Charlie looks up at me and shakes his head.
“Me either,” I sigh. “But we should try to get some rest.”
Despite his claim of not being tired, Charlie falls asleep almost instantly once I get him tucked comfortably in bed.
I left the door to the room open, for his benefit.
For my benefit.
After what I’ve been through, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to close a door again.
Staring down at Charlie’s sweet face, I’m filled with the strongest need to protect him. Asleep, he looks even more precious, more innocent.
Entirely too vulnerable.
I brush a lock of his brown hair out of his face.
How could anyone hurt him?
Anger begins to boil in the pit of my stomach. Anger for what Charlie has gone through. Anger for what they did to me. To Sophia and Amanda.
Anger that they killed Lindsey, killed her like she was nothing. Killed her like they had the right.
Feed them to the pigs.
A tear of pain rolls down my cheek and it sets off a chain reaction. As my body begins to shudder, I roll away from Charlie, afraid I might wake him. Sitting on the edge of the bed, I bend over and wrap my arms around myself.
Trying my best not to lose my shit.
I’ve been in survival mode for so long, now that we’re here, in a perfectly normal house, in a perfectly normal room, I don’t know how to process it. I want to feel safe, I want to be safe, yet I know we’re not out of danger yet.
As if he’s conjured from my thoughts, a shadow appears in the hallway. Looming tall in the darkness.
Tipping my head back, I peer up at Johnathan.
Is he an angel or a devil?
Did he save me or does he have some other nefarious plan?
“Beth,” he says softly, almost tenderly, but there’s a strange edge to it.
Wiping the tears from my cheeks, I take a deep breath. I feel myself standing, some invisible cord drawing me to him.
His jacket is gone and so is his tie. The collar of his white shirt is open, his shirt-sleeves are rolled up. Tattoos twist and spiral up his forearms.
He’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing, and as I walk up to him, the way he watches me, I feel like a fucking lamb.
Stopping in front of him, I resist the urge to cover myself. Resist the urge to shiver. He’s radiating so much tension, so much heat, I suddenly feel cold.
“Did you… did your… people find Amanda and Sophia?” I ask softly.
The need to know that they’re okay, that they’re safe, is the only thing that matters to me at this moment.
He nods his head.
Relief flows through me and it’s so strong, so overwhelming, I nearly crumble from it.
“Are they okay?” I ask, my voice cracking with emotion.
He nods his head again and takes a step toward me.
Thank god. Thank fucking god. Now that I know that they’re both safe, I’ll finally be able to rest.
“Thank you,” I whisper so softly the words sound like a wispy breath.
I owe so much to him.
His eyes slide over my head, towards the little boy sleeping on the bed, then slide back again.
There’s so much tension in the air, so much restraint, that the air is fairly crackling with it.
The way he’s looking at me now, I can’t tell if he wants to kiss me or if he wants to break my neck.
Self-preservation causes me to take a step back. Nervously, I lick my lips before I ask my next question.
How do I ask him if he’s a good guy or a bad guy without pissing him off?
Something dark flashes in his eyes and without speaking he extends his arm and holds out his hand.
I stare down at the hand, at his offering.
Somehow I know if I accept it, if I place my hand in his, there’s no going back.
I hesitate, not yet willing to take the next step that closes the distance between us.
I’m safe here in this room. At least, I think I am…
“Why did you bring me here?” I ask quietly, not realizing the danger I’m in.
Before I can escape, his hand is closing over mine and yanking me back. With a startled cry, he pulls me into the dark hallway.
“Johnathan,” I gasp, my senses reeling as he pushes me up against the wall.
His mouth smashes against my mouth, not giving me a chance to protest. His beard scrapes against my chin, against my cheeks.
His leg wedges its way between my legs and I feel his knee pressing against my sex.
His entire being overwhelms me. His size, his scent, his touch. Everything about him wraps around me, flooding my senses.
His lips push against mine. Hungry. Urging. Desperate.
I want to give in, I do, but there’s something still holding me back.
Grabbing me by the face, his lips push and push, demanding that I open for him.