DECEMBER CAME ROARING in with a rare thunderstorm, and it was on such a day that Thomas was informed by the warden of a visitor. He went out eagerly, thinking it would be his daughter again—-
But instead it was the last man on earth he expected to see.
Thomas could feel every year of his age catching up with him at the sight of the man who had hurt his daughter—-
And the only one he could blame for it, Thomas thought painfully, was himself.
Dmitry had half-expected Thomas to turn him away the moment he realized who his visitor was. But after a moment of hesitation, the older man plodded on and practically collapsed on the bench across Dmitry.
In the past, he had been unable to even let himself imagine this man's face. Had been lost in such rage and hopelessness that he knew, if he let himself keep thinking of Thomas, he just might end up with the older man's blood on his hands, and he would be a killer himself.
"Did you come here to talk about your sister?"
"No." He knew everything about Paige's last moments. Just like Tahey once said, Thomas had been a detailed journal keeper, and it had been a shallow comfort, knowing that Paige hadn't felt any kind of pain when she died.
Thomas studied the younger man with a mixture of weariness and wariness. If not his sister, then...
His little girl had refused to tell him much about this man. Only that Dmitry had been so bitter about his sister's death that he had used Tahey to hurt Thomas. He hates me, Tahey had once said, and I can't blame him.
And at that time, Thomas had believed her.
"Were you surprised," Thomas asked quietly, "when you heard me admit my guilt?"
"Why did you?"
The roughness of the billionaire's voice was the first glimpse Thomas had of Dmitry Adrianov's feelings, and it gave him hope.
"I know what I've done was unforgivable, Mr. Adrianov. I am sorry for causing your sister's death, and if I could have a chance to relive my life, what my daughter has taught me...I believe it would make a difference. And I wouldn't make the same mistakes." Thomas breathed hard. "But that's the thing about life. You only get one chance in some cases, and...I...I'm sorry about your sister." The older man's voice became harsh with self-loathing and remorse. "I'm sorry for taking her away from you and your family."
Dmitry's face was ashen. For so long, so fucking long, he had wished this man's death, wished he had it in his power to destroy Thomas Baskerville—-
His eyes squeezed shut.
Tell me what to do, Paige.
Tell me how to avenge you.
But instead of his sister's voice, the words he heard were from those of her killer.
"I know I am not and will never be a good man," Thomas said rawly. "But I'm here, paying for my crimes, and I wished there was more I could do to atone for my sins, because my daughter..." The older man choked back a sob. "She told me something I still don't quite believe myself, but I'm...I'm trying. She told me it's never too late, and...I think, that's what you came here to hear. You want to know if it's not too late for you and Tahey...don't you?"Chapter SeventeenAlthough Keagan offered to hook her up with another job, Tahey wasn't ready to jump into another corporate job so soon. She had a feeling that anything resembling an office would be enough to make her cry. Instead, she politely turned down her friend's offer and accepted another friend's invitation to fly out to Wyoming.
Tahey had met Story back in her university days, and the two of them - along with A.W. and S.M. - made up the B.G. Club. On paper, it stood for Book Girls, but the real meaning behind the name was Bullied Girls. All of them - their moderator included - had been bullied at one point in their lives, and having this in common had made it easier for the girls to become fast friends.
Since then, Story had married a wealthy and devastatingly sexy sheikh who occasionally doubled as a horse instructor (long, long, long story) in the remote little town of Hartland, Wyoming.
The last time the two girls met, Story had still been pregnant. Now, however, her friend was a mother to a precocious three-year-old named Elana, and if rumors were to be believed, the cheeky little kid was her Papa's worst nightmare.
Tahey now had a job mucking stables, and although it was the very opposite of glamorous, Tahey couldn't be any more grateful. Story had tried to get her to work elsewhere, of course, but Tahey wouldn't hear of it. What mattered most to her was that this job didn't remind her of her days at Strakh Inc., and it had her actually looking forward to hours of shoveling manure out of the stalls and having fun while giving the sheikh's horses a good, long bath.