp Alfredo. I was so ful by the time he served dessert that I didn’t have enough room to ful y appreciate the smal slice of cheesecake he placed in front of me.

“You’re spoiling me,” I said, leaning back in my chair.

“I happened to know Jared cooks for you al the time. I’m just trying to continue the lifestyle in which you’ve become accustomed.”

“If you say so….” I teased.

“And I like to cook,” he smiled.

“It’s a wonder I haven’t gained fifty pounds living with Jared,” I said, taking my plate to the sink.

“I got these. Go rest,” Bex said, pul ing the plate from my hands.

“Quit it. It’s fifty-fifty around here.”

“Yeah, but I can do them faster,” he smirked.

“True,” I said, yawning.

I trudged up the stairs. Gluttony, in addition to weeks without a proper night’s sleep, left me nearly debilitated. My sluggish arms struggled with the pink striped pajamas I’d managed to pul from the drawer, and once my body col apsed to the mattress, I was unable to open my eyes.

And then it was morning.

No Jack, no Gabe, no Shax. I had slept an entire night without a single dream, much less a nightmare. I remembered nothing. A ful night of sleep was less than a memory, and it was strange to feel rested.

The smell of bacon grease fil ed the air. I bounced out of bed, and trotted to the railing.

“Did you sleep?” I asked Bex, who was bouncing to a tune in his head.

“Yeah,” he call ed. “I was al prepared to tend to your early morning psychotic episodes Jared keeps talkin’ about. I’m disappointed.”

“Wel , I’m not,” I said, retreating to the shower.

A night without the dream didn’t make sense. We had been by the office; I had even spoken briefly to Kim about the dreams, and…nothing.

Whatever it was, I had to believe the nightmares were over. Sleeping al night in Jared’s arms without waking up screaming and soaking the sheets with my own sweat was definitely something to look forward to. I was even more excited for him to come home.

“Did he call ?” I asked, tightening my belt as I descended the stairs.

“No, but Cynthia did.”

“Oh? Did she say why?”

“I don’t know, Nina. Maybe because you haven’t spoken to her in three weeks? She starts noticing when she runs out of charity events to keep her busy.”

“Okay, okay,” I said, picking up my phone.

“Good morning, Darling,” Cynthia said before the first ring finished.

“How are you?”

“Busy, busy. Why don’t you come over for dinner tonight? I haven’t seen you in…you know I don’t remember? How ridiculous. Come to dinner. Six o’clock.”

“Yes, Mother.”

“See you then, Dear.”

“That was quick,” Bex said, sliding two eggs from the spatula onto my plate.

“Thank you. And it always is. She’s not one for lengthy phone conversations.”

Bex replied with a nod. He was becoming so much like Jared—not one for many words, but it was obvious what he was thinking just by the slightest change in his eyes. Not that a child of Lil ian’s would be any different, but I was so proud of the man Bex was quickly turning into. He made me feel just as safe as Jared or Claire, and he was one of the kindest people I knew.

Bex was a constant reminder of the night Shax’s henchmen tried to capture me in Lil ian's home, and the subsequent months I spent without Jared. Every time Bex was around, each time someone mentioned his name, the sound of Harry Crenshaw's vertebrae snapping resonated in my mind. Bex kil ing anyone seemed so impossible, but I knew better than anyone that impossible didn’t exist.

The ride to Brown was long. Each passing minute of each class was an eternity. Even lunch seemed to drag on. The clock demanded my attention within minutes of the last time I had looked at it. Normal y the irritation surrounding me would be unbearable, but catching up on lost sleep seemed to help.

“Is that a no?” Beth asked, nudging me.

“Huh? I said, realizing I had missed a large chunk of the table conversation. We sat in our usual spot at the Ratty, with one chair remaining empty in honor of Ryan’s absence. It was then I noticed a second chair was also empty.

“I said have you heard from Kim? She wasn’t in American Public’s class. She’s not here. I tried her cel , but got her voice mail.”

“No, I haven’t,” I said, glancing around the Ratty. “Not since this morning.”

Beth frowned, leaning against Chad, as she always did when she was unsettled. “She never misses class.”

Our lunch table was relatively quiet after that, making the minutes pass even more slowly, if that were possible.

The afternoon seemed like an eternity, and by the time Bex dropped me off at the front entrance of Titan, I was crawling out of my skin.

Sasha seemed the likely target to vent my frustration, but she wasn’t in. Annoyed, I rode the elevator to the third floor, settling on Grant as a second choice.

“Afternoon, Peanut,” Grant call ed from his office.

“Piss off.”

Instantly, I felt better.

“If you didn’t own the company, I would fire you for insubordination,” he said with an amused grin.

“Insubordination requires disregard of a command. I simply responded to your greeting,” I said, stopping abruptly at my office door.

“Is that what you had in mind?” Grant asked, shoving his hands in his pockets, oozing with pride.

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