Read The Starkest Truth (A Breaking Insanity Novel Book 2) Online
Authors: Courtney Lane
“But, you’ve survived this long,” she added quickly. “That speaks volumes about the amount of protection you have. Knowing someone from a very young age doesn’t mean you should maintain trust. Always look behind your back while keeping a steady, protective hand to your front, Dr. Brenton.”
I nodded. “Why are you pressing the warnings about Vic? Something you want to share?”
She gave me a shit-eating grin, shutting down any possibility I’d get my answers.
I cleared my throat, adjusting my posture, pressing her to become more pliant toward me. “I believe there is more to the reason you wanted to get Nikki and me together.”
“You could be right. You could be wrong. My time clock is running out and won’t give me time to convince you. Thankfully. Be careful around Victor and keep him the hell away from my daughter. I mean that. I will haunt you in death if you betray your promises to me, Dr. Brenton.”
I rolled my eyes. Her warnings were becoming redundant. Besides, it was clear she didn’t really know Vic—the guy had done a lot for me. If I were ever in a bind, he would continue to do a lot for me. A man with connections who wasn't afraid to get dirty to solve your issues was one you always want to have on your side. I wouldn’t be standing here if it wasn’t for him.
He was the one who gave me advice to help me get rid of the biggest problem in my life—my family. When they were dead, he made sure my uncle’s tragic murder-suicide story was believed. He made damn sure my father’s friends never came after me. He had a lot to earn in Eamon Brae’s death. Brae Industries became Mejía Enterprises, and he’d been living high off the fucking hog ever since.
Standing, I examined her. “Are you sure about this?” I slid my hands in my pockets and rolled my shoulders back. “Me and her?”
She smiled a little too widely for me to feel comfortable. It was a wicked witch sneer, not a ‘you’re in for the best time of your life’ smile. “Are
I looked down at a loose thread in her blanket. In that moment, I made my final decision on what I would do with Nikki when I had her. “You’re not the only one who can see things.”
“What do you think you know about my daughter?”
“The way she speaks…” My eyes fell back on hers. “She wasn’t sheltered, but I can tell she didn’t have a lot of social interactions before.”
I took in a breath, wondering if this was just a test. I didn’t like the way she commanded the conversation and tried to steer control. She didn’t do it with an arrogant confidence, she did it with finely milled finesse. “She’s….transparent to me—some of her, anyway.”
“You see a lot of yourself in her, don’t you?”
I searched the floor. “I see…the guy I used to want to be as a kid. She digs at him. I also see…me. Eric”
“You split yourself into halves of a whole? Why? It’s all a part of you.”
“I need that separation,” I said.
“Because it offers you balance and control?”
I wiggled under my collar, unable to detach my eyes from the goddamn floor. “We need to talk about something else. Now.”
“I know I make you uncomfortable, Dr. Brenton. As you should be. I’m a ruthless woman when crossed.”
Her statement caught my undivided attention. I have never taken well to threats—not from anyone.
She looked back at me like she was staring straight through me. “You would do well to remember that.”
“I know you’re not a woman of pure virtues,” I said with a curled-lip smile. “Why the hell else would you, a self-made smart, successful woman, marry a man like Samuel Givens?”
“Many reasons—we’ve discussed this before. There is a difference between wisdom and intelligence,” she said, her eyes wandering off to something that didn’t exist behind me. “It’s rare to have both in equal parts. The Givens women are known for loving dangerous men; my daughter is no different.”
“Do you think Nikki can love?” I asked, keeping up my indifference. It was all a bullshit front to throw her off. In fact, I was very interested in her answer.
“Of course she can. I believe you can, too…and it worries me most of all.”
I didn’t understand it. Wasn’t that what she would’ve wanted for her daughter? I couldn’t believe she wanted me to be a glorified bodyguard. It didn’t make a damn shit of sense. “Why are you concerned, Mrs. Givens? Isn’t that what you want?”
“Because when you do fall in love, it will mean you’ve lost complete control. You’re not the kind of man who would do well in that situation. I’m almost certain you will lose what little of your mind you have left, Dr. Brenton.”
I bit the inside of my cheek, no longer in the mood to smile. “You’re right about a lot. Wrong about some.”
“I wish it were true.” I could see it in her eyes. The pain was becoming too much for her. I’d seen in a million times. She didn’t have a lot of time left. “Well, Dr. Brenton. What if this is the last time we lay eyes on one another? Are there any last words you would like for me to take to my deathbed?”
“Well?” She gave me a faint smile. “Out with it.”
“When will you ever call me Eric?”
With a bigger smile, she held out her hands, waiting for me to jump at her nonverbal demand.
I leaned forward, letting her hold my head as I kissed her forehead. “You have nothing to worry about. I’ll keep my promise. By any means necessary, she will be protected.”
“I knew you’d be perfect for her.” She slipped one hand from my jaw and touched the tip of my nose with her index finger. “I’m glad I was able to see this before I no longer could.”
“It grants me a small amount of joy to know one of my schemes will work out well, even if all else goes to hell in the end. Recall all of my warnings, Dr. Brenton. Don’t fall in love with her. Care deeply for her. Protect her. Make her happy.”
I wasn’t in the mood to fall down the rabbit hole and question what she just said, so I just replied, “Goodbye, Mrs. Givens.”
“Stay well, Dr. Brenton.”
When the door began to close behind me, I heard her real last words to me, “I won’t call you by a name that’s not your own.”
I turned to look at her from over my shoulder and stared at the closed door.
Shrugging it off, I headed toward the cafeteria to find Nikki.
I really should’ve said two words to Mrs. Givens:
. But I could count on one hand the number of times I’d ever apologized to someone. It was never because I meant it, it was only to get from one point to the next. If I were a good man, I’d apologize to Mrs. Givens. I couldn’t say I didn’t warn her the first time; there is nothing more enticing to a predator than wounded prey.
WHEN DR. BRENTON MADE his final departure, my time for pretension was at an end. “Well,” I breathed out. I straightened the raggedy hospital blanket that I surely wouldn’t miss when I died—I wouldn’t miss the crippling pain very much, either. Perhaps, I’d go to hell where I would be naked and forced to be draped in this very blanket.
I reached across to the night table and pressed the nurse call button as I stared pensively out of my window. My phone vibrated and nearly fell off the table. The name of the text sender read: Victor Mejía.
“Not today, Mr. Mejía. I have something in store for you. You will not rule my life or my family’s life any—”
“Mrs. Givens?” Janet rushed in, looking alerted.
“Close the door, lovely,” I commanded with one of my warmest smiles.
“Is it time?” Janet asked with concern.
“Did you get what I needed from Mr. Sanderson?”
Closing the door and patting her pocket, she nodded to me. “He was really nice…didn’t seem like the criminal type. He even bought me lunch.”
Excellent. My old friend, and once my lover, Charlie Sanderson, came through. Yes, my ordeal with Mr. Mejía was most certainly at an end. “I’m quite sure he was. Those are the types you should worry about the most.”
“He asked how you were.” She turned her toes inward and slouched her shoulders. “He seemed pretty…torn up about you. Was he family?”
“Stand up straight, my dear. You’re much too gorgeous to have the posture of a hunchback.”
“Yes, Mrs. Givens,” she said sheepishly and straightened her horrid pose.
“He was most certainly not family,” I recoiled. “He was my lover for nearly a decade. An excellent one, too.” Clasping my collarbone, I recalled one of our many torrid nights together. “My God, the man could carry on throughout the night. My wilting flower cried for weeks. It was worth every moment.”
She coughed, and I was certain I made her blush underneath her gorgeous mocha skin-tone. The young woman had excellent genes. Radiant skin. Simply radiant. “Mrs. Givens…did you”—she shook her head and looked mildly embarrassed—“have a relationship with Charlie while you were married?”
“My lovely, I’m a woman with needs. If you thought I was an innocent, lovable, crazy old bat, I’m so sorry to disappoint you.”
“I still think you’re very lovable.” She beamed. “I’m going to…miss you.”
I nodded while I continued to wish for the most fruitless of things.
A debacle I wished died along with my husband, would continue past my death, despite my best efforts. It brought me immeasurable comfort to know that Diouana would be protected by two very strong gentleman. One at her side, and another in the background. If Eric faltered, someone else would take his place.
My bastard of a husband placed my poor child in danger and cursed our lives to be indebted to a man I loathed—Victor Mejía. The most deplorable human being I’d ever had the displeasure of meeting. He would receive the brunt of his karma in the end. My darling daughter and the dark knights sent to protect her would see to it.
“Janet, before you inject me, I need you to retrieve something from the night table.”
“Of course, Mrs. Givens. Anything for you.” She looked guiltily to the ground. I was quite sure she didn’t want to do what needed to be done, and felt slightly guilty about doing it. Such a kind, kind heart the young woman had. She, too, would be perfect for what I needed her to do.
I examined her closely as she followed my directions.
She flipped the neatly folded loose leaf paper in the air with a look of puzzlement fixed upon her face.
“Janet…if Dr. Brenton ever does a single thing to harm Diouana, and if ever his actions speak of a man who doesn’t care for my daughter, give her the letter.”
“Are you sure, Mrs. Givens? I just—I think they’ll fall madly in love.”
“I’m not afraid of my daughter falling in love. Dr. Brenton? Of that, I am very afraid.” I glanced after Dr. Brenton’s trail as I became consumed with a poignant thought. “On second thought, it may very well work to my advantage.”
“Don’t worry your beautiful eyes over it, Janet. Can you promise me that if Dr. Brenton ever does my daughter harm, you will give her that letter? Never read it. It’s for her and her alone.”
“I understand, Mrs. Givens.” The bed enveloped me as it never had before. “When you’re done with the doodad, tape it underneath my bedside table drawer. Dr. Brenton will have need of it soon. Make sure you help Nikki convince him to change his mind.”
She nodded sullenly and prepared to inject the needle in my PICC line.
I was so very exhausted. How I’d wished I’d done so many things differently. I found peace in the knowledge that my daughter would be my very last word.