“I wish you had my back the way you have his,” Vince states.

I can’t help scoffing. “I’ve had your back, Vince. I have. I tried. But you take it too far. You’re too intense.”

“I’m too intense? Are you fucking kidding me? You’re obsessed with Mateo, and I’m too intense?”

“He’s logical. He doesn’t get as angry as you do. He’s territorial, sure, but he’s not like you. You get mean. You get bitter. You feel more, react more. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, but it’s harder. You punish me. Mateo’s never punished me for my feelings. Every time I’ve been with him, he knows I’m fucking you, too. He’s never mean about it.”

“Because he doesn’t. Fucking. Care.” Vince states. “He loves Meg, not you. You’re his side dish. You’re the novelty, the place he goes when he’s bored. When he doesn’t want to be gentle with the woman he actually loves, he knows you’re waiting in the wings to be treated like his whore.”

“Okay,” I say, shaking my head. I’m not hungry anymore. He’s pissing me off. “Let’s go back to ignoring. Let’s go back to lying. I can’t talk to you about him.”

“I want him out of our lives,” Vince states, coming up behind me. I do feel him this time, because I feel his anger. It’s not like when I feel Mateo. It’s not power.

Turning to face him, because he needs to see my face, I reach out and caress his jaw. It isn’t tender. It’s almost mean, for the lack of emotion behind it as I tell him, “That will never happen.”

He grasps my wrist in his hand, glaring at me. “He doesn’t love you.”

“It doesn’t matter,” I shoot back. “You don’t either.”

This really pisses him off. “Fuck you, Mia.”

“This isn’t love, Vince,” I continue, shaking my head. “You have to know that. This is… this is poison. We’re poisoning each other.”

“What would you suggest we do instead?” he asks.

“Move on?” It makes my stomach hurt, saying it out loud. I don’t know what happens to me if we break up. I don’t know how I stay a part of Mateo’s life in that scenario, but from the rare interactions we’ve had alone, I think maybe he’d keep me around somehow. I hope he would. I’d miss him more than I’d miss Vince. I don’t know how I would even function in the normal world anymore, and it hasn’t even been a year. I don’t know how anyone moves on from this family. They pull you under, wash over you until you’re gasping for breath, trying to keep your head above the crushing weight of them. But you can’t. They swallow you whole. There’s no emerging. There’s no light at the end of the tunnel.

But I don’t want light. I want Mateo. I want his darkness. I want his goodness. I want every crevice of him.

But I have Vince.

Vince is still holding my wrist, and now he pushes me back against the counter, reminding me of when we first met. It’s hysterical that this is what reminds me of when he met me, but it is. It seems like a lifetime ago now, for both of us. We’ve both changed so much. Experienced so much. I was intrigued by him back then. Afraid, but intrigued. I saw sadness in him then, and I wanted to be his solace.

I don’t anymore.

I’m just here.

“I slept in his bed last night.”

Vince’s brown eyes widen, like he can’t believe I’d say that.

I can’t either. My heart races with the danger of it. Pushing Vince. It’s mean and it’s dangerous, because Vince isn’t methodical like Mateo; he’s a loose cannon.

“Curled up against him,” I add. “My head on his naked chest. His arm around me—”

For the first time since everything first happened with Mateo, I think Vince might hit me. He doesn’t. But he pushes me so hard against the counter, it hurts. He fists his hand in my hair, yanking my head back.

Then he pushes me to the floor.

I go down on my knees, and he takes his cock out. There’s not much room between his legs and the cupboards behind me, but he strokes himself, glaring down at me.

He fists his hand in my hair again, guiding my mouth to his cock, and tells me, “You’re mine, Mia. Not his. Don’t forget your fucking place.”

Chapter Eight

Meg

A couple of days pass and I don’t change my mind.

In fact, I warm right up to the idea of sharing Mateo with Mia.

I’m still not sure completely how it works, but he’s obviously into it, I think she’ll be into it, and I’m not about to be the odd man out.

So, we’re doing this.

Or, we’re going to try anyway. I’m not sure when. I’m not sure how. Mateo doesn’t seem to be in any kind of rush, but I assume that’s just because he wants to make sure I’m fully on board.

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