A Beautiful Lie


Page 20






Parker shoved the gun back into her waistband holster under her shirt and bent down to look under each of the beds while Garrett walked around and checked out the top bunks.


Under one of the beds, Parker found an article of clothing and pulled it out.


"A homeless woman maybe?" Parker responded as she held up a dirty, yellow sundress that had seen better days.


Garrett shrugged his shoulders and began lifting up mattresses to see if anything was hidden under them.


"Right. So Fernandez is running a disgusting, broken down homeless shelter when he has more money than God?" he asked.


When Garrett didn't get a reply, he turned around and was met with no Parker. He started to panic until he saw her emerge from a room back by the door they came in.


Garrett understood Austin's nickname for Parker now. She really was like a ninja, and he had no idea how she got over to that room, looked around, and was already walking back towards him in the five seconds it took him to lift up a mattress and ask her a question.


Parker made her way over to Garrett from the small bathroom she noticed during her initial sweep of the building. She had found a travel size bottle of shampoo and a woman's razor inside of a toiletry bag in the bathroom.


"Catalina Olvera."


Garrett looked at Parker quizzically.


"Who's that?" he asked.


Parker walked up to him and handed him the toiletry bag, opening it up and showing him the inside.


"That's the name written on the inside of this bag. And hopefully someone who can give us more information about this place," she told him.


Garrett called Brady using the high speed satellite phone and gave him the name so he could run a search on it. While they waited for him to call back, Parker told Garrett about the words she'd overheard Fernandez say to his VP at dinner the night before.


"Girls, money, and boat? Add in the words coke and booze and that sounds like someone looking for a party," Garrett said.


His cell phone rang before Parker could reply.


"What do you have for me?" Garrett answered.


Parker stood in front of him with her arms crossed, watching Garrett nod his head and listening to his side of the conversation which included a lot of "Uh-huhs and okays."


"Last known address?" Garrett asked.


He waited a beat.


"Text it to me. Good work, Marshall."


Garrett hung up the phone and slid it back in his pocket.


"Catalina Olvera was a sixteen-year-old runaway. Her body was found two months ago in an alley. Raped and beaten."


Parker sighed. "Son of a bitch."


Garrett and Parker headed out of the warehouse and drove to the address Brady had sent.


"I tole' you, I know nothin' about that bitch. She trouble and I's glad be rid of her."


Garrett and Parker stood on the porch of the childhood home of Catalina Olvera, listening to her drunken father rant in broken English.


After fifteen minutes, Parker realized this man had been drunk for most of Catalina's childhood, and after she ran away, he never saw her again until he had to identify her body at the morgue.


Parker's blood boiled with every word that asshole slurred. He reminded her too much of her father. She was pissed off that this man let his child get brutalized and didn't even care..


Garrett thanked the man for his time and scribbled down his secure cell phone number and gave it to the man in case he thought of anything. He grabbed Parker's arm and gently pulled her off the dilapidated porch. He could feel the anger coming off her in waves and knew he had to get her out of there before she did something stupid like pull a gun on the guy.


They got to the bottom of the porch when Parker stopped and turned back to the man standing in the doorway glaring at them.


"Espero que usted quema en el infierno para darle la espalda a su hija," Parker said quietly to him through gritted teeth.


Garrett watch the color drain from the man's face as Parker shook her arm out of Garrett's clutch, turned, and stalked to the car. She got inside and slammed the door closed.


Garrett jogged over to his side of the car, got behind the wheel, and started the engine. He looked over at Parker and stared at her profile as she put her elbow on the window ledge and rested her chin on her fist, gazing off into the distance outside her window.


"Wanna tell me what you said to him?" Garrett asked.


"I told him that I hoped he burned in hell for turning his back on his daughter. Even the most despicable Dominican assholes take their religion very seriously," Parker told Garrett without looking at him.


Garrett wanted to reach over and use his fingers to brush the hair away from her cheek so he could see her eyes. He wanted to pull her across the console toward him so he could hold her. He knew what kind of man her father was, and he knew that any time she saw a man neglecting his daughter it cut into her and felt like it was happening to her all over again.


Her father was the one thing Milo and Garrett had ever fought over.


Parker had been out of town for work so Garrett and Milo got together for pizza and beer at his and Parker's place. Milo had set the open pizza box down on the coffee table in front of them and plopped down on the couch next to Garrett.


"So, Parker told me to write up a guest list for the wedding while she was gone," Milo said as he took a slice out of the box and took a bite.


"Sound like loads of fun. Don't even ask me to help you with that shit," Garrett replied around a mouthful of pizza.


"Wouldn't dream of it, bro. I'm almost done anyway. I think I'm going to invite her dad as a surprise," Milo said nonchalantly.


Garrett tossed what was left of his slice back into the box and looked at Milo like he was insane.


"You're kidding right?" he asked him.


"What?" Milo asked obliviously. "She hasn't spoken to him in like...forever. I think our wedding would be a great time to mend fences."


Garrett leaned against the back of the couch and shook his head.


"You cannot be that fucking stupid, Milo."


"Fuck you!" Milo yelled angrily.


Garrett felt bad that he was pissing Milo off but he couldn't help it. He had to see how bad of an idea that was.


"Dude, you can't just 'mend fences' with someone who wishes you were dead. It's not that simple, and it definitely shouldn't be attempted on what's supposed to be the happiest day of Parker's life," Garrett reasoned with him.


"Oh cut the bullshit," Milo fumed. "Don't pretend like you knowmyfiancée better than I do."


"I'm not. I'm just trying to help you out. If you do this, it's going to blow up in your face. How many times has she said she wants nothing to do with that man? You can't just drop this bomb on her at your wedding."


Milo had stood up, kicked the coffee table out of his way, and stormed down the hall. The next sound Garrett had heard was the slamming of Milo and Parker's bedroom door .


The subject was never brought up again between Milo and Garrett, but a week later when he met Parker for lunch she had told him about a huge fight she'd had the night before with Milo when he mentioned inviting her father to the wedding.


As they drove back to the resort in silence, Garrett wondered if he'd thrown things like that in Milo's face just to prove hedidknow Parker better than Milo did. At the time, he thought the advice he'd given Milo frequently was to help him.


Now, he wasn't so sure.


When Garrett and Parker got back to the resort, a message was waiting for them stating that a palace car would pick them up at five o'clock. That meant they had an hour to pack and decide how they were going to do this.


"You're not nervous about this, are you?" Garrett asked her as he threw a pair of pants into his bag.


"Nope. You?"


Garrett shook his head while he glanced at Parker as she stuck her bag of toiletries into her duffel.


"If it makes it easier, just pretend I'm Milo and that you are blissfully happy on your romantic little honeymoon," Garrett told her with a smile.


He immediately regretted the words as soon as they came out of his mouth and wished he could take them back. He sounded like a jealous ass.


"Blissfully happy. Yeah, right," Parker said sarcastically as she zipped her bag closed.


She quickly turned away, hoping Garrett didn't think much of her comment. She walked over to the door and dropped her bag by it, keeping her back to him.


"What, you don't think you two would have been pawing each other for a week and smiling so much you'd make everyone around you puke?" Garrett joked.


Each word he said was like a knife to the chest since it forced him to imagine Milo and Parker having sex all over God's green earth, but he kept a smile in place for Parker's sake.


"Hardly," Parker said quietly as she finally turned around to face him.


Garrett didn't like the sadness in her face. He felt like an idiot for bringing Milo up minutes before they were supposed to pretend to be newlyweds on their honeymoon.


"I shouldn't have brought him up, I'm sorry," Garrett told her.


Parker sighed, hating the way Garrett always took the blame for everything. There was so much he didn't know about his best friend. Things she and obviously Milo had kept from him. She had no idea why Milo had never confided in Garrett about the problems they'd had. Maybe he was embarrassed. Parker never told Garrett because she never wanted to be that woman who came between two best friends. When Milo was alive, there were some things she felt like she had to keep to herself so Milo wouldn't feel like she'd betrayed him. Now that he was gone, maybe it was time to shed some light for Garrett.


"Don't apologize. I don't mind you bringing him up. He was your friend too. It's just…things weren't as wonderful and perfect between us that last year, especially the six months leading up to when he left."


"What do you mean they weren't that great? You guys were happy, in love, and getting married. What's not great about that?"


Parker cocked her head and looked at Garrett. Her first thought was that she didn't want him to accuse her of lying and making things up now that Milo was dead. But she immediately admonished herself for that notion. Garrett would never do that to her.


Parker had felt a shift in her relationship with Garrett ever since the moment they woke up in bed curled around each other. The air practically crackled every time they were in the same room, and each time she looked at Garrett, she found him staring right back at her. Even if he wouldn't admit it and she was too scared to say anything to him, she could feel things changing between them. Now that she'd felt his touch on her bare skin, she ached for it again. Now that she'd felt his lips on hers, she knew she'd never be the same until she felt them again. Sometimes she saw something in his eyes that said he felt the same way, but then just as quickly, it would disappear. Parker knew it was hard for him to think of her as anything other than his friend's fiancé. She didn't want him going day in and day out under the impression that everything was fine between her and Milo. If guilt was making him keep his walls up around her, she would do whatever she could to ease his feelings of remorse.


"We weren't so happy, Garrett. Not for a long time," Parker admitted.


To say Garrett was surprised was putting it mildly. Milo never made any indication that anything was wrong between the two of them.


"What happened?" Garrett asked.


Parker threw up her hands in exasperation.


"Honestly, I have no idea. Something changed with Milo. It was like one day he came home from work and he was a different man. At first I figured it was stress at work, but when he denied anything was wrong, I used some of my connections and found out he'd been doing great there, no problems. As the months wore on with him getting increasingly worse, whenever I tried to get him to talk, he'd yell and argue and go into a fit about me getting into his business."


Garrett knew about Milo's quick temper, but he'd always kept it in check around Parker.


"You should have told me," Garrett stated.


"I wanted to. God, I wanted to tell you so many times," Parker admitted, taking a few steps towards the bed where Garrett stood. "But we even fought about that. He'd yell at me for running to you with all my problems."


During those arguments, Parker always felt like she was drowning in guilt. She knew what Milo accused her of was the absolute truth. She had always gone to Garrett with every problem or question. Garrett and Parker were opposites in almost every way possible, and yet she trusted him implicitly to always tell her the truth and be honest with her when she needed his help. He told her when she was being an idiot, and he encouraged her when she was struggling.


Parker knew she should be sharing all of this with Milo, but more often than not, he wasn't around when she needed him the most. Garrett always was.


A knock on the door interrupted their discussion as a staff member from the resort came to collect their bags and escort them to the lobby to wait for the car.


At ten till five, Parker sat in a chair in the lobby staring out of the front entryway, tapping her foot nervously on the marble floor. She still had no idea how she was going to pull off a fake honeymoon at the home of a man, that may or may not be involved in illegal activity that got her fiancé killed, where she was supposed to have pretend sex with her pretend husband when all she wanted to do was have real sex with the real Garrett. It made her head hurt just to think about it.





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