Sugar Free Page 33

Outside of that one afternoon when Beck kicked me out of the apartment, I’ve never seen him angry like this before. Never seen him so close to being out of control. His face is red and his chest is heaving.

“What would you have me do?” I ask quietly, because I’m thinking he’s geared up for a fight and I don’t want this to escalate.

He takes a deep breath, seems reasonably mollified by my request, and says with a release of air, “Let’s go out and do something. Get out of this place for a bit.”

“I don’t feel like it,” I say automatically, and then wince the minute the words are out.

Beck advances on me, coming to a stop when we’re toe-to-toe. His lips peel back into an ugly grimace and he snarls, “You don’t feel like doing anything. You’ve shut down and you’ve shut me out. You wouldn’t even let me touch you last night or the night before. Just moping around like you’re half dead, waiting for the sky to fall.”

A tiny flare of anger pulses within me. “Well, the sky is fucking falling if you haven’t noticed, Beck. You’re in some serious fucking trouble and I don’t know what to do.”

He makes a scoffing sound and turns away from me.

“I’m scared,” I say pitifully.

“Well join the goddamned club,” he growls as he spins back on me. “It’s my ass on the line right now, but you don’t see me pulling away, do you? You see me trying to keep on living life, right?”

I want to accept his words and give them credence. Hell, I’m sure he’s 100 percent right. But right now, I feel similar to the way I did after my rape. Completely lost, unsure of what to do or how to feel, and trying with all my might to resist the urge to just curl inward. I want to ignore all of this mess and live in a world where tomorrow doesn’t come, because tomorrow means we are back in court listening to evidence that could take this man away from me forever.

Beck looks at me expectantly, hope in his eyes that I might just step forward and tumble into his arms. Apologize for my bizarre behavior over the weekend and snap myself out of it.

But I can’t. I know things are hard on him right now, but they’re equally as hard on me. Not only am I terrified of what will happen, I’m loaded with guilt so heavy I feel like my back will break from the sheer weight of it. Because let’s face it…this is all my fault. One could even take it right back to my sixteenth birthday, where it all started. Had I just listened to Whitney at the mall and never gotten into the car with those boys, wanting to prove how grown up I was, Beck wouldn’t be in the position he is now.

“Fuck this,” Beck mutters when I don’t say anything, and stomps out of the kitchen. He grabs his keys off the foyer table and pulls the door open.

“Where are you going?” I ask, because our building is surrounded by reporters and I’m worried about him facing that.

“Out,” he says curtly, and then he’s gone, slamming the door behind him.

That wasn’t our first argument, but it was the nastiest and it leaves me completely restless. I pace the entire condo several times, resisting the urge to call Beck. I eventually give up the compulsion because at this moment, he probably needs distance from me.

My phone ringing startles me and for a moment I can’t tell where the sound is coming from. But then I notice it’s muffled and realize it’s in my purse, which is on the floor in the bedroom. I run back to it, figuring it’s Beck and I intend to say “I’m sorry” when we connect.

When I pull my phone out, a tiny thrill of excitement flushes through me at the prospect of making things better for him with a genuine apology and hearing his beautiful voice on the other line, but instead I see an unrecognizable number with a 408 area code. That’s Santa Clara, my home county.

“Hello,” I say hesitantly after I tap the answer button.

“Sela?” a man’s voice asks me just as hesitantly. “It’s Detective Bruce Remmers.”

I immediately recognize the deep baritone voice of the incredibly nice detective who investigated my rape ten years ago. I called him on Friday afternoon and left a message for him. Calling Dennis was out of the question so we could keep him off the police’s radar, and Beck and I knew we needed to push forward with verifying that JT was indeed Caroline’s rapist. Thus we had to match him up to the DNA in my case.

“I got your message,” he says jovially. “Had to come into the office and catch up on a few things. It’s nice to hear your voice. You doing okay?”

“Yeah,” I say with a breathless murmur, both relieved he called me back but also nervous to be opening up this can of worms. “I’m doing fine, actually.”

“That’s good to hear,” he says kindly. “Always knew you were a tough girl and that you were going to make it. So where are you now?”

“I live in San Fran,” I tell him, not wanting to waste time with the necessary small talk, but knowing that because he’s a nice guy and he’s truly interested in me, that he deserves it. “Going to Golden Gate and working on my master’s in counseling psychology.”

I can hear the pride and respect in his voice. “That is fantastic. Just really amazing, Sela.”

“Yeah…so, um…listen,” I say nervously, even though Beck and I thoroughly talked through how to approach my inquiry. “I wanted to ask you about the DNA that was retrieved off me. I mean…it’s been over ten years now and there’s not been a match, and I was just worried…you know…that maybe something got messed up in the system.”

“Sela,” he says with that pastoral tone he’d used on me in the past when he was delivering hard news. “You know sometimes rapists just aren’t caught. They become more careful. Or maybe they don’t rape again because that could have been a one-time-only thing fueled by drugs and alcohol.”

I know he’s right. He’s told me that before. But I press him anyway. “I know. It’s just been bugging me lately, and what if it didn’t get put into the system properly? I mean, those things can happen, right? Do you think you could maybe check, and just ensure that everything is good on your end? Then I could just put this out of my mind and move on.”

Detective Remmers gives a tiny sigh but it’s not irritation with me. The man knew how to handle rape victims with the softest of gloves. No, his sigh is because he’ll do it for me, and in his heart of hearts he believes he’s going to find everything done according to protocol and that he’ll be delivering bad news to me yet again that they have nothing on my rapist.

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