I knew when I didn’t answer my phone that Michelangelo would rush home to make sure that I was okay. Sure enough, ten minutes after the phone stopped ringing, he was here.
“Why didn’t you answer the phone? Brynne, are you okay?” he asked, looking for visible causes of distress.
“They found Dean’s body,” I respond numbly, my voice hollow. “They’re going to find out it was me. And then they’ll put me in prison. And then while I’m in prison, they’ll look deeper into our engagement and start probing and things will fall apart and they’ll find out about the baby. And then they’ll kill us both.”
Michelangelo crouches next to me. “How can they link Dean’s death to you?”
“I was his wife,” I remind him bitterly. “They will look through everything with a fine-tooth comb and they’ll make the connection.”
“And they’ll also uncover the counts of domestic violence,” he adds, gently running his hand through my hair.
“How? Those were never filed. I wasn’t allowed contact with other people. The only one who knows about it is the doctor who helped me,” I reply. “And I don’t even know his name.”
“What?” he scoffs. “He saved your life and let you stay with him for a while. How do you not know his name?”
I unclasp my shaking hands and take another deep breath. “He never told me his name because he didn’t want there to ever be a connection between us. He always told me to call him Dr. Z.”
“Dr. Z?” he asks with a smile. “That sounds like a mad scientist in a bad sci-fi movie.”
I roll my eyes and accept his help to my feet. “What are we going to do?”
“You are going to rest,” he replies as he sweeps me up into his arms. “All this stress isn’t good for the baby, so you’re going to take a hot bath and then stay in bed. I’ll even bring you your easel and some canvases if it’ll make you feel better.”
I smile and let him carry me upstairs. “And what are you going to do?”
“I am going to talk with Abel and try and find this ‘Dr. Z.’ If we can find him, I think you’ll be okay,” he says, his voice rumbling in his chest.
“And if you can’t?” I ask.
“Don’t worry about it,” he answers with confidence. “Abel and I will find him. He was a witness to an attempted murder and he’s the doctor that saved your life. If he saved your life once, odds are that he’ll do it again. We’ll find him.”
I nod as he sets me down on the tile bathroom floor. “Wonder what Ashley and Abel are going to say when they find out a murderess is carrying their child.”
Michelangelo shakes his head. “They’re not going to care. It’s not like you went and killed tons of people for no reason. You killed the man who had beaten you and was going to kill you. You survived. What you did was no different than what your parents did while they were deployed or what Abel and I do while we’re on a mission.”
He looks me in the eye after he turns on the water. “You’re going to be okay, Brynne. I’ll protect you, okay? While the engagement may not be real, you are still my best friend. I won’t let anything happen to you.”
I nod and pull a bottle of bubble bath out of the basket on the counter. Michelangelo comes up behind me and pulls my sweater off.
“Not what I had in mind the first time I undressed my best friend,” he says with mock disappointment.
I turn around and punch his arm. “Come on, I didn’t hit you that hard,” I say as he falls against the wall, clutching his arm in pain.
He grins and kisses me on the forehead. “Relax. I’ll call Abel. Are you okay if he comes over here?”
I shrug. “Doesn’t matter. I know you’re not going to feel comfortable leaving me until this is resolved.”
“Damn straight,” he replies, turning toward the door. “Yell if you need anything.”