“She’s naked. Don’t go back there,” I hear Captain say, and that’s followed by a curse from Miles. The door swings open; Mallory barrels in, throwing herself at me. I fall back, both of us hitting the bed, with her landing on top of me. She starts sobbing, and I wrap my arms around her.
“I’m fine,” I whisper to her. Then she’s being pulled from me. Miles picks her up and puts her on her feet. Then he’s pulling me from the bed, too. Shock hits me when his arms wrap around me, the hug so hard and tight I almost can’t breathe.
“I want to fucking beat your ass,” he grits out between clenched teeth. When I pull back to look up at him, I can see relief on his face. “I told you I would help you. You don’t fucking run off like that alone. You hear me? I’m your brother. I would have gone with you. If something happened to you…” He shakes his head. “Fuck!” he barks again, pulling me in for another hug as tight as the last. “I should have protected you. Not pulled you into my plans. Got you wrapped up in our father’s mess. I did this all wrong. I’m sorry, Paige. I should be taking care of you.”
I hug him back, holding him tight. It’s a comfort I didn’t know I needed until this moment, having my brother hold me and tell me it’s going to be okay.
“I get it. If anyone gets wanting to go after him, I do,” I tell him. I would have done anything to go after my father. I never felt used by Miles. The only thing I ever felt was that I was cheated out of having some kind of relationship with my brother, but I never thought he wanted that.
“We are changing this. Starting new. Having a different kind of family.” He demands it, like he does most things.
“I like the sound of that,” I agree.
“He’s dead,” Captain says, cutting off Miles’s words. Miles slowly lets me go, glancing between Captain and me. The question is clear, but I really don’t want to go over all of it again. He and Captain can have that conversation. I’m done with my father. Done with living in the past. Done with not living at all. My life is mine now. Nothing’s hanging over my head. I’m free.
“Good,” Mal says, her voice filled with tears, clearly not caring that one of us killed someone last night. “You two are so adorable,” she adds, looking from Miles to me before walking over and trying to wrap her arms around both of us. “These pregnancy hormones are the worst,” she exclaims into a group hug of her making. She gives a little hiccup. I laugh.
“You’re crazy,” I tell her.
I step back from the hug, and Miles pulls Mal into him, comforting her.
“She was like this most of the night. I couldn’t get it out of her for the longest time. Finally, I got her to crack.”
“Sorry,” she says, pulling her face out of Miles’s chest. “I know you didn’t want me to tell him but…” She hiccups again.
Captain comes up behind me, his front to my back as he wraps one arm around me, locking me to him.
“It’s fine,” I tell her.
“It’s not fine.” Miles shakes his head. “I’m glad he’s gone. The world is a better place without him,” he admits. “But I should have been better with you. I should have known everything. Fuck, I should have put the pieces together. Not asked my seventeen-year-old sister to plot revenge with me.”
I’m not sure Miles would have ever been down with killing Alexander. He wanted to make him suffer. That was his revenge. To make Alexander feel pain like he’d made his mother feel. In that way we are alike. We both wanted to do to him what he’d done to our mothers.
“You didn’t really, Miles. I mean, all you ever did was send me to college. Make sure I was taken care of. You never promised me anything about our father except that you’d make him pay.” He’d shielded me from it, even if he hadn’t realized he had.
We might not have been close at the time, but he pulled me off the streets and gave me a purpose. Gave me a life and a goal to work toward. In the end, I got a family. I wouldn’t be standing here without him.
“It’s over,” Captain says from behind me, placing a kiss on the top of my head. I bring my hands up, holding the arm that’s holding me.
“We can move on,” I confirm.
“Did you…” Mal asks. I shake my head, understanding that she’s asking if I’m the one who did it. She looks at Captain and smiles up at him.