Home > Because We Belong (Because You Are Mine #3)(14)

Because We Belong (Because You Are Mine #3)(14)
Author: Beth Kery

Bloody attic was a menace, he thought furiously, blinking dirt out of his eyes. All of the attics were. They were six that he’d counted so far in the gothic Aurore Manor, each at the top of various towers and turrets. This place was a veritable warren of hidey-holes, of dust and forgotten things, of workshops filled with Gaines’s oddities and fascinating, patented inventions . . . of occasional perversities that screamed of Gaines’s depravity.

A house filled with secrets. Trevor Gaines’s lair. Gaines: wealthy aristocrat, brilliant inventor of quirky machines and timepieces, convicted rapist and serial reproductionist. A sick pervert who got his jollies out of having sex with and impregnating as many woman as he could, whether by manipulative seduction or rape.

Trevor Gaines, Ian’s father.

He knew from his research into Gaines’s history that the police had carted away relevant evidence during a search after Gaines had been arrested for the rape of a woman named Charity Holland some twenty years ago. That’s when they’d found two videos Gaines had secretly made of himself raping two women, one of them being Holland. The police hadn’t taken all the incriminating evidence, though. Ian was convinced they’d barely scratched the surface of the proof of Gaines’s crimes. It had been cleverly hidden from eyes less determined than Ian’s. Like the evidence he’d discovered yesterday, for instance.

In a hidden compartment in Gaines’s antique rolltop desk, Ian had unearthed neatly maintained journal calendars. Inside the leather-bound calendars, in Gaines’s neat, methodical handwriting, had been a list of women and dates that stretched from when Gaines was sixteen years of age to the last entry, when he was thirty-five. Hundreds of women’s names had been listed in that journal over the decades. As time went on, the entries became more and more concise and detailed. At first, Ian had thought the dates referred to times he’d seen or possibly had sex with the various women. It took him longer to decipher the markings on the calendars with X’s or circles. Eventually, he noticed the common rhythm and came to the sickening realization that Gaines was keeping track of each woman’s menstrual and ovulation cycles. Ian had discovered Gaines’s plan book for optimizing impregnation.

He hadn’t been able to eat for the rest of the day after making that bitter realization.

What could possibly drive a man to such ends? Ian became consumed by the question.

His hopes for the attic today had been minimally fulfilled thus far. Perhaps the most significant thing he’d found were some letters sent from Louisa Aurore to her son at ages eight, nine, and sixteen years old, respectively—letters she’d sent to Trevor Gaines.

He’d only found those three letters—the sum total of missives that Trevor Gaines had either saved in memory from his mother, or the entire collection that Louisa had ever penned to her son. Ian tended to believe in the latter theory versus the former. From what he’d learned about his paternal grandmother thus far in his obsessive search, she was a cold, heartless bitch. She’d sent Trevor away to boarding school when he was seven after she’d married a new husband. Ian got the impression from a couple of letters Gaines had written to friends that he wasn’t unhappy about being sent away. He hated his new stepfather, Alfred Aurore, it seemed, and was highly resentful of his garnering all his mother’s attention. As far as Ian could determine, Louisa had ordered away her only child and promptly attempted to forget he existed for ten years. If Trevor had ever experienced any anguish over his mother’s abandonment, he’d channeled all of it into his studies, becoming well-known as a gifted student of mathematics, physics, and engineering. He showed a particular proclivity for computerized mechanical objects, patenting his first invention—a clock component—at the age of eighteen. It only increased Ian’s bitterness to acknowledge it, but apparently he owed some of his mathematical and business acumen, and almost all of his talent for programming and mechanical ability, to his godforsaken father.

He’d have gladly sacrificed all of it to have an even vaguely normal father. He’d have forsaken all of it to be clean of Trevor Gaines.

After Louisa’s second husband died of a heart attack at age forty-nine, Louisa had inherited his entire estate. She was already the heir to the fortune of Ian’s paternal grandfather, a man by the name of Elijah Gaines. Her second husband’s death was what had precipitated that last and third letter when Trevor was sixteen. If you have nothing better to do, you may see your way clear of spending Christmas at Aurore. We are in a state of deep mourning here, of course, but that brings little to bear. As you know, I’ve never given much thought or care to the holidays. You would undoubtedly be happier spending your Christmas as you usually do, in the company of your headmaster’s family, fiddling with your silly sprockets and machines.

Charming, cuddly woman, Ian thought, scowling as he aggressively kicked aside the moldering remains of the shattered chifforobe. Not that he was feeling sorry for Gaines. Not in a million years. Gaines’s mother may have been partially responsible for creating a sick psychopathic rapist who clearly hated women as much as he was obsessed with them, but Gaines’s crimes far extended past the feeble excuse of a selfish mother.

He scowled, noticing that the collapsing piece of furniture had broken a plank in the flooring. Kneeling, he shoved aside debris with vicious disregard, feeling much of it crumble beneath his harsh hand.

He reached beneath the shattered floorboard and wrenched up on it, the breaking wood sounding like a shot going off in the still attic. He spied something pale in the dim evening light streaming through the dusty windows, his searching fingers settling on elasticized material. From the compartment beneath the floor, he withdrew a holey brassiere, and then a handful of several crumpled pairs of moth-eaten women’s panties. He started when a cockroach scurried out of one of the holes, tossing the rotting garments on top of the rubbish heap with a sound of disgust.

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