Reliving Fate, page 20
"Excuse me?" His voice is cold and quiet.
I'm still burning inside. How dare he treat me like a kid back there!
"Ugh! You made me look like a real dickhead in front of Hugo. I'm not seven. Sorry I didn't tell you I was going for a walk, but that doesn't give you the right to--"
"Oh, shut the fuck up, Bella. I have every right to come and find my missing girlfriend! What are you doing out here?"
"I actually can't believe you just told me to shut the fuck up."
Who the hell does he think he is?
"Well, believe it. You're acting like a spoilt brat."
"I went for a fucking walk. How is that spoilt?"
He throws his arms up. "You know why!"
"I don't have to check in with you." Turning around, I rip the passenger door open. "You're being completely unreasonable."
"I'm being unreasonable?" he scoffs, slamming his hand down on the roof of his car.
I hope he dents it.
"Er, yeah. You tracked me down, like some sort of stalker again, and now, you're yelling at me and acting like I'm the crazy one."
"It's dangerous for you to wander around here at night. I know you want to find out what Hugo's relationship with Celia was, but this isn't the way."
"Then, what is the way? How else am I going to figure it out?"
He roughly runs his hands over his face. "Why don't you get it? This isn't for you to figure out. Go to the police, Bella. Don't put yourself at risk."
"He killed her, and no one knows who he is," I say.
He rounds the car and takes a step closer to me. His eyes soften. "Yeah, babe, I know that. It sucks, and it's unfair, but you getting hurt isn't going to help."
"I won't be able to forgive myself if I don't at least try."
"My life would be so much simpler if I hadn't fallen in love with you."
I laugh, closing my eyes and sinking into his embrace. "Ditto, buddy."
* * *
Rocco stares up at his bedroom ceiling. His arm is around me, and he's not let go of me since we got home. But I can tell he's angry. It's not like he can get all high and mighty though. We both put ourselves in potential danger.
"I love you," I whisper against his skin as I kiss the curve of his neck.
"I love you, too," he replies. "But I still think you're fucking crazy, and you need to stop."
He doesn't get it, and he probably never will.
"How can I stop, Rocco?"
"Your sister was murdered."
"Yes, surprisingly, I haven't forgotten about that! Come on, that's exactly why I can't stop. Someone out there took her life, and they should be behind bars."
"You don't know that they're not."
"And you don't know that they are. I need answers. Hell, my whole family does."
"Why does it have to be you? I don't understand why you can't go to the police."
"Seems rather odd--you telling me to go to the police."
He roughly rubs his hand over his face and sighs. "I'm not getting into that with you. It's different. I don't want you pursuing this anymore."
All I want to do right now is get to know Hugo and then maybe find out if he knows what happened to Celia or at least if he knows someone who hated her.
"You can't ask me to stop."
"I fucking can."
"You're not my dad. Not that he could either. Believe me, Rocco, I'm not the type of woman you can order around."
"Oh, I get your reluctance to do what the fuck you're told and what you know you should do. This is your safety, your life, that you're playing around with here. I'm sorry Celia died, but this won't bring her back. Do you think she would have wanted anything to happen to you?"
"Of course not, but that's not why I'm doing it. When you love someone, you do what you need to do. I know you worry about me, but you won't ever change my mind. I'm sorry, but I'm doing this. I will find out who killed her."
"Well, that's great. First girl I've ever loved, and she's on a suicide mission."
"I promise you, I won't get killed."
Closing his eyes, he shakes his head. "You can't promise that."
"Can and did. Please, Rocco, I really need you behind me on this."
He turns his head, and his eyes open. I see the worry etched into his face. I hate myself in this moment because I know that I can't back down. I could stop that look, but I won't.
My eyes begin to sting, and I hold my breath. Shit, I'm a horrible person.
"I'm sorry," I whisper.
"Don't be sorry. I get it, Bella. You started this long before me. I swear to God, if you get hurt..."
"I'll be careful."
"Too right you will. You won't go anywhere on your own, and you'll tell me everything. If you're determined to do this, we're doing it together."
Pushing up onto my elbow, I shake my head. I should've known he'd say that. Even though I would feel a hundred times safer with him beside me, I don't ever want to put his life at risk.
"No, you can't," I say.
My heart splinters at just the thought of him being hurt.
"Then, stop what you're doing."
"Please don't do this," I plead.
"We both have terms that we can live with. This is mine. Leave this, or let me help."
"Is there a third option?"
"I walk," he replies. His voice is sharp, and it cuts through my chest, leaving me bleeding.
He'll leave me. If I don't let him help me look for the murderer, he'll leave. I know I should take him up on it. If we're done, then there won't be any risk of him being harmed. But I don't know how to say good-bye.
I can't put him in harm's way.
"Walk, Rocco," I whisper. The words feel like razorblades cutting into my flesh as they leave my mouth.
He laughs and pulls me onto his chest until I'm almost square on top of him. "I love you so much more, Bella. I was never going to walk. You mean everything, for fuck's sake! You're not someone I could leave. Ever."
"So, that was a test?" Who does that? "Would you ditch me if I'd told you to stay and help?"
His eyes are laughing. "What part of I'm never going to walk don't you understand? You're never getting away. I won't ever let you leave."
"Er, you know stalker is so last year, right?" I joke, trying to be cool when I feel like my heart is going to fly right out of my chest.
He rolls his dark caramel eyes.
"You're a real headfuck sometimes, Rocco. You don't think we'll have forever, but you won't ever let us break up. How does that work?"
"You know my lifestyle and where I live. Folks around here don't usually live happily into their seventies."
"So, you think you'll die young?"
"Well, not tomorrow. I'm just saying, there's a good possibility I won't make it to my seventies."
I can't believe he just said that. You're supposed to plan for forever.
"I don't want to talk to you when you're being a prick."
"They teach you words like that at a posh school?"
I roll my eyes. "The school isn't posh. I'm definitely not posh. My family is not posh. Liv and I got in because we each had fifty percent scholarships," I defend.
I would literally rather cook my own head than be like a few of the students who think they're better than everyone else because Mummy and Daddy are minted.
"All right," he says as he runs his hands up my bare back. With a quick kiss, he brings us back to our original discussion. "We'll find out what happened to Celia together, but I need complete honesty from you."
My legs are ready to run and get me the hell out of here. I can't give him that. Every part of me aches when I think back to that day. It hurts beyond anything I ever thought possible, and I don't think I can physically talk about it.
He doesn't seem to notice my inner turmoil, which I'm thankful for. Telling
"What do you want to know?" I ask, praying that he'll only ask questions I can give him straight answers to.
I will lie if I have to.
"When and how did she die?"
"The carnival was in town. It was May and a gorgeous, sunny day. Everyone was out in the street--eating, dancing, watching the parade, and playing games. Celia was in the house when she was killed. No one heard a thing because of the noise outside. She was stabbed eleven times."
"I'm so sorry," he says, running his hand through my hair. His voice is softer than I've ever heard it before.
God, I love his soft side as much as the hard.
I wonder if he'd still love me if he knew the truth.
"I just want someone to pay for what they did to her, Rocco. She deserves that much."
"She does. We'll try, okay?"
I nod my head and cover his lips with my own.
"Did you bring the diary?" he murmurs against my lips.
"Can I see it?"
It feels like a betrayal. The entries are Celia's, and they're private. It's bad enough that I've read it. But I can't deny him when he's helping me.
"You're not comfortable with that at all, are you?"
"It just feels strange, but I'll get over it."
"Good, because I need to know everything. I don't like this. I'll be digging into the lives of people I shouldn't. That's not how things work around here. You have the back of your own."
"You've never felt like these people are your own though."
"That's not the point, and you know it. You are the one I'm concerned about. I love you and want you to start living your life again, so I'll do whatever is necessary to make that happen. I don't care what I have to give up."
My heart practically implodes. His words bring tears to my eyes. I know my family loves me, but I've never felt it as strongly as this. Rocco makes me feel safe and secure, and that's not something I've felt in a very long time.
"And I promise you, as soon as this is over, I'll do everything I want to do."
"What is that?" he asks.
That's the question I avoid like the bloody plague.
"I really, really have no idea. I think I want to work with animals, but I'm not sure what I want to do specifically."
I shake my head. "I don't like blood."
He laughs and rolls us over. I adore the feeling of his weight on top of me.
"You don't like blood. What are you going to do with animals then?"
"I'm not sure. I thought about animal rescue, but I don't know if I could stomach seeing the abuse side. Maybe I'll find something I can do at home, so I don't have to see anyone."
He kisses my forehead. "Hermit."
"Or I'll just marry rich."
"Right," he says, his face falling.
I grip his upper arms as he goes to leave. "No, Rocco, I didn't mean that. You know I don't care about money. I was just messing around. Honestly, I don't know what I'll do, but I'm looking forward to finding out with you."
"You're so sure we'll last?"
"Yes," I reply without hesitation. "I don't care where either of us came from. We're here now, and that's all I care about. Kinda thinking that you see us as temporary now though..."
"Everything in this world is temporary, beautiful."
"That's very deep."
"It's very true. My time with you is limited, and as long as I get every part of you, I'm okay with however long that is. I'll take what I can get because nothing has ever mattered to me the way you do."
"You're going to make me cry, Rocco."
Rolling his eyes, he stops me from thinking and even breathing by kissing me until we're clawing at each other.
* * *
Bella is still asleep, mouth open, matted hair everywhere.
There's still sadness around her eyes, but at least now, I understand why. She lost her sister in one of the worst possible ways.
On my bedside table is Celia's diary. There's fuck all in there other than the ramblings of a lovesick teenage girl. I'm not sure if I want Bella to think about me the way Celia thought about Hugo or not.
I turn over and watch her. She looks peaceful right now, but I know, when she wakes up, her sister and her mission will be on her mind. I have no idea where to start with her little crusade. The people I waste time with are dodgy as fuck, but I just can't picture one of them stabbing a teenage girl to death. None of them are that screwed up.
But she is convinced that Celia's killer is from here, and that seems a hell of a lot more likely than someone from her side of town.
I make a mental list of the people I feel could take a life without giving a shit. At first, I couldn't think of anyone, but the more I think, the longer the list gets. I might spend most evenings with these people, but I don't really know them. Ellis is the only one I'm sure wouldn't do something like that. He's too young to have killed Celia anyway.
Bella's sister was murdered by someone I have potentially spent years in the company of.
How do I even begin to sort through the list of shady characters? And how do we get a confession?
We can't exactly go around, accusing people. I'm surprised Bella's gotten this far with no help. She's just as clueless as I am.
She stirs and pouts in her sleep. I'd love to know what she's dreaming about.
Her stunning hazel eyes flick open seconds later, and she whispers, "Hi."
I can't help smiling like a lovesick idiot. "Hi." The way Bella looks at me is indescribable. I would literally do anything for her, no matter how dangerous. I'd lay down my life to protect hers. "So...I was thinking I could go out alone tonight and listen a bit more when people are talking to me."
She looks at me like I've lost it. I kind of have if I'm entertaining this crusade she's on.
"People talk about all sorts of things in front of me, but I've never really listened. Maybe if I do, I can find out something."
"Yeah?" Her eyes widen in hope, and she rolls onto her side. "Really? Rocco, that would be awesome. Though I'm not looking forward to not seeing you."
"I won't be gone all night. Stay, and I'll do you real good when I get back."
Rolling her pretty eyes, she replies, "We say I love you to each other, and you're still calling it doing me?"
"I'm not ever calling it making love if that's what you're hoping for."
With a laugh that has me smiling, too, she splays her fingers out over my chest. "I think I would be extremely weirded out if you ever said that."
"What are you going to do while I'm out?"
"Netflix," she replies.
"You watch too much TV."
"Netflix isn't TV. Netflix is life."
What the fuck is wrong with people?
"Bella, find a hobby that doesn't include staring at a screen."
She gives me a flat look. "I'm sneaking away from my family to find a murderer. I have a hobby."
"Most people collect stuff or draw or something like that."
"I'm not most people."
No, she really is not.
* * *
At ten at night, when Bella is engrossed in whatever shit she's watching, I head out the door. Ellis is already at the river, so I make my way down.
Tonight, I have to talk to people. I've been hanging out here with these guys for years, but I know very little about any of them. They could all be killers, and I wouldn't know.
I walk toward the fire, and everyone around it looks dodgy. Bella's sister was older than her, so her killer would be at least a similar age. If he's even here.
Right now, I feel like an idiot. There's no evidence that someone here did anything to Celia, but if I don't snoop, Bella will continue to do i
Ellis turns as I approach and lifts his eyebrow. "So, what gives?"
"What?" I ask.
"When Bella's over, you usually try to keep her to yourself. She go home?"
I walk around him and grab a beer from the cooler. Next time I come, I really need to pick up a few bottles beforehand to donate. "She's at mine."
"Then, why are you here?"
Fuck. Think things through!
I pop the cap off the beer. "She's binge-watching TV, so I thought I'd come for a drink."
He watches me, his dark green eyes brimmed with suspicion. "Rocco, I know you don't share much, but I do know you. What's really going on?"
"Is Bella okay?" Faith asks, stepping closer. She smiles. "Sorry, I overheard."
"She's fine. Everything's cool."
Taking the hint that she shouldn't be a nosy bitch, Faith nods and retreats. I know she's struck up some sort of friendship with Bella, but that doesn't mean she needs to know our business.
Ellis nods to the edge of the grassy area, and I walk in the direction, so we can talk without people listening in.
"Come on, what's happened?" he asks.
This isn't my secret to tell, but honestly, I'm out of my depth, and Ellis is much more involved than I am. I trust him more than I thought because I'm considering this. Groaning, I run my other hand over my face and then down a quarter of the bottle in one long gulp.
"Rocco, I'm not getting any younger here," he mutters.
"Bella's looking for someone."
"I don't know."
Ellis tilts his head. "I'm confused."
I look over both shoulders. Everyone is out of earshot.
"Twelve years ago, her older sister was killed in their home. Bella is trying to find out who did it."
"Are the police not doing that?"
"She told me they put it down to some home invasions that had been happening, called it a burglary gone wrong," I reply.
"And the thief was never caught?"
"Apparently not. After finding out her sister knew Hugo, she's convinced the guy is someone who lives or lived here."
Ellis's back straightens. "Okay, that is weird. Why has she been coming here if she thinks there's a killer? Surely, she wouldn't want to be anywhere near him."
I shrug. "It's a mess, Ellis, and I don't know what to tell her."
"How is she trying to find him? Just by hanging out here?"
"Pretty much. That's why she's been so keen on seeing everything and watching fucking fights. I mean, do you think Hugo could've killed a teenage girl?"
Other author's books:
- Broken SilenceSilenceThe CellarPlayers, Bumps and Cocktail SausagesLie to MeSilent NightReliving Fate
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