Chapter Twenty

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After the police left, the house was eerily silent. Inside my head, though, it was not quiet at all. God dammit, Miranda, I will teach you how to behave if it's the last thing I do. That same panic rose into my chest and throat, until I couldn't breathe at all.

"Do you want me to call Kaye?" Owen asked. "Or maybe an ambulance?"

I faced Owen, tamping down memories of Rhys. He's gone, he's gone, I told myself. He can't hurt me now. But I'd thought that before, too, and look how that had turned out.

"You should your wrist looked at," Owen insisted.

"Oh," I said. "Right." I had almost forgotten about my wrist, despite how much it hurt. It couldn't compare to how I felt.

Owen was standing only a few feet away, leaning against the breakfast bar amongst the remains of the chairs, staring down at the floor with his hair falling over his eyes. His shirt was misbuttoned and one of his shoes was untied. He had looked so big and fierce when he'd pinned Rhys to the floor, but now he just looked... sweet.

"Or I can take you to the E.R. If you want me to," he said.

I swallowed a lump in my throat. I couldn't believe he had done this for me. "You wouldn't mind?"

"Mind? No." Straightening his big shoulders, Owen went to the freezer. He emptied half a tray of ice cubes into a dishtowel and handed it to me over the breakfast bar. "Here. For the trip there."

Gingerly, I touched the ice to my throbbing wrist. The lightest pressure hurt, but the coldness was wonderful. "I'll need to get my purse, and maybe some clothes, but...."

"But?"

"I don't think I can climb up the ladder to my attic."

"You live in the attic?" A sad smile tugged at his mouth. "Did you guys run out of bedrooms?"

"I love my attic," I told him, almost smiling back. Almost.

He gestured for me to lead the way, and we went upstairs. I waited on the second floor while he climbed up into my room. Even at a time like this, I felt a little self-conscious about the mess in my attic. At least I'd covered my painting of Suze to protect it from the sun.

A moment later, he swung down from the ladder and handed me a bag full of clothes. After I pulled on a pair of jeans and my leather jacket, one-handed, in the bathroom, we went back downstairs. I'd have to explain to Kaye about the chairs tomorrow. I made a mental note to text her later, when my wrist hurt a bit less.

Outside, in the cold, clear night, Owen's truck, with its cheerful company logo and its bed full of two by fours, sat in our driveway. I'd never actually seen his truck anywhere other than in Owen's driveway.

I climbed up into the truck. Leaning my head back against the seat, I closed my eyes and listened to Owen get into the driver's seat beside me. Even when I was this tired and wretched, my skin tingled from being next to him.

Owen didn't start up the truck. I opened my eyes and cast him a worried glance. His large, graceful hands were curled around the steering wheel, but his gaze was lost somewhere in the night.

"Miranda," he said quietly, "are you sure you don't want me to call Kaye?"

The question filled me with shame. I shouldn't impose on him. We weren't dating. We weren't really anything to one another. And he had already done more than enough to help me tonight. "If you don't want to go—"

"No," he said at once. "No. It's not that. It's—I don't want you to feel unsafe. Around me. After what's just happened."

"Oh." I frowned down at my lap. The thing was, he was right. I shouldn't feel safe with him. I should be afraid of him, like Kaye was. Like everybody was.

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