Micah stands up a little straighter, spits blood out of his mouth, and then wipes it on the sleeve of his shirt. “She loves you, Walsh.”

“Tell me something I don’t know,” I growl at him. Because that’s just a painful reminder of what I don’t have.

“She doesn’t love Vince,” he says urgently. “She’s only with him because she was so lost, she latched onto the first security that presented itself.”

“She told you that?” I ask him.

His eyes cut away guiltily, then back to me. “Not exactly.”

“What does that mean?” I snap, running out of patience.

“She’s not talking to me. Hasn’t since that night.”

“Then are you making this shit up about Vince?” I ask in disbelief at the levels he’d sink.

Micah shakes his head. “No. She sent me a single text that just said she was moving back to L.A. with Vince, and she was going to try to figure out what she wanted.”

“Nothing about that text says she doesn’t love him or that she wants to be with me,” I tell him pointedly, and I have another intense desire to punch him again.

“But it does,” he insists. “She said she wanted to figure out what she wanted. Which means she doesn’t necessarily want Vince, but you.”

I roll my eyes at him and turn to walk away. “You’ll have to do better than that.”

“Walsh… you both love each other. Don’t fucking walk away from that.”

Rage flows through me again, and I spin on Micah. His hands come up protectively, but I don’t physically strike out. Instead, I yell at him, “How do you know that, Micah? You wouldn’t fucking listen to us that night, so tell me how you know shit about what’s between your sister and me, you motherfucking, cock-sucking asshole.”

“Okay, I deserve that,” he says hastily. Suddenly, all my anger just dies.

I feel a hundred years old, beaten and broken, so I ask him again, “How do you know?”

“Because I saw Jorie pleading with you that night to not leave her,” he says quietly. “I heard the pain in her voice. I saw the heartbreak on her face when you walked away.”

“You made me walk away from her,” I accuse.

“Yes,” he agrees readily. “I was so fucking mired in my own anger that I couldn’t see anything else. But I see it now, Walsh. She loves you. Don’t sit here and tell me you don’t love her back, because that would be a fucking lie.”

I don’t respond, but my jaw clenches tight as I listen.

“You love me, too,” Micah adds.

Once again, I want to punch him.

“I despise you,” I mutter.

“No… you love me. You walked away from my sister because I asked you to, and you did that because you love me.”

“But not anymore,” I growl at him, but the last of my anger ebbs away, and I notice with strange awareness there’s a flicker of hope within me. “I still want to kick your ass.”

“If that will make you feel better,” Micah says as he throws his arms out wide. “I’ll do anything to help make this right. But Walsh… I’ve been two weeks without my best friend and my sister, and it’s killing me. I miss you both so much, and it’s absolutely just killing me that you two are in pain because of my selfishness. You’ve got to let me back in, and you’ve got to get Jorie back.”

“Start by telling me everything you know about her and Vince getting back together,” I tell him as I start walking toward The Royale. It’s several blocks away, but the air is helping to clear my head.

Micah rushes to catch up with me. “I talked to Elena before I flew out here today. She said Vince showed up at the apartment four days ago and convinced Jorie to come back with him.”

“What’s his agenda?” I ask, so I can figure out how to shut it down fast.

“I don’t think he has one,” Micah says dejectedly. “Elena felt he was being genuine and really wants to work things out with her, but he promised he’d give her space to figure things out first.”

“Fuck,” I mutter. That presents a huge problem. First, Jorie is married to this dude, and I swore I wouldn’t stand in the way if she wanted to save her marriage. I have to decide if I’m being selfish by trying to impede that.

“He told her he wants kids,” Micah adds.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” I curse under my breath.

Micah’s hand on my arm stops me in my tracks, and I turn to look at him. His eyes are solemn when he asks, “Do you want children with her? Marriage? Because if you don’t, then let them be. Let Jorie figure it out on her own.”

“I want everything with your sister. If she’ll have me, I want to give her everything she wants and then more on top of that. I’m thinking three, maybe four kids, but we’d have to talk about that. A house in the suburbs. Fuck, I want a white picket fence with her and a golden retriever named Scout or some shit like that.”

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