“And I’m not all good either. In fact, there are a lot of people out there who would tell you I’m a bitter bitch and they hate me,” she attempts to joke, but it comes out with too much emotion. “You don’t have to know if I’ll still be good if I walk away, Jase. I don’t want to walk away. And we can be each other’s goods and bads. People are supposed to be a mix of both, I think. You need that in the world, don’t you? You are needed,” she emphasizes, not waiting for my answer. “And I need you,” she whispers with desperation.

“I’m right here,” I comfort her and she lets me hold her, clinging to me as if I’m going to leave her.


It’s quiet as she calms herself down and I think she’s gone to sleep after a while, but then she asks, “Is this… is this cards or bricks for you?”

“I don’t understand.”

“I’m insecure and I need to know. It’s one of the bad parts of me. I’m insecure.”

“You need to know… cards or bricks?” I ask, still not understanding.

“There are two kinds of relationships. The first is like a house built of cards; it’s fun, but you know it’s going to fall down eventually. Or you can have a house made of bricks. Bricks don’t fall. Sometimes they’re a little rough and it takes time to get them right, but they don’t fall down. They’re not supposed to anyway–”

“Bricks.” I stop her rambling with the single word. “I’m not interested in cards. I don’t have time for games.”

“Then why lie to me?” She whispers the question with a pained expression. With her hand on my chest, she looks into my eyes. “I don’t want to fight; I just want to understand.”

“I kept you a few steps behind me. That’s how I saw it. Not because I didn’t trust you – I didn’t trust that the information I had wouldn’t hurt you. I didn’t want to give you false hope.”

She’s quiet, and I don’t know if she believes me. “Please. Trust me.”

“I do. I trust you.” At the same time she answers me, my phone pings from where I left it in the pile of clothes.

Bethany doesn’t object to me leaving her to answer it. Although she watches intently, waiting for me to come back to her.

Reading the message Carter sent, I try to keep my expression neutral and tell her, “I have to go.”

“You do that a lot,” she comments before I bend down to give her a goodbye kiss.

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be. I’m right here. I’ll always be here.” A warmth settles through me with her whispered words.

“Is it going to be okay?” she asks, not hiding her worry.

“As okay as it ever is,” I answer her truthfully. “We may know where Jenny is,” I tell her and watch as she braces herself from the statement. “We’re going to find her tonight.”

“Jase, I love you,” she whispers. “Make sure you come back to me. I’m not done fighting with you yet.” A sad smile attempts to show, masking her worry, although it only makes her look that much more beautiful.

“I look forward to coming back here so you can yell at me some more,” I say to play along with her, leaving a gentle kiss against her lips. When I pull back her eyes are still closed, her fist gripping my shirt like she doesn’t want to let go.

“I’ll come back.” I swallow thickly and promise her, “I’ll come back.”

Jase

There’s a bridge that looks over the ferry. It leads to the docks where our shipments come in. With my brothers behind me and Seth next to me, we stare at the worn door that lies beneath the bridge.

It’s made of steel and looks like it’s been here as long as the bridge has; the shrubbery simply obscured it.

“We still don’t know what’s inside,” Sebastian comments.

“Jenny,” I answer. “I know she’s in there.” I can feel it in my bones that we’re closer to where we’re supposed to be. Even in the pitch-black night, with the cold settling into every crevice, we’re close. I know we are.

“Let’s hope so.” Carter’s deep voice is spoken lowly as he steps next to me, facing the bridge and considering the possibilities.

“Ten men?” I ask Carter, looking over my shoulder at the rows of black SUVs parked in a line. “Do they know?”

“They know we need them here and that’s all. They’re waiting for orders.”

“Ten of them?” Seth repeats my question.

“Do you think that’s overkill?” Carter questions in return. It’s just the four of us, me and Seth and him and Sebastian, along with our ten men. Daniel and Declan are home with guards of their own. Just in case anyone sees us leaving as an opening to hit us where it hurts. In this life, there is never a moment for weakness and having someone you love at home is exactly that, a weakness waiting to be exploited.

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