His conscience had warned him that he would be punished for his betrayal, and while he had yet to know what that punishment was, Dmitry was certain - absolutely fucking certain - that the moment of his reckoning had finally come.

He forced himself to lift his gaze up to Tahey, and for once he was blind to her beauty. Blind to her kindness. And all he could see was the daughter of the man who had killed Paige.

He forced himself to speak and somehow managed to keep his voice expressionless as he asked, "What's wrong?"

Tahey swallowed hard. "It's Dad."

"He called you."

She nodded.

"He said something to upset you?"

"I don't actually know how to feel yet."

Dmitry had an urge to give Tahey a violent shake and barely managed to control himself. He focused instead on holding on to his patience, knowing full well that losing his temper on Tahey would only make her less inclined to talk.

Pulling himself up, he crossed the room to take a bottle of whiskey out of the minibar. He poured a small amount into a shot glass and handed it to Tahey. "Drink."

Tahey wasn't much into alcohol, but this time she willingly drank the whole thing, its vile taste more than compensated by the burning sensation that followed right after. It made her feel warm when she had been feeling icy cold, and gradually, she could feel her shock receding and her brain start functioning again.

She looked up, intending to thank Dmitry, but instead she heard herself say unevenly, "C-Can I talk about him?"

His clipped nod wasn't the kind of response she would've expected, and at any other time, this might have hurt her and make Tahey wonder if something was wrong. But because she was still so lost in the past, Tahey was just relieved to have a chance to unburden herself.

"He was a good dad," Tahey whispered. "I know I keep saying that, and I know saying that probably makes things worse for...for those he...for those he k-killed, but I can't make myself lie. He was a good dad to me. A g-great dad. He could've gone to pieces when my mom died of cancer, but he made himself strong for me. He worked hard for me, and I just wished I had known...if I had known the truth a little earlier, I might have made him stop."

"How did you find out?"

"I found his journals," Tahey answered painfully. "He was fanatical in keeping records, and one day I found his journals, and when I realized what I was reading, what he had willingly done...I wanted to die. I think a part of me did die that time because I already knew..." Childhood memories started coming back, and her voice faltered.

Oh God, no.

Please.

No.

But it was too late, and she remembered.

Thomas reading her bedtime stories, Thomas working hard at his desk but never too busy to answer her timid knocks on his study door, Thomas sweating blood and tears in the kitchen because he always wanted to be the one to bake her birthday cake...

"He was a good dad," she choked out. "I can't pretend he isn't, Dmitry. I just can't, even though I know he w-wasn't a g-good man."

A good man would not have periodically flown to an ISIS state to deal with human traffickers.

A good man would not have paid thousands of dollars just so he could have warm bodies to experiment on.

A good man would've known - there was just no way that a good man would not have known the most noble of pursuits had its limits.

But because Thomas had not been a good man...

He hadn't cared about the consequences, hadn't cared about the lives he would damn with death if it meant he would be a step closer to finding the cure to the disease that killed the woman he loved.

And yet...

"He called to tell me that he'll soon be free," Tahey whispered. "Some kind of technicality, and it's going to let him walk away a free man." She saw Dmitry take a step back at her words but didn't have the energy to comprehend why this was. Pain was still tearing her apart, and it made her blind to everything but her own conflicting emotions about Thomas.

"He told me that even though I b-betrayed him, t-turned him in when I gave the police his journals, he said he s-still l-loves me. That I'd a-always be his most p-precious girl..."

And God help her, even knowing what Thomas had done...

"A part of me still loves him back," Tahey said brokenly. "I tried everything to stop myself from loving him, but I just can't. I just can't." And even though she knew it was her problem - her problem alone, and one nobody else would be able to solve but her, Tahey couldn't help wanting...


Tags: Marian Tee Billionaire Romance
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