Sugar Free Page 37

The minute Remmers told me that my rape case DNA was properly in the database, and knowing that it did not match up with the DNA from Caroline’s rape, had both of us assured that JT was lying to me.

But now it appears the opposite is true, and that is what I cannot process. Whatever DNA they pulled off of me was clearly not JT’s, and that means I was very much mistaken about his involvement that night.

What if all of my memories, no matter how pitiful or chopped up they may be, are completely false? What if I manufactured much of what happened to me?

No…can’t process that, nor do I have time.

Beck asked me to help his sister and that is what I’m going to do. My own mind may be all kinds of fucked up now not knowing shit about my attackers, but I’ve been in that position before. I went years without knowing and it’s not going to kill me to go back to not knowing.

The minute I burst out of the courtroom doors, I look left down the hall to the elevator and see Caroline standing inside, tears pouring down her face. A few reporters come out the door behind me and pause, unsure of what to do. Caroline looks at me with anger and misery as the doors slide closed, and that spurs the reporters into action. They run to the elevator and jab at the down button, but I’ve been in that thing a few times. There’s only one that services this part of the courthouse and it chugs at the speed of a snail.

I don’t hesitate. I sprint the opposite way and hit the stairwell exit. We’re on the fifth floor, and providing I don’t bust an ankle in my high heels while hurtling down them, I should be able to catch her.

Down one flight, heels clacking and hand gripped hard on the handrail. Around the landing. Down another flight.

When I get to the bottom floor, I slam open the door and come skidding out into the lobby of the Marin County Courthouse, and immediately spy Caroline heading for the exit door with one hand clasped tightly to hold her purse over her shoulder and her face angled downward so no one can see her tearstained face.

“Caroline,” I call out as I start running after her.

She hunches her shoulders and quickens her pace, and beats me to the exit doors by several strides. I rush right out after her and call out again as she starts to cross the one-way street to the parking deck on the other side, being fortuitously lucky there is no traffic to mow her down. With a brief glance over my shoulder, I see the lobby is still reporterless so I kick my run into overdrive, hoping against a twisted ankle, and by the time she’s entering the parking deck, I’ve caught up with her.

If we’re lucky, the reporters will chase after nothing down the sidewalk.

“Caroline, please wait,” I say as I reach out and grab her by the elbow.

She spins on me in a swirl of spitting anger, jerking her arm away. “You knew, didn’t you?” she accuses.

“Yes,” I say with a wince, then immediately amend my answer. “Actually, no. It’s a long story and we were going to tell you, but—”

“You should have fucking told me,” she screeches at the top of her lungs as she takes a step toward me in a menacing fashion. Tears still pour out of her eyes but they are filled with pure malice and not an ounce of pain right now. I expect that will come back later, and I’ll take her anger. She deserves to lay it on someone.

“We were going to,” I say desperately. “But we wanted to be absolutely certain first, and we learned something yesterday that led us to believe he hadn’t done it.”

She scoffs and turns her back on me, walking across the concrete deck toward the internal stairwell rather than the elevator. I follow along. “I swear it, Caroline. If you just stop and listen to me, I’ll tell you everything.”

“As if I could ever believe you,” she huffs as she drags a hand across her cheek to wipe away the wetness.

“Well just stop, take a moment, and listen to my story and then make your judgment,” I snap at her as I jog to keep up with her long-legged pace.

She stops as I request, so suddenly I almost barrel into her, but I pull myself up quickly. “You see, the thing is—”

“You know,” she interrupts me. “I don’t know who to be more pissed at…Beck for not telling me something I had a right to know, or you for even coming into his life and bringing all this shit with you.”

“Me,” I say solemnly as I reach out and touch her forearm. “You be mad at me. Beck has always been your champion, so you take every bit of your pain out on me. Okay?”

Tears well up again in Caroline’s eyes and her shoulders sag, and I can see the fight completely drain out of her. She looks up to the concrete ceiling above us and says on a disbelieving moan, “Oh God…JT is my brother?”

“Yes,” I whisper.

“And he raped me?”

“Beck and I honestly didn’t think so, but let’s go get in your car for some privacy and before the reporters find us. Let me tell you every bit of it, okay?”

Caroline’s gaze drops to mine and she nods, spinning back on her heel and climbing up the stairwell to the second level. I follow behind her, trying to calm my racing heart. Too much fucking drama for me to handle. Beck sitting there while evidence mounted against him, a scandalous bomb dropped in open court that will have every news media channel about ready to cream themselves, and Beck’s sister destroyed by something she should have been told a long time ago.

When we both get situated in Caroline’s car, I angle my body to the left to look at her directly. She sits facing completely forward, almost as if she’s afraid to look at me. In fact, her gaze seems superglued to the steering wheel.

“When I was at JT’s house and he was on top of me—choking me—he told me he wanted me to know something before I died.”

Caroline swallows hard but doesn’t look away from the steering wheel.

“He told me that he was the one who raped you,” I tell her softly. “I made a bad judgment call not to tell you and Beck about it that night. But I did tell Beck the next morning, and at first, we thought it best not to tell you.”

“You should have told me that night,” she whispers, gaze still forward.

“I know,” I tell her with full acceptance of that fuckup on my part. “And we pretty quickly realized you should know…that we shouldn’t keep it from you. Once we thought about it, we knew that you needed that closure and resolution, no matter how painful it may be. As someone who probably will never get that closure, I knew it was just so obvious that you should know.”

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