A second chance when it came to a lot of things.

“Stop messing with your lip,” Reece ordered, voice gruff from sleep. His hand flattened against my lower stomach.

My finger stilled. “I’m not.”

He chuckled softly, stirring the hair around my neck. “Uh-huh. You been awake long?”

I lowered my hand to where his rested, placing mine atop his. His hand was so much larger than mine. “A couple of hours, I think.”

Reece didn’t say anything for a long moment. “Talk to me, babe.”

Wiggling my fingers in between his, I held his hand. Reece had been great the last four days. Staying with me while I’d been checked over at the hospital. Talking my parents and brothers off the cliff when they arrived. Being there for me when I finally freaked out and had a wee mental breakdown the night after the attack. Distracting me when I closed my eyes and saw those photos of me—of us—because those photos had been creepy and nothing like the portraits I’d done of Reece. Oh man, nothing like that at all. He’d been my raft in a churning ocean, but I knew it hadn’t been easy for him. None of this had been.

Easing onto my back, I turned my head and met his gaze. “I’m okay, honestly. Just been thinking.” With my free hand, I reached up and placed my hand on his cheek. Stubble grazed my palm. “What about you?”

“Just woke up.”

I would’ve rolled my eyes if my right eye still didn’t feel funky. I had one hell of a shiner. “That’s not what I meant.”

He held my gaze for a moment and then closed his eyes. Under my palm, his jaw tensed, and concern pinged around inside me. He hadn’t really talked about himself during these four days. It had been the twenty-four-hour Roxy channel.


I was about to straddle him and force him to speak when he finally did. “I saw that bastard yesterday.”

I didn’t have to guess who he was referring to. “You went to the jail?” Reece had to work since he’d taken time off when Charlie had passed away.

“I had to take someone in, and they had him in general lockup.” His eyes opened and they were a bright, angry blue. “I wanted to go into that cell and kick his fucking head in. I almost did. He was at the front of the cell, eyeballing me, and I was coming at him, about to grab him through the bars and knock his ass out, but one of the COs must’ve seen what I was about to do and stepped in.”

“Got to say, I’m happy to hear that.” I ran my thumb along the curve of his high cheekbone. “It would suck if you ended up in jail.”

“Yeah, that could be problematic, but damn, babe, for a moment, whatever repercussion I faced would’ve been worth it.” His gaze drifted over my face. “Because when I see you right now, I’m reminded of what the fucker did to you, what he wanted to do to you.”

My breath hitched. “Reece—”

“I know you’re as okay as you can be. And I know you’re going to be a hundred percent, because Roxy, you are strong. I know that, but I think about what he’d been doing. The fact that he was there when you and I were together.” Fury laced his words, forming a bitter edge. “He was there when you were alone. The sick fuck got close to you. He touched you. It’s going to take a little bit for me to get past the point where I want to beat his face in.”

I searched his eyes, afraid I’d find a shadow of guilt somewhere in there. “You know there was nothing you could do, right? No one suspected that it was him or that was how someone was getting into my place.”

“I. Was. There. He stood in the fucking closet and watched us. All the training I’ve had, and I had no idea it was him.” He rolled onto his back, causing my fingers to slip off his face. He lifted his hands, scrubbing them over his face. “Fuck, I didn’t even remember his name.”

My stomach twisted as I sat up, and I ignored the twinge of pain just below my ribs. I reached out, grabbing his wrists. I tried to pull his hands away from his face, but he resisted. Not to be deterred, I let go and yanked the comforter off him.

“What are you doing?” His voice was muffled behind his hands.

I swung one leg over his narrow hips and then straddled him. Grabbing his wrists, I yanked on his arms again. This time he let me pull them away. He arched a brow at me as his gaze dipped. “Have I ever told you how much I like it when you wear my shirts and nothing else?”

I ignored that, because as crazy as it sounded, I thought his eyes held a certain sheen to them as I stared down at him. And that made my heart ache something fierce, because I didn’t want him to take on the heavy weight of responsibility for someone else’s actions. That wasn’t fair, and it hurt to watch him carry that.

It struck me then, like being hit by a ton of flying monkeys—flying monkey asses, actually. That piercing pain in the chest must’ve become something all too familiar to my parents after watching me blame myself for what happened to Charlie. Yeah, what was going on with Kip was totally different, but in a way it was still the same, and it had to be what Reece felt when he heard me talk about the way I felt.

What a hell of a wakeup call.

“None of this was your fault,” I told him. “Please tell me you understand that, because I cannot deal with you blaming yourself when you had nothing to do with this.”

His brows furrowed together. “You were hurt—you are hurt.”

“But you didn’t hurt me. You saved me. So did Henry.” The last words were something I never thought I’d ever utter in my entire life. “And you’ve been here for me. You’ve been there for me when Charlie passed away and before that. And if I’d given you the chance, you would’ve been there for me a hell of a lot longer.” Tears pricked at my eyes, stinging my right one. “You did what you needed to do, Reece.”

Most Popular