Kellan stomped over and grabbed me hard by the upper arm, digging his nails into my skin. “I’m not going to ask again, Alice. Come with me. We’re going home.”

I tried to pull away, tried yanking my arm free. Tears were welling up in the corners of my eyes. “L-let go of me.”

“Come one, Alice. Now.”

Out of desperation, I slapped him hard across the face. My palm and fingers stung badly, but I at least left his cheek a satisfying red. Kellan set his jaw and squeezed my arm tighter, dragging me with him toward the diner doors.

“You’re going to pay for that,” he hissed in my ear as he forced me outside.

I didn’t stop fighting. I would never stop fighting him as long as I still breathed. I kicked and I hit him with all my might, but Kellan was just too strong for me to handle on my own. His black SUV was waiting outside on the curb, hazard lights flashing as he pulled open the passenger side door.

“Please,” I sobbed. “Let me go. I don’t want to go with you.”

“We’ll talk about it on the ride home, bunny.”

“Leave me alone! Somebody help me! Please!”

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a fist fly right past my face to hit Kellan smack on the middle of his nose. A strong arm grabbed me and pulled me away, taking me to safety on the curb. A man’s large jacket that smelled like sandalwood aftershave was quickly draped over my shoulders for warmth. I wiped at my eyes and sucked in a sharp breath through gritted teeth.

Max and Jeremy. My guardian angels.

Truly what did I do to deserve men like them?

They worked with an amazing amount of strength and efficiency, taking turns to pummel Kellan into submission. While Jeremy punched, knuckles making harsh contact with Kellan’s jaw, Max brought his knee up to ram Kellan right in the guts. My ex-boyfriend keeled over in a manner of seconds, pathetically wheezing. He didn’t stand a chance against two trained firemen, though that didn’t stop him from trying to take a swing or three. But no matter what he tried, Max and Jeremy left him a mess. There was nothing but rage behind Max’s eyes, and Jeremy’s jaw was clenched so tight I could see the muscles in his jaw snapping.

They wouldn’t stop beating Kellan. Over and over again, they kicked and they punched. It was honestly a little frightening. If they kept this up, they might even end up killing him. I rushed over and grabbed them both by the back of the shirts.

“Stop,” I begged. “Please, stop. He’s down. I’m okay.”

They ceased immediately, wrapping their arms around me protectively as Kellan struggled to his feet, leaning against his car for support. Kellan’s nose was bleeding, his bottom lip was split and swollen. His knuckles were all bruised, and his hair was a tangled mess. If he hadn’t gotten the point to leave me alone earlier, he certainly had now. Whether or not he had enough intelligence to head their warning was another matter entirely.

Kellan pointed a finger at me and said, “You’re mine, Alice. You’ll see.”

Max puffed his chest out and frowned at the man, clenching his fists like he was ready to go again. Kellan scurried around the front of his car like a spooked mouse, hopped in, and immediately drove away. Rubber tires screeched against the concrete, engine roaring loudly as he escaped.

Jeremy pulled me into a tight hug, whispering against my forehead, “It’s okay. It’s okay. He’s gone.”

Max joined us, placing one of his big hands on my lower back. He checked me over quickly. “Are you hurt?”

I shook my head, “I’m fine, I’m fine. But you’re–” I grabbed both of their hands and inspected them. Their knuckles were bruising, the skin swelling red with speck of blood staining the backs of their fingers. “Are you guys okay? You shouldn’t have done that. Kellan’s only going to–” I started to cry in earnest. As appreciative as I was that they were helping me, I couldn’t stand the thought of them getting hurt. Not for my sake.

Max kissed my temple and sighed, “Let’s go home, Alice.”

“Yeah,” agreed Jeremy. “We’ll go home, watch some movies, make a pillow fort or something. Don’t you worry about a thing.”

I sniffled and nodded wearily. Even though I felt safe with the two of them by my side, I still couldn’t shake the feeling of impending doom. Kellan had managed to find me, put his hands on me, threatened to take me away. What if he hurt Max and Jeremy just to get to me? I couldn’t stand the thought.

10

Max

I couldn’t remember the last time I was this angry. The term angry didn’t quite cut it, actually. I was livid. Who did that asshole think he was, hurting Alice like that? When I saw him grab her, tears welling up in her eyes, it took all of my willpower not to beat his face to a pulp and smash his skull open on the hood of his car. I replayed the events from earlier that evening over and over again in my mind, wishing that I’d punched him harder, kicked him with all my might. I had a face to put to the name now. Kellan was every ounce a piece of filth as I thought he was.

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