I stared at the phone a minute. Had I temporarily lost my signal, or had Barnes purposely disconnected the call? Either way, I’d been in the middle of something, and my skepticism regarding his determination to pin a murder on Starlet had been heightened by Sabrina’s revelations.
“He hung up,” I said more to myself than for Sabrina’s benefit.
Her face was devoid of color. “Does that mean he’s on his way over here? You know, he knows where you—”
“He wouldn’t know where I lived if somebody hadn’t told him, now would he?”
Sabrina backed toward the kitchen door. “I-I didn’t know he was playing the other side, at the time. You gotta believe me.”
“Any other time I’d be more than willing to nurse a grudge—tonight, I’m just spent,” I admitted. I sighed, dropping my shoulders. “Look, Sabrina, you irk me, I mean, really irk me. I think you talk too much. I think—”
“You could learn to like me?” she blurted out, her eyes lighting up.
“That would be asking too much. But I am willing to hear what you have to say, since it seems you hold the key to a lot of unanswered things around here.” I stared at her pointedly and added, “Besides, if at any time I feel like you’re not on the up-and-up, I’ll simply feed you to the shark.”
Sabrina grinned from ear to ear. “I promise you won’t be sorry. So, does that mean I can camp out here?”
“No, you cannot camp out here. You give me the information I need, and I’ll make sure you end up in a safe place.”
“But, I thought you said—”
“I said,” I interjected, “that I’m willing to listen and give you safe holding—nothing more.”
Sabrina frowned and seemed to mull over my offer. Finally, she looked up at me. “Safe as in far away from here, or safe as in live in my old place with police patrols?”
I glared at her. “Stop toying around. Finish what we started before my phone rang.”
As if summoning up a ghost, my phone vibrated again.
I stepped off the porch. “Hey, babe, everything okay?” I asked.
“Far from it,” he said in a whisper. “I just succeeded in restarting Andrew’s heart.”
“You did what?” I sucked in wind. One more thing and I was fit to be tied. “I thought he hit his head?”
“Oh, he did, and then his son tried to strangle him to death.”
“Mason tried to kill his father?” I balked.
“Interesting you should say that—his name isn’t Mason, it’s Jackson,” Rain replied. “While we’re on the subject, did you have any inkling Angela was Andrew’s daughter?”
Shocked. Breathless. Fleeting moments of consciousness. Every word Rain said following his last statement floated in and out, like a curtain billowing in the wind.
Angela was Andrew’s daughter. That meant Ashley had been Mason’s—Jackson’s sister. That would also mean he’d been screwing his blood. Andrew should consider himself lucky Jackson hadn’t succeeded.
Why hadn’t he simply told him the truth?
So much of Jackson’s life could have been different, if only he’d known. I mused on my own life, which could have been just as different had I known the truth about my existence. For what it was worth, my life practically mirrored Jackson’s.
I ran my fingers through my hair, an exasperated sigh escaping my lips. Every time I tried to separate my anger toward my own mother from my feelings about Andrew’s cause, he opened yet another painful door to a past that grew more and more identical to mine.
“With all the guilt the man’s been carrying around,” I heard Rain say, “it’s no wonder his heart didn’t give out sooner.”
“Is he going to be okay?” I found myself asking.
“I think he will. I’ve got him stable for now, and I’m headed back in to perform another EKG. I’ll also do a chest scan.” He paused, his tone softening even more. “Yanni, once I’m sure he’s stable, you and I really need to talk. There’s something you don’t know about me—I think it’s time you do.”
Something deep within me screamed its objections. Whenever people started writing prescriptions for the truth, I always ended up hurt. As I flipped my phone closed and turned back to Sabrina, a dawning realization hit me.
Whatever Rain had to say, I wasn’t ready to hear it.