Jaden (Jaded Series #3) by Tijan
Being framed for murder sucks.
Being framed for the murder of your old friend-turned-enemy-turned-maybe-friend-again sucks even worse.
The old Sheldon would’ve raised hell, but no, I’ve been nice.
I’ve been quiet.
I’ve not said a word while the headlines rip me to shreds, but now?
All bets are off.
I’m going to find out who did this to me and I’m going to make them pay.
I don’t care who will get hurt in the process.
Excerpt Jaden (Jaded Series #3) by Tijan
Yelling and cursing. I started to laugh to myself. Of course that was all he had heard. He hadn’t looked past the volume of my voice. He didn’t actually hear the message I was sending. For some reason, this struck me as hilarious and the laughter kept peeling out of me. I couldn’t stop it. The tension in the room was thick, and I knew this was inappropriate, but fuck it, how Corrigan said, just fuck it. This was hilarious gold. My own father had no clue the message I was sending to the real killer.
“You think this is funny?”
It wasn’t my dad who said that judgment. I had expected it from him, but I glanced up, wiping tears from my eyes as I couldn’t contain myself. It was Beth who stood with her hands formed into fists, resting on both hips. Her feet were spread out and a firm look of disapproval was on her face, it was worse than my father’s. A glaze of dislike mixed with it. That helped contain my laughter and I stood, rolling my shoulders back, and I tilted my head to the side.
“Oh boy,” Denton muttered behind me.
I stepped towards her, but caught another look shared between Corrigan and Bryce. All three of them knew the shift that had just happened, but they didn’t say anything. They knew. They had learned. No one judged me, not unless they earned that right to judge me and this time, this girlfriend of my father’s, had just made a huge mistake.
I asked, coolly, “You disapprove of me?”
A flattened look entered her gaze and her hands fell from her hips, but she didn’t move back. She held her ground.
That was a point for her, for now. I moved even closer, so it was just me and her, staring at each other. Face to face. On the same eye level and I asked, so softly now, “Do you think I’m not acting appropriately?”
“Sheldon—” My dad started towards us, but I caught movement from the corner of my eye. Bryce and Corrigan both blocked him with their heads slightly down. They were going to let me finish what Beth had started.
“Do you?” I prompted again. She hadn’t said a word since her first outburst. I was waiting. I was hoping for it.
“I think,” she stammered, and stopped to regroup. Then her tone came out firmer, clearer, “I think your father has done nothing except try to help you, but you have only met his actions with a level of ungratefulness that I’ve never witnessed before.”
“You think that?”
“Yes.” Her gaze was firm. “I do. It would be in your best interest to listen to him. He’s only trying to help.”
Then I laughed. It was soft, almost tentative at first, and then grew to a harsher, mocking sound. As I kept going, Beth pressed her lips together.
“Do you think I was acting inappropriately when I was stalked in high school?”
Just a slight flicker of confusion appeared before it was masked. Her chest rose and dropped as she made a sound of annoyance.
I nodded. “Do you think it was appropriate for my father to leave me during that time?”
Another small flicker of question. Did she not know the history? I cocked my head to the side, and scratched at my chin. Maybe she didn’t? So I asked, “How was I supposed to act when two girls that I liked and wanted to call a friend were killed?”
She wasn’t holding back the confusion now. She glanced to my father, but I blocked her view. I wanted her to deal with me, not him, not whatever he would say to make my questions irrelevant. I knew he would somehow, it was his way and his ideas of how to handle this, but I was the one with experience. Not him. Beth needed to get this reality check.
“Huh?” She looked down to the ground, and expelled another sigh.
I frowned. Why all the sighing? She hadn’t been stalked. “Am I bothering you?”
I interrupted, with a chilling smile, “Good, because I haven’t even gotten started.”
“Sheldon, this is enough—” My dad tried to push through Bryce and Corrigan. They closed ranks again, forcing him back. When he started to go around, Denton straightened from the wall, a third in the line now. Bryce and Corrigan were turned towards me, their backs to my father, but Denton was staring right at my dad. He said now, quietly, “Let your daughter finish.”