Strict Confidence (Rochester Trilogy #2) by Skye Warren

Touch me? Maybe the detective’s line of questioning was rude. Even aggressive, but he didn’t touch me. “Of course not. Why was he so… angry?”

“I have no idea,” Beau says, his voice grim. It sounds like a lie.

My stomach turns. Why did Detective Causey lie about talking to Beau before? Did he think I’d be more likely to let something slip? Why is Beau lying to me now? I’m walking through a spiderweb, blind to the strands, trapped by their strength.

The scent of burnt wafts wood over me again, along with the memories. Smoke. Flames. Being trapped in the house, believing I would die. “How’s the house?” I manage to ask.

Beau runs a hand through his hair. He looks stressed. Distracted. Of course he is. His house just burned to the ground. And I know his leg must be killing him even if he manages to hide it. I can’t believe Causey even suggested Beau might be responsible. “Not great. It’s a crime scene until the investigation’s closed, so we can’t even begin repairs.”

“Where will we stay?” As soon as the words are out of my mouth, I wish I could take them back. There may not be a we anymore. For all I know he’s going to send me back to Houston.

“That’s what I was coming here to tell you. Mateo found us a place. The hospital’s discharging you and Paige right now. We’re going.”


Beau Rochester

I scan the parking lot, but there’s no sign of Joe Causey. He’s a detective now. I hadn’t even heard he’d joined the police force, but it makes sense.

Bullies like power.

And Joe Causey was always a bully.

Paige stands on a small patch of grass, clutching a pink teddy bear from the hospital gift shop. The stuffed animal looks large against her slender body. She wears a plain white T-shirt with the logo of the hospital and a pair of generic, too-large sweatpants that bunch up at her feet. It makes me feel protective. And royally pissed. How dare Causey try to question her without me? Thank fuck for Mateo. He sat with her for the hour it took to meet the fire chief at the house. He managed to hold off the hospital staff from letting Causey inside.

How did Causey know I’d be gone? Coincidence? Not likely. I’ve been by Paige’s side non-stop, only taking breaks to go to the bathroom or check on Jane. One of the only times I step outside the hospital, that’s when Causey shows up.

He’s probably friends with a nurse or a doctor here.

A black Escalade pulls up to the curb. The black-tinted window rolls down. Mateo looks at me over the top of his sunglasses. “Someone ordered an Uber?”

“Thanks, man,” I say, my voice pitched low. “I owe you one. Or two. Or three.”

He gets out and circles the vehicle.

Paige sidles close to me. She doesn’t trust Mateo, even though she met him at the dinner party. She doesn’t trust anyone since the fire. Doctors, nurses, all of them suspect. Even the balloon artist who made the rounds in the pediatric ward was subject to her glare.

“Hey, Paige,” Mateo says with a small wave.

She hides her face against my jeans.

“We appreciate your help,” I say, more for her benefit.

He gives a small smile, letting us know he doesn’t take offense to her rebuff. “The inn is all ready for you. You have rooms right next door to each other. They overlook the water.”

She ignores him.

“Wait here with Mateo,” I tell Paige, gently detaching her. “I need to get Jane.”

There’s a whoosh of air behind me. Large sliding doors open. An orderly pushes a wheelchair out. Jane blinks against the sun. She’s also wearing hospital-issued clothing, since she showed up in fire-torn nightclothes. She looks small and far too skinny sitting there. Delicate. Breakable.

Worry fights with frustration inside me. “I told you to wait for me. I was going to come get you.”

She gives me a wan smile that’s supposed to be reassuring. “This was easier.” Then she turns to Paige. “Hey, sweetheart. How are you?”

Paige gives a diffident shrug. Gone is the girl who grinned at Jane, who challenged her, who painted every rock and tree and surface in sight. Now there’s only a shadow.

There’s a flash of hurt across Jane’s face. Then she covers it up. She’s exactly the nanny Paige needs. The care she deserves. How could I have risked that by sleeping with Jane? How can I keep Jane in Maine, knowing I’ve put her in danger? She could have died. The best thing would be for me to send her back to Houston.