Trey raised his head. He knew I wasn't telling the whole truth, and I knew there was no use trying to lie—his overly sensitive brain would register the deception before the words left my mouth. The best I could do was throw a bone in some other direction. But it was only him and me in the shop, and I was fresh out of bones.
"Garrity told me what happened," he said.
I joined him behind the counter. "I'm fine. Paint-splattered, but fine. I still have some in my hair, I think."
"Did it hurt?"
"Let me see."
I unbuttoned my shirt to reveal the reddish splotch above my breastbone—it would be a lovely purple bruise in a few days. Trey ran his fingers lightly across the skin. His touch was delicate, but his expression was sharp and annoyed.
"I recommended that individual be dropped from the training program."
"You're just mad because he was mean to me."
"Garrity said the same thing. Nonetheless." He dropped his hands, let them rest hesitantly on my hips. The bloodhound in him could smell something wrong even if he couldn't dig it up easily. "Come back tomorrow. Tomorrow is mantracking at Doll's Head Trail."
"I thought you sucked at mantracking."
"I do. That's why Price is leading it. I'll be the target, which I do not suck at." Keesha Price. His partner back when he'd been a SWAT sniper with the Atlanta PD.
I'd never met her, but I'd heard stories. Suddenly the training held a spark of interest. But then I remembered the sore spot on my chest and the marrow-melting rage that seethed millimeters beneath it.
I shook my head. "I don't know. I mean, I'm happy that reenactment therapy works for you. That's a good thing. But for me? I still got angry. Super angry. Practically homicidal."
"That's to be expected."
"I almost kicked his knees in."
"But you didn't."
"But I wanted to. Real bad."
"And yet you didn't. That's progress."
I looked up at him—so earnest, so wanting to help—and sighed. "I'll think about it.
That's the best I can offer."
"Okay. Good. Thank you." He regarded me seriously, his hands still on my hips. "Tai?"
"I saw the envelope from the lab. Under the drawer in the register." He hesitated again. "Is it the paternity results?"
I kept the curse under my tongue. Damn it, I'd meant to hide the letter before he'd arrived. He knew I'd been waiting to find out whether or not the disreputable bootlegging felon I'd always thought of as my uncle was actually my biological father. He also knew the emotional gut-wrench I'd been going through, so I understood his concern. Still...
"I'm not messing with that right now," I said.
"You were the one who told me—and I quote—that I get to make these decisions, nobody else. Not even you, you said."
"Yes. That is true. But sometimes—"
"I know Boone calls you. I know you talk to him."
Trey's eyes narrowed in puzzlement. "Of course you know. I've never hidden—"
"What does he want? To get you on his side? Convince you to give him a chance?"
"No. He simply asks how you're doing. He knows you don't want to talk to him, so—"
"Of course I don't. I don't trust him!" I could feel my heart rate going up again. "You can't trust him either, Trey. Not one bit."
"I don't." His expression remained calm, but his voice was laced with worry. "Do you want me to stop taking his calls? I will if you—"
"I don't know!"
This excerpt ends on page 11 of the paperback edition.