But he was still her dad.
And when Tahey heard him tell the judge he was guilty, and that he needed to pay for his crimes—-
Pandemonium quickly broke out. The press went wild. The judge angrily pounded his gavel. But Tahey...
She only had eyes for Thomas.
And when the older man turned to her, and their eyes met—-
It felt like it was the past again.
Thomas...was the Daddy she used to know.
And when the gentlest breeze blew a lock of her hair—-
She knew it was Mom letting her know...this was how it should be, and God...she didn't even think of glaring, didn't even try to keep the tears from falling.
She looked at Thomas. Tried to make her vocal chords work. But in the end, all she could do was let a smile wobble to her lips.
Thank you, Daddy.
I love you, Daddy.
And one day, we'll be with Mommy again.EVERYTHING WAS SILENT now. They had taken Thomas away. The judge had retired to his room. Everyone else was gone, and she was all alone.
Or at least...that had how it seemed when she suddenly knew.
She couldn't explain it.
She just knew.
Tahey twisted around in her seat, just in time to see a familiar outline—-
Someone strikingly tall and powerfully built.
Bluish black hair that matched the dark fabric of his suit.
And he was walking away.
He was leaving her again.
She didn't even think. Couldn't really. Was just running on a dreadful mixture of instincts and adrenaline, pain and desperation, and most of all—-
That word she must never ever say out loud—-
Or she would shatter all over again.
She was already on her feet , a part of her terrified that he would ignore her.
But he didn't.
She saw him still. Stiffen, like the sound of her voice blasphemed his ears, and her chest nearly caved under the force of her pain.
But then she saw him slowly turning to face her—-
Even though she was still reeling with pain, hope was also blossoming inside of her heart.
Hope that just like with Thomas, it was still not too late.
Golden eyes clashed with hers.
"What do you want?"
His voice wasn't like before.
None of the contempt that used to—-
It occurred to her all of a sudden, with everything that had happened, it was only now she realized rather foolishly why he had seemed to hate her so much when she started working for him.
"Sasha told me you hated me because I reminded you of someone you know," Tahey heard herself blurt out. "And at that time, I thought he was talking about some ex-girlfriend you couldn't get over."
She wasn't quite sure why she thought to tell him that. Maybe she wanted to see if she could make him smile or his lip curl? Maybe she just wanted to see if she could still make him feel.
Because that was better.
Anything was better than the way he was now.
Staring at her like she was a stranger.
Talking to her like she was a stranger.
Like she had always been a stranger, and all those times she thought they were becoming closer—-
"Did you only take me to bed," she asked unevenly, "because you were planning to use me to hurt my dad?"
She waited for him to answer. Heart on her sleeve. Waited for him to just say sorry. To just say—-
"Goodbye, Ms. Baskerville."
She saw him turn but could no longer see him walk away.
Because her tears...
"Please just...at least say, just say it meant s-something."
The tears made everything blurry and crystal clear at the same time.
And when she heard the door close softly behind the billionaire—-
It was as good as hearing the door close on everything that could be...but was now over for good.Chapter SixteenDmitry no longer tried to forget her. He had come to accept that was impossible and so he forced himself to simply live with the memories of her, no matter how unbearable.
They were that.
Just goddamn unbearable.
He sold his office at the penthouse. The apartment she used to live in. The apartment he used to share with her. He had thought that by getting rid of those places, he would be free of her.
But he was wrong.
She was like a fucking ghost he couldn't exorcise. It didn't matter what he was doing. Who he was with. Didn't matter if he was in the middle of a fucking life-and-death job for Strakh Inc., and the smallest mistake could cost his life and those of his friends.
He thought he could at least learn to live with her memories and manage a semblance of a life despite it.
But he was wrong.
He kept seeing her smiles. Kept hearing her voice saying good morning. Kept imagining that if he turned around, he'd see her walking towards him—-
But she never did.
Because she was gone.
Because he had pushed her away.
He had pushed her away, and it turned out to be the biggest fucking irony.
By pushing her away, he had made sure he would never be free of her again.