With his hand still slapped over my mouth, all I can do is snort and glare up at him.

His jaw tenses with frustration. “What the fuck is the problem now?”

“You,” I pant out as soon as he slides his hand off my mouth. “You’re the fucking problem, Gabriel. Just let me go!”

I take a cheap shot at his shin, catching him off guard. He grunts and slaps his hand back over my mouth.

Shaking his head, he looks at me like I’m some kind of alien creature he doesn’t understand. “How the fuck am I the problem? What the fuck did I do?”

How can he not know?

Without giving me a chance to respond, he keeps his hand firmly against my lips and asks as if he’s finally figuring it out, “Is it because I blew up that restaurant?”

I glare up at him some more.

“Are you fucking kidding me? You’re pissed because I blew up a bunch of fucking Russians?”

Ding, ding, ding. We have a fucking winner.

“What the hell, Meghan?” he growls as he slides his hand off my mouth.

Still panting, I take a second to lick my dry lips, then immediately regret it when I taste a hint of his skin.

“It’s not that you blew up a bunch of fucking Russians,” I explain, though Lord knows I don’t owe him an explanation. “It’s that you just killed a bunch of people and made me an accomplice!”

He frowns as he stares at me. “So you’re worried about getting busted and doin’ time? Well, don’t you worry your—”

“No… yes. No!” I cut him off. “I don’t want to get busted and don’t want to do time, but that’s not why I want you to let me go.”

His eyes flash, growing colder, icier, and he presses his body into me, crushing me against the truck. “I’m not fucking letting you go. Do I need to remind you again what you mean to me?”

I swear this is just an exercise in futility. He just doesn’t get it. How can he when he’s a psycho? But I push on.

“You… you… you tricked me into helping you kill people!” I finally blurt out while hot tears start to sting my eyes.

Goddammit, I hate that I feel like this. Hate that I’m on the verge of crying over this. I’m not fucking weak, and never thought something like this would bother me, but it does.

It’s one thing to imagine killing someone, especially someone who deserves it. Someone who’s hurt me.

It’s another thing being deceived into helping someone kill a group of strangers.

Gabriel reels back from me as if I just slapped him in the face. “You held a gun to my chest and pulled the trigger…’

“Yes!” I snap at him, not denying it.

He’d be dead if there was a bullet left in the chamber.

“You held a knife to my heart and threatened to cut off my balls…”

“I did,” I agree, blinking my eyes to fight back the tears.

Gabriel shakes his head slowly, his confused gaze never leaving my face. “You’re sending me mixed signals here, babe. Have you never killed anyone before?”

“No!” I snap out and then suck in a deep breath.

I’ve never killed anyone before. There’s never been a reason to. As a woman in my family, I was sheltered, protected while the men did all the dirty work. The risk, the danger, never touched me until my mom was killed in that car explosion.

Gabriel’s eyes soften, filling with sympathy, and I instantly can’t stand it. I don’t need him feeling sorry for me over this.

Stiffening my spine, I explain, “All those things I did, I did them in self-defense. It wasn’t cold-blooded murder.”

There’s a difference, a huge fucking difference. One is done for self-preservation.

And one stains the soul.

“There was nothing cold-blooded about it…” Gabriel says defensively, the softness fading from his eyes as he pushes back into me.

I shake my head and look away.

Grabbing me by the hair, he tugs, forcing me to look up at him. “This is war.”

I almost laugh. So that’s his excuse? That’s his reasoning? The route he’s going to take to make me feel less guilty about this?

“War is full of atrocities,” I counter. “It’s full of sick, powerful men who use it as an excuse to get off… to fulfill their depraved fantasies.”

Gabriel’s blonde brows begin to inch toward his hairline and his lips twitch with amusement. “I don’t need war to get off when I have you.”

I open my mouth to tell him he doesn’t have me, but he tugs on my hair, stopping me.

“This is kill or be killed,” he practically croons.

I snap my mouth shut and stare up at him.

“And I’ll kill every motherfucker on this planet to protect you. The streets will run red until I know you’re safe.”

I know he probably meant that statement to be reassuring, but honestly it’s rather terrifying. I search his face, search his eyes, for any sign that he’s joking, but he looks completely serious.

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