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Perfect Victim (Nadia Stafford 3.6) Kelley Armstrong 2022/7/22 14:36:33

Her eyes fill with tears, and that's when I really feel like a bitch. Blame the victim. I hate it so much. But Diana never seems to learn, and I'm terrified that one day I'll get a call that she's in the morgue because she gave Graham another chance and I wasn't there to stop her.

"He's going to do it one of these days," she says, wrapping her hands around her glass. "You know he is."

I don't want to follow this line of thought, because when I do, I think of Blaine and how easy it was to kill him. I fear that one day I'll decide there's only one way to protect Diana. No, really I'm afraid she'll ask me to do it. I don't know what I'd say if she did. I owe her for keeping my secret about Blaine. But I don't owe her enough to repeat the mistake with someone else. Not even Graham.

"I've been researching how to disappear," she says.

"What?" I look up sharply.

"We could disappear. You and me."

I don't ask why she includes me. When she'd asked me to relocate and I'd resisted, she'd pointed out the ugly truth--that I'd had no reason to stay. That hasn't changed. I have a furnished apartment I've never added a picture to. I have a lover whose last name I've never asked. I have a sister I speak to three times a year. I have one friend, who is sitting in front of me. I do have a job I love. But that's all I care about. My job and Diana. The job is replaceable. Diana is not.

"Let's just focus on keeping you safe for now," I say. "Graham will give up and go home, and then we can discuss how to handle this long-term."

I put money on the table and catch Kurt's eye as he deals with a drunk. He mouths, "This weekend?" meaning he can see something's up and tomorrow probably isn't going to be better. I nod, try for a smile, and then turn to Diana and say, "Drink up, and let's go."