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Sole Survivor Hold on Tight (Sea Breeze #8)

He shakes his head but doesn’t look at me. The way she died…it was horrific and brutal…but the life she lived… He brings his eyes to mine. I see the pain buried deep in them. It was difficult. Difficult how? He lets out a breath. She was an addict—heroin—for as many years as I can remember. I don’t think she was in the beginning though when she met my father and got pregnant with me. I figure she probably used recreational drugs. But, after I was born, I guess things got worse. I know she had a hard time, growing up. She didn’t talk much about it, but she didn’t have anything to do with her family. However, her childhood was…I do know it wasn’t easy. When she met my father, she was twenty-one and working as a stripper. There’s clear bitterness in his voice. I don’t know if it’s because of the mention of his father or the fact that his mother worked as a stripper. My father liked—probably still does—to frequent strip clubs. Well, any club really. He likes the party lifestyle. My father was…what you might call rebellious. Charles Hunter, the son and only heir of Lord Hunter…had everything a man could want, and my father chose to piss his life away on women and alcohol and partying. Lord Hunter? Your grandfather is a lord? The grandfather I’m going to meet really soon? Mmhmm. He doesn’t meet my stare. Wow. A lord. I’m glad I put on a nice dress. I’m guessing my mother fell in love with my father, Liam continues, a hard tone to his voice. Or she fell in love with his wealth, maybe the life she thought he could give her. My father, on the other hand, fell in lust with my mother. She had a hard life, but she was a beautiful woman. The minute she told him she was pregnant with me, he was out of there. What an ass. The words are out before I can stop them. I’m sorry. I look at him, contrite. Don’t be. He laughs. You’re right. My father is an ass. So…when your mom died, you went to live with your grandpa? Yeah. His expression warms at the mention of his grandfather. My dad wasn’t really around, too busy traveling the world with whomever he was fucking at that time, moving from party to party. My grandpa has been involved in my life from the very beginning. He tried to get my mother out of that lifestyle. He wanted her to move to Oxford to be close to him, but she wouldn’t do it. She wanted to stay in London. So, he bought her a house in a nice part of London. Gave her an allowance to use to care for me. My father never gave us a penny. But I guess…no matter how much money Grandpa gave her or how much I…loved her. I hear the break in his voice, and it hurts. A lot. He clears his throat. Sometimes…whatever broke someone in the first place is embedded so deeply inside them that nothing can fix it or root it out, and all the love or money in the world isn’t going to change that. Maybe my father tossing her aside was the tipping point for her. And that’s where the drugs helped her…made her feel better when nothing or no one else could. He looks at me with something so painful in his eyes that I feel his hurt like it’s my own. She wasn’t a bad mother…not in the beginning…but she lost her way…with the drugs…and the dealer boyfriend who fed her addiction. Along the way, she forgot she had a kid to care for. My heart is breaking for him. For the boy who just wanted his mother. My life might be as it is now, but my mother loved me and cared for me, as a mother should. Liam should have had that, too. The money Grandpa gave her for me, she was spending it on drugs. When Grandpa would question my lack of clothes or the wear on my shoes, I would make up lies to cover for her. I lied because she was my mother. I loved her. And I guess…I was worried about what would happen if my grandpa found out where his money was being spent. I didn’t want him to walk out of my life. The weekends I spent with him at his house were…important to me. I don’t think he would have left you. It sounds like he loves you a lot. Yeah. He gives a sad smile. I know that now. But, back then, I was a kid who didn’t know better. Just before she died, my grandpa grew suspicious. He turned up early one Saturday morning to pick me up, and he caught her drug dealer boyfriend leaving the house. My mother always made sure not to have him around when my grandpa came for me. She didn’t want him figuring out where his money was going and cutting her off. But Grandpa saw him. He’s not a stupid man. That’s when the problems began. I remember my grandpa asking me questions about Russ, my mother’s boyfriend. I tried not to give anything away, but the seed of doubt was there…and I guess he figured out the rest. The following weekend, my grandpa came to collect me, but he came early again, said he wanted to talk with my mum in private before we left to go to his house. I was told to go to my room. But I sat on the landing and listened in. They were arguing. Grandpa told her that he knew she was a junkie. He said she either stopped using, cleaned herself up, and dumped her dealer boyfriend, or he’d have Russ arrested, and he’d take me from her. He told her that he wouldn’t have her putting me at risk like she was. My mother told him that he couldn’t have me. Grandpa said to her that no court would stop him because of her drug use and the danger she was knowingly placing me in. My mum called his bluff. Told him to get out, that he would never see me again.

You really are sick in the head, I told him. You’re just going to block me out. Is that how you’re going to make yourself feel better about all of this? By watching me embarrass myself?You seemed to manage breaking into my memories just fine in Colorado. And in that Los Angeles rathole you called HQ. Why no confidence now? he taunted. I knew him better than he thought I did—I’m bored, is what he was really saying. Entertain me.

Burn for Me (Hidden Legacy #1)

I’m surprised you have confidence left, I said, considering what happened in Los Angeles. I really loved seeing all of those precious memories of you and your mom. You were kind of a crybaby, weren’t you?His brows drew together, assessing. For a moment, I wished I hadn’t brought up Lillian Gray; it was too early to signal to him that I had an interest in her, too early to so much as hint she was on my mind. I needed a strategy if I was going to try to suss out her location and what, precisely, her son had done to her.I kept my expression neutral, my breathing even. You’ve done it before, Ruby. It was always easier to slide into someone’s mind after I’d already created a path there. But both times, I’d had to catch him by surprise to do it—I’d been so damn furious in each case that if my hit had been physical and not mental, I was half-convinced I could have taken out a cement wall.

Lord of Misrule (The Morganville Vampires #5)

He blinked and I let the invisible hands unfurl at the back of my mind; by the time his dark, thick lashes were rising again and his gaze met mine, their nails had turned to hooks, waiting to latch on—The block from Clancy felt like I’d slammed face-first into the glass wall between us. I cringed, fighting with everything I had not to bring a hand up to rub at the center of the pain right between my eyes. A dull headache flared to an outright, piercing throb.

You’re rusty, he said, surprised. That was borderline pathetic. When was the last time you tried this?

Shut up, I thought, trying to keep my pride in check.Jesse started to answer, but Wyatt glanced at me. I nodded and shrank my radius down to a couple of feet. Wyatt stepped forward, making eye contact with Aaron. You don’t want to ask us any more questions about why we’re here, he said smoothly. You want to take us inside now.

Aaron blinked a couple of times, then turned to the door. Right. Let’s head in.Behind his back, Jesse shot both of us a glare, but I shrugged, unrepentant. We were going to erase this guy’s entire memory of us anyway. Might as well move things along.

The Bourne Identity (Jason Bourne #1)

Besides, he was kind of being an asshole.We put on gloves, hairnets, and booties—Wyatt had to take off his cowboy boots to get his on—and then Aaron led us silently through the tiny foyer into a small, tidy living room that had last been decorated in the late seventies. There were splashes of blood everywhere, but they were especially concentrated around a blue velvet La-Z-Boy. Jesse went straight toward it, then looked quizzically over his shoulder at Aaron. Was he sitting in the chair when someone cut off his head?

No. Aaron still looked sullen. Blood spatter indicates he was kneeling in front of the chair.Not unconscious, then. Clean slice, or was there hacking? Jesse asked.

One slice, Aaron said, with the tiniest bit of relish in his voice.While Jesse questioned Aaron, Wyatt leaned sideways in the doorway, where he had a clear view of both the living room and the foyer with the front door. His job wasn’t detecting clues so much as watching our backs and pressing Aaron when we were done. He caught me glancing at him and gave me a slow wink, his moustache turning up at the ends as he grinned at me. I smiled back. It was good to be working together again.

I turned back to the living room. I wasn’t sure how useful I would be on the clue front either, since all my experience with crime scenes involved trying to destroy them, but I wandered around the room, taking it in. I kept an ear on Jesse’s conversation with Aaron, but the forensic details didn’t really interest me. Besides, Jesse would translate the information into whatever I needed to know.When you got past the death stench, the whole room had an underlying smell that I naturally associated with old man. Karl Schmidt had been in his eighties, which made his odd death even stranger. If you want to kill a man that old, there are a hundred easier ways to do it, all of which would get less interest from the police.

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