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All The Lies: Chapter 15

LOGAN

It is forbidden to kill; therefore all murderers are punished, unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets.

—Voltaire


“Hey,” I say, relaxing when Lana answers the phone.

I don’t blame her for bailing on the madness that followed the sheriff’s unprovoked attack, but I’ve been worried since she hasn’t answered her phone for the past few hours.

The sheriff and his deputies are cooling down back at their station. Johnson won the war on the arrests, but he’s running out of juice. This is one more strike against him in the file Collins is currently preparing.

“Hey,” she says softly, her voice like a soothing balm.

“Where are you?”

I look around the cabin, finding no sign that she’s been back.

“I went for a run. I was getting…annoyed. I don’t like being annoyed,” she says sadly. “I hope you’re okay. I didn’t want to call until I knew for sure you weren’t around any of them.”

“I’m fine, Lana,” I say with a smirk. “Trust me, I can handle a few backwoods cops and an outdated agent with superiority complexes.”

“Don’t underestimate them.”

Her voice comes from behind me, and I toss my phone to the bed when I see her standing in the doorway, her chest rising and falling rapidly as a small sheen of sweat beads at her forehead.

“A body drops from the tower, and you go for a run,” I say on a sigh, not realizing how tense I was until this moment.

“They were attacking you. I knew if I said anything, I’d just make it worse,” she says as she pulls off her jacket and steps farther into the room. “And I suck at biting my tongue.”

My grin etches up as I move in closer, tugging her to me by her waist.

“I can handle my own battles, so you can use your tongue for better things,” I murmur against her ear, feeling her smile even though I can’t see it.

I start kissing a trail down her neck, and she presses her body to me.

“I’ve needed this,” she says, her arms tightening around me in an embrace.

As much as I’d love to do something more than hug, I realize it’s sort of what I need in this moment too. Mostly because she’s fucking ridiculously brave enough to wander around a town where a man was just skinned alive. Why can’t she be normal and lock herself inside this cabin?

I’m getting an ulcer over her.

“We’re getting away as soon as this case is over. Just you and me and a beach far, far away.”

“I know you said a week but…maybe longer than a week?” she asks, leaning her head back. “My treat?”

“I can’t take more than a week at a time, given our current work load. But maybe soon. And I’ll pay for it.”

She rolls her eyes before her head finds my chest, and she continues holding onto me.

“I love you,” I say softly.

Her arms squeeze me tighter as the chatter outside the window grows restless, everyone waiting on me.

“I love you too,” she says on a long sigh. “I take it you have somewhere to be?”

“Sort of have to find the guy who just skinned a grown man alive.”

She nods and steps back, wiping something away from her eye. “Right. Sorry.”

“You okay?” I ask, lightly gripping her chin and turning her to face me.

She peers up at me, her eyes hesitant. She never asks for anything, but always gives so much. Yet I see a question in her eyes, and I’m willing to do whatever she wants. Even if it’s getting the hell out of here and abandoning this case.

Then again, I still have a lot of justice to find in an extremely unjust town, while pretending to focus only on the current killer. Although, considering Johnson and the sheriff are already plotting my demise, I suppose I could give up pretenses. They know by now I’m doing more than gathering some background that could point to our killer. Hell, I’ve basically announced it.

I’m building a whole fucking case against them.

It’s just really hard to do without any physical evidence.

“What do you need?” I ask her when she grows silent.

“This afternoon, if you get a chance, do you think we could spend a couple of hours together?”

It’s the first time she’s ever asked that. Usually it’s me asking her to bend her life around my crazy schedule, not to mention put up with possible death threats.

“I can take off the entire afternoon,” I say, strumming her cheek with my fingertips.

I really can’t afford it right now, not with Johnson scheming with the director as I speak. But I won’t tell her that.

“Just a couple of hours,” she says with a small smile. “I know you have a lot on your plate.”

The chatter outside keeps growing louder, and I bend to press a kiss to her lips.

“I’ll be back at seven, and then I’m all yours for the rest of the night.”

She closes her eyes as I touch her, as though she’s absorbing the feel of my hand on her cheek.

“Okay,” she says softly, her eyes opening to reveal those haunting green eyes that have forever been seared into my memory.

I kiss her quickly, and head for the door, feeling like I’m doing something wrong. Never once, until now, has she seemed so vulnerable.

When I reach the outside, there are people lined up all around, everyone talking at once. What the hell? How long was I inside? This wasn’t going on when I came in.

“What’s going on?” I ask Elise.

She turns to me with a stoic expression.

“Apparently the amnesia is gone, and suddenly everyone wants to tell the tale of what happened ten years ago, along with everything that’s been going on before and since then. We’re going to be taking statements for the rest of the night.”

People are lined up all the way down the street, and I run a hand through my hair. I turn to see Lana standing on the porch, her eyes settling on the long line of people who are ready to spill the secrets they’ve kept for so long.

That coldness is back in her eyes.

It’s as though she resents them right now.

Fear is always a good motivator to make people grow honest.

I turn back to Leonard, and he gestures me toward him.

“I’m supposed to ride with Donny to the M.E. to get the report on Davenport,” I tell him.

“I’m taking his place. He’s going to help with this mess and deal with the deputies who keep showing up and trying to squash the line. Unsurprisingly, no one is backing down. I guess they fear a killer who has the power to skin a monster more than they fear the men who’ve had them cowering for who knows how long.”

I shake my head, leaving behind the mess.

As soon as we’re in the car, I crank it and start driving.

“Did you get ahold of Jacob Denver?” I ask.

“He’s in California on business, according to his answering machine.”

“You don’t say,” I murmur. “How very convenient. Look into it and see if there’s proof.”

“Alan confirmed the plane ticket was used and someone checked into a hotel under his name in California. He’s pulling security footage, but we both know that a ball cap will obscure most of the visible for a guy in a wheelchair. I’m guessing he planned this out carefully if he’s involved. His alibi will check out, even if it’s not really him.”

He raps his fingers on the dash like he’s nervous, and I give him a sidelong glance.

“What’s wrong?” I ask, curious.

“I have a feeling you’re not going to like the next part I tell you.”

“What part?”

He turns to face me, and I pause at a stop light.

“Alan has been getting watched closely by the director, so I had an old friend do some extra research. I found out that Jacob Denver has another business he’s basically a silent partner in.”

“Okay…”

“Remember how I told you I had a theory, but thought I was wrong? But then we found out our unsub has a partner?”

“Sure. Why is this making you so nervous?” I ask, confused.

“Does the name Kennedy Carlyle sound familiar for any reason?”

I think of it, trying to mull it over. “The name Carlyle does… Shit. That was the name of the drunk drivers who were behind the wheel of the car that killed Jasmine Evans.”

He nods slowly. “They orphaned a daughter who was young. Same age as Victoria, actually. Their birthdays were even close together. Her name was Kennedy.”

“What does this have to do with anything?”

He raps his fingers harder, acting more nervous than I’ve ever seen him before.

“At first I thought it was just serendipitous. I visited the hospital to ask about Victoria Evans, but when I said a sixteen-year-old girl involved in a car crash on that date, they said they’d already spoken to one FBI agent about her. I got confused, until they handed me a file on Kennedy Carlyle instead of Victoria Evans. They couldn’t show me much, but they hit the highlights.”

“You’ve lost me, Leonard,” I groan.

“Hadley Grace called them about Kennedy. Pretty typical of her.”

“Why?”

He suddenly climbs over the middle, his hip smashing into my shoulder on his way to the backseat.

“What the actual hell?” I harp, swerving when he hits my shoulder again.

“Sorry!” he calls out as he settles into the backseat. “Just wanted to make sure I’m out of hitting range.”

My eyebrows hit my hairline.

“Look, it sounded absolutely absurd, but I struggle to believe in coincidences,” he rambles on.

“Leonard, I swear, I’m this close to losing my fucking patience.” I pinch my fingers together to show him exactly how little patience is left.

“Hadley always researches any girl you’re involved with,” he finally says.

“I realize everyone thinks I get around a lot, but I’ve never heard of Kennedy Carlyle,” I tell him dryly. “And I don’t get around nowhere near as much as the rumors like to say I do.”

“She was in the hospital the same night as Victoria Evans—the same night she and Marcus Evans died.”

“And?”

“And I found that really coincidental, considering her parents were the reason Jasmine Evans died. So I dug into it a little. Kennedy Carlyle changed her name a long time ago. Ten years ago to be exact. She also left the hospital against doctor’s orders the next day after her life-saving surgery.”

“Damn it, Leonard!” I shout.

“Fine! Fine.” He takes a long breath. “Before I tell you this, you should know there is no romantic involvement with any other man going on. I researched that very, very thoroughly. In fact, she’s had very few romantic involvements over the years.”

“Why do I give a damn?” I groan.

His eyes dart around the car as I glare at him through the rearview mirror.

“She left with Jacob Denver. The two of them own a buy, sell, and trade store online. And Kennedy Carlyle now goes by Lana Myers.”

My blood seizes in my veins as all the oxygen leaves my lungs painfully. The car skids to an abrupt halt, and Leonard catches himself on the back of the seat in front of him.

“Seatbelt,” he mutters, grimacing. “Why didn’t I think of a seatbelt?”

But my ears are thumping wildly with the drumming of my over-stimulated heart. My hands grip the steering wheel too tightly as I stare ahead but see nothing.

“She loves you, Logan. I think you should know that before you react at all.”

Something ignites loudly, and a hissing of fire drags me out of my head for a brief moment as a fire lights and slithers over a wall at the town hall. People trip and stare—gawk, actually—as the words appear, written in fire this time.

Run. Before the town burns to the ground. Run. Run. Run.

“No,” I say quietly, shaking my head. “No. There’s no way it’s Lana.”

“I thought that at first,” he says too quietly. “Then I read the reports on Plemmons from the autopsy. Lana had a few bruises. Plemmons was loaded down with them. A man who had easily subdued so many women in the past just ran over a knife after taking a beating? We just never looked into it, because—”

“Hadley,” I say on a rasp whisper.

“Yeah. Hadley. And then there was the pedophile who hurt—”

“Hadley,” I say again, feeling the binds of betrayal squeezing tighter and tighter, almost as though it’s becoming a tangible noose around my neck.

“Yeah,” he whispers, so much pity in his voice. “Obviously she believes in whatever Lana has told her about this crusade. After what Hadley went through, it’s not surprising. I understand it too, but…I don’t understand how she can be a proxy but not be suffering any signs of psychotic breaks. I feel like I’m missing something.”

My chest gets heavier and heavier as the truth slowly creeps into my every bone, robbing me of my ability to use any of my motor functions.

“She does love you,” he says quietly from the back seat. “I’ve seen it, Logan. She risked it all to—”

Stop talking,” I say on a rasp, unable to say more when my throat knots up.

Cars pass us as we idle in the middle of the street, and I continue to stare aimlessly.

Every morning I woke up and spent the day worried about her safety, dreading every second away. And every night she laid down with her secrets, possibly laughing at me.

“You’re a profiler,” Leonard says, ignoring my demand for silence. “You know what she feels isn’t imitation. Don’t do anything stupid, Logan. You may be the only thing grounding her to reality, and if you love her… Just remember the story about Katie.”

I snort derisively as my heart kicks my chest.

“Stop. Talking.”

Instead of driving to the M.E., I turn around and drive back to the cabins.

“Don’t tell anyone else yet. I want a confession,” I say with a deadly calm tone.

“I said don’t do anything stupid, Logan.”

My hands grip the wheel tighter, betrayal continuing its course through my bitter veins.

I’ve loved a killer who I knew nothing about. I’ve loved a girl who was obsessed with a dead family to the extent of killing, or manipulated by a man who preyed on her psychosis.

One way or another, I’m finding out tonight.


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