Back in Business

It was amazing the amount of drama playing out. Yanni looked like she was under the gun. I had to admit, it was about time someone had outdone her. After trying to attack Detective Barnes, she seemed to have a time regaining control.

One look at Eric and I knew we were both thinking the same thing: The situation was out of control. I was about to take Eric aside so that we could talk, when Detective Barnes finally rattled off what I thought was his main reason for following them to the house.

“Well, since I’m sure you’ll probably hear about it in the news,”—he glanced around—“and, it seems, the gang’s all here, you should know that Sabrina LaFountaine is on suicide watch. She tried to kill herself after finding out Damon Smith was dead.”

“Is that all?” Yanni asked, the irritation in her tone evident.

“What do you mean, all?” I asked, wondering what exactly it took for my friend to be shocked by something other than Rain’s presence. “The girl had to be guilty of something. Why else would she try to kill herself? Think about it, Yanni.” I turned back to Barnes. “Any other surprises, since you seem full of them today?”

He pointed fingers at me and grinned like we shared a secret. “There is one more. The medical examiner notified us that Ms. Craft was pregnant—4½ months to be exact. That wouldn’t have been your little one, now would it, Mr. Lindsey?”

“Oh shit,” I blurted out, without thinking. I glanced over at Eric, just in time to see his face grow solemn and tears fill his eyes. It didn’t matter what happened next, I had to get Eric out of there.

“Detective, I get the feeling you’ve said everything you came here to say.” I began walking toward the door. “Rain, Vincent—one of you close the door, please? This conversation is over.”

Rain stepped back inside and slammed the door. He paused, looked at Eric a minute and walked off. Yanni and Vincent just stood there, their eyes glued to Eric. The quiet in the room bordered on eerie.

“Eric, may I speak with you for a second?” I quietly asked, breaking through the tension.

Vincent glared at me. “Not now, bitch, can’t you see he’s upset?”

“Back off, Vince,” Eric said. “Starlet’s not out to hurt me. Can you believe that?” He whipped around to look at his brother. “You sent Ashley here, because she had convinced you she was pregnant with my baby. If you hadn’t sent her, she might not be dead, so give me my moment with Starlet.”

Vincent backed away, his hands held up and sat down in the closest chair, but he continued to glare at me.

Eric had told me about his hotheaded younger brother, but I didn’t expect the man sitting before me in this house. He was brash, rude and downright disrespectful. I’d never had expected them to come from the same parents. His only words to me, since he’d arrived had left me steaming, and I wanted him to know that.

“Vincent, you might think I’m just another bitch out to break your brother’s heart, but I’m not about that.” I grabbed Eric’s hand and took a deep breath. “But I will tell you one thing, motherfucker, you call me a bitch again and you’ll see a real bitch.”

I stared him down, silently daring him to say something. He slid the chair back as if preparing to get up, and Yanni planted herself in front of him. “You will not fuck with her in my house.” She glanced over at me. “And please don’t get it twisted—she really doesn’t need me to protect her from you. She’s not as frail as you think.”

I rolled my eyes and proceeded to march out of the room, pulling Eric behind me. “Hungry or want to walk?” I asked.

“Walk,” he flatly replied.

As we headed down the path running alongside the house, Yanni raised a window. “Don’t forget—stay on the grounds,” she yelled.

I just shook my hand in the air and kept walking. I’d heard her the first time.

We walked for a bit following the path that led to a gazebo about a half mile from the house. After sitting in silence for a while, I turned to face Eric. I really didn’t know what to say or if I should say anything.

In my gut, though, I knew that the chapter involving Sabrina had not ended. She hadn’t tried to kill herself because she was that in love, she tried because she was hiding something.

Eric finally broke the silence. “You know, my father always said follow your gut,”—he paused for a long moment, and then continued—“and, for the most part, I always do. Except for the night Ashley called after Vincent gave her my number. My gut told me not to see her. Not to get reconnected, but I didn’t follow it and I should have.”

“But you couldn’t have known it would turn out like this.” I massaged the back of his hand, in an attempt to comfort him.

He turned to face me. “But it did. See, that is what you don’t understand. I was done when I left Ashley, and I should have stayed done. Not leaving the situation alone has steered me into this mess. A huge one, might I add.”

“Well, I don’t believe we’re in that big of a mess. Yanni’s mess seems much bigger than ours. Did you see her in action a few minutes ago?”

We both laughed because it was true.

“Eric,” I said, growing serious. “I do have this one question that constantly begs to be answered. Who could Ashley have been sleeping with, if it wasn’t you? Was it really Damon as Sabrina said?”

“And that, baby, is what we’re going to find out as soon as we can sneak away from Vincent and Yanni.”

“I can help you with that, but you have to take me with you,” Red said, stepping out of the bushes.