Home > I'll Kiss You Twice (Shame on You #2)

I'll Kiss You Twice (Shame on You #2)
Author: W. Winters

 


PROLOGUE

 

 

Declan

 

My oldest brother told me once there was a moment when he realized he’d ruined it all. Not just for himself, but for everyone he loved. Carter said it was like time had slowed down, yet it played before his eyes too fast to stop it just the same. He saw everything that would happen — the devastation, the pain, the brutality that lay ahead. And it was all too late. He’d damned us all leading us down a path with no return.

Whiskey slurred his words that night as he leaned against the stained glass window of the church. I vaguely remember carefully taking the nearly empty bottle from him and wishing Jase would drive faster so I wouldn’t have to be alone with my oldest brother. He was drunk and nearly belligerent until he spiraled, and that night was hell incarnate for us. The blood that drenched his clothes substantiated that claim. I was only seventeen at the time. Half terrified of what had happened, but more afraid of what my brother would do next.

I remember thinking, never in my life would I allow myself to get to that point. A decade would prove me wrong.

With the motel room’s sole small window wide open and the only woman I’ve ever wanted staring back at me, that moment Carter described comes back to me with a lifetime of pain and realization.

Braelynn is crouched in the windowsill, looking small and weak, in a nightgown far too thin for the cold evening air. The red, white, and blue lights from the streets several floors down below flash across her face. Only moments ago, I held her in the bed that now stands between us. I was going to make things right, but it’s far too late. I didn’t see this coming. With everything that happened, I could have never imagined this. All I want is to take it all back.

Braelynn’s deep brown eyes are reddened, her cheeks tearstained, and the breeze blows wisps of her curly dark hair around her shoulders … all I can think is at least Carter knew the hell that waited for us. He knew the moment he’d gone too far. I didn’t.

The only thing I know as truth now is that everything’s my fault and it’s all too late.

Pleas for her to not jump ring out through the air as the metal cuffs dig into my wrists, pinned behind my back. Two men grab me to keep me from running to her, one with the barrel of a gun pressed to the temple of my head as the scream tears up my throat. Pain and adrenaline are nothing when she looks at me like that. Like she’s saying goodbye.

She trembles on the ledge and I can’t do a damn thing but shout for her to stop. With the police surrounding us in the cramped room and the ending to our story so close, I know she loves me. Her dark eyes hold obvious pain and misery, coupled with so much regret, but more than anything I know she looks back at me, her grip slipping, because she loves me.

She has no idea how much I love her, though.

Or how much this moment kills a part of me I thought was dead until she came back into my life. Something I thought was snuffed out long ago.

Her lips barely move as she whispers to me and a gunshot blasts through the moment.

“Braelynn, no!”

 

 

DECLAN

 

THREE WEEKS PRIOR

 

 

Everything feels colder the moment the doors close at the far end of the hall. They shut with a gentle thud and lock with a soft click, ending my sight of her limp body being carried away. The next steps are simple enough. It’s been done a hundred times or more. It’s what has to happen. She’ll be tortured until the information we seek is provided and verified. And then she’ll be dealt with and disposed of. I swallow thickly at the thought.

Her screaming my name in fear is engraved on my heart. Even now in the silence I can still hear it. Dread flows like a fog through me. There have been countless times when I’ve watched men and women alike struggle against their inevitable fate for daring to go against my brothers and me.

Braelynn, though … the betrayal runs deep in my veins and chills me to my core.

I can’t fucking believe she did it.

“Don’t leave her side.” I’m only aware I’ve murmured the command when Nate looks back at me with a questioning look in his eye.

“Boss?” he asks for clarification.

Turning away from the hall they dragged her down, I straighten my shoulders and make damn sure he hears me. “I want to hear her confess.”

At the last word, something breaks inside of me. Some childlike hope that Braelynn truly wanted me is irrevocably damaged. She didn’t have to love me. She didn’t have to care for me in any way. I know that’s an impossible task given the man I am. But I thought she craved my touch for the sake of it. I would have happily swallowed a lie if it meant never being confronted with this. She could have wanted me solely for what I can give her—the protection I could have offered her, my wealth—and I would have gladly made a deal with the devil to keep her.

I thought there was something special between us that others could never feel or imagine. A connection that even as a child I knew existed for us and us alone. I’m a fucking fool.

“I want her to tell me, face-to-face before she dies, that she leaked information. That she was working with the feds or, at the very least, Scarlet. I want her to admit she used me. I want to hear it for my fucking self. You won’t let her come close to breaking without me there. Is that understood?”

“Boss, I don’t—”

“Did you not fucking hear me?” The scream rips up my throat, a heat and adrenaline fueled by anger causing Nate to take a step back instinctively.

The brick walls of the narrow hall make my voice ricochet as I suddenly feel light-headed.

“I hear you, Boss. I’ll stay by her side and I’ll make certain you are the last one to speak to her.”

“If she’s not fucking alive, I will kill you myself, Nate.” The venom is my words is palpable.

“Yes, Boss.”

“I mean it. You stay by her, you watch them.”

“Watch them?”

“Make sure they don’t take it too far.” Even the thought of them hurting her makes me sick. It has to be done. I know it, and yet, every part of me screams not to allow it.

Blood drains from his face. “Is that too fucking difficult? Do I need to do it myself?” I question, my voice hard and my knuckles white from the skin stretched tight as I ball my hands into fists.

“No, Boss. I’ll take care of it,” he says, the words rushing out of him like he can’t say them fast enough.

“She betrayed me in a way no one ever has,” I confess to him against my best judgment. Conflicting emotions swarm through me as I accept the reality. “I will be the last person she sees before she dies. Do you understand me?”

“Yes,” he answers weakly and then nods. His gaze drops and the nervousness falls from him in waves.

“You should go, then; don’t want to keep them waiting.”

I stand perfectly still, unable to move until the doors shut behind me. I’ve never felt so alone and so devoid of emotion.

The need for revenge, the desire to fight, the anger at being betrayed … it’s all lacking. There’s a hollowness in my chest and in the quiet, it feels like an agony I’ve never known. The back of my eyes itch and as tears brim, I punch the brick wall, over and over. Refusing to believe that she got to me. Refusing to believe I will cry for her. A woman who used me and betrayed me and my family.

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