I started following Pamona, knowing she was his closest family, the only one he truly cared about in the world. That night in the alley, I thought about letting those other men do the job. Attack her the way he attacked my mother.
But I couldn’t bring myself to do what he did. I couldn’t stoop to that level. I rescued her, and that night, the way that she gazed at me when I saved her from those men, I came up with a new plan.
I would make her mine.
Take her, make her addicted to me, and leave her broken-hearted. I knew she was a virgin, innocent and sheltered. I knew I could make her want me, love me, need me.
I just never expected that need to cut both ways.
I laugh and chug the rest of the whiskey in the bottle, only a few swallows, but enough to burn the whole way down. How much of this did I kill off in just the last few hours since the shower?
I laugh again and toss the bottle at the wall. Grin as it shatters into a million pieces.
Just like all of my plans.
I can’t go through with that video. I can’t pull the trigger; can’t break her the way I need to in order to make this work. And knowing Pamona now, I’m sure she would never agree to it anyway.
What did I do?
There’s a knock at the door, and I snarl, “Go away.”
I clench my jaw. Pamona.
I don’t say anything else. I don’t tell her to come in. I don’t tell her to leave either.
The door creaks open slowly. Pamona sidles inside. Takes a glance at me, the bottle shattered against the wall, the glass in my hand. She crosses the room and plucks the glass from my limp fingers. Sets it on the desk beside me, then crouches in front of me, eyes on mine.
There’s pity in her gaze. That’s one thing I cannot stand.
I surge to my feet and pull her up with me. Wrap my hands around her shoulders, not tight enough to hurt. Just enough to hold her here. Make her see what she did.
“You’ve ruined everything,” I say, my voice low and even and surprisingly steady. “Everything I spent the last five years working for. My life’s goal. Ruined.”
“Farrow, you’ve had too much to drink. You don’t know what you’re saying…”
“That night, five years ago. The night in the alley.”
“I remember.” She cups my cheek, catches my eye with a gaze so sincere and steady that it actually hurts to look at her. My chest hurts.
“That was the start of my path to failure. I thought it was the start of this plan, my way to revenge, but…” I shake my head. Rest my forehead against hers. “It wasn’t. It was the start of my path to…”
“To what?” Her voice is a whisper between us.
“To you. To these feelings I can’t control. To loving you even though I don’t want to,” I admit. Something tugs inside me and I can’t resist anymore. I pull her against me and kiss her, slow and steady.
It feels different than before. This is a kiss without an agenda. Without a plan or a hidden plot. Without thinking about my past or her father’s future, the demise I want to plan for him.
This is just me: a man, kissing her, a woman. The woman whose virginity I took. The woman who spent the last month caring for me, even as I tried to ruin her.
The woman I’m falling for.
This is love, and it hurts worse than anything.
Pamona kisses me back, softly, gently, like she’s afraid I’ll break. And maybe I will. When we finally pull apart, she rests her forehead against mine and smiles at me. “Thank you, Farrow,” she whispers.
She doesn’t say she loves me too. Another cut, another blow.
I laugh softly. Because of course she doesn’t.
How could she love me? I kidnapped her. I tried to destroy her.
But she’s tugging on my hand, drawing me toward the bed, and I don’t want to think too hard about that. About how we wound up here and what I did to get her here.
She wants one last time with me before I have to let her go. I’m going to forget about the future. Live in this moment because I already know it will be our last time together.
We fall onto the bed in a tangle of limbs and lips and teeth. She bites my lip, and I groan softly. Tug free and kiss my way along her neck, her collarbone, her chest. I pull her shirt off and unclasp her bra. Kiss along her breasts, one at a time, and suck her nipples into my mouth, first one, then the next, circling my tongue against them until her nipples harden.