“It just doesn’t feel right,” Blake shared unhappily. “You should spend it—”

“My work is my life,” Curt reminded her wryly. “I have no vices except for work, and there’s nothing else I enjoy doing except work. So where else can I spend money on except on you two?”

“But—”

“No more arguments,” he interrupted gruffly but with a squeeze of Blake’s hand to soften his command. “I’ve got a red-eye flight to catch. Take care of yourself, you hear me?”

“You don’t have to worry about me. You know that.”

That might’ve been true before, but not anymore. She had always been a good kid, the kind that never questioned her grandmother’s rules or even Curt’s. But now that she was in love…who knew? Because of his line of work, he had seen people to do batshit crazy things all for the name of love, and he wasn’t naïve enough to believe his baby sister would be the sole exception.

While Curt was certain Blake would never be the type to inflict pain on someone else because of love, the chances of her being hurt by it…

That was very much possible, which was why he was determined to find out all he could about this man she seemed so enamored with. If this Thornton Blackwood had any secrets that could hurt Blake, Curt would personally make sure his sister kicked him out of her life.

Blake kept a smile pinned to her lips and waved goodbye as she watched Curt back his car out of the garage. It was only when his rental SUV had completely disappeared from view that she finally stopped acting altogether.

She took a deep, shaky breath.

And another.

And another.

And another.

But it didn’t help, and her eyes eventually started stinging.

She cast a blurry gaze at her watch. Five forty-five. Which meant Curt had been here for almost the whole day, and there was no way for Thornton not to have seen them together.

Just no way, Blake thought painfully, since Thornton had personally told her it was his habit to check the CCTV every so often when he was out. And since Curt being FBI and his mom being part of a witness protection program meant that their relationship as siblings was an extremely well-kept secret…

Thornton would’ve no reason of thinking Curt was her brother. If he had seen her on CCTV with Curt, he would most have likely thought he was just some other guy.

And he had done nothing about it.

Chapter Eight

It was already fifteen past one in the morning, and Blake still hadn’t slept a wink. All she had been able to do was stare up at the ceiling and pretend it had the ability to think, talk, and – most importantly of all – empathize, the way Thornton-hating-Frankie could never do.

So what do you think, Cei, Blake asked woefully. Since I haven’t heard a single peep from him, that’s it, right? He’s telling me loud and clear that he doesn’t want me that way.

If he doesn’t want you, then what was it you’ve been seeing and feeling every time you managed to throw yourself at him? her imaginary friend argued. A banana in his pocket?

Blake cast a shocked look at the ceiling. Cei! Such language!

Oh, get off your high horse. The whole point of pretending I’m able to talk to you is to convince you there’s still hope.

Blake restlessly turned on her side. Is there?

Two minutes later, and Blake was still mulling over what her imaginary best friend should say to this when a sound interrupted her thoughts. It was of a car coming up the driveway and the garage door rolling up—

Thornton!

She was out of her bed in seconds and could only be bothered to get one arm into the sleeve of her night robe as she dashed out of the room. Past the garden, the first thing she saw were headlights beaming from…a police car?

Oh God. Blake was instantly stricken with guilt. What if Thornton had gotten hurt, and that was the only reason he hadn’t done a thing about her and Curt? Maybe he hadn’t even had the chance to check the CCTV because—

Thornton finally came into view, emerging from the side of the shop. He had his police chief twin on one side and his younger brother on the other, and both men were struggling to get a flushed-looking Thornton to walk.

“What happened?”

Although all three Blackwood brothers instantly came to a stop at her voice, their expressions varied greatly. Aidan sported a rather discomfited grimace while Ethan had a Cheshire grin on his face. Thornton, on the other hand—

Blake gulped.

The look in his eyes was deadly. Just so, so much fury in those dark eyes that for one moment she could really believe he led a double life as a secret assassin and the next person he intended to kill…was her.


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