I try to give her what she’s asking for, even though I think the reason is bullshit. There’s something else there, but with Paige, I can’t push her. Not yet, anyway. I need to figure out what’s happened. What’s changed in the last few hours. My mind runs through everything that’s gone throughout the day and nothing comes to mind.

We walk out of the building together, and I make sure she gets home safe. When she says goodbye to me at her door, I throw my hands out and let it go. Obviously, she isn’t ready to talk about what’s really going on.

I take the stairs down one floor to my apartment right below hers. I let myself in, dropping my keys by the door, and walk to the living room. It’s sparse and cold in my place, and suddenly I hate every inch of it. Mostly because it doesn’t have Paige in it.

I flip on the TV that shows the feed from all the cameras in the building. I pull up the one that’s on her door. I sit on my couch, wondering if she’s okay and trying to think of what the hell happened after we got to work. I lie back and look up at the ceiling. We’re separated by only a few feet, but for some reason it feels like we’re miles apart.

That’s okay, kitten. I’ll let you push for a minute, but I’m coming for you.

Chapter Seventeen


* * *

“HEY, I’M HERE. What’s going on?”

I grab Mallory and pull her into the apartment, closing the door behind her. She gives me a wary look but doesn’t push. I’ve gone over this a hundred times in my head, so hopefully she’ll be okay and won’t ask a lot of questions. I don’t want to have to lie to her. I swore I would never do that again, and I won’t.

“I told Captain I needed to be alone tonight. I said I got my period and I wasn’t feeling good.”

She looks at me in puzzlement and tilts her head to the side. “You hardly ever get your period. You’ve been irregular since I’ve known you.”

“I know. That’s not the point,” I say, hating that she knows me so well. How does she know exactly when I get my period and when I don’t? That’s some creepy friendship shit right there.

“Paige, what are you up to? Is this another secret mission?” For a second she looks excited, and I think back to the night we sneaked out on Miles and Captain. She gets way too excited about pushing Miles’s buttons, but after doing the same to Captain, I can’t say I blame her. It is fun seeing them squirm. And I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was nice to watch them chase after us. I wonder if Captain will chase after me when he finds out what I’ve done.

I shake off that thought, because it derails me. I need to stay focused, something I haven’t been doing, and I don’t have much time.

“No, tonight is a solo operation. Next time, I swear,” I add when I see her face drop into a pout. “I need you to stay here, and if Captain comes knocking, tell him I called you to come down and stay with me. Tell him I’m asleep in the bedroom and I can’t come to the door.”

“What if he wants to talk to you?” she asks, already accepting without question what I’m doing. God, I love this woman.

“Make up an excuse. Say I’m taking a shit in the bathroom, I don’t care. Just convince him that I’m fine, but that he doesn’t need to check on me.” I grab my backpack next to the door and shoulder it on. “I don’t think he’ll come up, but in case, I need you.”

She puts her hand on my arm and gives it a squeeze. “Yeah, absolutely, Paige. I got your back.”

It feels good knowing that she’ll always be there for me, even if we aren’t together like we used to be. I want to tell her all of this, but I don’t know if I can. Something about this feels like it’s only mine, and getting her involved beyond this will just complicate things more. I don’t want to drag her into this. It would only drag Miles in, too. This is my mess, something I had to make amends for, not them.

“Thanks, Mal.” I lean in and give her a hug, holding her tight before turning to leave. When I put my hand on the doorknob, she stops me.

“Will you tell me what this all about someday?”

I look over my shoulder and smile at her. I don’t answer, I only shrug and walk out the door. I wait a beat, making sure I hear her lock the door behind me. When I know she’s good to go, I’m on the move. I love Mallory, but there are some things I don’t know how to share.

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