Beneath These Lies (Beneath #5)(12)


by Meghan March

His hand dropped away, and the softness that had been in his eyes faded as I handed over my phone and he added his contact info. I was practically vibrating in my seat, holding back the urge to rip open the door, when he did something else and I heard a buzz from his pocket.

“I got your number now. I’ll be in touch. Go find out what you can.”

“Okay.” When had my vocabulary shrunk to that single word?

He handed the phone back and I turned for the door. Rix’s hand shot out and wrapped around the back of my head, pulling my face toward him as he leaned in. Before I understood his intent, his lips descended on mine for a hard, quick kiss. He pulled away abruptly.

“You got this.”

All I could do was nod again because my vocabulary was nonexistent. Rix kissed me. What kind of alternate universe am I living in?

As soon as he released me, I was out of the car, practically running for the yellow police tape stretched across the road. When I made it there and an officer stopped me, I glanced back and Rix was already gone. My hands shook, and I could still feel the pressure of his lips on mine.

He kissed me. I gave myself a mental slap. Forget about it, Valentina. Not important. I pulled myself together and turned to the cop guarding the police line.

It took ten minutes of begging for information before he threatened to throw me in the back of a squad car, complete with handcuffs as accessories.

“You don’t understand. Her grandmother is elderly, and I’m the only person out here looking for her. I know she was in that car.”

“Ma’am, you need to leave before I make you leave.”

Cops were quickly falling down my list of people who were useful in any way.

“Jones, give me a report.” The familiar voice came from behind me. Both Officer Jones and I spun around to see Detective Hennessy slamming the door of a dark four-door sedan. He walked toward us.

“I don’t think this is your—” the younger officer started.

“I have reason to believe this is connected to my ongoing investigation. Give me a report.”

Jones looked at me and then at Hennessy, who had stopped next to me. “If you’ll come over here, sir.”

“Right here is fine.”

Was Hennessy trying to help me again?

The young officer looked at me and then shrugged. “Two-car collision, only one victim on the scene when we got here—the driver of the Impala. He’s been taken to a nearby hospital.”

“What about the passenger in the Impala?” I demanded.

Jones didn’t answer the question until Hennessy repeated it. With a huff, he replied, “Passenger door was open, purse on the ground. No sign of the passenger. We figure the female fled the scene.”

“Did you get an ID from the purse?” Hennessy asked.

“Someone else did. I didn’t see the name.”

“Go get it, now.” Hennessy’s tone was authoritative, brooking no refusal.

Jones, looking pissed as hell, stomped off in the direction of the other uniformed officers at the scene. Hennessy took in my attire and looked around. His gaze landed on something, and I turned.

It was my car, parked across the street in a parking lot.

“You just happened to be out driving tonight and saw an accident, and thought it might be the girl you were looking for the other day?”

I cobbled together the best explanation I could under the circumstances, and because I was a terrible liar, I stuck with as much of the truth as I could.

“Trinity got in contact with me, but she was at a party and needed a ride home. I went to pick her up, but someone had already given her a ride.” Pointing at the crushed car, I sucked in a ragged breath. “That was her ride home.” The words came out on a sob.

“Jones said only the driver was on the scene, so she could’ve gotten scared and run.”

I shook my head. “She wouldn’t have left him. He’s her boyfriend. She’s eighteen and head over heels for the guy.”

“D-Rock,” Hennessy said, pulling the name from his memory.

“Yes.”

“I don’t even want to know about the party you went to get her at, do I?”

“No, probably not,” I admitted.

Jones came back, holding up a license. “Trinity Frances Rodgers.”

“Where is she?” I whispered, voice shaking.

“We’ll find her,” Hennessy said. “Jones, call all the hospitals to make sure some passerby didn’t take her to one.”

Once again, Jones looked less than pleased. “I’m on duty. I don’t have time for that.”

“While you’re standing around, you can make phone calls. Let me know immediately if you get any leads.” Hennessy turned his attention back to me. “You need to go home, Valentina. Wait for news. There’s nothing you can do here.”

His words were like jabs to the gut. “But—”

“Go home. I’ll call you when we have something to tell you.”

“She’s a good kid. I swear. And she’s really important to me.”

“I’ll do what I can to find her.” He laid a hand on my shoulder. “You need to stand down. This isn’t a joke. Let’s go. I’ll walk you to your car.”

I blanked, thinking of Rix waiting in my car. Although I wasn’t entirely sure if he was or not, but I wasn’t going to take the chance and lead Hennessy right over to it. That would end in way too many questions I didn’t have answers for.

“Thanks, but it’s just across the street. I can make it there myself. And I know I need to be smart, but sometimes your own safety isn’t as important as the person you’re worried about. Trinity’s a good kid. She just got herself caught up in the wrong crowd.”

“She’s not a kid, Valentina. She’s eighteen years old. You can’t protect her from her own decisions. How’s she going to learn?”

I glanced toward my car again, wondering if Rix was inside and what he’d found out. “I’m not debating this with you.” Turning my gaze back to Hennessy for a beat, I forced a smile. “Thank you for your help. If you hear anything . . .”

“I’ve got your number.”

I nodded before turning and checking for traffic. I crossed the street to where my Tesla was parked, and the passenger side door popped open. That answered my question about Rix.