I notice it then. The drops on his arms, the smears on his shirt. It’s starting to be our thing, being covered in blood. I’m glad I’m not superstitious.
“I’ll be in the office.”
We kiss, and then he runs upstairs. I wait for the coffee to finish brewing so I can make myself a cup. I’m still not sure how to approach him with all my questions, but after reading that last chapter, I have so many. I think it might be a long night.
I hear his shower start when I finish pouring myself a cup of coffee. I carry it back to the office with me and then spill it all over the floor. The cup shatters. The hot liquid splashes my legs and begins to seep under my toes, but I can’t move.
I am frozen in place as I stare at the monitor.
Verity is on the floor. On her hands and knees.
I lunge for my phone at the same time I scream Jeremy’s name.
Verity’s head tilts to the side, as if she heard my scream from upstairs. Before I can open my camera app with unsteady fingers, she crawls back into her bed. Gets back into position. Stills herself.
“Jeremy!” I yell again, dropping my phone. I run to the kitchen and grab a knife. I run up the stairs, straight to Verity’s room. I unlock her door and swing it open.
“Get up!” I yell.
She doesn’t move. Doesn’t even flinch.
I rip the covers off her. “Get up, Verity. I saw you.” I’m full of rage as I lower the side of her hospital bed. “You aren’t getting away with this.”
I want Jeremy to see her for who she really is before she has an opportunity to hurt him. To hurt Crew. I grab her by the ankles and pull on her legs. I have her halfway out of the bed when I feel someone rip me from her. I’m swung around, carried to the door. He plants my feet on the floor of the hallway.
“What the hell are you doing, Lowen?” Jeremy’s face and his voice are so full of anger.
I step forward, pressing my hands against his chest. He pulls the knife away from me and grips my shoulders. “Stop.”
“She’s faking it. I saw her, I swear, she’s faking it.”
He steps back into her room and slams the door in my face. I open the door, and he’s lifting Verity’s legs back onto the bed. When he sees me entering the room again, he tosses the covers over Verity and shoves me out into the hallway. He turns and locks her door, then grabs me by the wrist and pulls me behind him.
“Jeremy, no.” I’m grabbing at his wrist that’s locked tightly around mine. “Don’t leave Crew up here with her.” My voice is pleading, but he can’t hear the worry. He can only see what he thinks he knows, what he walked into. When we reach the stairs, I back up, shaking my head, refusing to descend them. He needs to take Crew downstairs. He grabs me by the waist and lifts me over his shoulder and carries me down the stairs, straight to my room. He sets me down onto the bed, gently, even in the midst of his anger.
He walks to my closet. Grabs my suitcase. My things. “I want you to leave.”
I lift up onto my knees and move to the foot of the bed, where he’s shoving all my things into the suitcase. “You have to believe me.”
“Goddammit, Jeremy!” I point toward the upstairs. “She’s crazy! She’s been lying to you since the day you met her!”
I’ve never seen so much distrust and hatred pouring out of a human. The way he’s looking at me has me so terrified, I scoot away from him.
“She’s not faking it, Lowen.” He tosses his hand in the air, toward the direction of the stairs. “That woman is helpless. Practically brain-dead. You’ve been seeing things since you got here.” He shoves more clothes into my suitcase, shaking his head. “It’s impossible,” he mutters.
“It isn’t. And you know it isn’t. She killed Harper and you know it. You suspected it.” I climb off the bed and rush to the door. “I can prove it.”
He follows after me as I run to Verity’s office. I grab the manuscript, every page of it, and I turn around just as he reaches me and I shove it against his chest. “Read it.”
He catches the pages. Looks down at them. Looks back up at me. “Where did you find this?”
“It’s hers. It’s all there. From the day you met her up until her car wreck. Read it. At least read the last two chapters, I don’t care. Just, please, read it.” I’m exhausted, and I have nothing else in me but pleas. So I beg him. Quietly. “Please, Jeremy. For your girls.”
He’s still looking at me like he doesn’t trust a single word coming out of my mouth. He doesn’t have to. If he would just read those pages—see what his wife was truly thinking in the moments she was with him—he’ll know I’m not the one he needs to worry about.
I can feel the fear welling up in me. The fear of losing him. He thinks I’m crazy—that I was trying to hurt his wife. He wants me to leave his home. He wants me to walk out of here and he never wants to see me again.
My eyes sting as the tears begin to fall down my cheeks.
“Please,” I whisper. “Please. You deserve to know the truth.”
I expect it to take him a while to read the entire thing. I’m sitting on my bed, waiting. The house is quieter than it’s ever been. Unsettling, like the calm before a storm.
I stare at my suitcase, wondering if he’s still going to want me to leave after this. The entire time I’ve been here, I’ve been holding on to that manuscript, keeping it a secret from him. He may never forgive me for it.
I know he’ll never forgive Verity.
My eyes flick up to the ceiling when I hear a crash. It wasn’t loud, but it sounded like it came from the room Jeremy is in. He hasn’t been up there for very long, but it’s enough time to at least skim the manuscript and know that Verity was not at all the woman he thought she was.
I hear a cry. It’s low and quiet, but I hear him.
I fall onto my side and hug the pillow as I squeeze my eyes shut. It kills me to know how much he’s hurting right now as he reads page after page of a truth so harsh, it never should have been written.
Footsteps are above me now, moving around upstairs. He hasn’t been up there nearly long enough to read the entire thing, but I can understand that. If I were him, I would have skipped to the end to see what really happened to Harper.
I hear a door open. I run across the hall to the office and look at the monitor.
Jeremy is standing in Verity’s doorway, looking at her. I can see both of them from the monitor. “Verity.”
She doesn’t answer him, obviously. She doesn’t want him to know she’s a threat. Or maybe she’s been faking it because she’s afraid he’ll turn her into the police. Whatever her reason, I have a feeling Jeremy isn’t going to walk away from the room until he gets his answer.
“Verity,” he says, stepping closer to her. “If you don’t answer me, I’m calling the police.”
She still doesn’t answer him. He walks over to her, reaches down, and pulls one of her eyelids open. He stares at her for a moment, then walks toward the door. He doesn’t believe me.
But then he pauses, like he’s questioning himself. Questioning what he read. He turns around and walks over to her. “When I walk out of this room, I’m taking your manuscript straight to the police. They’ll put you away and you’ll never see me or Crew again if you don’t open your eyes and tell me what’s going on in this house.”
Several seconds pass. I’m holding my breath, waiting for her to move. Hoping she moves so that Jeremy will know I’m telling the truth.
A whimper escapes my throat when she opens her eyes. I slap my hand over my own mouth before it turns into a scream. I’m afraid I’ll wake Crew, and this is not something he needs to walk into.
Jeremy’s whole body tenses, and then he grabs his head in both hands as he backs away from her bed. He meets the wall. “What the fuck, Verity?”
Verity begins to shake her head adamantly. “I had to, Jeremy,” she says, sitting up on the bed. She’s getting into a defensive pose, as if she’s terrified of what he might do.