Truth: From over a thousand miles away, I watched on the screen of my phone as two men murdered my wife. And I was helpless to save her.
Consumed by hate and rage, I spent four years running from my memories.
Until a shattered woman gave me a reason to stop.
Cora lived in a nightmare, but through sheer force of will, she’d turned it into something beautiful. She had a smile that could pierce the darkest soul. And with one glance, she shredded mine.
Lie: I was only there for a fresh start.
Lie: I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Lie: There was nothing I could do to save her, either.
But that’s the thing about lies—you never know who to believe.
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“So this is it,” Cora said in what sounded like an apology. And, as I glanced around our new shithole apartment, I understood why.
Hugo’s crap was everywhere. Dirty clothes, dishes, and empty pizza boxes were strewn across the half-linoleum, half-concrete flooring.
But at least it wasn’t carpet.
Drew spun in a circle. “Home sweet home.”
“It’s only one bedroom,” she said—another apology.
I felt her gaze land on me: soft as a feather, harsh as an interrogation. I didn’t dare look in her direction. We’d shared enough contact earlier in the day to last me a lifetime.
Switching the black duffel that held my limited clothing and toiletries to my other hand, I escaped down the hall, the sound of Drew’s motor-mouth filling the space I left empty.
“Ignore him,” he told her.
Yes. Please ignore me.
“What’s his deal?” she asked.
There wasn’t enough time in all of eternity for Drew to explain that one. Not that he would.
I continued to listen to them talk as I took in the filthy bedroom, complete with a stained mattress and a tower of beer cans.
“He was born without a personality. You’ll get used to it,” Drew replied.
There were several beats of silence where I could only assume they were exchanging knowing looks. But, again, I wasn’t willing to turn around and see for myself.
“All right. I guess I’ll let you guys settle in. The bathrooms in the front of the building still work. I’ve shifted the girls around so one-oh-two is open. The door has three locks. If you’re inside…use them. On the flip side, if they’re locked, it means one of the girls is taking a shower.” Her voice took on a hard tone. “In which case, don’t even think about going inside.”
Drew barked a laugh. “Cora, babe, we’re not here for your girls.”
“Yeah, well, supposedly, neither was Hugo.”
According to the half-empty economy box of condoms in the corner of his room, she was wrong. I didn’t inform her of this. I kept listening.
“Okay, how about this. Penn or I get the taste to take a woman to bed, we’ll head into town, hit one of the bars, lie about how much money we make, take ’em back to their place, and then sneak out the next morning before they wake up.”
“Wow. How very chivalrous of you,” she deadpanned, and as much as I wanted to deny it, her being a smartass made my lips twitch.
“We do what we can,” Drew replied.
“Right. As long as you’re doing it somewhere else, we’ll be just fine.”
Drew laughed and then both of their voices grew distant. But I didn’t turn around. I just stood there, my knuckles turning white on the handle of my duffel bag as I stared at
that bedroom, dread and impatience settling in my stomach.
Jesus Christ. How had I ended up there?
My lids fell closed, twenty-nine minutes of memories bombarding me.
“No, please!” she screamed as she fell to the foot of the bed, crimson blood seeping through her pale-pink shirt.
One in. One out.
The stale, stagnant air that filled my nostrils did nothing to tame my demons, but it did wonders to remind me where I was—and, most importantly, where I wasn’t.
Her perfume didn’t linger in that apartment.
Her clothes didn’t fill the closet.
Her herb garden she loved so much didn’t sit dead and overrun by weeds on the back deck.
Her smiling, carefree face didn’t hang in images on the walls, tormenting me.
No. That rancid, stomach-churning apartment was exactly where I needed to be.
One in. One out.
The Truth Duet Continues...
The Truth About Us
📆 September 13th
Meet The Author: Aly Martinez
Originally from Savannah, Georgia, USA Today bestselling author Aly Martinez now lives in South Carolina with her four young children.
Never one to take herself too seriously, she enjoys cheap wine, mystery leggings, and baked feta. It should be known, however, that she hates pizza and ice cream, almost as much as writing her bio in the third person.
She passes what little free time she has reading anything and everything she can get her hands on, preferably with a super-sized tumbler of wine by her side.
⭐️ Find Aly Here: AlyMartinez.com | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Newsletter | Goodreads | Amazon