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Beneath These Lies (Beneath #5)(3)
Author: Meghan March

“Maybe,” I said. “You gonna arrest me for it?”

Where the words came from, I didn’t know. I just knew being around Detective Hennessy brought back memories I’d decided to shake off completely, starting tonight.

“You done something you need to be arrested for?”

I shook my head, determined to keep the memories at bay. “No. But I do need to go home.”

I watched as Lord led Elle out of the bar, and his brother, Con, swept Vanessa up in his arms. The gorgeous blonde was beyond walking in a straight line at this point. From the big tattooed Viking of a man’s husky laugh, he didn’t seem to mind. Another alpha.

I want that. Pea green was a horrible color on me, but that knowledge didn’t stop the envy from taking up residence in my chest.

“Ready, Valentina?” Lucas Titan asked, his eyes moving from Hennessy to me.

“I can give her a lift. She’s on my way home. It’s no trouble,” Hennessy replied.

“That okay with you, girl? If not, we’ll take you,” Yve added.

Say what now? My head was swimming with the constant swinging back and forth to follow the conversation. I just wanted my bed. And to make it there without getting sick. With the good detective, at least I’d be safe. He’d helped put the monster in the cage, and for that, I trusted him more than I trusted most people.

“It’s fine. I’m good. I’m ready to go,” I said, taking a step and almost losing my balance again.

Note to self: I need to wear flats the next time I go out with these girls.

Hennessy steadied me, and I waved to Yve as we walked toward the door. She blew me kisses and then Lucas grabbed her ass.

I want that, I thought again as we followed them out of the bar. That easy togetherness with a man who was all man. The kind who took care of his woman and made sure she and her friends would get home safely.

Stop, Valentina. I forced my thoughts back to the present.

Hennessy’s bright green gaze fixed on me, and I couldn’t help but wonder what he saw.

“Am I riding in the back of a cop car?” I asked, hoping to break the intensity of his study. I wasn’t in any shape to be analyzed closely tonight.

“I don’t drive a squad car. But even if I did, you wouldn’t be riding in the backseat.”

We rounded a corner, Hennessy’s arm tucked around my back to keep me upright as I stumbled on the uneven sidewalks of the Quarter. Always a protector.

I focused on staying upright until he slowed and keys jangled. Lights flashed on some kind of SUV a few feet away. Hennessy led me around to the passenger side, opened the door, and helped me up into the seat.

“I got it,” I said, fumbling for the seat belt.

He backed away and waited until I clicked the buckle into place before shutting the door.

I was out before he put the key in the ignition.

“OH GOD, WHY DID I drink so much?” My scratchy voice filled the room as my head pounded against the soft down pillow. “Never, ever doing that again,” I said with a groan.

I hadn’t felt this awful since Ash Wednesday my senior year in college. We’d gone to a fancy party, drinking with abandon because it was our last Mardi Gras before we hit the real world, and the booze had been free because of someone’s parents’ friends.

Last night hadn’t been quite as crazy, but I was years out of practice at drinking like that. My memory was hazy, but I still recalled the highlights. Including . . .

Detective Hennessy, offering me a ride.

Detective Hennessy, carrying me to my door.

Detective Hennessy . . . handing me a washcloth to wipe the vomit from my face.

Brilliant, Valentina. Just brilliant.

I groaned again, burying my face in my pillow. Could I smother myself with embarrassment?

Why did it seem that there was always one person who continually saw you at your worst? In high school, I was as poised and proper as any Catholic prep school girl could be expected to be, except when I saw the captain of the swim team, Kirk Ryan. I hadn’t fallen down the stairs because I was flustered. No, it was the fact that I was staring at him and didn’t see the piece of loose-leaf paper that someone had dropped at the top, and I’d slipped.

And then there was the giant puddle the janitor hadn’t cleaned up from the leaking door seal and the epic rainstorm we were having. He’d been kind enough not to laugh when I’d fallen on my face. And the cafeteria tray incident? Billy Butcher ran into me and knocked the spaghetti down the front of my white shirt and all over my cardigan.

But regardless of the reasons for these unfortunate incidents, Kirk Ryan always saw me at my most disastrous. Which was why, when he asked me to the junior-senior prom, I had politely declined in favor of studying. No one likes being vulnerable, especially not in front of someone you’d prefer to impress.

Did I want to impress Detective Hennessy? That was a matter for another moment, because right now I needed to find my way into the shower and drag myself back to human status in time to get to work. I didn’t want to leave Trinity waiting on the sidewalk like I’d done once before when I’d overslept.

Forty minutes later, I was slipping a shoe on and rushing out the door. I had three minutes to get to work, which meant I’d be late and she’d indeed be waiting on the sidewalk.

Except she wasn’t.

I unlocked the door and turned off the alarm before slipping inside and crossing to my desk to stow my purse in a drawer. Trinity was never late. Never.

Then again, I wasn’t usually late either, so maybe she was having a rough start to the morning too. But when I hadn’t heard from her by noon, every internal warning bell I had was going off.

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