Letters that sentenced him as a murderer.
The thought annihilated him, smashing all his inner defenses and breaking through the wall he had painstakingly built around his memories. He breathed roughly, battling for control, but it was like going against a powerful tide.
But it was too late.
And he could no longer stop himself from remembering.
Those last messages she had left in his voice mail.
Please, Matthijs. Please. I’m begging you. Please. I need you. I love you. I know you’re still mad. I know what I’ve done’s unforgivable. But please. Please. Please, Matthijs. Please. I just can’t take it anymore. I really think I’m going to kill myself this time. I swear I’m not lying. I just can feel myself unraveling, and I’m scared. But I just can’t go on like this. I can’t face a life without you. So please, Matthijs. Please. If you had ever loved me please. Please. Please. Please come.
The time he had found out what she had done, and the truth had gutted him so fucking bad he hadn’t even been able to feel any kind of anger.
He stared at her, unable to believe how blind he had been all these years, to never have seen that she could be this fucking selfish. This stupid. This…bad.
“Please say something.” Her voice was soft and trembling, a look of entreaty in her angelic blue eyes.
But it was all a fucking lie.
All these years she had lied to him.
Him, a fucking Nobel Prize winner, a goddamn genius, and this child of nineteen had managed to pull the wool over his fucking eyes.
She went down on her knees, and when he saw her trying to reach for his hands, he reacted instinctively and pulled away with a jerk. A look of hurt flitted over her face, and that she had the fucking gall to feel that way, after what she had done…
He left the couch and stalked towards the door. “You should go.” His voice was cold and tight, and his gaze never strayed back to her as he yanked his front door open. He had a feeling if she dared do the same thing again and act like she was the victim—
He heard her footsteps but didn’t bother to turn. He felt her stand beside him, and the urge to strangle her got so fucking bad he had to shove his hands into his pockets.
“I know what I did was wrong…”
Was she fucking kidding? Wrong was if temptation got the better of you and you flirted black with someone who wanted you. Wrong was if you were so damn stressed at work you ended up lashing out at your partner. Wrong was forgivable.
But what she did—
“Can’t we be adults—”
Rage had him spinning around so fast, it had her stumbling back and losing her balance. She cried his name out as she fell, but the sound only made his skin crawl.
He stared at her crumpled form on the ground, but the sight only fanned the flames of his rage and turned it into hatred. “You goddamn knew.” He had never shouted at her. Not in all the years they had known each other. But now, he wished he could fucking do more, wished his words could make her bleed. “You goddamn knew—”
She started to cry, but when it used to be that the first sight of tears would have him caving in to whatever she wanted, it was no longer the same. Now that he knew, now that he was no longer blind, her tears no longer seemed real or pure. This time, her tears only made him want to fucking kill her.
Kill her like she had killed him.
“You goddamn knew what could happen, and you still let me fuck you!”
She started crawling towards him. “Please—” She tried to reach for him again, but he slapped her hands away. “Don’t you fucking touch me—”
He saw her whiten at his words, but he no longer gave a damn. “You make me sick,” he hissed. “The sight of you makes me fucking sick. Just knowing we’re breathing the same fucking air—”
“Don’t ever show your face to me again. That’s the only warning you’ll ever get, and if you’re stupid enough to think I don’t mean it…” His jaw clenched. “Then it would be my turn to ruin your life.”
She had caused him so much fucking pain. Had single-handedly and permanently turned his life into a living hell. She had, in one fell swoop, ruined his every chance for happiness.
He could not stop himself from remembering the times that it had been good between them.
Because they had been that.
Damn good, actually.
He had been her date to the prom. The big brother she had run to when she needed a shoulder to cry on. He had been her first love, and she was probably going to be his last.