His gut churned. “He said what, Nic?”
Nic let out a shaky breath. “He said that he wanted to play it like he had before, but Sabrina said two car accidents would be suspicious.”
“I think . . . God, I think he was talking about Emma. I know that sounds insane, but they’re obviously insane. I don’t know how Emma had a car accident, but Gabe, I think that’s something that needs to be looked at.”
He couldn’t even feel the hand he was holding. He didn’t see Nic or hear the steady beeps of the monitor. When he drew in a breath, he didn’t catch that overpowering disinfectant smell that cloaked hospitals. He was there, in the room with Nic, but he also wasn’t.
Did Sabrina and Parker have something to do with Emma’s accident?
It was possible. From what he knew of the accident, Emma had appeared to lose control of her vehicle less than a handful of miles from her parents’ house. She’d been leaving to pick William up from them. Her car had struck a tree. Could someone—that someone being Parker—have run her off the road?
It was more than possible.
I did your dirty work again.
Sabrina practically admitted it herself.
His entire being felt like it shifted, but he knew he hadn’t moved—hadn’t even blinked. The ever-present rage resurfaced, and damn, it was like his skin was on fire.
“Gabe,” Nic whispered.
He heard her, but he also didn’t. He was stuck on what she’d said. Emma’s death hadn’t been an accident. It had been murder, because that woman was obsessed with him. He couldn’t process it, couldn’t think around it.
“I’m sorry,” Nic said softly. “I’m so sorry.”
His entire body jerked at her quietly spoken apology and her bruised, battered face came back into focus. Nic lay on that hospital bed. Not Emma. They took Emma away from their son, but they hadn’t succeeded in taking Nic from him.
Lifting her hand to his mouth once more, he kissed her palm and closed his eyes. He’d lost a piece of Emma the night she’d been assaulted and then he’d lost her the night he retaliated. They’d come together once in the last five years, and that gave him his son, but Gabe had long since accepted before he learned what had happened to Emma that it was over between them. Why Sabrina would’ve gone after her, after all this time, was beyond his level of understanding.
“Are you okay?” she asked.
Was he? Fuck no. Anger compounded with helplessness was a dangerous mess, but he pulled it together. He had to. For her. Again, her concern shook him to his core. She shouldn’t be worrying about him right now.
“I’m okay.” His eyes opened. “I’m okay, sweetheart.”
She was quiet for a moment. “I didn’t tell Troy or the cops anything about what . . . Sabrina or Parker had said to me.”
He lifted her hand to his forehead. “Dev will be appreciative of that, but I don’t give a fuck if you told them. You didn’t have to lie to avoid a scandal. You shouldn’t even be worrying about that.”
She was quiet for a moment. “What’s going to happen?”
“I don’t know.” Whatever was going to happen wouldn’t be pretty. “I talked to Dev today. He came home early. Told him everything.”
“Yeah. He’s ending it with her.”
A harsh laugh parted her lips. “So, if . . . Sabrina got Parker to silence me it was all over nothing? Or was it just out of anger or was it jealousy?”
He’d underestimated Sabrina. Could’ve been just out of jealousy, but it did leave the question of why would Parker risk so much for his sister?
“It . . . it didn’t even matter,” she said. “Because you told Devlin anyway. Parker did all that for nothing. He died—”
“I don’t give a fuck about him. He deserved what he got. I just wish you never had to find yourself in that situation. That you didn’t have to fight—” His damn voice cracked. He couldn’t finish.
He shook his head, still holding onto her hand. “You shouldn’t have to deal with any of this.”
“It’s okay,” she said quietly. “It’ll be okay.”
“Are you trying to comfort me?”
“I don’t know. I guess?”
Gabe shook his head in wonder. “You’re . . . I honestly don’t know what to say.”
She tried to pull her hand free, but he held on. He was never letting go. “I think you’ve already said enough.”
He deserved that.
A long moment passed as she lifted her gaze from where he held her hand. “Why are you here?”
“We need to talk. Not now.” He lowered his mouth, kissing the top of her battered hand once more, silencing her protests. “But we’re going to talk later.”
Gabe stayed with Nic until she dozed off, and it took a hell of a lot out of him to leave her even at that point. But he needed to speak to his brothers.
He found them in one of the private rooms down the hall, Dev standing in the corner of the small room, arms folded across his chest. Lucian was seated on the couch. Beside him was Julia. Luckily, Troy wasn’t there. He closed the door behind him as Julia rose.
“Is she okay?” she asked, concern clear in her gaze and the set of her lips.
“She’s roughed up real bad, but she’ll be okay.” At least physically. His voice was gruff when he spoke again. “She’s resting right now.”
Lucian exhaled heavily as he leaned back on the uncomfortable couch. “Jesus.” He dragged his hands down his face as Julia sat down once more, touching his arm. “Where are Livie and Richard?”
“She doesn’t want them to see her like this,” he explained. “And we’ve got to respect that.” His gaze found Dev’s. “Agreed?”
“Agreed,” he murmured and then spoke louder. “You talked to her about Parker?”
Gabe couldn’t sit as he came to stand in the middle of the room. “I did. He went after her because of Sabrina, but that’s not all.”
“It’s not?” Lucian lowered his hands and reached over, picking up Julia’s.
“Not even fucking remotely all,” he bit out.
Dev’s gaze slid to the couch. “Perhaps Julia should—”
“No,” Lucian cut him off as he looked over his shoulder. “Julia is a part of this family, not just the good parts but also the fucked-up parts. She stays.”
Dev snapped his mouth shut and wisely kept it shut.
There was a part of Gabe that would’ve preferred that Julia didn’t hear this, but it had nothing to do with trust. “Parker insinuated that he and Sabrina had something to do with Emma’s accident.”
Lucian paled, and it seemed he was at a loss for words, but it wasn’t his reaction that shocked Gabe. It was his older brother’s reaction. Mainly because Dev never had a reaction to anything.
But he did now.
Blood drained from his face as he lurched forward a step and then seemed to catch himself, unfolding his arms. “Are you sure?” he asked in a voice that Gabe barely recognized. “What were you told?”
Gabe repeated what Nic told him. “It makes sense. Especially when you take into consideration what Sabrina said to me herself.”
“Good God,” whispered Julia.
Dev held Gabe’s gaze for a moment and then looked away, his lips pressed into a hard line. A muscle flexed in his jaw.
“We need to find Sabrina,” Gabe said.
His brother gave him a curt nod. “I will pay a visit to Stefan first and then the Harringtons’ home. No one is going to shield her from us.”
Gabe drew in a shallow breath. “She will answer for this.”
“She will do more than that.”
“You need to take the bed, Nikki. Seriously.” Rosie stood in front of an old chess table that had been converted into a coffee table.
Her friend’s apartment contained a strange assortment of things. Beaded curtains separated the living room from the bedroom. Posters of haunted places in New Orleans dotted the walls next to paintings that looked like they belonged in a museum. Human-shaped candles lined bookshelves that were nearly overflowing with true accounts of hauntings and, oddly enough, cookbooks. There were normal-looking candles sitting in front of a surprisingly large TV.