Home > Exodus(2)

Author: Kate Stewart

“I can keep a secret. I just want to know the plan.”

“Just because you’re here doesn’t mean you get a part to play. They made a bad decision, and they know it, and fucking them doesn’t give you a say. And I know you won’t tell anyone,” he says with conviction, “but for the wrong reasons.”

“How is it wrong?”

“Because it’s your loyalty to them,” he jerks his chin toward the woods, “and your inability to separate your personal feelings, instead of embracing the idea that Roman has done some unforgivable things and deserves to suffer for it. So just let it go, like they are, and…live your life.”

“Is that an order?”

“No, it’s good advice,” he snaps, “you should take it.” I’m getting under his skin, which I would consider a good thing if I weren’t at his mercy.

“I just want to see them.”

“Not happening.”

“I’m not a daddy’s girl who’s pissed she lost her playmates. Talk to them. They’ll tell you about me. They’ll vouch for my character.”

His eyes rake me in revulsion. “I know enough.”

I drop my arms, baring myself to spite him. I won’t let him shame me for something he knows nothing about or make me feel uncomfortable in the skin I’ve spent a summer growing into. My effort goes unnoticed when his eyes remain bolted to mine. We stare off on opposite sides of the line he’s drawn between us.

“You’re really going to do this?”

“We live in different realities, and you were born into your side of things. I might not hold it against you if you drop it. Ignorance is truly bliss in your case, Cecelia. It would do you good to remember that.”

“Even if we’re estranged, which we are, I don’t want him hurt. If you can promise my father’s safety. I can help you.”

“I’m not promising anything. He’s got plenty of enemies that have nothing to do with us. It’s business.”

“Not for me.”

“That’s your problem.”

“So, what the hell am I supposed to do?”

He turns in the direction of the woods, dismissing me. “Go get your nails done.”

Outraged, I reach for anything I can, finding purchase in my lotion bottle, and hurl it toward him. It nails him in the center of his back. He whirls on me, and I yelp, backing up toward my chair until I’m forced on my ass. He jerks me up by the arm. What happens between us isn’t chemistry, it’s a white-hot fire filled with hate and resentment and a grudge that has nothing to do with me. This man isn’t hinting around to anything. He loathes my existence.

“The next time you fuck with me, I’m going to fuck with you.” His amber gaze licks fire down my chest before he tightens his grip. I keep my whimper on my tongue.

“You’re making a mistake. You’ve waged war for people just like me. Like my mother. Sean and Dominic are my friends over everything else, and I want to help them. They’ve been loyal to you. I don’t even know your name! You may hate Roman, but I’m innocent in this. I knew nothing. I still don’t.”

“You were innocent in this, but you won’t be if you keep pressing. You’re too easy of a target.” His insult strikes deep as he sprinkles salt on my new wounds, “You’re too young and too naïve. You believed every word they told you, and at this point, you need to accept that they got what they needed from you.”

Access. I was a means to gain access. My stomach drops as I remember the day Sean came back after our fight with a ready apology. Dominic went in my house shortly after while Sean distracted me. I may be a fool, but…

“I’m not a whore.”

“That’s your conscience you’re fighting with, not mine.”

But after that day, everything changed. Maybe before I was a target, but after I was a decision. They let me in their world because they wanted me there. I’m certain of it. Sean confessed as much. He took a huge risk by bringing me in. Sleeping with me was sleeping with the enemy, letting me in on secrets kept me tied to them, and staying with me meant risking their credibility and position in the brotherhood.

If I ever needed proof of their feelings, I have it now.

“I care about them. Deeply. Just let me do my part.”

“If that’s true, stop being so fucking selfish. They’re content with letting you go, and you need to woman up and do the same.”

“You can’t keep me away from them!”

“You know I can. Every door you knock on will not open. No one will go near you. As of this moment, right now…you no longer exist. And you never did.”

Rage like I’ve never known courses through me as I spew my venom.

“Fuck you, you backwoods fake ass fucking robin hood wannabe son of a bitch!” I jerk my arm away and he lets me. “Get the hell out!”

He steps back, sliding his mammoth hands in his slacks, eyes blazing, voice arctic. “This is exactly why I don’t want you anywhere near us.”

I lift a hand. “Please, you’re using the fact that I get a period as an excuse to eradicate me from the tribe? You and your group of vigilantes are supposed to be the do-gooders, right? We’re supposed to be thankful to your sordid dick circle?” I huff, “Well, allow me to thank you on behalf of all of us pussy wielding predators,” I exaggerate a bow, “thank you so much, but again, I’m not your enemy.”

I lift my chin. “They trusted me because they knew I was capable of handling it, and they made sure of it. They trusted me because I love them, and they knew I’d have their backs because of that love. Dismiss it all you want, but it’s a driving force that will ensure my loyalty, not negate it, and help me to do whatever it takes to protect them as much as they are me. And you.”

Some sort of recognition flits over his features with my confession, and just as quickly, it evaporates. “You were never supposed to be involved.”

“But I am now, so let me do my part.”

“That’s two minutes,” he turns to walk in the direction of the woods, and I speak up because I know no amount of scheming will give me back his audience.

“I do love them. Maybe they screwed up, but what got me involved is their allegiance to you, and your cause, everything all of you collectively stand for. They didn’t expect to love me back, they expected to use me, but the fact that they weren’t capable of deceiving me on that level is why I’m standing here fighting to be there for them. I’m still angry, but I understand. They made me understand. And maybe this had nothing to do with me, but it now has everything to do with me. Please. Let. Me. Help.” I wipe the weakness from my eyes and stare after him. He’s magnificent and cruel, and far beyond anything I expected to face today. I was expecting my golden sun or my cool dark cloud, and the thought of never seeing them again is too much to bear. I’m begging, and I shouldn’t be. I should pack up and leave and kiss this whole town goodbye. Fuck my father and the bed he made. We have no relationship, and I could try to find another way, a safer way to take care of my mother. But as the thought occurs, images of Sean and Dominic and the fear of the unknown cripples me. I can’t bring myself to walk away. Not yet.

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