“I’m going to be fine.” She squeezed my hands. “And so are you.”

Our shared smile was warm and my heart swelled. I missed her. I couldn’t even remember the last time we’d been this close. My chest tightened. Maybe running home to Seattle the following day was a bit too soon. Maybe I could stay just a few more days and get in some much-needed time with my mom. Plus, Mirabella had been pretty insistent about me staying for the wedding.

The clubhouse was already bustling with activity when we walked in.

I sat with my mom and made idle chit-chat with everyone who stopped by our table to offer their condolences. I was determined to keep my mind off Cade and the things that had happened over the past couple of days. But that was a lot easier in theory than practice. I couldn’t help but seek him out in the crowd of Kings of Mayhem cuts, and every time I saw him, my stomach flared with longing.

Twelve years apart had done little to ease the affect he had on me. I could accept that now. I just needed to keep myself at a safe distance from him before I fucking fell into bed with him again and lost another little piece of my heart.

When he approached the table, my mom took one look at Cade’s face and she knew. She glanced at me, and then back at him again, and I saw the realization flicker across her face. She squeezed my hand and then excused herself with some bullshit about using the restroom.

“Thanks for helping organize all of this,” I said to Cade once we were alone.

He nodded curtly and his jaw ticked. “It’s what family does.”

An awkwardness hung in the air.

“How are you?” I asked, feeling uncomfortable.

“I’m fine.” But he wasn’t, he and I both knew that. “What about you? Are you okay?”

I could see he was struggling with his feelings toward me and about Anson not just being my boyfriend, but my fiancé. He was hurt. Confused. Angry. And I got it. Actually, I depended on him feeling all that stuff. Because then maybe, just maybe, he would stay the fuck away from me like I needed him to.

I nodded, avoiding his handsome face by studying my toes. “Yes. Thank you.”

But when I looked up and saw the hurt and thinly veiled heartache, I couldn’t bring myself to look away. He was clenching his jaw and barely containing his emotions. His blue eyes glittered like sapphires. “Well, I guess I’ll leave you to it.”

I struggled to swallow the giant lump in my throat. And in that moment, I wanted to say and do so many things. I wanted to throw my arms around him and inhale his familiar and comforting scent deep down into my soul. I wanted to trust that I could fall in love with this man, be with him, and know that without a doubt, my heart was safe with him. Safe from hurt. Safe from aching. Safe from being ripped out of my chest by him when he fucked another woman.

But that would never happen. Because Cade was the object of desire for almost every woman he met. They wanted him. They wanted to touch him. Flirt with him. Fuck him. And while he barely glanced at them now, I couldn’t live with the threat that one day he might.

My heart hardened and I raised my chin. Yeah, one day he might just do that. Again.

“Thanks,” I said, deciding in that very moment that no matter how much I wanted to be in his arms again, I would do whatever it took to keep Cade at a safe and unfuckable distance.

And with that I stood up and walked away.

CADE

Now

I made sure I avoided them throughout Jackie’s wake and then left early, taking off into the dusk on my bike. I rode for hours—in no real direction, with no real destination. I just couldn’t be around them. Indy and Anson.

Engaged. She was fucking engaged. To that preppy fucktard!

I felt gutted. My dream of a future with Indy was not just out of my reach, it was blown to smithereens like a fucking car bomb.

I wasn’t sure how long I rode for. But when I pulled into my mom’s driveway later that night, the moon was high and the stars were bright, and apart from the streetlights that lined the sidewalk, the street was cloaked in darkness.

When I climbed off my bike I glanced over at Indy’s window. It was dark and there were no signs of life. But she was there. With him. And knowing she was sleeping in his arms on the other side of that glass was torture. Pure fucking torture.

I could’ve slept at the clubhouse. I should’ve. But there was that pathetic need in me to at least be close to her while I could, even if she was with another man. In a few days she would be gone and I would have to learn to live without her all over again.


Tags: Penny Dee Kings of Mayhem MC Romance
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