“You didn’t make it too far with this one.”


He glanced out the window. “No. Unfortunately, Trevor had more of Max in him than you. All emotion and no control.”

“And what makes you think your new prodigy isn’t going to tell the FBI that you put him up to this?”

“He won’t be telling anyone.” He shifted his gaze back to me. “I’m sad to say they found him hanging in his cell this morning.”

My blood went cold, stilling like ice in my veins. Michael’s confessions had rattled me to the core. But the vision of Trevor, a boy I’d never met, hanging in a cell not unlike the one I’d just left, was incredibly vivid in my mind. My stomach writhed and I couldn’t shake the sick feeling that swept over me no matter how hard I tried. We were less than a mile from the house and I’d had more than I could take.

“Let me out here,” I said to the driver. He pulled to the side of the road and I stepped out. A light rain had begun to drizzle down but I didn’t care. I carried forward.

Michael got out and circled the vehicle. “Blake, wait.”

“Enough!” I shouted and doubled back to face him. “Call it business. Call it keeping everything under control. Whatever the hell you want to call it that makes sense in your warped fucking version of reality. It’s nothing but a goddamn game. And you’re deluding yourself if you think you own the board and can move all the pieces however you like.”

His lips drew back in a bitter smile. “I do own the board, Blake.”

I took off my water-stained glasses and stared at him. Resentment and pity for the man in front of me mingled with my anger, creating a potent brew.

“Maybe you do, Michael. And if that’s the case, consider this my final act of forfeiture. We’re through. I’m not playing anymore.”

“You’re willing to throw away our entire relationship over this? Is that what you’re telling me?” There was a hint of challenge in his voice and I didn’t like it.

“That’s what I’m telling you.”

His jaw tightened. The mirage of warmth and kindness had vanished. “Do not cross me, Blake. If I taught you anything, I taught you that.” His voice was low and edgy, laced with threat.

Maybe at a different time in my life, I would have heeded it, but not today. Not when I’d been so close to losing everything. I’d been turned inside out. Everything I knew to be true, every tenet of wisdom Michael had instilled in me had to be questioned.

“I’m not crossing you, Michael. But I am walking away. If you think that because you took me under your wing ten years ago I’m going to worship you for the rest of my fucking life, you’re wrong. I’m not pandering to you the way everyone else does. I made my money, and I’m using it to work on things I believe in. I’m making a life with the woman I love. And I don’t need to find my way back to myself. This is it, right here. This is who I am, and I don’t need to play God with people’s lives and count my money all day long to feel like my life is worth something. So get in your goddamn car and go back home.”

With that, I turned and made strides toward home. After a few moments, the black Lincoln drove past me. I walked faster, fueled with relief that Michael had left and a powerful urge to get home to Erica.

The rain came down heavier. Cold driving rain that saturated my clothing and seeped into my skin. It couldn’t numb the chaos inside me. And it couldn’t wash away the blood on my hands.

CHAPTER TWENTY

ERICA

I paced the living room. What was taking so damn long? Rain pelted against the window, obscuring the clear view of the ocean. Gove had called me this morning, letting me know to expect Blake soon. I’d wanted to pick him up myself when they let him go, but he insisted I wait. He wanted to be the one to break the news to him about Trevor.

Leave it to Trevor to take matters into his own hands.

My heart broke for Blake when I thought about what he must be feeling. Relief to be free, but now the guilt he’d harbored for Brian would double if he let it. I wanted him home so I could talk him out of that way of thinking. But it wouldn’t be easy. I was up against Blake’s darkest memories, and history had just repeated itself.

I’m not sure what we could have done differently. Carmody had said he wouldn’t let Trevor out of his sight, but I couldn’t take that literally. None of us could know that he’d seriously consider suicide as a way out. The police barely had a chance to question him before he’d taken his life.

It was almost as if Blake had seen this coming from miles away, and turning away from any path that would lead to Trevor’s incarceration was his way of avoiding the inevitable. Yet, he couldn’t have known. And here we were still . . .

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