Authors: Dara Girard
at her kitchen table, looking through the photographs taken of Cassie right after the accident. They were in a folder, and part of the investigation to be used in the lawsuit. It still felt surreal. She couldn't believe Cassie still hadn't woken from her coma, though at least Marcus had his cast off, but he still wasn't talkingâ¦
She thumbed through the pictures, then stopped when something caught her eye.
“Clay, come here,” she called.
Clay got up from the couch in the living room and joined her. “What is it?” he asked, taking a seat beside her.
“I hope it's not what I think it is. Look at the pattern of the bruises taken of Cassie's back.”
“What about them?”
“They look like something may have hit her in the back and ricocheted offâ¦”
He took the photo from her. “Let me see them.”
“I've seen this pattern before.” She thought of her work with HOPE Services. Some of her clients, many of whom had hard lives, had come to her with various wounds and bruises.
“It looks like something grazed her back,” Clay said.
“When she was examined at the hospital, they would have just seen them as individual bruises, since she was pretty banged up, and no one thought to take a closer look. They certainly wouldn't have been looking to connect them.” She paused, watching her husband's expression closely. “Is it what I think it could be?”
He swore. “Yes, it looks like a bullet grazed her back.”
of reckoning arrived on the heels of a summer storm. The air outside the hospital was heavy with the scent of wet earth and pavement, but inside the air was as cold as the arctic. Dominique had never planned to meet the family connected to the accident. But when Kevin had given her instructions to drive him to the hospital, and since she hadn't told him about her family's connection to the case yet, she had to obey him. She didn't know what she was walking into or why they were going to the hospital. Kevin remained oddly subdued.
He'd briefly told her that a woman named Jackie had called him, but that's all she knew. At the hospital, he'd stopped at the nurse's station and told her to go ahead.
Dominique took a deep breath as she walked towards the three men in the waiting area outside of Cassie's room. One leaned against the wall, away from everyone else, the kind of man one wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley; another stood with his arms folded and his head hung down, as still as a rattler, his hair was full of grey but he didn't look that old; and lastly she saw another man seated, wearing gold-rimmed glasses. He was of a slighter build and lighter complexion and looked the most approachable of the bunch. Unfortunately, she knew he wasn't Cassie's husband and that's who Kevin wanted her to talk to. From her online research she'd been able to gather about Cassie's life, Dominique knew the quiet rattler was Cassie's husband, Drake Henson, a successful restaurateur. There had been plenty of photos of the couple at various events. But she didn't know the best way to approach him. She'd have to feign innocence.
She walked up to the man with the glasses, but halted when his eyes met hers and a chill went through her. He had assessing brown eyes that could make him just as dangerous as the other two. Perhaps she'd miscalculated, but she couldn't back down now. She had to play it cool and pretend not to know anything.
He stood. “Yes?”
“I'm very sorry to bother you, but I was told to talk to you about Cassieâ”
The man shook his head. “You shouldn't be talking to me.” He gestured to the quiet man behind him who'd lifted his head. “You should talk to him.”
That's what I was afraid of
. She shifted her gaze to Drake and met his amber gaze. She wished she hadn't. For a brief unguarded moment his eyes reflected such anguish, she felt her own heart shatter. And she felt the impact of all that had happened. She'd sent flowers, but they'd been woefully inadequate. At first, she'd thought about the lawsuit as just a nuisance, but what if their company had been at fault? What if her father was hiding something crucial? Soon she felt hazy and light as horrible thoughts filled her mindâ¦
“Give her some room,” a voice said.
Dominique felt herself being placed in a chair.
“Who is she?” another voice said.
“I don't know.”
“Don't hover over her like that,” a female voice said.
Dominique looked up and saw a petite woman with big brown eyes looking down at her. “I'm sorry,” she said embarrassed.
“Don't be,” the woman said with a soft smile. “Are you a friend of Cassie's?”
Dominique stopped when she felt the energy in the room change. All three men tensed and the woman sighed as if resigned. “This is not good,” she said in a soft voice.
Dominique turned to see what had gotten their attention and she saw Kevin a few yards away. His carefree expression gone and for the first time she saw how alone he was.
“How is she?” he asked.
Drake took a menacing step forward. “What are you doing here?”
The big man rested a hand on his shoulder. “Careful, mate. This isn't the place.”
Kevin held out his hands in surrender. “Look, I don't knowâ”
Drake moved too fast for the other man to stop him. He grabbed Kevin by the collar and shoved him against the wall. “You don't know anything because you don't care. Because you're too busy partying every night and living your life as if nothing happened. While every day I wake up to the reality that at any moment everything I've ever wanted could be taken from me.” He shoved him again. “Maybe if I took you outside I could help you remember.”
“Drake, not here,” the woman said. “Let him go.”
Dominique saw Drake's grip tighten and rushed forward. “He really doesn't know anything.”
Drake shot her a glance. “Really?” He looked at Kevin in disgust. “Hiding behind a woman? Why am I not surprised?”
“I'm not a woman, I'm his driver.” She realized the inanity of her statement when Drake frowned at her. “What I mean is, I work for him.”
“Then if you want to take him home in one piece, remove him from my sight.” He casually shoved Kevin away as if tossing out garbage.
Dominique swallowed, terrified, but Kevin stared at Drake's back, and when he spoke his tone was defiant. “I have to see her,” he said.
No one spoke. Drake didn't turn.
“I don't know what happened,” Kevin said. “I don't know how she got shot.”
Drake spun around. “Who told you that?”
“I did,” the woman said. “I thought he should know.”
“It might help him remember something.”
Drake gestured to Kevin as if he were a broken appliance. “As you can see it did nothing.”
The man with the glasses, adjusted his frames. “Since he's hereâ”
“I said no.”
“It may be good,” the big man said. “It could trigger a memory.”
“It won't,” Drake said.
“You don't know that.”
“But I know him.” He looked at Kevin. “And I know he's a guy who's never suffered a day in his life. No one has ever had to depend on him. He's never had to sacrifice, he's never had to struggle. He won't remember because that would take too much effort.”
“Then let him see what he's done,” the big man said.
“Let him see what we see,” he continued. “Let him see what we live with, let him remember that.”
Drake sighed and nodded. “Fine.”
He turned and walked to Cassie's room, and Kevin and Dominique followed.
ric and Clay
watched them go. “I hope this is a good idea,” Eric said.
“Kevin's driver can play referee,” Jackie said.
“It's better than nothing,” Clay said.
Eric sat down, leaned back in his chair and looked up at Clay. “Found out anything?”
“He's working really hard,” Jackie said. “But you can't expect it to be easier for him than it's been for the police.”
Eric sent his sister an affectionate grin. “Relax, I'm not Drake, remember? I'm not in the mood for a fight.”
Jackie sat down beside him. “I know and I can't blame Drake. I'm mad too, but I don't know who to be mad at.”
“Whoever did this,” Clay said.
Eric leaned forward, resting his arms on his knees. “You know the longer Cassie stays inâ”
“She'll wake up,” Clay said, stopping Eric from saying what he didn't want to hear. His sister was going to recover. She had to. She was the heart of their family and he felt as if it were slowly breaking apart.
his fist on his office desk and glared at his youngest daughter. “You're just telling me this now?”
Gloria grimaced. She probably should have used tears when she'd told her father about her last conversation with Dominique. She hated making mistakes. Just once she wanted to be considered the clever one. “I knew you'd be mad.”
“So you waited nearly two days to tell me that she found out the truth? You're lucky Iâ¦” He stopped and shook his head. “You've given her time to plan.”
“Do you know what she could do to us?”
“No,” Gloria said throwing up her hands, exasperated. “I don't know. I don't know anything. Why won't you tell me anything?”
“Because you make mistakes like this.”
“She sounded too angry to think straight.”
“Dominique thinks even sharper when she's angry.”
“Don't worry,” Gloria said with a smug grin. “Dominique won't be staying there long.”
“Why do you say that?”
“I sent Kevin a text. Once he finds out she's a fraud, he'll fire her and then you won't have to worry anymore.”
the text with cool detachment. After seeing Cassie being attached to monitors and an array of tubes, he felt numb. He didn't have the energy to care about Dominique's identity or her true intentions. He looked at the back of her head as she maneuvered the car through traffic. At least one puzzle was solved.
She'd wanted to tell him the truth, but he'd stopped her. He now wondered how long she would stay. Had she gotten the information she wanted? Would he wake up one day and find her gone? Did he really care? He wanted to sleep with her, but that was it. It was a pleasure he knew he'd never have, so he wasn't too disappointed. He'd miss her, but not for long. He'd learned not to depend on anyone.
He put his phone away. “Have you heard about Cartwright Cars?”
“Yes,” Dominique said. He noticed that she didn't stiffen or make any indication that the topic bothered her. Like any leader, she knew what emotions to conceal. She was a cool customer.
“Did you know I'm suing them?”
“Because of the accident? Yes, I heard about it.”
He brushed fuzz from his trouser leg. “This new development should make them happy.”
“They can't be blamed for the car being shot at.”
“Are you thinking of withdrawing the lawsuit?”
“Do you think I should?”
“It's none of my business.”
“I'm just asking for an opinion.”
He paused. “No, you won't give me an opinion or no I shouldn't withdraw?”
“No, you shouldn't withdraw,” she said in a fierce tone. “Don't do anything yet.”
Kevin stared at her for a long moment, surprised by her answer. She didn't want him to stop the lawsuit? Wasn't that the reason she was here? What was going on in her head? One thing he did know was if Dominique or her family had anything to do with putting Cassie in the hospital, he'd give her more than a lawsuit to worry about. He'd make her regret the day they ever crossed paths.