Did Vince think that? Did Vince think I never loved him? When he died, did he die thinking that? Did he die feeling that alone? I had just tried to leave him. I had just told him I’d been with Mateo. I had just crushed his heart—again.

Grief floods me now in every form—tears streaming down my face, breath that I can’t suck into my lungs, memories I can’t touch, noises coming out of me that I can’t even put a label to.

I feel so alone, and I deserve that. I deserve so much more than that, because I made Vince feel that way. Vince loved me, and I destroyed him. Cherie is right. I destroyed him and then I flirted with danger until danger wanted to possess me—and then he cleared the way so he could.

It’s all my fault.

I don’t deserve to draw breath when Vince doesn’t. I don’t even deserve to be alive.

Chapter Twenty Nine


“Mia, open the goddamn door.”

I’m curled up in a ball on the floor. I didn’t even realize I’d locked it, but I can’t move, and even if I could, I wouldn’t let Mateo inside. I wouldn’t let him see me like this.

I want to tell him to come back later, but I can’t speak. It requires too much energy. I’m dead empty. Depleted. I need him to just leave me alone with my grief tonight. He can go to Meg tonight, and come back for me tomorrow.

That way he can put the hands that killed Vince all over the body of the woman who was supposed to love him.

I close my eyes against the pain. There’s so much pain. So much shame. This is the worst feeling in the world, and I don’t know how to escape it.

“Mia, I swear to God, I will rip this fucking door off its hinges.”

I need a time machine. If I had a time machine, I’d go back and fix it. Why can’t I wake up and find out this was all a dream? I can wake up next to Vince, like I did so many times before, and it was only a dream. It’s always only a dream when I have Mateo, it’s never real. Maybe this is a dream. Maybe Vince is lying beside me in our bed, and I can wake up and roll over and hug him. I can be kind to him. I can do for him what I’ve been willing to do for his murderer—I can let go. I can be loving. I can do better. I just need this to be a dream. I need him to be alive again. I’ll never do anything to get him killed if he’s just alive. I’ll cut all contact with Mateo outside of Sunday night dinners, I’ll sit there with Vince by my side, and I’ll be faithful and good.

Anything to get out from under the crushing weight of this guilt. I can’t breathe. I don’t even want to breathe; I just need the pain to stop. I want the guilt to go away.

“Please just answer me,” he calls, more desperately this time. I’ve never heard Mateo desperate, but it doesn’t really register. I can’t answer. I just can’t. It’s too hard. I feel broken.

How can I love him? I do, but how? What kind of person could love him, after what he did? How can I want him so much? How can I want to give him what I wouldn’t give Vince? I owed it to him. I was in a relationship with him. And I yearned for Mateo. What Mateo did should’ve cured me of that. I shouldn’t still want him after that. I’m as much a monster as he is.

I’m dimly aware of the door doing a thing doors shouldn’t do—opening from the wrong side, and then being lifted off and moved aside.


He actually had the door taken off the hinges.

He looks like he can breathe again when he sees me. He rushes forward, sinking to the floor with me and pulling me up into a sitting position, into his arms. Adrian hangs back by the door, looking in, watching Mateo.

It takes me a minute to realize why. To realize Mateo is inspecting me. He’s checking my wrists, his face paler than I’ve ever seen it, and then his gaze jumps to my mouth.

“You didn’t take anything, did you?”

I don’t understand.

I still feel too empty to speak, but I frown, confused.

He grabs my shoulders and gives me a solid shake. It scares me, so I make myself speak. “No.”

A breath of relief rushes out of him and he pulls me against his chest, tucking me under his chin. “I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry, Mia.”

Wait, he’s sorry?

“I’m sorry,” I murmur, leaning against him, but not hugging him back. “I’m sorry, I’m trying, but it’s all my fault. I killed Vince and…and I feel so awful.”

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