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It lasted almost an hour and a half because as soon as he finished, I sucked him off until he was hard again. Both times we fucked, we never said a word. And even after it was all over and I was crushed beneath the weight of his exhausted body, we still didn’t speak. He rolled off me and wrapped himself around me. Our sheets were covered in sweat and semen, but we were too consumed with sleep to care.

I knew then that it was okay. We would be okay. Jeremy still worshipped my body as much as he always had.

The girls might have taken a lot from us by then, but his desire was the one thing I knew would always be mine.

This chapter has been the most difficult to continue reading by far. How a mother could sleep soundly down the hall from her crying infants baffles me. She’s callous.

I’ve been under the impression that Verity might have been a sociopath, but now I’m leaning more toward psychopath.

I put the manuscript away and use Verity’s computer to refresh my memory of the exact definition for psychopath. I scroll through every personality trait. Pathological liar, cunning and manipulative, lack of remorse or guilt, callousness and lack of empathy, shallow emotional response.

She displays every characteristic. The only thing about her that makes me question if she was a psychopath is her obsession with Jeremy. Psychopaths find it more difficult to fall in love, and if they do, it’s difficult for them to retain that love. They tend to move on quickly from one person to the next. But Verity didn’t want to move on from Jeremy. He was Verity’s entire focus.

The man is married to a psychopath, and he has no idea because she did everything she could to hide it from him.

There’s a soft knock on the office door, so I minimize the screen on the computer. When I open the door, Jeremy is standing in the hallway. His hair is damp and he’s wearing a white T-shirt with a pair of black pajama bottoms.

This is my favorite look on him. Barefoot, casual, easygoing. It’s sexy as hell, and I hate how attracted to him I am. Would I even be attracted to him if it weren’t for the intimate details I’ve read about him in that manuscript?

“Sorry to bother you. I need a favor.”

“What’s up?”

He motions for me to follow him. “There’s an old aquarium somewhere in the basement. I just need you to hold the door open for me so I can bring it upstairs and clean it out for Crew.”

I smile. “You’re gonna let him have a turtle?”

“Yeah, he seemed excited today. He’s a little older now, so hopefully he’ll remember to feed this one.” Jeremy reaches the basement door and opens it. “The door was installed backward. It’s impossible to come up the stairs with your hands full or you can’t open the door to get out.”

Jeremy flips on a light and begins to descend the stairs. The basement doesn’t feel like an extension of the house. It feels abandoned and uncared for, like a neglected child. Creaky steps and dust on the handrail attached to the wall. Normally, I would have zero desire to walk into a basement this unwelcoming. Especially in a house that already terrifies me. But their basement is the only place in this house I’ve yet to see, and I’m curious what’s down there. What kind of things could Verity have packed away?

The stairwell leading into the basement is dark because the light switch at the top of the stairs only powered a light that was inside the actual basement. When I reach the bottom step, I’m relieved to see the room isn’t at all as eerie as I had expected. To the left is an office desk that looks to have gone unused for quite some time. There are stacks of files and papers all over the desk, but it looks more like a corner used for storage than a place where a person could actually sit and get work done.

To the right are boxes of things accumulated over the years they’ve been together. Some with lids, some without. There’s a baby video monitor sticking out of one of the boxes and I cringe, thinking about the chapter I just read and how Verity admitted to unplugging it during the day so she couldn’t hear them crying.

Jeremy is sorting through a collection of things behind and in between the boxes.

“Did you used to work down here?” I ask him.

“Yeah. I owned a realty firm and brought a lot of work home most days, so this was my office.” He lifts a sheet and tosses it aside, revealing an aquarium that’s covered in a layer of dust. “Bingo.” He begins to rummage through the contents inside the aquarium to ensure he has all the pieces.

I’m still thinking about the career he casually mentioned giving up. “You owned your own firm?”

He lifts the aquarium and walks it to the desk on the other side of the room. I make room by pushing papers and files out of the way so he can set it down.

“Yep. Started it the same year Verity started writing books.”

“Did you love it?”

He nods. “I did. It was a lot of work, but I was good at it.” He plugs the lid to the aquarium into an outlet, checking to see if the attached light still works. “When Verity’s first book released, we both thought it was more of a hobby than an actual career. When she sold it, we still didn’t take it very seriously. But then word started to get out, and more copies of her books were selling. After a couple of years, her checks started to make mine look cute.” He laughs, as if it’s a fond memory and not one that bothers him at all. “By the time she got pregnant with Crew, we both knew I was only working for the sake of working. Not because my income had a real impact on our lifestyle. It was the only choice, really. For me to quit, since the job required so much of my time.” He unplugs the light to the aquarium, and when he does, there’s a popping sound behind us, followed by the escape of the only light we had in the basement.

It’s pitch black now. I know he’s right in front of me, but I can no longer see him. My pulse quickens, and then I feel his hand on my arm. “Here,” he says, bringing my hand to his shoulder. “Must have flipped a breaker. Walk behind me, and when we make it to the top of the stairs, just slip around me and open the door.”

I feel his shoulder muscles contract as he lifts the aquarium. I keep my hand on his shoulder, following closely behind him as he makes his way toward the stairs. He takes each step slowly, probably for my benefit. When he stops, he moves so that his back is against the wall. I slip around him and feel around for the doorknob. I pull the door open and a flood of light pours in.

Jeremy walks out first, and as soon as he’s out of my way, I pull the door shut quickly, causing it to slam. He laughs when I release a shaky breath.

“Not a fan of basements, huh?”

I shake my head. “Not a fan of dark basements.”

Jeremy walks the aquarium to the kitchen table and looks at it. “That’s a lot of dust.” He picks it up again. “Do you mind if I wash it in the master shower? It’d be easier than trying to do it in the sink.”

I shake my head. “Not at all.”

Jeremy carries the aquarium to the master shower. Part of me wants to follow him and help, but I don’t. I go back to the office and do my best to focus on the series I’m supposed to be working on. Thoughts of Verity continue to distract me like they do every time I finish a chapter in her autobiography. Yet, I can’t stop reading it. It’s like a train wreck and Jeremy doesn’t even realize he was mangled in the wreckage.

I choose to work on the series rather than read more of the manuscript, but I’ve gotten very little done by the time Jeremy finishes up in the master bath. I decide to call it a night and head back to the bedroom.

After I’ve washed my face and brushed my teeth, I stare at the handful of shirts I brought with me that are hanging in the closet. I have no desire to wear any of them, so I begin to rummage through Jeremy’s shirts. The shirt he lent me smelled like him the entire day I wore it. I thumb through them until I find a T-Shirt of his that’s soft enough to sleep in. In small print over the left breast, it reads, “Crawford Realty.”

I pull the shirt on over my head and then walk over to the bed. Before climbing into it, I focus on the bite marks on the headboard. I walk closer to them, running my thumb over them.

I look down the length of the headboard and notice there is more than one imprint of teeth. There are five or six areas where Verity bit the headboard, some not as noticeable as the others until you’re up close.