I've been working on this book for quite awhile, and honestly, it's giving me a hard time. I know there are readers who want to know what's happening with Adam and Emily. I wish I knew everything, but these characters aren't following my directions at all. So, for now, I'll leave you with this excerpt from Being Lovers and hope that I can corral both of them soon!
I stand over his dead body, staring at the pale, bloated face of Ike Metzger, and I feel nothing, not even the slightest hint of grief or hate. There’s an emptiness inside me as far as this man is concerned, and now that he’s dead, I can breathe again…at least for now. As much as I want to believe this is the end, the note I’d received before Adam and I left town eliminated that hope.
Adam puts his hand at the small of my back and leans in close to my ear. “Are you ready to go?”
“Miss Jacobs, can you confirm this is Ike Metzger?” The county coroner, wearing a pair of wrinkled scrubs and a mustache as thick as a dictionary, holds out a clipboard.
I take one last look at Ike and nod. “Yes, that’s him.”
“Then if you could just sign here, please, we’ll be all done.”
When my fingers close around the pen, I realize my hand is shaking, and it won’t cooperate when I try to sign the identification document. I give the coroner an apologetic smile and try again to no avail.
“Why don’t we walk outside and get some fresh air?” Adam covers my hand with his.
The coroner releases a heavy sigh without bothering to hide his irritation. “We really need to get this done. Could you just sign the paper, Miss Jacobs?”
“She needs some air.” Adam’s tone is quietly controlled as he begins leading me to the double swinging doors.
“It’s just one line. That’s all.” Now the doctor is testy as he follows us to the door.
Now my entire body is shaking which I don’t understand. It’s rebelling against me for no reason. Ike Metzger meant nothing to me. He was nothing to me. So why am I trembling so hard?
Ignoring the coroner, Adam pushes open the door. He takes my hand, and we begin moving down the hall. Footsteps slap on the tile behind us. Dr. Bellows is right on our heels.
“Miss Jacobs, I really need to get this taken care of as soon as possible. So if you could just…” His voice trails off, and I look up to see why.
Adam has whirled around and fixed the doctor with a cold look. “Back off.” Just two words, but the threat wrapped around them is enough for the coroner to retreat.
“He’s just doing his job.” The sunshine is blinding when we exit the building. I search my purse for my sunglasses. “You can’t blame him for wanting this to be over.”
“I don’t.” Adam removes my sunglasses from the top of my head and puts them on my face. “But you looked like you weren’t on steady ground in there.”
“I wasn’t. I’m not.” I hold out my hands to show him. “I should have some sense of relief that at least Ike Metzger can’t hurt me anymore. Instead, I feel sick to my stomach.” The cold air chills me from the inside out…at least, that’s what I hope is causing the iciness wrapping itself around my heart.
“Because you know the threat isn’t over. Even though Ike Metzger is lying on that slab in there, someone is still on the hunt. But look at me.” He takes hold of my arms. “We talked about this. Nothing is going to happen to you, Emily. I won’t let it.”
I smile because it’s a promise he can’t keep. Neither of us have any way of knowing what we may be facing down the road. Whoever it is might have more power than we can fight. Still, I touch his face with the tips of my fingers and stand on tiptoe to kiss him.
“Thank you for lying to me.” I brush the lipstick away from his lips, and he catches my fingers.
His hazel-eyed gaze is hard. “I’m not lying to you, and for all we know, Metzger could have been behind both shootings. Maybe he just didn’t realize his son was in the building when he started shooting.”
“No. Ike never did his own dirty work. I can see him paying someone for this, but if that’s the case, the trigger person would be long gone once they heard about Ike’s death.” The wind kicks up, sending litter scattering across the asphalt next to our feet. I comb my fingers through my hair to restore some order. “Okay. Let me just get this over with.”
Adam takes hold of my hand, letting me know silently that he’s right beside me. I squeeze his fingers as a way of saying thank you and return to the coroner’s office.
The doctor is sitting on a stool in front of his desk and looks up with a scowl on his face when we walk in. “Are you ready to sign now, Miss Jacobs? I can’t begin the autopsy without an identification.”
His shoulder bumping mine, Adam takes a step forward. “You’re accustomed to dealing with death, Doctor; she isn’t. So how about a little patience?”
Dr. Bellows clears his throat. Another look at Adam’s face has him caving. “Certainly. I didn’t mean to…my apologies.” He extends the clipboard again and falls silent.
This time, I manage to sign the paper, and after taking one last look at Ike’s slack face, I pull Adam toward the door. The coroner isn’t the only one who needed this confirmation.
The house sits cold and empty. Or maybe it just feels cold to me. Adam is right on my heels as I move from room to room. It stinks of stale beer and leftover pizza, both of which remind me of Mark. I sense his presence everywhere, especially in the bedroom.
“You don’t have to come in here.”
Adam ignores my quiet offer and follows me in anyway. “Do you have a suitcase?” A scowl on his face, he scans the narrow bedroom that barely fits a queen-size bed and a dresser.
“It’s in the closet. I’ll get it.” The folding door gets stuck as I try to pull it open just like always. I give it a good kick, and the rollers slide back. My hands shake as I yank the suitcase down from the top shelf and toss it on the bed.
“Is there anything in the rest of the house you want?” His tone has undergone a change, as though he’s personally offended I would want anything from here.
“Just a few pictures of my mom and dad. Most of them are on the refrigerator.”
“I’ll get them.” He strides out of the bedroom.
I’m not surprised he didn’t want to stay. The thought of me and Mark in here doesn’t bring happy memories for me. I can only imagine what Adam’s thinking. After more shivering, I begin tossing my clothes into the dilapidated suitcase. It’s mostly jeans and tank tops, but there are a few pieces of jewelry I didn’t want to lose.
The locket my parents had given me for my high school graduation. My class ring. And the diamond earrings Aunt Rita had sent to me just a year ago. I clutch them in the palm of my hand and think about calling her. We haven’t talked in seven months.
She and I have never been close, but she’s the only family I have now. My father’s older sister, she is a bit rough around the edges, never one to show emotion, and hard as they come. Dad used to say that was because she’d been in an abusive relationship and didn’t have any use for anybody after that. She only wanted to live alone, be alone. She had no way of knowing we had something in common now.
“You okay?” Adam’s voice in the doorway makes me jump, and the back of the earrings stab my skin.
I open my fingers to see their shine. “Yeah. Just wallowing in memories. But I’m done here. I left my purse on the table by the front door, but I didn’t see it when we walked in. Mark must have moved it. It has my checking account card.”
Adam grunts and jerks his head toward the living room. “I’ll make another sweep in here. He probably hid it.” He mutters under his breath and leaves me alone.
Though the thought is repugnant to me, I tug open the top drawer of the dresser. Mark’s t-shirts and boxers are rolled in neat, orderly lines. Gingerly, I push them aside to search the rest of the wooden interior. My fingers encounter an envelope at the bottom near the back of the drawer.
I withdraw it. There’s no writing on the front, and it’s not sealed. The paper inside is sharply creased and legal sized. As I scan the words, my breath begins coming in short gasps. I open my mouth to call for Adam, but no sound will come out.
With my head spinning, I take faltering steps out of the bedroom. Adam meets me in the hallway, and I can only hand him the paper. He reads it quickly then his gaze shoots back to my face.
“Son-of-a-bitch! You got any idea who would accept the contract?”
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