Those were the nights I missed Cato the most.

I could go out and find a lover. I was pregnant, but for a one-night stand, a man might not care. But I didn’t want to put myself out there and be with anyone else. There was only one man in my fantasies—the very man who’d vowed to kill me.

I lay in bed and looked at the sonogram on my nightstand, the picture that was taken when Cato and I went to see the doctor for the first time. Ever since I heard that heartbeat, I knew I loved my child. And I knew Cato loved them too.

It’d been five weeks since I left Cato, and now I wondered if he ever tried to look for me at all. Maybe the betrayal was too painful and he didn’t want to hunt down a woman who didn’t want to be found. Maybe it was a relief to him, that his fatherly responsibility had been taken away from him—and it wasn’t his choice.

Maybe he was fucking someone else by now.

It’d been five weeks…of course he was fucking someone else.

He was fucking a lot of women.

The thought made me so sad that tears burned in my eyes. Our relationship had never been based on love, but I always thought there was something else there, something meaningful under the surface. My heart beat for him like no one else. I’d never been in love before, but sometimes I wondered if what I felt was close to that feeling.

But how could I love someone who threatened to kill me?

That would make me a nutcase.

Maybe he let me go so he wouldn’t have to kill me. If I weren’t under his roof, then no one would expect him to do anything. He was released from his obligation. Maybe he didn’t look for me to save me.

If that was the case, I was still sad.

I got what I wanted, but I wondered if this was actually what I wanted after all.

The next morning, I washed our clothes by hand then took them outside to hang up. We had a string of rope that extended between two poles, and that’s where I hung our clothes to dry. It was old-fashioned and took forever, but it was calming at the same time.

The clothes flapped in the breeze as they hung from the rope. I stepped to the side and clipped a towel to the rope as I looked at the main street a short distance away. People were walking up and down the sidewalk, and there was a man leaning against his car reading the morning paper. He looked up at me from time to time.

I kept pinning my clothes until I saw a shadow appear on the other side of the towel I’d just hung up. A silhouette of a man was visible through the material, with broad shoulders, long legs, and an impressive height.

I immediately thought of Cato.

Had he come for me?

If it was him, why did I feel this jolt of excitement? Shouldn’t I be scared?

I pulled back the towel and came face-to-face with my brother. I couldn’t fight the crestfallen feeling in my chest, the disappointment that it wasn’t the man I hadn’t stopped thinking about.

“Everything alright?” He had a tired look on his face, as if his weekend of hookups left him little time to sleep.

“Yeah…you just scared me.”

“You don’t need to worry about him. It’s been five weeks. If he hasn’t found us by now, he probably has no idea where to look.”

“Unless he never looked for us in the first place…” I was told Cato would find me if he really wanted to, that he had resources I couldn’t even dream of. But it wouldn’t have taken him this long if that was the case.

“What do you mean?” He pulled a piece of laundry from the basket and hung it up on the line.

“Maybe he didn’t bother. Maybe he thought it was the perfect excuse not to kill me…”

“Because if you aren’t around, then he doesn’t have to keep his word.”

“Yeah…” I grabbed another piece of laundry and hung it up.

“I doubt it. He was probably pissed that you left. He probably wanted revenge. He just couldn’t find you.”

“Maybe…”

Landon hung up another towel while keeping his eyes on me. “You miss him or something?”

“Would you judge me if I said yes?”

“Absolutely. This is what you wanted, Siena. I tried to persuade you to stay, but you wanted to leave. You got exactly what you wanted, and by some miracle, we actually got away with it. There’s no reason to be sad.”

“I can’t explain it…”

“Well, try,” he snapped.

When I reflected on our relationship, I missed that closeness. I’d never had a more passionate relationship with a man, someone who could just look into my eyes and make me melt. It wasn’t just the physical intimacy that I missed. I missed our emotional intimacy, the conversations we had. “We were close. We weren’t just two people who were sleeping together. We weren’t more than that either, but we were…together. He has a big heart and a beautiful soul, something he doesn’t show to anyone else but me. I know he could be a good man if he wanted to be. I miss that man. And I’ll always feel something for him because he’s the father of my child.”

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