The Fire Still Burns

The Fire Still Burns by Crystal-Rain Love

Book: The Fire Still Burns by Crystal-Rain Love Read Free Book Online
Authors: Crystal-Rain Love
    Chief Parker was right.  She had turned into a cowering mess, too scared to deal with the obstacles life had been throwing at her since the day Zeke Good and Calvin Wylie had taught her the true meaning of shame.
    “He's right,” Adam said, and although she didn’t look at him, she knew he held his gaze away from her as well.
    “Knowing he's right doesn't make what he's asking, or ordering, us to do any easier.”
    “No, it doesn't, but he's still right.  The big picture is what we need to be focusing on.  We need to leave our baggage outside the door and handle this case.  I don't honestly know if I'm capable of doing that, but I can try.”
    “I suppose we have to.”  Brynn felt his gaze on her face, hot and heavy.  He was staring.
    “Do you think that will really work, or should we finally lay everything out on the table?” Adam asked.  “Should we talk about this?”
    If only it were that easy.  Adam wanted to know why she’d left him for his best friend.  She hadn’t.  She’d been plowed with liquor supplied by his brother and tricked into thinking she’d slept with him.
    Her stomach churned, the memory of her stupidity filling her with nausea.  She’d been at a costume party, she and Adam both dressed as ninjas, when Cal had created a diversion to separate them.
    When she saw a ninja standing on the staircase moments later, beckoning her closer, she hadn’t questioned it.  She’d followed him blindly.
    Brynn raked her hands through her hair and fought back bile.  She’d followed Zeke straight into the pitch-black room where Cal waited.  She’d done nothing while Cal violated her, stupidly thinking it was Adam pounding away inside her so roughly.
    And when Zeke, who’d been standing in the corner enjoying the show, asked her if she wanted him to stop, she’d thought it was Adam.  Too foolish to question why his voice sounded different and so far away, she’d said the words which gave her rapist permission to continue.
    No.  Just…I wasn’t ready but it’s all right.  Don’t stop . 
    How could she tell Adam that?  How could she survive the shame of telling him the woman who’d claimed to love him didn’t even recognize she was having sex with someone else?
    “Brynn?  Hello, Earth to Brynn…Brynn.”
    Shaking her head, she came out of the trance she'd been under.  She looked at Adam and quickly glanced away again, but it wasn't quick enough for him to miss the look in her eyes.  It reminded him of a child who'd just woken from a terrifying nightmare.  “What were you thinking about just now?  I had to have called your name about twenty times.”
    “Um, I'm sorry.  What were you saying?”  Brynn absently smoothed her blouse with trembling fingers.  She looked at him but not in the eye, it seemed a struggle just to do that much.
    “I was asking if we should talk about what happened thirteen years ago.  Are you all right?  You look a little pale.”  Her skin had turned white as a ghost, and a fine sheen of sweat glistened on her upper lip, but he didn't see how knowing that would help her.
    “I'm fine.”  She answered quickly, too quickly, as she reached across Chief Parker's desk and grabbed some tissues to dab her face.
    “I'm just anxious to get to work.  Chief Parker’s right.  Let's just put our feelings aside and get this case over with.”  She wiped the sweat from her face and tossed the tissue into the wastebasket by the chief’s desk.  “I've got some other things going.  Hopefully, by the time we've got this case solved, I'll have earned enough money from my other jobs to leave.  There's no sense in rehashing everything now when I'll be gone soon and you won't have to think of me or what happened again.”
    The muscles in his chest contracted, desperately seeking air.  It was as though she'd sucker-punched him with mere words.  She was leaving him again.
    Brynn didn't come back for you, he admonished himself, and

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