This Man Confessed (Page 160)

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The front door crashes open and she’s suddenly gone from in front of me. I struggle to turn, still clutching at my stomach, still crying in agony. I see her back disappear into the kitchen, and then my pouring eyes land on Jesse. His whole body is heaving. He’s run up the stairs, and his fist is visibly swollen. His frantic eyes are running all over my body, his forehead is pouring with sweat and his face is a mixture of pure, raw terror and incensed, body shaking anger. It takes him a few moments to gather himself, and I can see he’s torn between tending to me or dealing with the crazy woman who’s broken into our home. I can’t talk, but I’m mentally screaming at him to do the latter. A choked sob escapes my mouth, prompting him to shake further then break into a full on sprint into the kitchen. My feet instinctively fly into action, and wisely or not, I follow him. Now every modicum of fear is for him.

I skid to a halt, seeing Jesse standing across the room, then I quickly locate Ruth across the breakfast bar from him. We’re standing in a perfect triangle, all breathing heavy, all flicking eyes to each other, but Ruth is the only one brandishing a knife. My phone drops from my hand, clattering loudly, but it doesn’t draw her attention. The huge blade glimmers as she turns it casually in her hand. It’s pointed in my direction, but the sight of the evil, razor sharp metal doesn’t just make my fear rocket. It also makes my eyes fall onto Jesse’s abdomen in horror.

‘Oh my God,’ I whisper, so quietly I know that I’ve not been heard over the distressed rush of breaths coming from all three bodies in the room. He said that it happened in the car accident. That’s what he said. I search for my brain, trying to locate the exact words, but I don’t find them because they’re not there. What’s there, though, is the silent conclusion that I drew myself. I’m horribly mistaken in my assumption, but I also doubt he would’ve divulged the real reason—the reason that is standing here now, playing threateningly with a knife—a knife I know that she’s prepared to use. I don’t think anything else I could face will terrify me more. Now all four of us are in danger.

‘Nice to see you, Jesse.’ she spits, steadying her stance by shifting her feet further apart. She’s getting ready to pounce.

‘No, it’s not.’ Jesse replies calmly through his laboured breathing. ‘Why are you here?’

She smiles coldly. ‘I was happy to let you wallow in misery, drink your life away, and try to fill the void that you created by mindlessly f**king about, but then you went and fell in love. I can’t let you have happiness when you’ve destroyed mine.’

‘I’ve paid tenfold for my mistakes, Lauren.’ His referral to Ruth has my head snapping from the shiny blade to Jesse’s sweaty face. Lauren? ‘I deserve this.’ It’s almost a plea, and it slices straight through my heart. He’s trying to convince himself that he deserves me and the thought of him seeking approval from this deranged woman momentarily makes me forget about the dull ache in my stomach and the heated sting of my face. I feel anger simmering.

‘No you don’t. You took my happiness, so I’ll take yours.’ She waves the knife at me and Jesse shifts nervously, his haunted greens flicking over to me briefly before settling back on Ruth—or Lauren. I don’t even know.

‘I didn’t take your happiness.’

‘Yes!’ She screams. ‘You married me, and then left me!’

I gasp and swing my eyes to Jesse. He’s chewing his lip, his eyes darting constantly between me and… his ex-wife? He was married? I’m choking on nothing, my mind racing in circles and failing to comprehend what I’ve just heard.

Ruth looks at me, snapping instantly from her angry outburst and smiling. ‘You didn’t know? Well, there’s a surprise. It might also explain why you’ve stuck around.’

Her smugness teamed with Jesse’s despair cripples me completely. ‘Nothing can break us.’ My words travel through the air and wipe the smile from her face, but they also make Jesse noticeably tense. I hold his wary gaze and determine from the emptiness in them that he disagrees. My head starts shaking mildly, my bottom lip trembling. The feeling of my palm sliding across my stomach is comforting, but the look on his face isn’t. His eyes fall from mine to my navel and a wave of desperation travels slowly across his face.

‘I’m so sorry,’ he murmurs. ‘I should have told you.’

He really has saved the best shocker till last, but I don’t care. I mean it. Nothing can break us. ‘It doesn’t matter.’ I try to assure him, but I can see defeatism swallowing him up.

‘It does matter.’ Ruth spits, pulling both of our attention away from each other and back to the knife wielding, psychotic b***h who has invaded our lives. ‘She knows nothing, does she?’

I hope she’s mistaken. I hope Jesse nods and explains that I know everything. The Manor, the drinking, now her… everything, But his head starts to shake, quadrupling my uncertainties.

‘She doesn’t know about our daughter?’ The room starts to spin, and Jesse’s goes to move. ‘Stay where you are!’ Ruth shouts, flicking the knife to him.

‘Ava…’ He desperately needs to get to me. I know I’m swaying on the spot as I try to let that information sink in. He has a daughter? My life is ending here and now. That tips the iceberg of shocks from this man. He’s trying to compensate for his lack of involvement in her life.

‘Yes, we were married and he left me when I was pregnant.’ she spits.

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