The two of us against the world.

I made the decision to trust him to protect me. To trust him not to hurt me.

But he ruined that illusion, blew the fucker up when he blew up the restaurant.

As bad as it is, part of me wishes I never witnessed it. Wishes that he did it without me around. Because now I’m back to square fucking one.

Things I could overlook, that I could forgive, like mowing down those gathered for my wedding in the church, are weighing heavily on me now.

Was I simply letting them go because all those men wronged me? Because I didn’t actually see him kill anybody? Or did I do it because it was simply in my best interest?

Fuck… I don’t even know….

I don’t even know what I believe in anymore.

Turning my gaze to the window, I look out but I’m not really seeing anything. It’s bright and sunny, but everything is gray. As gray as a fucking graveyard. Before today, the last time I visited a graveyard was to pay respects to my mother.

Fuck… my mother.

That hole her loss left inside me throbs and aches. More than anything I wish she was alive. I’d give anything to talk to her, to touch her, to smell her, even if it was only for a few seconds.

She would know what to do. What decision I should make so I can live with myself after this.

Despite being married to my father, she was gifted with seeing the world in black and white. Seeing right from wrong.

My father and her used to joke about her being my father’s angel on his shoulder.

She kept my father in line, kept him human… up until the feud with the Italians.

The car begins to slow down, and it takes me a moment to realize we’re pulling into the garage.

Great. We’re here and I still haven’t figured anything out yet.

Gabriel inches the truck forward before throwing it in park and shutting off the engine. He hits a button and the garage door rolls down behind us.

I don’t even have to look over to know his attention is riveted on me. I can feel it bearing down on me, the pressure of it nearly crushing me into my seat.

Afraid I might crack, I undo my seatbelt and grab the door handle. I push my door open and hop out before Gabriel can stop me.

A second after my feet hit the ground, I hear his door pop open.

“Meghan…” he says, his voice deep with a hint of warning.

Rushing up to the door that leads inside the house, I say over my shoulder, “I’m not trying to run. I just need some space, Gabriel… some time to think…”

I take the two steps leading up to the door in one step and grab the handle.

My fingers twist, and nothing happens.

Of course the damn thing is locked and I don’t have a key.

It’s the fucking story of my life.

Groaning, I lean my forehead against the door, fighting the urge to bang my head against it.

It seems no matter how hard I try to be in control of my own destiny, the universe itself will step in to stop me.

I’m fucking cursed to be at the mercy of men.

Gabriel’s door slams shut behind me and I jump in surprise, rattled by the loud noise. Heart pounding in my throat, slowly I spin around to face him.

All it takes is one look to know he’s not going to give me the space I’m asking for.

Stalking forward, he moves with the sinister grace of a natural born predator that knows he’s at the top of the food chain. Unlike most of the big men I’ve come across during my short life, there’s no clumsiness or overcompensation in his movements.

No, he’s a man that’s completely comfortable in his skin. He probably even relishes the advantage it gives him.

“Gabriel, please…” I can’t help but plead one last time. “I just need a little time.”

Eyes nearly white-hot with heat, they land on my face and I shrink back.

“There’s no time, Meghan,” he says with a finality that causes my heart to instantly drop to my stomach. “I’ve already wasted ten years of my life. I won’t waste another second because your fear is holding you back.”

He steps up to me and for once we’re nearly eye to eye.

“I’m not afraid,” I bluff, forcing myself to meet his gaze.

“Don’t lie to me, beautiful,” he growls and reaches out, grabbing me roughly and pulling me close. His knuckles brush tenderly down my cheek. “It’s not a good look on you.”

He wants the truth? Fuck it. I won’t lie.

Fighting my body’s need to give into a shiver, I tell him exactly what I told him last night, but seriously mean it this time. “I don’t think I can do this.”

In fact, I’m pretty sure I can’t.

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