THE OFFICER FROM THAT NIGHT WAS THE one walking me out, down the single hallway this police station had, to the front lobby.
“We pushed up your release when the reporters started calling. We don’t want that mess here, but there’s already a few out front.”
That could be a good thing. A form of protection.
“I don’t know what type of game you’ve been playing at, but leave Blake out of it.”
I wrapped my arms around my waist. My stomach was tumbling, and his statement only kicked it up a notch. I wasn’t trying to include Blake in whatever was waiting for me.
He continued his slow walk, moseying along in front of me till he reached the door. He paused, turning back to me, hand on the nob. “He’s a good man who served our country well, and he’s paying for it in all the wrong ways. He don’t need someone like you coming along and pulling the wool over his eyes. It ain’t right.”
He raised an eyebrow at me like he expected a response so I nodded. I didn’t have space to worry over this man, not when my mind was consumed over what was on the other side of that door and what I could do about it.
Blake was standing at the front desk. He pushed away and stood up tall the moment I stepped through.
“Well about damn time.” He cleared his throat and focused on the officer at my side. “She free to go now, Willy?” At his nod, he continued, “Well, let’s get gone, girly.”
“Blake.” I hadn’t expected him, not after he found out I lied. “Breezy.”
She rose from a seat against the wall and stepped next to him. She gave me a weak smile, and I could see the doubt in her eyes.
“We’ll talk later.” He lifted his hand to silence me. “Right now, lets get outa here. This place stinks.”
“Make that a reason not to come back.” William nodded to Blake, giving me one last glare before we turned away.
But my feet froze mid step as my heart stopped. Gage walked in through the front door of the police station. His eyes hit mine, vacuuming all the air from the room with the intensity in them.
Blake shifted, going for the door behind Gage. “Pardon?”
Gage’s eyes narrowed in on him, but he stepped to the side and let him pass. He shifted to block me, his body larger than my memory.
“Put this on.” He shoved a hoody in my direction.
I hesitated but grabbed it, still adjusting to his sudden appearance. It had been so long and my initial urge was to grab him, touch him, but I couldn’t. That would throw away the past few months, and the look in his eyes made it clear it wouldn’t go over well.
I slipped on the thin zip up hoody, muscles shaking with nerves. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t do anything here at the police station. I didn’t want anyone getting in trouble.
“Who’s this?” Blake lifted his chin to Gage, questioning me as he stood with the door held open. Beyond him, past the sidewalk, I saw a small group of reporters with about three cameras.
“Her husband. You can go. I’ve got it from here.” Gage didn’t fully face him, but his body was tense, his fingers curled at his side.
Blake dropped the door, letting it close as he stepped back into the station. His eyes narrowed in confusion. “Husband? Girly, whatever your name is, what’s going on? Are you all right going with him?”
“Yes.” I was quick to answer, wanting to kill the tension mounting between them.
“Are you coming back to the camp?”
“Yes,” It was Gage that answered. “Now go. You’re not walking out with her in front of those reporters.”
Blake eyes swept to mine, unfazed by Gage’s anger. “You’re sure?”
“She said yes.” Gage’s knuckles turned white as his fist strained.
“She’s been hiding from something,” Breezy stepped beside Blake, speaking so low I barely heard her.
“No.” I grabbed Gage’s arm, to keep him back and to reassure them. “It wasn’t him. We’ll talk later.” I was all too aware of the other eyes on us in the police station.
Gage shifted so he was standing next to me, but also so I wasn’t touching him anymore. I let my fingers drop, still tingling with the feel of him and his cold brush off.
We stood that way until Blake and Breezy were gone, giving them time to get past the reporters. Giving me time to steady my vibrating limbs and accept that I was about to be alone with Gage. A fizzy nervousness coursed through me, bursting in my veins when he slipped his arm around me and walked us out the door.
I pulled my hood over my head as we walked past the small group of reporters. They followed us with questions, but neither of us spoke to them as we rushed into Gage’s rental car. He opened the passenger side door for me to get in and then closed it, going to his side.
It made my stomach hurt to watch his body move as he passed the front of the car with such a casual dominance. His jeans and hoody fit perfectly and moved easy with his long strides. I had missed him, but this pain was worse—being near him and knowing I had to push him away all over again.
“What’s the address?” Gage asked the moment he was in, his fingers pressing on the navigation system.
I closed my eyes, unable to think.
“Fine. We’ll just go straight to the airport.”
“No. Here, I’ll put it in.” I typed on the screen. It’s not like I could stay there anyways, not with my arrest drawing attention. I was a mess because I knew I had lucked out finding Blake and Breezy. It wouldn’t be as easy anywhere else. I didn’t even know if I could keep doing this, running. But I couldn’t pull a solid idea from my brain. It was all shit.
“Who was that guy?” His voice was low and sharp as we pulled onto the road.
“My landlord, my boss, a friend.” I shrugged, somehow keeping all my emotions from my words.
“He’s who you were with at the bar when you were arrested?”
“And where do you work?”
“A tattoo and gun shop.” I needed a drink. I couldn’t fucking handle him in person. Questioning me. I needed back to the camper, and I needed a drink. I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. But I knew I wasn’t doing it right.
He dropped the questions and didn’t talk the rest of the drive. Neither did I, until I had to give him directions the GPS didn’t know. I kept them short, and he made the turns onto the gravel road silent. The pressure in the car threatened to erupt with the tiniest spark, and I didn’t want to be the one to detonate it. Not yet. I wasn’t ready.
“Park here.” I pointed to the side of the path, wanting to avoid going by Blake’s for now.
Gage pulled over. “There’s nothing here. What are you doing?”
I slid off my seat belt and opened the door. “We have to walk.” I began the hike, not waiting for him.
I didn’t get far before he caught up. The silence continued, thicker than the mud under our feet, louder than the bugs and animals calling around us.
After a few minutes of walking, Gage grabbed the fabric of my sleeve and turned me to him. “Is this some sort of fucking game to you?”
I pulled out of his grip and pointed to the camper that could barely be seen in the distance, between the trees. “It’s there.”
He sighed and walked ahead, the silence back. I preferred him talking; it was easier to see his thoughts, to feel his anger. His silence was a dark cover, and I didn’t know what was underneath. His silence left me emptier than his absence had.
I was beginning to doubt my sanity in bringing him here as he stood in the center of my tiny trailer, taking in every detail, filling the little space with his presence. He was like a bomb about to explode, the wick of his fury on a slow burn. It was only a matter of time; all I had to do was wait. And I decided that’s what I would do. I still had no explanation, and I wasn’t going to pretend I did.
Fireball was in the freezer, and I unscrewed the top as I watched him. Putting the bottle to my lips, I let the cinnamon liquor heat me and ease the pressure on my chest. I needed to feel the blur of the alcohol. All the pain I’d tried to cut off when I left was back with full force.
“What are you doing?” His eyes burned.
“Drinking.” I tilted my head back, knowing my time was about to be up, and I needed to be ready.
“I mean this.” He swept his hand around the trailer, disgust in his voice. “This…This…” He was looking around the small space again. One room. Only the width of the bed in the back and not much longer. “Was it that fucking bad with me?”
I took another shot, not wanting to answer the question. The answer was obvious.
He pulled the bottle from my lips, suddenly in my space, and caused some of the liquid to spill on my chin.
I wiped my mouth with the back of my hand, the other hand still gripping the bottle he had pulled from me.
Our eyes were locked in a silent battle I wasn’t about to lose. I jerked the bottle from him, the liquid swishing over the top as it tipped with the force, and then I brought it back to my lips, letting my head drop back as I drank deep, gulping it down.
“Fucking stop.” He ripped the bottle from my hands and threw it into the sink, the plastic making it bounce instead of break. But the liquor was gone all the same.
He had me pinned to the counter, arms trapping me as his hands gripped the ledge. The length of his body was in front of me, but didn’t touch me. None of him touched me, but his fire surrounded me.
“I could fucking kill you for what you’ve done,” it was a low growl, his words crackling.
“Ooh, that’s love,” I bit back with a raised chin, welcoming the heat of his anger, that was easy to respond to.
“Who the fuck is talking about love.” He pushed off the counter and turned, kicking over my small table, one of the legs breaking off under his boot.
“Hey.” I stepped away from the counter, but he rounded on me and pushed me against it.
“You left. You left without a fucking word. You put me through fucking hell so you could be here?” He loosened his grip on my arms, but didn’t let go. “You texted Dexter. But me, you couldn’t even send me one fucking word. After everything we’ve been through, you couldn’t even give me one fucking word? So fuck love. You don’t know what it means.” He shoved off me, the counter edge pressing into my back with the force.
As he took a few steps away, I grabbed my gun out of the drawer at my back, my body lit with adrenaline. “Yeah, well fuck you too. You can get the hell out now.”
He spun around to face me, coming up short when he saw the gun in my hand still pointing at the floor. He only paused for a second though, and then his lips slid up into a chilly smile. “You forget. I know you, and we’ve been here before, remember?” He took another casual step towards me, stepping over the broken leg of the table. “You won’t shoot.”
The surety in his words made my blood ignite, and I lifted my arm, pointing the pistol at him. “You don’t know me anymore.”
I was just about to shoot, knowing it would miss, but wanting to warn him off. He moved too quick though and flipped the gun from my hand, pressing me back to the counter.
Now he was touching me. Everywhere. His body pressed fully into mine, his arm wrapped around my arms, trapping them by my side. His heat burned with my own, but what I felt the most was the gun he had pressed to my ear. My gun. Only the edge touched me, he had it pointed from down low. But it was there, and his eyes blazed to whole new levels.
“Do it.” I was breathless, but I meant it. The truth hit me with relief—I meant it. I didn’t fucking care if he killed me right on the spot. He didn’t need to remind me of that night, I knew I wouldn’t be able to pull the trigger on myself, but I knew I didn’t want to go on like this. Running. And I couldn’t accept our past life either.
His heavy breaths only made his chest press further into mine, but his hand with the gun was losing its force.
I squirmed, and my blood fizzed, bursting under my skin because I was certain. I didn’t care if I died, and there was an unspeakable freedom in that. In throwing it all away.
“Do it,” I dared.
His lips smashed into mine, overtaking my words, drowning my thoughts. I was drenched in him, thirsting for more. Feeling crazy and loving it. Needing it after starving myself of this for so long. My hands were greedy, already under his shirt and digging into the skin on his back, wanting to pull him inside me. His touch was rough, his lips demanding and filled with anger, but it still melted the parts of me that had frozen during our months apart.
He spun me around and forced me over the counter, hand sliding down the front of my pants as his teeth bit into my neck. His finger pumped in and out of me, his thumb pressing my most sensitive nerve, making my legs quiver. “You can’t deny this.”
I moaned, bracing my hands on the counter, trying and failing to gain some control. The counter and him held all my weight.
His nose went up the back of my neck, breath sending a toe-curling chill down my spine. “You’re mine. Your body knows it.” His fingers picked up speed, pressure building and then his hands disappeared and I cried out.
He jerked on my hips, spinning me around and pulling my shirt over my head. “I’m never letting you go.”
The intensity in his words and gaze were real, but my need for him was more, the ache between my legs consuming me. I pulled on his shirt, tugging him close, and then I grabbed his hands, putting them back on my hips. “Then don’t.”
My lips couldn’t reach his, but I dragged them along his jaw, drinking in his scent and feel of his rough stubble.
He pushed me off of him, eyes dropping over my bare torso as he tugged on my bra. “Take this off.”
I slid it over my head, fingers too anxious to deal with clasps. My skin burned under his gaze, all sensations shooting to my core and making me clench my thighs, needing relief.
Then his hands were back on me, squeezing my ass as he pulled me to him, lifting me off the ground as his lips claimed mine again. He took the few steps to the bed and dropped me on it with a growl. Standing over me, his eyes skimmed every part of my exposed skin.
His fingers gripped the waist of my jeans, yanking them down my legs. He unbuttoned his, and I rose up with my elbows behind me so I could watch him undress. Those muscles were as tight and fluid as ever, and my fingers twitched to trace every line of him, to feel them tense while he thrusts into me. My mouth was watering to taste him.
He was on his knees, moving over me until he straddled my waist. Eyes hooded, not meeting mine, he curved over me till his lips brushed my lips. Soft and sizzling with intensity. His hand cupped my chin and then slid down my neck, fingers trailing over my skin, over my breasts and around my ribs. His lips followed behind, marking me everywhere.
I reached for the hard length of him, grabbing him in the palm of my hand, feeling his pulse quicken as I slid up and down his thickness.
He pushed my hand away from him with a deep, visceral growl. He snapped, gripping my thighs and slamming himself into me.
The suddenness broke me and made me cry out, a mixture of pain and ecstasy that had me shaking, anticipating his next thrust.
And it came, over and over. He held me down by my shoulders with all of his weight, and my eyes rolled back as he pushed me to my limit and ripped through it. Never letting up until I was in tears.
“Regan,” he panted my name, all of a sudden unmoving, hands still pressing me into the mattress.
I opened my eyes, meeting his wide ones that were full of panic.
“Oh shit.” He breathed deep as he pulled himself out.
My hands shot to him, gripping his arms before he could lift off of me. “No. Don’t stop.” My mind was swirling, my body arching for more, wanting him back. I never wanted this moment to end, this feeling. The pleasure and pain only he gave. It was keeping me together and pulling me apart. It was the verge of insanity, but I didn’t care.
There was a second that I wasn’t sure he’d continue, and it was the worst fear I’d felt. I couldn’t handle him not finishing this thing he started.
He pushed back in, filling me and I wrapped my legs around his back, arching into him, trying to get back to that same raw rhythm. And he didn’t disappoint. If anything he went harder, deeper, his body dripping in sweat.
I cried out as my body curled, tightened, and then broke in waves, releasing around him.
“You didn’t deserve that.” He was grunting through his thrusts, continuing his furious movement in and out.
“Hmm,” I laughed, stretching my body under his as the pressure built again. It didn’t matter what he said, because I got it. I wasn’t worried with his words.
His fingers gripped my chin, forcing me to look at him. “I mean it. You’re mine and I’m not letting you go.”
I closed my eyes. More words that didn’t matter. It didn’t matter if he wanted to hold on to me, I didn’t exist beyond this moment. There was only this moment. And I was swimming in it, pulled under by him.
He convulsed, body jerking hard with his release. His heavy weight dropped on me, covering me with his damp, heated body. My own muscles still quivered.
We lay still until the aftershocks stopped. My muscles were drained beyond exhaustion, I couldn’t even see straight. He rolled to his side, and his fingers glided over my stomach and along my ribs, lulling me into sleep.
“You got a tattoo? When?”
I sucked in air, skin prickling as he traced over the ink along my side.
“A couple of weeks ago.”
His fingertips slowed as they ran over my scars. I didn’t even have to open my eyes to know he had reached them.
“That guy from the station? He saw your scars?” His voice was barely a whisper, but it was razor sharp.
My eyes popped open and I slid off the bed as fast as I could. “Get the fuck out now.”
He sat up. “I have a right to ask.”
“No, you actually don’t. I don’t know what the hell just happened between us, but it wasn’t what you think.”
“Bullshit.” He was out of bed now, both of us naked. “You just can’t admit it. You keep running from it. But you belong to me and I belong to you. We took a fucking vow.”
“That girls dead.” I walked around him, picking up pieces of clothes from the floor to get dressed.
“She’s standing right there. Scared as ever.”
“That’s where you’re wrong.” I stood up, clothes pressed to my chest. My thoughts suddenly became clear. This had been the last test and I’d passed. I wasn’t that weak girl that couldn’t say no to him. I’d had him, and it changed nothing. “I’m not scared.”
His eyes narrowed, a touch of doubt darkening them, a chink in his confidence. But he stalked towards me. “Then what are you? Because running sure as hell seems like a cowardly thing to do.”
“You’re a bastard.” I knew what he was trying to do and I hated him for it. I couldn’t let him tear me down. “I’m just not the girl that loves you anymore.”
He flinched at that. Hands curling at his side. “Don’t fucking say that. I thought we were beyond lies.”
“It’s the God damned truth. Since I met you, I lost myself. All I was, was the girl who loved you, and look how that fucking ended. I’m done with that. With her. With you.”
He was silent and still, but anger rolled off him.
“You’ll never be done with me. I won’t let you. You can’t run far enough away, I’ll always find you.” It was a low, deep threat, and every word shot through my heart.
He must have registered his words a second later because he loosened his fist at this side and took a step closer, hard lines melting into something softer. “I couldn’t think with you gone. I can’t function. You’re everything to me.”
I shook my head. He couldn’t wipe away what was already said, what had already been done. “That’s not true. You have your work. I’m the one that had nothing but you. And now, I have nothing.”
“You still have me.”
I stepped back, pulling my arm behind me out of his reach.
“I never did. Not really. Now go.”
He sunk to his knees, hands grabbing his hair. “Tell me what to do, Regan. Tell me how to make this right?”
This was the part I couldn’t handle. It was easy to meet his anger with my own, but I couldn’t meet his tears, his hurt, that would be too much pain to bear, and I may never pull it back in. I gripped the counter behind me to keep from moving to him,
“Anything. Just tell me.” Somehow he was in front of me, still on his knees, arms around my legs.
I patted his hair, giving a little comfort, knowing he’d never do it. But I’d tell him—the one thing. The thing I was going to do. The one thing I should probably never admit to him. But I couldn’t keep it in because as much as I tried to deny it, my love for him was still strong. I was just done living for myself. I’d already accepted there was no happiness for me; I might as well endure pain for a purpose.
“Go to the FBI with me.”
His arms dropped away, and he fell back on his feet, eyes blank as they met mine, all tears burned up as his shock gave way to anger.