Bonus Scene – Takes place after the epilogue in Prodigal Daughter
Waking up next to her husband still felt like a dream. A really good, really hot dream, but a dream nonetheless.
Waking up next to him the day after watching her best friend marry the love of her life was honestly a little surreal. There was a time she wondered if either she or Emily would find happiness again.
While Emily was all sunshine and rainbows, despite the things she’d been through, Sloane was all guilt and dreariness.
And that was before the shit with Sloane’s family had really hit the fan.
Over the last year, their lives had been hit by more tragedy and pain than anyone should ever have to deal with. Yet, they’d both found their way through and embraced the love given to them by really great men.
James Cade had been a blessing Sloane didn’t think she deserved, and every day she fought to be worthy of his love and devotion. Sometimes when they were in bed, and she was watching him sleep like now, her gaze would be drawn to the patches of skin on his right side that were forever changed because of his feelings for her. He’d risked his life for her so she’d never have to look over her shoulder for the devil ever again.
Who did that?
Her husband. That was who.
“Are you watching me sleep again? You know that’s a little bit creepy, right?”
He hadn’t bothered to open his eyes, but she wasn’t surprised he knew what she was doing. Cade was more attuned to her than anyone else she’d ever met. Hell, half the time, she felt like he knew her better than she knew herself.
“I like to think of it as endearing,” she joked. “I don’t think anyone could possibly blame me for wanting to look at my gorgeous husband. I’d be a fool to let this view go to waste.”
He laughed, then caught her by surprise as he grabbed her, then rolled them until she was pinned beneath him. Her breath caught as their eyes met. The heat she found in his gaze had her biting her bottom lip in anticipation. Before she knew it, she forgot all about their plans for the day and was falling head-first into oblivion with her husband.
Several hours later, when they finally emerged from their room, Sloane looked around their small house for her purse. She’d dropped it somewhere between the front door and the bedroom in her haste to get naked with Cade after they got home from the wedding. It was like that a lot for them these days, which was both exciting and disorienting.
When she finally found her purse and the phone inside of it, she was down to 15% battery. She padded back to the bedroom to put the phone on the charger as she listened to the message left for her the night before.
“Hey Sloane, it’s Everett. I have some news for you. Give me a call when you can, and we’ll discuss your case.”
It was a short message with absolutely no details, yet she listened to it twice. Everett Kane was a private investigator Sloane had hired back in January to look into the unknown. It was probably a fool’s errand, but if there was anything to find, Everett would be the one to do it. The PI was intelligent and resourceful, and tenacious as hell. She’d been through a hellacious couple of years of her own but had come out the other side as strong as ever. If not a little dark and twisted, something Sloane could easily relate to.
“Who was that?” Cade asked when he joined her in the bedroom.
She’d sat down on their unmade bed after listening to the message again and setting the phone up to charge. The easy next step was to call Everett back, but for some reason, that didn’t feel like enough. The case had been decided over the phone, but Sloane felt like she needed to be face-to-face with her friend before finding out if her new worst nightmare might come true.
“Everett has news.”
“So, we’re headed to Seattle, then?”
God, the man knew her too well. “I could go alone if you can’t leave.”
Cade shook his head. “The team can live without me for a day or two. I’m not letting you face whatever she has to say alone.”
She knew he wouldn’t. No matter what, Cade would move mountains to be there for her. Even when she didn’t realize she needed the support or when she damn well knew she didn’t. He was there. Always.
“When can we leave?”
* * *
“You know you could’ve just called,” Everett Kane said as soon as Sloane and Cade were seated in front of the desk in her office, and she’d taken a seat in the plush chair on the other side.
Sloane smiled over at her friend and shook her head. “You know I couldn’t. Whatever you found or didn’t find, I needed to talk this out in person.”
Everett sighed. “I’d have to do the same. It’s good to see you, though. It’s been too damn long.”
When Sloane had called Everett at the beginning of the year to ask her to take on the case, her friend had barely been back in the PI game. After being kidnapped and held against her will for a year and a half by a madman, the police still haven’t caught, Everett was just trying to get her license back. There were a lot of hoops to jump through and paperwork to fill out. Sloane was happy to give her friend a case to work on that was less dangerous than most of her others.
She introduced Everett to Cade and laughed at the other woman’s response to the word husband. While they weren’t anywhere near as close as Sloane and Emily, Everett knew all about her past. And now, after taking on her case, she knew even more about everything Sloane had been through.
“Well, let’s get down to why you’re here. We can get drinks afterward,” Everett said as she pulled a file out of her top drawer and handed it over to Sloane.
She flipped the folder open, and a shudder raced down her spine as she looked at the face of Connor DiSanto, the brother she never knew existed until a year ago. Tossing the picture aside, she rifled through the other pieces of paper. Some contained photos of women, and some didn’t. By the time she reached the final report, she wasn’t sure what to think about her friend’s findings.
“I went as deep as I could with this. Message boards, DNA websites, his family, his employer, everywhere a Roman Numeral Killer victim was found. I scoured it all. So far, there isn’t anything out there that points to Connor DiSanto having an illegitimate child.”
“Are you sure?”
“There are plenty of people out there that have no problem admitting they had sex with a serial killer. I looked into each of them, and none of them have kids. There were no hits to the DNA on any of the ancestry or DNA sites either. Right now, I have alerts set up on all of them to ping me if that changes. Same with any mention of a woman having sex with him.”
Sloane nodded. “Okay, that’s good. But…”
“But what about the women not wanting to announce to the world they were duped by a killer? Yeah, I tried digging into that as well. I looked into his adopted family and the women in the area. Amelia and I went through the birth records for his hometown from the year he was sixteen until the year he died.”
“Wow, that’s a lot of work.”
“We pride ourselves on being very thorough here at Kane Investigations, James. It also helps that business has been a little light since I got back. You know, with the whole not technically having a license for most of the last six months.”
“Yeah, I’m sure that put a bit of a damper on things.”
“But those days are over. Thank goodness,” Everett murmured. “After we looked into his hometown, we looked into his employer and the women there. Then we looked at where he traveled for work and everywhere a Roman Numeral victim was found. We haven’t found a single child whose father isn’t accounted for. But that doesn’t mean we’re stopping here. I’ve got alerts set up all over, and if something pops up, I promise I’ll check it out. It doesn’t matter if it’s today or tomorrow, or next year. Or even ten years from now. As long as I’m alive, I’ll keep you updated.”
“Jeez, Everett,” Sloane sighed.
“Sorry, just trying to set up realistic expectations. One of the people I was working with before I was taken was pissed when I came back and hadn’t solved their case.”
“Oh, ’cause you planned on taking a year and a half off to be tortured by a psycho.”
Sloane sighed again. “I fucking hate people sometimes.”
Everett shrugged. “They are the literal worst, but that terrible behavior pays the bills, so what can you do?”
“I appreciate everything you’ve done on this case. Above and beyond like always.”
“Speaking of. I looked into your parents too. Just to make sure there weren’t any other surprise siblings out there. Nothing popped on either of their DNA in any of the sites, but I set up alerts for them as well. For now, though, I think you’re the last of the DiSantos.”
Cade squeezed her hand as she felt the tension she’d been carrying around for months melt away. She wasn’t out of the woods yet, but it really was beginning to look like she was the last of the tainted line. The world could breathe a sigh of relief like she had.
The DiSanto reign of terror was officially over.