Home > Beneath the Truth (Beneath #7)

Beneath the Truth (Beneath #7)
Author: Meghan March







Get home right the fuck now.

After the last year, I had become a pro at ignoring texts and calls. When you walked away from everything and everyone you knew, it was a skill you honed until it was sharp enough to slice the bullshit from your life.

Before my world fell apart, I was all about my brothers in blue. Nothing was more important to me than family, honor, and justice. And then betrayal ground those rose-colored glasses beneath its boot heel until my old way of life was nothing but dust.

My life was different now. No badge. No brotherhood. And what the hell was justice, anyway?

All I cared about was collecting fees from my PI clients. I didn’t get involved, didn’t let myself get invested. I turned it all off and did the job. No more. No less.

I looked at the screen of my phone again, and the gallon of coffee I’d downed to keep me awake to finish this case churned in my stomach with the burger I’d eaten.

This text was different, especially considering the sender. My gut said so, and since that was the one thing I still trusted, I tossed my camera aside and started my Jeep. Mrs. Higgins could wait to find out if her husband was cheating on her.

For the first time in a year, I was going back to New Orleans . . . the city I’d left behind without looking back.


* * *


Just under three hours later, I slammed on the brakes, unable to get any closer to my childhood home. Blue, red, white, and orange flashing lights lit up the night sky like a jacked-up carnival. Police barricades blocked the road, and I threw my Jeep into park.

Where the fuck is the roof?

I flung open the door and charged out of the SUV, shoving my way into the crowd of gawkers.

Holy shit.

A fist gripped my heart and squeezed until I thought it might explode.

Where the hell is the house?

In place of the home I’d lived in from kindergarten to the age of eighteen was a pile of smoldering rubble.

Where the hell are my folks? A cage closed around my lungs. Fuck. No.

I elbowed my way through to the police barricade, gripping the top of it to vault over, but a heavy hand clamped down on my shoulder.

“Thank fuck you made it. Didn’t know if you would come when you didn’t answer.”

I didn’t tell Rix the only reason I came was because he was the one who had texted me. It didn’t matter now.

“What the hell happened? Where are my folks? Jesus fucking Christ.” From the complete devastation, I had to assume an explosion. Gas line? Shit.

“Your ma’s with your aunt. She’s fine.”

I tore my gaze from the rubble to meet his silver one. The sympathy there had me bracing myself for the hit I sensed coming.

“Your dad . . . I’m sorry, man. So fucking sorry.”

I was wrong. It wasn’t just a hit, it was a wrecking ball that leveled me. My knees hit the pavement and I covered my face with my hands.

“Nooooo!” My roar sounded like a wounded animal as it echoed in the night, and everything around me ceased to exist for long, dark moments.

Pain and regret clawed at my insides. Organs shredding. Bones shearing. Too much. With superhuman effort, I reeled it all in and shut it down. Forced myself to go numb. Blocked out the agony.

Compartmentalization was a skill I’d learned early in my career, and right now, it was the only thing that would save me from completely breaking down in the middle of the street.

Don’t think about it. It’s a case. Just like any other.

I scraped my palms along the rough asphalt to steady myself before pushing up to my feet as if I hadn’t just been devastated by the news.

“What happened?” I ground out the words from between clenched teeth.

“So sorry.” Someone else said the words and gripped my shoulder before releasing and moving on.

I didn’t bother to turn to see who it was. I didn’t care. This wasn’t about me. It was about the case. A year of focusing on denial in my little cottage in Gulf Shores came in handy for once.

“We don’t know with one hundred percent certainty yet—”

I glared at Rix. “Spare me the bullshit. Tell me what your gut says.”

Rix nodded and his expression tensed. “Warrant was finally issued for your dad’s arrest. Two officers were on the way here to pick him up. Gave him a courtesy call out of respect to let him know they were coming. They might’ve exaggerated about how far away they were. His car was parked in the alley behind the house, and it looks like he was jamming it with important stuff. Family pictures, the cat, shit like that. They pulled up and before they could get out of the car, the ground shook and the house imploded.”

Implosion? That took a whole separate set of physics than an explosion. Which meant there was no way in hell it was an accident.

My mind flipped to all the things I’d learned over the years about ordnance. “Was the house wired?”

“That’s what it looks like. This was no accident.”

His words echoed my thoughts. This definitely wasn’t an accident. And it was no secret my dad was an explosives, demolitions, and incendiaries expert from his army days.

He wouldn’t do this. Would he?

He wasn’t cold-blooded enough to wire up his own house and take a chance that something could happen to Mom. Was he?

You also didn’t think your dad would turn out to be a dirty cop.

The pain from earlier snaked out, a new variation this time, and I crammed it back down.

It’s a case. Only a case.

“When will they know for sure?” It was a stupid question because I already knew the answer.

“This investigation won’t be a short one.”

“I need to see my mom. Need to know she’s okay.”

“I swear, she’s okay. She was out for dinner with your aunt.”

“Did she see this?”

Rix shook his head. “No, they didn’t let her come back here. The officers told her they’d bring her when it was safe.”

“My brothers?”

“I think your mom called them. I figured you still weren’t answering the damned phone, so I decided to get your ass back here the only way I knew how.”

No one ever knew where Rome was, somewhere down in Central or South America, but Rock was only a few hours away by plane in Vail. He’d get here quickly.

I scanned the chaos for the coroner’s van, but it was nowhere in sight. “They already take . . . the body?” I forced out the words as bile rose in my throat.

The body. My father. The dirty cop who had been under investigation for the last year, and the reason I’d turned my back on my career, my family, and the only city I’d ever called home.

“Yeah. They’ll be doing an autopsy.”

I nodded, forcing myself to be clinical. “What’s the theory?”

Another voice broke into our conversation.

“You know he can’t tell you that.” My old partner, Mac Fortier, held out a hand and I shook it. “So fucking sorry for your loss. We’ve missed you, but this sure as hell isn’t the way we wanted to see you again.”

Mac and Rix were probably the only people here who could say that and mean it. I’d fought to stay in the department for as long as I could after my oldest brother had been killed in the line of duty and then fingered as a dirty cop. Dad had retired almost immediately after Robin’s funeral, and I didn’t realize until later it was to hide his guilt.

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