Chapter Twenty-One

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The next morning, I woke up with a start from a nightmare about Rhys. My eyes flew open as I gasped for breath—until I realized I was in Owen's bed. The nightmare faded. I was safe.

I reached for him, but he wasn't there. Instead, a neatly folded note lay on his pillow.

Oh, no, I thought, sitting up and snatching up the note. Not again.

Downstairs, with coffee.

A huge smile spread across my face.

I hopped out of bed and pulled on my jeans and a clean top that Owen had grabbed for me last night. It was one of my chintzier shirts—a froth of lace and silk. He'd even grabbed a necklace off my wall of jewelry: a big cameo on a black ribbon that, now that I looked it, perfectly matched the shirt, though the effect was a bit gothic. The one thing he hadn't brought for me was makeup, which meant I had no way to cover up the ugly bruise on my jaw. I supposed I should view the bruise as a badge of honor—a symbol of my escape from Rhys—but it was hard for me to see it that way. If it weren't for Owen, I doubted I would have escaped.

Downstairs, I followed the smell of coffee into the kitchen, where I saw Claire sitting at Owen's kitchen table. "Claire!"

Claire jumped up, crossed the kitchen, and pulled me in to a tight hug. "Oh, sweetie! Owen told me what happened. I'm so sorry. I didn't realize how bad it was—"

"It's okay," I assured her, disentangling myself from her arms. "Owen took good care of me."

He was standing by the sink, drying a coffee mug with a dishtowel. When our eyes met, he blushed, and my own cheeks warmed in response.

Claire glanced from me to Owen with a fond smile. "I should get back to the shop. I'm just so glad you're all right, Miranda. Or mostly all right." Her smile flickered as she took in my wrist brace, half-hidden under one silky sleeve. "I hope that man rots in jail."

I shivered. "He'll find a way out of trouble. He always does."

"Maybe I'll give Sherri Lipkowicz a call," Claire said acidly. "She'll show him a thing or two."

"Sherri Lipkowicz?"

"She's the district attorney for our county," Claire explained. "But before she switched sides, she was Owen's defense attorney."

Suddenly, I remembered where I'd heard this name before. The boring lawyer from Kaye and Andy's beach party had told me he worked with Sherri Lipkowicz. He'd even mentioned something about her switching to prosecution from defense—something about a certain case. "She switched sides after Owen's case?"

"She was so upset by how that awful prosecutor treated Owen. I'll never forget it. She believed in him every second of that case."

Boredom had made it sound like she regretted helping Owen. People here would find any reason to think of him as guilty.

"I'll call her if you want, M.," Owen rumbled. He poured a huge mug of coffee, added cream and sugar, and brought it over to me where I was standing by the counter.

Taking the mug in my good hand, I tried to smile. "Okay," I said half-heartedly. "If you think it's a good idea." It was hard to imagine the prosecutor having a word with Rhys, or even filing charges against him. For what—me? I didn't think of myself as the victim of a crime; that made what had happened seem so—so abnormal.

"Miranda," Claire said, "he should pay for what he's done to you. You know that."

"I know," I said. "I just want it to be over. I want to move on with my life."

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