“Oh, kitten.”

I try to push back from him, but he won’t let go of me. His grip on me is unbreakable, and it makes me hope he’ll never let me go, no matter how hard I pull. That he’ll keep holding me.


“Nothing. I’ve done absolutely nothing to make him pay for what he did to her. I didn’t do anything to help her then, and I need to make that right. I watched it all happen, while I remained frozen. Then when I could move, I ran.”

“And my girl remembers everything. Bet you even make yourself relive it over and over, don’t you?”

“Don’t say that,” I snap. “I’m not your girl. Don’t you see it? That’s what I’m trying to tell you. I’m not good for you. I’m not who you think I am. Part of me is spoiled, and it won’t ever be made right. I won’t stop until I make him pay.” Even as I throw the words at Captain, I dig my fingers into his shirt, not wanting to let go. I’m telling him he should be leaving, but I’m clinging to him. My body and heart are at war.

“Kitten, you can keep trying to push me away, but you’re going to learn real quick I’m not going anywhere. I don’t want to lose you, so I’m going to give you the revenge you want.”

“You don’t mean that. I don’t think you understand that I want to—”

He cuts me off before I can finish. I’m about to finally give voice to what I’ve been dancing around. “I’ll kill anyone who gets in the way of you and me. The way I’m seeing it right now is he’s standing in my fucking way. He’s making you push away from me. That makes him as good as dead.”

Tears start falling, breaking free of the dam I’d built when he found me in the office.

“Don’t cry, kitten.” I wrap my arms and legs around him, burying my face in his neck as I let all the tears flow free. “It’s you and me. No matter what. I love you, Paige, and if this is the path you need to take, then I’m going to plow it clear for you.”

I hold on to him tighter, letting free all the welled-up emotions inside me. I never want to let go, and I never want him to release me. My back hits my bed, and he comes down over me.

He’s not leaving.

“I’ll never leave you,” he says, and I realize I said the words out loud. “Is this why you keep me at arm’s length? You think once I got to the core of you, I’d leave?”

I nod into his neck.

“Look at me, kitten.”

I reluctantly pull back, sure my face is a red, blotchy mess. His hand cups my cheek as his thumb wipes at my tears.

“I’ve been taking things slow with you. I was worried I might spook you with how strongly I feel for you. That shit is done. You’re mine, Paige, and you’re not going anywhere without me. I’ll fight for you, and soon you’ll see how true that is.”

I don’t get it. Why is he so willing to do this for me? Why does he want to work so hard to be with someone like me? I’m sure he could walk into any bar and find a girl with not even a tenth of the baggage and shit I carry around. Someone who doesn’t have a chip on her shoulder. Maybe I should question him and his motives, but I don’t. I should probably tell him I won’t let him help me, but instead I take all his promises to heart. I should scream at him to pull himself from my mess, but I can’t let him go. When the reality of losing him hit me, the pain was far worse than I’d thought it would be. It’s numbing, and I hate it. I want to believe him and put my trust in his hands. I want him to be my safety net and my shield. The thought of a life without him is impossible to bear, and I won’t waste another second on denying him. Denying myself.

“I love you,” I whisper.

I want him to know, because I’ve never loved anyone like I love him. Never wanted to get lost in someone’s soul and tell him all my secrets. I don’t care anymore. I have nothing to lose. I’m taking him and never letting go.

Chapter Nineteen

Ryan

* * *

HER DEEP BLUE eyes are filled with so many emotions as I stare down at her. The thing I see most in them is hope. Hope that I’m true to my word, hope that I don’t let her get away, hope that I won’t break her heart as she gently places it in my hands. My thumb continues to brush away tears, but inside, the adrenaline is pumping through my veins.

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