“You’re drunk, but I will absolutely take advantage of you. These are extenuating circumstances.”
I giggled. “Good. You should pull over somewhere and do me in the car.”
“Wow, baby. Keep talking like that and I just might. First, let’s put your seat belt on, okay?” Blake pulled out of the drive. “Then take your panties off.”
I smirked and slid them down my legs, giddy for whatever plan Blake was cooking up.
I looked up from my seat belt endeavors just in time to notice a black sedan parked across the street. I twisted in my seat. The lights turned on and the car began to follow as we meandered back toward the main roads. My gaze fixed on the side view mirror. I blinked and tried to shake the buzz. I wasn’t imagining this. The car kept following us, a safe distance behind.
“You okay? You haven’t been this quiet all night.”
My heart raced as the cold reality of the situation became clear. My indiscretions with Blake were officially on the radar. Between that and trying to manipulate my way through the interview, Daniel would be furious. I powered on my phone. Daniel had called twice more, never leaving a voice mail.
The complacency I’d felt earlier had expired. All my fears could be realized, all because I couldn’t stay away. I panicked, my body shaking uncontrollably. Everything was crashing down now.
“What’s wrong? Do you want me to pull over?”
“No!” I shouted. “Drive, let’s get out of here.” Heaven help me, what have I done?
Blake’s hand tightened over the steering wheel and he reached over to hold my hand in his other. “Okay, here’s the deal. You need to talk to me right now, or I’m heading back to the house.” He stopped at a stop sign.
“Just drive. It’s not safe. They’re following us. Go!” This would be the worst buzz kill ever, especially if we ended up dead.
He frowned and kept going. He checked his mirrors.
“Who exactly is following us?”
I shook my head, hugging my arms tightly around my body, as if I’d fall apart completely if I let go.
“Erica, for fuck’s sake! Who?”
“Daniel.” My voice was a whisper. “They’ve been watching us.”
Blake stared ahead onto the road, his expression unreadable. His speed picked up as we hit the highway. We were going well over the speed limit, zipping down side streets until we hit ours. He parked and helped me out.
Somehow we’d managed to lose Connor. Either that, or he’d simply decided to stop tailing us. Not that it really mattered now anyway. He knew I’d been with Blake.
We stepped into Blake’s apartment, and he planted me on the couch and brought me water. My body had calmed down a little, but I was filled with an empty kind of despair—that dark unknown that I’d envisioned so many times if Daniel changed his mind about sparing us. I said us, because if anything happened to Blake, I wasn’t sure I’d be able to go on.
While I drank, Blake made a call from the kitchen. His voice was low and the call was brief. He returned and sat across from me on the table, stroking my thigh.
“Can we talk about this now?” His voice was gentler.
I didn’t know what else I had to lose by telling him. He deserved the right to protect himself now that I’d brought Daniel’s focus back to him.
“Daniel killed Mark,” I said.
His expression didn’t change. “I put that one together myself, Erica.”
“You threatened him, and it burns him that you did. He’s not going to let it go.” I bit my lip, staving off the tears that threatened.
“I’m not worried about Daniel.”
“Well you should be. He’s going to kill you, Blake! He said I had to end it completely with you or he was going to ‘remove you from the equation permanently.’ Now he knows, and… This is so bad. You don’t understand.”
“So this is why.” His stare was penetrating, piercing my soul.
I swallowed and nodded silently.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
I shook my head. “You don’t know how he is. He’s ruthless, violent. You have no idea what he’s capable of. He killed his own son, for God’s sake. I had to try to protect you from him.”
“I have information that exposes not just Mark, but him. I had no idea he was going to kill Mark. Not that I’m not infinitely happy he’s gone. If I’d known he was going to go that route, I probably wouldn’t have approached him the way I had.”
He exhaled. “Doesn’t seem like there’s any love lost between you now, so I don’t suppose there’s any harm in telling you.”
“What is it?”
“Daniel’s been covering up Mark’s exploits for years. You never reported it to the police when he raped you, but plenty of other women did. He can grease as many palms as he wants to make the problems go away, cover shit up, but he couldn’t make everything disappear around someone as prolific as Mark. When I told him I could make certain information very easily accessible, to the press for example, you can imagine that he wasn’t too pleased.”
“All the more reason to kill you now. He’s taken mercy on you to manipulate his way into my life. He wants me to be part of his fucked up political campaign, unofficially, of course. He was going to help me pay you back the money you lent me so I could ditch the business.”
“And you agreed to all this?”
His eyebrows shot up, like I’d lost my mind. Maybe I had.
“I… He didn’t give me any choice, Blake. He said he was going to kill you. I’ve been trying to figure out a way around it this whole time, but he doesn’t make it easy. He’s horrible and…persuasive.” I sagged back into the couch, not wanting to even touch the fact that he’d been violent with me.
I took a few more sips, wishing Blake would talk.
“I’ll go to him, Blake. I can try to convince him that this wasn’t what it looked like. He knows we’re bound to run into each other. Somehow I’ll make him understand, come up with an excuse. And then we’ll just have to lie low, figure out how to… I don’t know…”
“No. I’m not sneaking around to be with you.”
“Then what do we do?”
“He’s banking on you reacting just as you have, because you love me. What he’s not banking on is me causing so many problems with this election that he’ll be too busy to think about much else.”