|The conclusion to Georgie and Sloane's story will be out June 17, 2015|
The air-conditioning cools me, as I sip fresh lemonade and listen for the front door opening, heralding Grandma’s return. She prefers me to stay in my apartment, as she calls it. In reality, it’s just a bunch of rooms in her house, converted into my space. Or my prison, depending on how I choose to see it. Apartment, prison, a bunch of rooms, or living quarters, it’s confining. Period. End of story. I have a maid assigned to me, and Grandma sees me every day, usually once. Whenever Josh is in town, we have dinner at my six-seated table, where I go to great lengths to show him everything is fine. In so many regards, it is.
I don’t have an allowance anymore, so that’s different. Still, I want for nothing.
Except the same as always. Someone to love me.
Grandma’s house is gorgeous, with all types of antique furnishings, one-of-a-kind works of art, and imported collectibles. If I’m honest, I’m glad she keeps me stuck in my quarters. Amongst Grandma’s possessions, I’m nervous. They represent everything I’m not. Her stuff is valued and valuable. I’m neither.
If something in her house goes missing or is stolen, if anything is broken, nicked, chipped, scratched…whatever…a big stink will arise.
Again, that wouldn’t happen on my behalf. When I’m outside of the rooms I’ve been allotted, I often think of the repercussions if I accidentally damage her belongings.
I risk discovery roaming about the house. This time, a wild, trapped feeling and overwhelming thoughts of Sloane runs me out of my rooms. My vivid dreams of him last night and my morning where I waited and prayed he’d call are too much for me.
Did Kiln even tell him I was having a little girl?
Before I traipsed about in Grandma’s space, I walked outside, hoping to quell my loneliness and the pain at the continued silence of my phone. The sun on my face and the sweet scent of flowers helped slightly. Over and over, I reminded myself that I’m an adult now. I must act my age for the child I’m bringing into the world.
I strengthen my resolve to keep her, too. Grandma wants me to put her up for adoption. I’m just as determined never to allow it.
Several times, I’ve thought of running away. If only I had somewhere to go, someone who wanted me, I would. Calling a social service agency has crossed my mind, then I push the idea away. I’m not battered or in danger, so a women’s shelter is out. I’m not poor—not really—or homeless. I’m penniless, however.
My life is freakily fucked. Not a dollar to my name. No credit cards or checkbooks. Nevertheless, my maternity clothes are spectacular and the baby’s clothes are from the best shops in the world. With wardrobes, Grandma exceeds Mom. Where my mother purchases designer clothes through a stylist, my grandmother brings in the designer, so our clothes are custom made. The amount of money spent on my outfits could pay for a decent sized house for a middle-class family.
In essence, I’m still getting things. Meanwhile, Grandma happily goes about committing Guerilla warfare on my peace of mind.
Panic rises in me, when I hear my name until it registers one of the maids is calling me.
Swallowing, I lumber to my feet. Time’s running out before Grandma returns. In all fairness, she hasn’t told me not to contaminate her house with my presence. However, whenever I’ve come downstairs uninvited, her look and attitude are so rigid and cold, words are pointless.
Once I failed all my lessons and remained just a junior in high school, I became unworthy to walk her hallways. She’s ashamed of me. The idea crushes me and—
The servant clears her throat and I flush, balling my fists at my sides so I won’t touch my stomach. It just reminds every one of my baby. Yes, my belly is huge, but it’s easier to pretend I’m overweight rather than a Mom-to-be.
“Georgiana!” she calls in exasperation.
“Sorry,” I mutter, biting down on my lip.
“There’s a detective who needs to talk to you.”
My brows draw together. “Me?” There’s no reason a cop should want to see me. I’ve done nothing. I haven’t gone many places to do anything. “A detective?”
Is this a coincidence or does it have something to do with the phone call?
Since hearing from Kiln yesterday, I’ve thought of little else. Though stupid on my part, I expected a response from Sloane to the news I’m carrying his daughter.
The unshakeable faith I once had in him is disintegrating. Doubtful anything will ever fully extinguish it. Besides, emotional attachments aren’t easy to overcome and, now we’ll always share a connection because of the baby. Right now, she’s inside of me, but I don’t think my feelings will change much toward him when she’s in my arms. They may even grow stronger. Because of Sloane, I’ll never be alone again.
I’ll have my little girl.
“The detective, Georgiana,” the maid inserts briskly.
The cop’s arrival interrupted her wood polishing duties, evidenced by the wool cloth flung over her shoulder. She’s standing five feet away, but lemon oil wafts from her and turns my stomach. At the beginning of my pregnancy, morning sickness kicked my ass. Once Sloane sent me away, food wouldn’t stay down. It eased up a couple of weeks into my second trimester. Lately, though, my stomach has returned to its fragile state, and I’ve been nauseated a lot.
Even if the maid knew this, she wouldn’t do much to step away and remove the scent invading my nostrils. Around here, I’m inconsequential.
“He said it won’t take long.” She lifts a brow in expectation, almost as snooty as Grandma.
All of her servants act as if they’re better than me. My parents ignored me at home, but at least the household staff didn’t disdain me. Then. What they’d subject me to now, I can’t imagine.
Dejection threatens to overwhelm me. Ruthlessly, I shove it away. My baby is what I am as long as she’s inside of me. If I’m healthy and happy, she will be too.
The maid glares at me, and I sigh. “Show him in.”
I debate on whether I should sit or remain standing, to best hide my nervousness.
Striving for a calm demeanor, I return to the settee and pull my cell phone from my pocket. Irritation surges in me. Grandma insists I call furniture resembling a plain, old loveseat, something quite old-fashioned.
A chill sweeps through me, but I attempt to convince myself the cold, marble floors are affecting me. It doesn’t work. My goosebumps stem from a detective wanting to see me.
There’s no avoiding this visit. No one here will cover for me. If Grandma were home, she would. Without a doubt, she’d talk to the man, with her need to be in control at all times. Grandma only allows me in-depth contact with her, my maid, Lindsey, and Josh. Unless she arranges an appointment for me, such as OB check-ups, it isn’t happening.
Five minutes later, a voice clears and I focus my wandering mind. The original servant who came to me with the announcement of my unwanted visitor has been replaced by another one, still in black and white. Required attire for Grandma’s staff is black pants and vest with a white shirt for men and a black dress with a white apron for women. The uniforms are the reason I try my best to never wear black and white.
“Sorry it took so long to show him in,” the maid says. “He needed the lavatory.”
I lower my lashes to prevent my glare at the word lavatory. One day, I’m scoping out the staff’s quarters. I bet I’ll find the Helen Sanderson Dictionary on Annoying and Outdated Words, as well as an etiquette book on proper behavior. One rule would be texting is classless communication.
Grandma hates texts, but I fire off a quick one to her. I don’t know the protocol of a detective overhearing me ratting out his presence to my grandmother via a phone call.
“This is Detective Stu Jackson.” This maid is a tad friendlier and nods to me. I wish I remembered her name. Grandma just has too many people attending to her every need, for me to know who’s who. Maybe, if I hung around them more, I’d better identify everyone. “Detective, this is Georgiana McCall.”
Detective Jackson’s gaze falls on my stomach and he lifts a brow, shifting a thick folder he’s holding from one hand to the other. Not liking the way he’s staring at my belly, I shift my weight. I’m already on edge. His attitude heightens my tension. I can’t pinpoint his age, but he has a rugged, outdoorsy look. He isn’t handsome, but neither can he be called ugly, even though his top lip is thin. With a better look, I decide he has a chicken lip. It’s not only thin but nonexistent.
I hold back a giggle and deepen my study, to have something to concentrate on, other than how freaked I am by his visit.
Despite that top lip, the detective somehow reminds me of Sam, the doomed tutor Sloane hired for me. Detective Jackson has a suit and tie on while Sam wore trousers, a button-down shirt, and a bowtie. Sam’s face was also more classically handsome. The shape of the two men’s brows match.
Why do I find that so weird or relevant?
Laying the folder on the coffee table, Detective Jackson digs into his jacket and comes out with a small recorder, pen, and notepad. After he sets the items on top of the folder, he puts his hands on his hips and studies me. The placement of his hands pushes his jacket back. I glimpse the badge clipped to his belt, along with a holstered gun.
I lick my lips and place my cell phone next to me, within easy reach if Grandma responds to my message, then I brush bits of hair behind my ear. Without invitation, he sits on the sofa that I’m allowed to call a sofa, directly across from me.
“What’s this about?” Doing my best not to fidget, I cross my fingers, hoping Grandma responds. Judging by the size of the folder, this is a serious matter. “Why are you here?”
“I need to ask you a few questions.” His voice is kinder than expected. My tension isn’t eased.
“About what?” I squeak out, wincing internally. To stay in control of this situation, I have to keep calm.
He doesn’t draw out his answer, saying simply, “Sloane Mason.”
Georgie has destroyed me. She's threatened my freedom and everything I've worked so hard to build. My band, my music, is the last thing on my mind. I want her to pay for all she's done.
But she's still my Georgie, and my desire for her is as hot as ever. She's my inferno, my biggest mistake and my greatest reward.
My fans see her as their idol's downfall. When her life is threatened, I will come to realize there's nothing in the world more important to me than her.
She's my flame.
I'm her anchor.
Together, we're explosive.
We are incendiary.
For mature audiences only. Incendiary is not a standalone novel, but is the conclusion to Georgiana McCall's and Sloane Mason's story that began in Inferno. WARNING: Contains triggers.