Beneath These Lies (Beneath #5)(6)


by Meghan March

I gritted my teeth, willing myself not to show fear. Instinctively, I knew that would only make things worse. I would face down the devil in hell to find Trinity; I just hoped I hadn’t found him.

I tried again. “I’m looking for a girl named Trinity. Someone said Derrick Rockins might know where she is.”

Something flashed through those silver eyes, and I was willing to bet my Tesla it was knowledge.

Resolve straightened my spine, overcoming the fear, at least until he pushed off the gate and crossed his arms. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, they were big. The muscles strained against the cotton of his T-shirt.

“Who is she to you?”

Decision time. Tell him more or offer as little information as possible? I decided at this point, I had nothing to lose by going with the truth.

“My employee, and someone I’m very worried about.” When he said nothing, I filled the silence instinctively. “She didn’t show up at work and she’s not answering her cell. Her grandmother hasn’t seen her either, and since I care about her and the police won’t let me file a missing person’s report yet, I’m doing what I can to find her myself.”

His expression hardened to granite as soon as I mentioned the police.

“You went to the cops?”

His ominous tone threatened my resolve. If he was connected to the same gang as Derrick, then obviously I’d just said the wrong thing. There was nothing I could do but brazen it out. Show no fear.

I lifted my chin. “Yes. And if you’ll tell me where she is, you’ll save me another trip to the precinct tomorrow.”

His eyes narrowed. “Who the fuck goes to the cops when someone doesn’t show for work?”

Squaring my shoulders, I infused my tone with all the confidence I could muster. “I did, because she’s just a kid.”

He uncrossed his arms. “She ain’t no kid.”

Bingo. He knew her. He freaking knew her. I latched onto that fact like a dog to a bone, and some of the apprehension of facing him down drained away in the face of my determination.

“You know where she is. Admit it,” I demanded.

The thunderous expression on his face told me that no one demanded anything of this man, but I didn’t care.

“Why should I tell you a goddamned thing?”

“Please,” I said, my tone near to begging. “All I want to know is if she’s okay.”

He studied me for long moments. I didn’t know if he read the desperation on my face, but he shifted.

“She’s fine. He took her out for her birthday.”

“It’s not her birthday anymore.”

“Well, it was, and he was out of town,” the man countered.

That was true, but Trinity would have told me if he was taking her out. She’d been moping about him being gone before our conversation about love and penises, and Yve showing up to invite me to the bachelorette party.

“She didn’t say anything about it.”

“Not my problem.”

He might as well have held up a sign that read That’s all the information you’re getting from me. But I wasn’t satisfied.

“Where are they?”

His gaze drilled into mine as if he couldn’t believe I was still asking questions. Which explained why he ignored it.

“I’m gonna give you a piece of advice and suggest you take it. Leave the girl a voice mail like any normal boss. Don’t come ’round here knocking on doors. You might be the one needing a missing person’s report if you’re not careful.”

Banked fear curled around my spine, but I refused to succumb to it. The last several years, my life had been a constant battle to try to sort “good guys” into categories of actually good and pretending to be good.

I’d never faced someone in my sheltered little world who was unapologetically bad. It wasn’t inherently logical, but there was some comfort in the fact that he wasn’t pretending to be anything but what he was. It was the pretending to be good guys who struck the most fear into me because they presented an unknown danger.

Take the monster—he’d been a “good guy” from a good New Orleans family. And he’d terrorized both Yve and me.

This man in front of me was unequivocally dangerous.

“Is that a threat?” I asked, idiotically testing my theory. The good thing about unapologetically bad guys? They were usually pretty honest. They had nothing to hide.

“Call it a warning. This ain’t the job for you.” He tilted his head and watched me for my reaction, but I didn’t give him one. “You ain’t lettin’ this go, are you?”

“No.”

He shook his head slowly. “She’s probably holed up with D-Rock in some hotel room. The boy was going to take her somewhere romantic.” He made air quotes around the word romantic, and suddenly he was a little less scary and a little more human.

“Romantic?”

The boy gangbanger was into romance? So Trinity wasn’t missing due to some malevolent deed, she was a young girl being swept off her feet by her boyfriend. Could I have really missed the mark so widely?

Glancing back at the man watching my every change in expression, I knew I didn’t have a choice but to believe him. Which meant I didn’t need to be in this neighborhood at all, and it was time for me to go.

I dropped my gaze to the ground and debated how I was going to get out of this yard. He was blocking the only exit. Nothing to do but brazen this out too.

He’s not going to hurt me, I told myself. I’ll shoot him if he tries.

I stepped down from the porch, head held high, not showing a trace of fear except perhaps with how tightly I gripped my purse. “I appreciate the heads-up. I’ll be on my way then, if you’ll excuse me.”

When in doubt, choose manners. My mother would be so proud. Actually, she’d probably want to lock me up until I was fifty if she knew where I was.

He pushed off the gate, uncrossed his arms, and stepped toward me.

Good grief, he was even bigger up close. In my heels, I was nearly five eight, and I didn’t think the top of my head came to his eye level. Not important. I stepped off the path, my heels sinking into the dry grass of the front yard as I attempted to get around him.

“You ain’t leaving until I get a name from you.” His hand shot out and wrapped around my arm.

I froze at the contact. Strange men didn’t get to touch me. I waited for my skin to crawl . . . but it didn’t. All I registered was the heat of his hand on my skin and the light grip that kept me from taking another step.