The Obsession Page 147

“I’m on the door,” he said.

Naomi waited, studying Chaffins, seeing the boy he’d once been, the monster he was.

“They might write books about you.”

“Damn right, they will.”

“Even make movies. You can have the sick glory your kind enjoys. I’m fine with that. But you and I, and everyone else, will know that when you came for me, you lost. You lost, Chaffins. I put my father in a cell, and he once meant something to me. Now I’ve put you in one, and you mean nothing.”

“You got lucky. Next time—”

“Dream about it. I hope you do. Every cold, dark night, dream about me.”

“You’ll dream about me.”

“No. I’ll forget you, just like I forgot you years ago. I’m the daughter of a monster. Monsters don’t scare me. Come on, Tag. Let’s go get you a Milk-Bone.”

“Come back here! You come back here, I’m not finished with you.”

“But I’m finished with you.”

She kept walking.

“Feel better?” Xander asked her.

“Yes. Yes, I do. But oh God, I’ll feel better once I get home and take that pill.”

She closed her eyes on the drive so she could focus on pushing through the pain. She had only to get home now, let everything go.

She breathed out relief when the car stopped. “Definitely drugs, but I’d really like to sit—sprawl out on the deck for— Whose car is that?”

Before Mason could speak, the front door of her house flew open.

“Oh God. Oh God.” Tears spilled as Seth yanked open her door.

“Don’t you think about getting out by yourself. I’m going to carry you.”

“You came, you’re here. You’re both here. How? No, you can’t carry me. I can walk.”

“You’re not walking anywhere.” Harry eyeballed Xander. “You’re Xander?”

“Yeah. I’ve got her.”

To settle it, Xander slid his arm under her legs, wrapped the other around her back, gently lifted her.

“Take her right up to bed. We’ve got it all ready for her.”

“No, please. I’m okay. I’d really like to sit out on the deck. I need to hug both of you.”

“I’ll get pillows.” Seth rushed off.

“I made pink lemonade, remember?”

“With crushed ice.” She took Harry’s hand as Xander carried her. “When did you come? How did you get here so fast?”

“Private jet. We’ve got connections. My baby girl,” he murmured, kissed her hand. “Your people said we could come in, Mason. They’d cleared it. And you’d gotten a crew in to . . .”

“Yeah. It’s clean,” he said to Naomi.

By the time they got her to the deck, Seth was fussing with pillows, with a light throw. And had a little vase of flowers on the small table.

“There now, set her right down.” As Xander did, Seth went down on his knees, wrapped arms around her. “My sweetheart, my baby.”

“Don’t cry, don’t cry. I’m okay.”

“She needs a pill. I’m sorry,” Xander added, “but she really needs the pain pill.”

“I’ll get you some lemonade to wash it down. Do you want lemonade?” Harry asked Xander.

“I’d about kill for a beer.”

“I’m going to get you a beer. Mason?”

“I have to go. I’ll be back, but I have to go right now.”

“You be here for dinner. I’m going to make something spectacular.”

As Harry hurried inside, Seth pushed to his feet. Still weeping, he turned, enfolded Xander.

“Ah.” Xander looked into Naomi’s wet, smiling eyes. “Okay.”

“You are now and forevermore a hero to me.” Sniffling, Seth stepped back. “She is the light of my life. She and Mason are the lights of our lives.”

“She brightens up mine, too.”

“I’ve got to go.” Mason kissed Seth’s cheek. “Sit down. Take a breath.”

“Not yet. This boy—handsome,” he added with a wiggle of his eyebrows for Naomi. “He needs some ice for those knuckles. I hope you beat the crap out of that vicious little shit.”

“Broke his nose, knocked out three teeth,” Naomi said.

“Well done.”

Harry came out with a tall glass filled with crushed ice and frothy pink liquid and garnished with a twist of lemon. He handed it to Naomi, then handed a beer—in a pilsner—to Xander. Then, as Seth had, he wrapped his arms around Xander.

“I’m Harry, and this is my best girl. It’s very nice to meet you, Xander.”

“Nice to meet you.” He pulled a pill bottle from his pocket, tapped one out. “Take this.”

“Actually, I want to hold off just until—”

“Take it.”

She sighed, but swallowed the pill. “Oh, Harry, nobody makes pink lemonade like you.”

“Could you eat? Something soft and soothing. Cheesy eggs on toast?”

Tears just flooded up again. “My favorite sick-day meal, Harry.”

“I’m going to make you some eggs, both of you. And I’m going to fix this amazing dog something special. No kibble for you today, my brave boy.”

Tag sent him a look of adoration, laid a head on Harry’s leg. “Some beef. We’ll call it Beef à la Tag.”

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