"No. He didn't." I hid the bruise on my face with veiled hair. I didn't want to admit the truth. It was harsh.
"Then what happened?" The sternness of his voice almost made me flinch.
"No one hit me, Joe. It was my own stupidity."
"Stupidity smacked you in the face?"
My laugh was curt. "Yeah, I wish. That would've helped."
"Lena..." With disapproval heavy in his tone, Joe stepped forward. His hands were warm on my arms. "Tell me."
"An accident. I fell."
He was right. I was. He always knew when I lied. I almost hated him for that. "Can we drop it?"
He was silent for a few moments, and then he exhaled a heavy sigh. "Yeah. We can drop it. For now."
I stepped forward into his arms. My head rested against his chest. Mindful of the bruise on my cheek, I turned to nuzzle at his shirt. He smelled like fabric softener and aftershave.
Joe kept his arms around me for a while, silent. When he did speak, it was in a whisper. "I will kick his ass, regardless."
I blew out a small breath. "No. Don't do that. It's not justified. He didn't do it."
"I thought we were dropping this."
"I lied." He drew back to look down at me, his blue eyes shone brightly with concern. "Who hit you?"
I hesitated and then took a deep breath. "You did."
He gaped at me. "What?"
"You hit me."
I shook my head. "Look at me, Joe. You know when I'm lying."
He studied me. "Shit."
I gave him a sad smile. He'd lost more time. "Truth hurts. I know