Home > City of the Lost (Casey Duncan #1)(12)

City of the Lost (Casey Duncan #1)(12)
Author: Kelley Armstrong

“It’s not related to my job. It’s from … before that.”

“Something to do with all this?” His fingers touch a pucker on my forearm. Where bone once jutted through my skin.

He’s seen the scars. The damage is impossible to cover without hiding under the sheets, and I don’t hide. The first time we slept together, he didn’t seem to notice the marks until afterward. He just touched one of the knife scars and said, “You okay?” and that was an invitation to explain, but when I only said I was fine, he dropped it.

I nod. “I got myself into some trouble back in college.”

He tilts his head, and I know he’s thinking my marks aren’t like his own physical reminders of a youth lived hard and wild: the scars, the tats, the old needle tracks. Mine suggest a single incident. A single attack.

“You paid someone back?” he says. “For doing that to you?”

I try not to look surprised that he’s hit so close to the bull’s eye. “Something like that.”

“And it was the kind of person who remembers, the kind who won’t let you walk away and consider the score even.”

“Something like that.”

“I’m not looking for an answer, Casey. Not unless you’ve got one to give. I’m just figuring stuff out. Someone is on your ass. Someone dangerous enough to hire thugs. We’re gonna need to do some serious thinking on how to fix this.”

“I’ll handle it.”

“We’ll handle it. I’m not in any shape to go after anyone right now, but I will be soon. If that’s not enough, I know guys. Guys who owe me. We’ll fix this. Until then, I know you don’t like carrying your service weapon, but you need to. At all times.”

He continues on, planning, working out how to keep me safe, and I can only stare at him. This man just took a bullet for me. He’s lying in a hospital bed because I brought my crap to his doorstep. And all he’s thinking about is how he can help me fix this. What he can do for me.

“You’re really something else,” I say as he finishes.

“A good something or a bad something?”

I lean over, my lips brushing his. “An amazing something.”

“Nah, I’m just building up credits.”

“No, you’re amazing,” I say. “Also? Shit at taking compliments.”

He laughs, puts his hand on the back of my head, and pulls me down into a kiss.

As I walk up to my apartment, I’m thinking about the last few hours. A night of hell. A night of surprises, too, chief among them the shock of realizing I can still feel. And what I’m feeling right now? Pain and regret.

As soon as Kurt’s back on his feet, I need to cut him loose. I don’t want to. I want to be selfish and jump at his offer to help and tell myself it’ll all be fine and I can have this, I can have him.

Tough shit, Duncan. You dug your grave twelve years ago, and if you give a damn about Kurt, you’re not going to let him fall into that grave with you.

This is what I’m thinking when I unlock my apartment door. It’s not until it swings open that I realize Diana hasn’t secured the interior deadbolt. I swear under my breath. I hate treating her like a child, but sometimes …

The security panel flashes green. Unarmed. That’s when I know something’s wrong.

I dash in to see a lamp toppled to the floor, the shade three feet away, the bulb smashed across the carpet.

There’s blood on the floor.

Blood on the floor.

Oh, God. Oh fucking God. First Kurt. Now Diana.

I never called to warn her. No, worse—I called and when she didn’t answer, I thought, Huh, guess she’s sleeping.

The blood turns to drips in the hallway. Those drops lead into the bathroom, and there’s Diana lying on the floor, bloody water everywhere, a red-streaked towel clutched in her hand. I drop beside her, my fingers going to the side of her neck.

She’s breathing.

I carefully turn her onto her back. The blood is from her nose. Broken. Again. Her lip is split, more blood there. A black eye. Torn and bloodied blouse. I quickly check for holes—bullet or blade. She moans when I touch her chest, and I rip open her shirt to see her bruises rising on her torso. She’s breathing fine, though. No broken ribs. No lung damage.

I take out my phone to call 911. Her eye opens. One eye, the other swollen shut. One bloodshot eye that looks up at me as she whispers, “No.”

Eight

Diana won’t let me call 911. I help her into the living room, set her on the couch, and try to argue, but she’s crying, verging on sobs, shaking her head so vehemently that blood and tears fleck the sofa.

“You need a hospital,” I say.

“I’m fine,” she says, and shudders as she gets her crying under control.

“You were passed out on the goddamn—”

Her flinch asks me not to swear.

“You passed out on the floor, Di.”

“No, my head was hurting, so I lay down. I didn’t fall.”

“And that makes a difference? A blow to the head means a concussion—”

“Which we have some experience treating, don’t we?” She tries for a smile and her face crumples instead. “I can’t do it, Casey. I know you want me to be stronger, but I’m just so tired of this. The police won’t believe me, and I can’t keep defending myself. Nothing good comes of it.”

“Whatever your attacker said, don’t listen. It’s not about Graham this time. It’s my problem. I’ll fix it.”

   
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