I try to move past him. He blocks me. “Let me pass, Chris.”
“I need to think, Chris. I need space.” And I do. I don’t understand what I feel, but it hurts. I hurt and I’ve hurt for weeks on end. I’m tired of feeling this way.
He hesitates and then backs into the bedroom. I walk past him and snatch up my purse. “Where are you going?” he demands.
“I told you: I need some space.”
“No. You need to stay here and we’ll talk this out.”
“I can only assume you’ve told me everything there is to say now. Unless there’s more I don’t know?”
He visibly flinches. “No. There’s nothing else. That’s it.”
“Then we’re done talking. I need to take a drive and think.”
“I didn’t want you to know about the club, Sara. Right or wrong, that’s my honest answer,” he pleads.
“I know. The problem is that everything you tell me is because you’re forced to tell me—not because you choose to tell me. You never fully trust me.”
“That’s not true.” He runs a rough hand through his hair and he looks as tormented as I feel. “It’s not true.”
“It’s how I feel. It’s what I feel right now.” He’s been all about secrets from day one, and I chose to ignore the danger they might present. I chose to look the other way because I’m so damn in love with him. I walk toward the door and he steps in front of me. “Stay.”
“Keeping me here right now is the worst thing you can do, Chris. It’ll make me feel trapped. I’ve felt that way too much in my life. Don’t do that to me.”
He steps aside.
I start walking, part of me wanting him to stop me, even though I’ll be furious if he does. And part of me thinks his not stopping me is so out of character that it scares me. He let me go before, after I found him begging for a beating. No, that’s not right. He’d downright pushed me away. I haven’t fully healed from that and right now, I’m afraid of what I don’t know and how it will tear us apart, like the club discovery almost had. I’m afraid it’s going to happen again. I can’t help it. I need him to fight for me now, no matter how wrong of me that might be.
He can’t win by letting me go or keeping me here—and neither can I. Maybe we never could win together. We were destined to shred each other inside and out. Destined to end up right here, where we are tonight.
At the front of the building, I order my car brought up to me. Once I’m inside it I sit behind the wheel, unsure of where to go. I want to be with Chris, but the secrets he keeps, on top of the rawness of his withdrawal this past week, eats away at me.
He didn’t trust me to go through the loss of Dylan with him. He didn’t trust me to tell me about Rebecca. No, about the club. He hid that from me for as long as he possibly could. What else is he hiding and unwilling to share because he still thinks I can’t handle it? I’ve poured my heart out to this man, and now I’ve given up my job for him. I had put all fear aside and gambled on us. When will he fully gamble on us? Will he ever?
My phone rings and it’s Chris. I decline the call. The doorman knocks on my window and I jump. He mouths, “Are you okay?” and I wave and pull onto the road. I don’t know where I’m going; I just drive.
• • •
An hour later, I end up at Mark’s white mansion in the same Cow Hollow neighborhood as his club. I have no idea why I am here. Honestly, I have nowhere else to go. And Mark really is my one real connection to both Chris and Rebecca, who have both become a huge part of my life. Both of whom I now feel like I am losing.
Besides, Mark is all about facts, not the emotions I am letting control me right now. Just hearing him tell the same story Chris has told me about Rebecca might give me new perspective about why Chris’s silence on the subject bothers me so much.
I grab my purse and shove open the door. Motion detectors flicker to life and doors identical to the ones at the club become visible, sending a frisson of unease through me. I press past it and ring the bell. I shiver, telling myself it’s because I’ve hastily forgotten a jacket, not because of my location. It doesn’t work. Nerves flutter through me and the frisson becomes full-blown doubt. I’m about to make a mad dash for the car when the door opens and Mark appears, looking like a Mark I’ve never seen. He’s barefooted and his normal, finely groomed blond hair is rumpled. The perfectly fitted suit I’ve become accustomed to him wearing has been replaced by a white T-shirt and faded jeans.
His gaze sweeps my jeans and T-shirt, clearly finding my attire as striking as I do his. One blond brow lifts. “Ms. McMillan. What a surprise.”
“Isn’t it?” I ask, sounding as awkward as I feel. “Am I interrupting anything?”
“Nothing that can’t wait.”
He motions me forward and I hesitate, remembering the room called the Lion’s Den at the club, and that caged feeling I’d had in the demo unit. But I want answers. I need answers. I draw a breath and step onto the pale ivory hardwood floor and into a narrow hallway, too close to Mark for comfort.
“Is everything okay?” he asks.
“Yes. No. I just need to ask you a few questions about . . . Chris.”
His eyes narrow. “Chris?
“And Rebecca,” he repeats, and I catch a flash of consternation in his gaze that quickly fades. “I’m not sure how they connect but I’m intrigued enough to see where this is going.” His chin lifts to urge me forward. I just stand there, frozen in place, his gray eyes sharp as he watches me. Oh yes, I feel like I am in the lion’s den and want out. “Staying or going, Ms. McMillan?”