Jaden Page 1

Author: Tijan

Series: Jaded #3

Genres: New Adult , Romance


The day they arrested me everything happened in slow motion. They came for me outside of my classroom. It was the last day I had Miss Connors as my professor, and she had given me a hug. I stepped through the doorway, and two plainclothes detectives were there. Another uniformed officer stood beside them, and I saw the handcuffs next. Their eyes were dead. They didn’t care who I was, who I loved, or as I looked over my shoulder at an old mentor—who I disappointed.

Miss Connors had a hand to her mouth, but there wasn’t shock in her eyes. That’s what stopped me. She wasn’t surprised. She had counseled me after Marcus tried to kill me and when I had killed him instead. She’d given me advice and listened to my smart-ass comments.

She broke through my wall. Not many did that.

When they recited my Miranda rights, my head was bent. I knew the rest of my classroom had stopped to watch. I heard Carolina’s voice in the distance, but it was faint. A buzzing sounded in my ear, and I couldn’t shake it away. Then they pushed me forward. The uniformed cop took hold of my elbow, and I was led through the courtyard of the campus.


I heard Corrigan’s shout, and my heart skipped for a moment. There was disbelief in his voice.

He still believed.

As they drove me to the station, I concentrated on my breaths. One. Two. They were so shallow, but I kept going. My heart was racing, and I frowned at my lap. I didn’t want to have a heart attack. Could a twenty-one year old have one? I couldn’t stop a sadistic laugh breaking free as I thought about my life. If anyone would have one, it’d be me.

When I was brought through the station, I felt a burning in my stomach, and I lifted my head. Officer Patterson was in front of her desk. Her dirty blond hair was messed up, but when wasn’t it? A cup of coffee was in her hand, and I wondered if that was her twentieth. She drank too many of those. I never cared before, but now I wondered if I should voice my concern.

Then I was in an interview room, and my handcuffs were clasped through a peg in the table.

They thought I was going to run. They couldn’t have thought I was dangerous.

Another burst of laughter threatened to bubble up. They did think I was dangerous. Who was I? Not a spy. I was a college student. I had two friends, well—Denton had promised only friendship. So, I had three friends.

A file slammed on the table, and I jumped from the sound. Then a low baritone chuckle sounded out of a burly guy dressed in a blue-collared shirt and dress pants. His shirt had been loosened, and from the amount of wrinkles, it had been pulled out a long time ago.

“She jumps.” He sat across from me and threw a leg up to rest on the opposite knee. He was the epitome of carefree.

I wanted to snarl at him. I wanted to frighten him back, but I didn’t. He wanted that. Already I knew their game; it was what I’d do.

He flipped the file open and yawned.

My eye twitched. The ass yawned. This was my life and he yawned, but I closed my eyes and counted my breaths again. One. Two. Three—

“How’d you know Grace Barton?”

My arm jerked, and I drew in a breath. He sounded bored. He asked about my friend, and it sounded like he’d rather be taking a dump. He probably did.

“Hey. I’m talking to you.” He leaned forward and snapped his fingers near my face.

I wanted to bite them off.

“Jeezus.” He turned when the door opened. “She ain’t talking.”

A feminine voice spoke, “Yet.”

She sounded arrogant.

I wanted to sink my teeth into both of them.

“She will.” Laughter was evident in her voice as I heard another chair scrape against the floor. It squeaked under her weight. I wondered if she threw her leg up as well. They would’ve been a pair.

Then she leaned forward, and the amusement dropped. “Your purse was found in her car.”

My heart pounded in my ears again. It was starting to thump so hard that my chest grew painful.

Breathe, Sheldon. One. Two. Three.

“She poured two glasses of wine. We know it was someone she knew. There was no forced entry. She had a movie playing on the television.” The woman detective drew in a deep breath, and she gentled her tone, “Did you watch chick flicks together? Maybe the latest vampire teen movie, you know the one that’s been so popular for a long time? A goddamn apple’s on the cover of it. You know the one.”

I drew in a shuddering breath. Grace had loved that movie. I loathed it after the one time she got me to watch it. I left after thirty minutes when Bryce called.

Pain stabbed me from regret. We’d been good friends then, and I had ditched her. Sex with my boyfriend seemed like a better way to spend the afternoon.

So much had changed.

And I swallowed again. Grace was dead.

“A lot of people are scared of you, Sheldon.”

The urge to snicker threw me to the side. Why would I want to laugh at that? Then it clicked. Officer Patterson had told me one time, ‘Use their first name. It starts to establish a connection. When they want to pee their pants and you’re offering the one bit of sympathy their way, they’ll start blabbering like you’re best friends. We use it in interrogation tactics.’

The woman detective had started to tap a pen against the table, but she stopped now. And waited.

They would wait forever.

Then she sighed in disgust. “Come on, Sheldon! We’re not the enemy. We just want to know what happened. We know you were there that night. We’ve got your purse, and there’s some of your hair on the couch. We have your DNA. One of the wineglasses had a thumbprint, too. You were there, Sheldon!” She smacked a hand on the table. “Tell us what happened.”


“What?” she snapped at him. Then, a moment later, she started again in a calmer voice. “You guys had been friends since high school, right? We have her confession on tape about what she did to you. That must’ve made you mad, huh? She was your friend. From what we’ve been told, you don’t have a lot of friends, but that’s because you intimidate people. Don’t you, Sheldon? You scare them away before they can hurt you. Isn’t that right? Or maybe I have it all wrong. You tell me.”

My eyes were still clasped shut, but I envisioned her. She said her piece, threw her arms in the air, and folded them behind her head as she leaned back. She was in control again.