This Man Confessed (Page 135)

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‘Dan,’ I step forward, but I don’t get very far. Jesse places himself in front of me.

‘I think you should come back to my office, Dan.’ Jesse’s voice is intimidating, as is his body language.

‘No, thanks.’ Dan almost laughs, keeping his eyes on Kate. I’ve never seen her looking so uncomfortable, and Sam must me wondering what’s going on. ‘You’re whoring it up at a brothel?’

‘What the f**k?’ Sam shouts, ‘Who the f**k do you think you’re talking to?’ Sam’s moving forward, but Kate catches his arm, pulling him back

‘This is no brothel, and I am no w***e.’ Her voice is shaky and unsure as she holds on to Sam. I want to jump to her defence, but no words are forming and Jesse saves me the trouble, anyway.

He approaches Dan, wraps his palm around the nape of my brothers neck and leans in, whispering something in his ear. It’s the most threatening act possible, and I don’t even want to consider what he has said, especially when Dan shows his willingness to follow Jesse’s lead, with no further persuasion. I go to follow, too, I want to hear this, but I’m halted, as I secretly knew I would be.

‘Wait for me in the bar, baby.’ He tries to turn me, but I’m feeling a little defiant. I’m not sure that I’m happy with Jesse taking Dan to his office alone.

‘I’d like to come.’ I have no faith in my feigned confidence. I know that look. He may have called me baby to soften the demand, but I’m not fooled. I’m not going in that office. No, I’m on my way to the bar, and I’m not walking. I’m placed on my stool, Mario is summoned and I’m hit with the don’t push it look.

‘You’ll stay put.’ He kisses my cheek, like it will appease me. It won’t. My eyes are throwing daggers right at his back as he stalks out of the bar in long, even strides.

‘Ah!’ Mario’s happy sing draws my attention away from my husband’s disappearing back. ‘Look at you, all… how you say? Like a flower. Blooming!’ He clucks my cheek across the bar and passes me a bottle of water. ‘No more Mario’s Most Marvellous for you!’

I grunt but smile, taking a long swig of the icy water, leaving Mario to go and tend to other members. Sam wanders in, looking all chirpy and with his dimple in its usual spot. I’m confused. ‘Hey, Mama!’ He has a cheeky rub of my stomach. ‘How are you feeling?’

‘Fine…’ The word trails from my mouth slowly. ‘Where’s Kate?’

‘Ladies,’ he replies quickly, waving Mario for a beer.

I look past him, wondering if I should go and see her. ‘Is she okay?’

‘Yeah, she’s fine.’ He doesn’t look at me, but I have a feeling he knows there’s a face full of confusion focused on him. He looks out the corner of his eye to me, and then sits on a sigh. ‘I know you all think it, but I’m not stupid.’

My back straightens. ‘I don’t think you’re stupid.’ I defend myself. He’s a little oblivious, maybe, but not stupid.

He smiles. ‘I’ve worked out Kate and Dan. I worked that out the very first time I met Kate, and his name was only mentioned then. I know why she called it off with me, and I know that something went down at your wedding.’

I know I look as guilty as sin, and I’m wondering if Kate is aware of this. ‘Why have you kept quiet?’

‘I don’t know.’ He tips his bottle to his lips, clearly pondering that, too. I know why, but should I put it out there? ‘She’s a great girl.’ he shrugs.

I nod thoughtfully, smiling on the inside. I could happily bang their heads together. I could also cry for Sam. Something tells me he’s never shared his orphan history with many women, if any, but Kate knows and whilst they both act so casual and carefree, I know there are a whole lot of feelings here that neither one of them seem to be admitting to, or doing anything about. ‘I think I’ll go and find Kate.’ I stand and give Sam a shoulder rub—a silent gesture of understanding, to which he responds with a cheeky grin, leaning down and whispering some mushy rubbish to my navel.

Leaving a love sick Sam at the bar, I go and find my dumb arse friend in the toilets. There are two other people who I feel the need to burst in on, but I plump for Kate. Neither of my potential endpoints will have people waiting with open arms, but I’m trusting Jesse to deal with this. I can’t even begin to imagine what’s being said in his office. I just hope that whatever happens, Dan doesn’t go squealing to my parents, and I have every faith my husband will stop that from happening.

I push the door open and find Kate braced over the sink, her red hair completely concealing her face as she looks into the bowl. ‘Hey,’ I tread carefully, not wanting her to go on the defensive.

She pulls her head up with some effort and shows me glass blue eyes full of despair. ‘Do you think I’m a w***e?’

‘No!’ I’m shocked that she would even ask. A little reckless perhaps, but never a w***e. I’ve labelled all of the women here exactly that, and in truth, Kate has been venturing into the same exploits as all of them, so how is she different? I’m awash with remorse for having these thoughts. She’s different because she’s my friend and I know her. She’s only doing this for Sam, or she thinks she needs to do it for Sam. I’m very suddenly seeing the ladies of The Manor in a different light. I know for sure that many of them are only here for one purpose and that purpose is a tall, lean God who is no longer available. He has a wife and now twins on the way which has both shocked these women and pissed them off. Memberships are being cancelled to prove it, as well as some of the relentless ones taking things further. Like drugging me, or trying to run me off the road, or sending me a threatening note. Suddenly, it becomes a very frightening thought that any one of these women could be behind this. Has Jesse got an inkling?

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