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Tormentor Mine(91)

By:Anna Zaires

All the time—because I am being watched. I want to tell her that, but the words won’t come; instead, my breathing speeds up until I’m all but hyperventilating.

Peter won’t go quietly when the agents come for him; he’ll fight, and people will get killed. He could get killed. Nausea rises in my throat as I picture his powerful body riddled with bullet holes, his intense metallic eyes dull and faded with death. It should be an image that brings me joy, but I feel sick instead, my ribcage squeezing painfully tight as I try to picture what my life will be like without him in it.

How free—and how alone—I’ll be again.

“I… No.” I take a step back, shaking my head. I know I’m not thinking clearly, but I can’t bring myself to say it. My mouth simply won’t form the words. “I haven’t noticed anything.”

A frown creases Karen’s forehead. “Nothing? Are you sure? To the best of our knowledge, you and your deceased husband are his only link to this area.”

“Yes, I’m positive.” It’s as though a stranger is speaking these lies. My headache intensifies until it’s a beating drum inside my skull, and I feel like I’m on the verge of throwing up. My thoughts skitter from one alternative to the next, my mind like a rat inside a maze. I don’t even know why I’m lying. It’s over. One way or another, it’s over—because now that they know Peter is in the area, they will come for him, no matter what I say. And if they don’t succeed in killing or capturing him, he might think that I betrayed him and make good on his threat to take me away, maybe even punish people close to me to teach me a lesson.

I should help the FBI.

It’s my best chance to be free.

“All right,” Karen says when I remain silent. “If you think of anything, here is my number.” She hands me a card, and I take it with numb fingers as she says, “We don’t want to spook him in case he is watching you for whatever reason, so we’re not going to take you into protective custody right now. Instead, we’ll put a discreet protective detail on you, and if they see anything—and I do mean anything—out of the ordinary, they will act fast to ensure your safety. In the meanwhile, please carry on with your normal activities and rest assured that the man who killed your husband will pay for what he’s done.”

“Okay. I’ll—I’ll do that.” Hanging on to my composure by a thread, I grab my bag from the open locker and slam it shut, then hurry out of the room.

I’m already next to my car when I realize I’m still wearing my scrubs.

Thanks to Karen’s ambush, I forgot to change back into my clothes.

* * *

Heavy metal blares from the speakers as I pull out of the parking lot, castigating myself for my stupidity. Even with my headache, the music is somehow soothing, the violent beats more orderly than the mad jumble of my thoughts. I can’t believe I didn’t confide in Karen and beg for the FBI’s help when I had the chance. Now I have no idea what to do, how to act or even where to go. Do I go home with the FBI watching me? And if I do, will they realize that Peter is there, or will the precautions he takes—such as not parking on my driveway—ensure they remain oblivious to his presence? Maybe I should go to my parents’ house or a hotel instead, or simply crash somewhere in the hospital. But then what about Peter’s men who always follow me around? They’d realize something is wrong, and Peter might come after me, and who knows what could happen then? In general, will the FBI spot my bodyguards, or will they spot the agents first and warn Peter? If I come home, will I find him already gone, having evaded the authorities once again?

How badly did I fuck everything up?

My hands are white-knuckled on the wheel as my mind spins through my conversation with Karen, going over it again and again. God, I had so many opportunities to tell her the truth, to explain the full complexity of the situation and let the experts handle everything. Why didn’t I do so? How could I have been so stupid? After I realized I forgot to change, I went back to the locker room, telling myself that if Karen is still there, I would do the right thing, but she was already gone.

She was gone, and I was relieved—because deep inside, I knew I wouldn’t do it.

Even with Peter’s threat looming over my head, I can’t bring myself to hasten the confrontation that could result in his death.

With Metallica screaming in the background, I drive on autopilot, so caught up in my thoughts I don’t realize my subconscious already chose my destination. Only when I turn onto my street does it dawn on me where I’m going, and by then, it’s too late.