Blake didn’t stop walking me, and in an effort to not turn and look back at the man I loved, I dropped my gaze down and a shaky sigh left me.

“Rachel, what does he have on you? I know you, you wouldn’t just choose this.”

“If he doesn’t shut up soon, I’ll make sure he is shut up,” Blake whispered, and continued to walk.

“I will find out,” Kash said in a low growl. “And if you hurt her, so help me God, Blake West, I will end. Your. Life.”

“Rachel,” Blake said, warning me.

I turned, and though it killed me, I looked up at Kash’s murderous expression. “Lo—” Clearing my throat, I tried again. “Logan, don’t you see? I lied to you.”


“I’m sorry this isn’t what you want—”

“Not what I want? Rachel, he’s been stalking you!”

I shook my head and Blake’s grip on my shoulder got painful. “He wasn’t,” I whispered, “I’ve been seeing Blake for months, Logan. I never stopped seeing him.” He opened his mouth again and I shook my head quickly. “Just stop. Kash, please understand . . . please,” I begged. I needed to cut this relationship now. Give him a clean break. But part of me couldn’t stand to see him hurt. Couldn’t stand knowing he thought I’d really left him for Blake.

My eyes pleaded with him to understand what was happening, and when his head shook at my last sentence, Blake’s grip tightened even more and he swung us back around toward the cars.


“You’re done talking,” Blake said, and led me to my car. “Just in case you feel like doing anything else that would piss me off . . .” He grabbed my purse and duffel bag and put them in his own car. I knew letting me drive myself was a test, so I forced myself not to consider driving to a police station instead. Acting on that fantasy would only hurt everyone. Not allowing myself to look at Kash one last time, I put my car in reverse and followed Blake back to his place.




Looking down at the solitaire that just that morning I had caught Rachel admiring when she thought I was still asleep, my heart broke even more. It didn’t make sense. Something wasn’t adding up.

“Kash, you’re just going to let her go?” Mason asked incredulously when he found me sitting on the floor, my back up against the front door. “I’ll admit, when you first came back I thought maybe she’d found out you’d been lying. But this? You can’t just let this happen.”

“She left me for him. I don’t know what you expect me to do. She called off the engagement. I—I don’t—I don’t fucking understand.” I rubbed at my aching chest and let my head fall back ’til it hit the door.

“Rachel hates that guy. He raped her!”

I shook my head. “It was all a lie. She’s been lying this whole time. You heard Candice this morning.”

“You and I both know what Candice said was bullshit. You’ve seen Rachel break down! You saw what he did to her emotionally and what his coming around did to her. Something’s not right.”

I agreed on the last part . . . but that was just because I wanted my girl back. I wanted to believe this was all some sick joke. Or a nightmare. I wanted to wake up to Rachel in my arms again, smiling softly as she studied the way the light caught on the diamond on her finger. My vision blurred again and I shut my eyes, letting the tears fall down my face. I didn’t care that Mason could see them; I didn’t care about anything anymore. My reason for living didn’t want me.

“Kash, you can’t—”

“It’s over, Mase. It’s over.” I stood from my spot on the floor and took a few steps toward my room before stopping. Looking down at the ring pinched between my fingers, I felt my heart being ripped out of my chest again. I held my hand out to Mason and had to clear my throat a few times before I could speak. “Do something with this. I don’t want it . . . I can’t keep it.”


“Take the goddamn ring!”

As soon as it was out of my hand, I stormed into my room and shut the door. I could still smell Rachel in there, and that killed me even more. After stripping the bed, I opened up the windows to air out the room and fell onto the bare mattress. Scenes from that morning flashed through my mind and I groaned as I prayed for sleep to escape this new hell I was in.

I WAS WOKEN up by my cell phone blaring its ringtone and scrambled to answer, thinking it would be Rachel. It wasn’t. After a few clipped sentences with Ryder, I woke Mason and we both changed quickly before rushing to the station for an emergency meeting. Since it was barely after three in the morning, there was an ominous tension in the truck at the possibilities of what this could mean.

Detective Ryder began and the room quieted down. “All right, thank y’all for coming in on short notice. We’ve got something on the Camden case that’s going to help us more than anything has since it was discovered he was in Austin. Seems our man finally slipped up when using Camden’s credit card. He signed a different name on the receipt, and we have him on camera this time. The name he signed matches up with the man we caught on camera.”

Mason and I shared a glance from across the table and you could feel the excited energy flowing through the room. This was big. Every time there’d been a hit on the card, there’d never been anyone to link it to; the bartenders never knew who it belonged to, and the cameras hadn’t caught anyone. And every damn time, Mason and I hadn’t been working.

“This man has lived in every city that the Carnation Murders have taken place in and conveniently moved quickly after. Obviously that’s much too coincidental, and we have reason to believe he stole Camden’s identity and this is our guy. We already have a location on the guy and the takedown to bring him in for questioning will happen at oh five hundred.” Ryder began working his way around the room, passing out pieces of paper with the suspect’s picture on it as he continued speaking.

“Now, he’s only in the system for a bar fight a few years ago, but if this is our guy, he will be armed and is considered extremely dangerous. We will meet behind the Denny’s a couple miles out from his property to suit up and go over the takedown once more. Any questions before we head out?”

“Oh shit,” Mason harshly whispered, “no!”

My brow furrowed as his face went white and I held my hand out to Detective Ryder for my copy of the picture.

As soon as the paper touched my hand, Mason tried to jump over the table and yelled, “Someone grab Kash!”

I’d barely glimpsed at the photo before Mason made it across the table and tackled me out of my chair, restraining me on the floor. But it was enough. I’d already seen. I already knew.


“NO!” I CRIED as Blake continued to turn on different TVs and monitors. “What is this, why are you doing this? I’m here! I’m with you, I left Logan, what more do you want?!”

“You did,” he said darkly as he walked back to my side and pulled me into his arms, “but this is assurance that you won’t leave. You should have seen what was on these screens before, sweetheart. I loved watching you in your place.”

It shouldn’t have surprised me, but my eyes still widened and a sick feeling settled deep in my stomach. He has cameras in my apartment? I looked at the screens in front of me now. Candice on a date with Mike. Her parents at the insurance office. Kash and Mason’s apartment door. And I was positive that was the town home we’d helped Eli move into two years ago. How many people did Blake have watching and following the people I loved? Tears streamed down my face and all I could do was shake my head back and forth, my hands covering my trembling mouth.

“Please,” I finally managed to say, “please call them off. Don’t do this. They’re your family, Blake! I’ll do anything, I swear.” Turning in his arms to face him, I pleaded with my eyes. “I’ve already proved that!”

Gripping my chin roughly in his fingers, he leaned over until his face was directly in front of mine. “You’re right. You will do anything. But you’ve already ruined a lot, Rachel. We need to rectify that . . . first.”

“First? I don’t—what?”

“Yes, first. Before we move on to the next . . . step.” His blue eyes took on some weird form of heat that I couldn’t name.

“Well, didn’t I do that by telling Logan I’d lied about you? By having him watch us leave together and telling Candice I was spending the weekend with you?”

“You’re oddly eager to get to that next step, sweetheart.” He smiled, and the arm around my waist tightened.

“If it’ll get you to leave all of them alone, then I’ll do whatever it takes to get to that step!”

“I’m counting on that,” he whispered, and crushed his lips to mine, pushing his tongue into my mouth and growling when he didn’t get the reaction he was looking for. “We’ll work on that. Until you’re convincing enough to fool me, this”—he pointed at the various screens—“is how it’ll be.”

Blake started to unwrap his arms, so I grabbed the back of his neck and brought our mouths back together. I tried to picture Kash as our lips moved against each other and I sucked on his bottom lip. But this wasn’t Kash. Even if there had been a lip ring, or if Blake had been chewing the cinnamon gum that Kash always did, I wouldn’t have been able to make myself believe this was the man I was in love with.

A sob ripped from me and my arms fell limply to my sides. Blake moved his lips to my neck and made a trail to my ear. “While I appreciated that, like I said, we’ll work on it. Now, go get ready for bed, I’ll be back in a minute.” My body went rigid and he laughed soft and low. “I won’t touch you tonight. Now that I have you where I want you, I need you to realize you’re in love with me. Scaring you wouldn’t help with that right now.”

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