Page 20 of Burned (Ignite #1)

“I can’t believe you would do this to me,” he finally says, staring right at me, but I know his words are for Finnley.

He finally looks away from me to Finnley. I can feel the heat of her body right behind me. I can smell her skin and I can hear her breath stutter with every word he speaks, but I can’t bring myself to turn around. I refuse to see the look of anguish and regret on her face that I’m sure he’s putting there.

“Seventeen years, Finn. Seventeen years and you’re going to throw it all away by sleeping with him?” Jordan asks in disgust.

The fact I just came running downstairs from the bedroom and she’s standing here in nothing but a robe makes what happened between us pretty obvious. She doesn’t say a word to confirm or deny it, but even Jordan isn’t that stupid. I want her to choose me, to tell him that even though she married him, it’s always been me. I want her to tell him to leave and pick me. Pick me, dammit!

“Did you f**k him in my bed?”

I take a step in Jordan’s direction and once again, Finnley’s hand comes out and grips onto my shoulder.

“Collin, you need to go. Please, just go.”

She practically sobs the words and my heart drops all the way down to my feet, so completely removed from my chest that I could drop it on the floor and kick it across the room.

I’m such a f**king idiot.

“I’m not leaving you alone with him.”

I speak my words with conviction even though I want nothing more than to run out of here with my tail between my legs like a wounded f**king puppy. I feel like a Goddamn kicked puppy and I have to fight the urge to rub my sternum to ease the pain in my chest. Fuck, this woman is lethal. No matter how much it hurts, though, I will NOT leave her alone and let him hurt her again.

“Fuck you! She’s my wife and this is our house!” Jordan argues.

Finnley steps between us, placing a hand in the center of my chest to push me away from Jordan, and I finally see her face. Just like I assumed, she looks beaten down with guilt and sadness.

“Collin, please. I can handle this; it’s fine. I just need you to leave,” she tells me softly.

I can’t even stand to look at her right now, so I turn away from her and leave the house without another word.

As I drive away, I pray to God that I don’t regret leaving her alone with him. Even though I’m pissed and I’m hurt, I would never want something bad to happen to her. I would rather die than even think about any harm coming to her, no matter how broken I feel right now.

Instead of going home to my empty place, I head to the bar. I need to get drunk. Maybe an entire bottle of whiskey will wash away the singed ashes of my heart.

Chapter 11—Eyes on Fire

I CAN’T STOP crying. For over a month, I didn’t shed a single tear about making Jordan leave, not one. Now, I’m sitting on my couch sobbing so hard I can barely breathe while Phina passes me a box of tissues.

“He doesn’t hate you, hon. He’s probably just a little pissed at how it all went down,” she reassures me.

The funny thing is, I can feel in my bones that Collin hates me. I should have never treated him like a dirty little secret and I should have never told him to leave, but I didn’t know what else to do. I knew him and Jordan being in the same room together for even a minute longer would have resulted in bloodshed and I didn’t want the situation to get any uglier than it already had. I didn’t have time to explain to Collin my reasons for wanting him to stay in the bedroom and I didn’t have time to explain to him that I would much rather Jordan leave than him. No time, there was never enough time and now I feel like there’s been a shift in my universe that I’m never going to be able to set right.

Everything between us happened so fast and I didn’t have any time to process it before it all blew up in my face. Did I make a mistake? I jumped right into another relationship, if that’s what you can call it, before the ink terminating the previous one was even dry. I took a chance, I took a leap and I did something completely out of character. It doesn’t feel like a mistake and it certainly didn’t feel wrong at the time. Shit, it still doesn’t feel wrong. Actually, it’s the most right I felt in a long time.

“God, I feel like such an idiot. What the hell am I even doing?” I ask Phina as I grab a Kleenex from the box and dry off my cheeks.

“You’re thinking with your vagina for once instead of your head and your heart. I say it’s a win all around,” she says with a laugh.

I laugh right along with her but shake my head at the same time. “It’s not even that. I mean, the sex is… Jesus, the sex is something I can’t even put into words. But it’s so much more than sex and that is the insane part. I mean, I don’t even know him. I used to know him. I used to know everything about him, but it’s been seventeen years! Why do I feel worse about him walking away than I do about Jordan?”

I let my head flop to the back of the couch and stare up at the ceiling. “I feel this strange connection to Collin, like he was always meant to be in my life one way or another. I never told you this, but I’ve thought about him so much over the years and seeing him again feels almost like we were never apart. We just fit so well and it feels so right, but I felt that way about Jordan for the longest time, too. He was my best friend and I couldn’t imagine my life without him.”

“But he f**ked everything up and threw away your trust,” Phina reminds me. “Trust is the most important thing in any relationship, you know that. Do you trust Collin?”