“There’s something you—”


A heavy sigh followed tense silence between us. “All right.” Getting out of his chair, he bent over the bed and kissed my forehead. “Love you, sweetheart. I’ll tell the nurses you’re awake.”

When he was almost to the door, I called his name. “Tell your cousin—or friend, or whatever he is—not to come in here. I don’t want to see him and I don’t want to hear from him. Ever again . . . okay?”

“Rach, he—”

“Tell him, Mason.”

Mason grimaced and just continued to stare at me before turning and leaving the room.

I heard familiar voices mixed with Mason’s, and a few seconds later, Candice stuck her head in. “You’re awake!” she cried, and her smile shook before she burst into sobs. “Rachel, I’m so sorry!”

“Candi, it’s—” All the air in my lungs left me in one big rush when Eli and her parents followed her in. “You guys are okay?! I-I-I watched it, I saw your car. It was all my fault!”

I was quickly surrounded by the only family I had left and could no longer hold back the tears when Candice and her mom covered me with hugs. “No, it wasn’t. They told us everything, sweet girl. None of that was your fault. He was very sick, there was nothing you could have done to stop him.”

“George,” I whispered. “I thought he was going to make me watch you die.” My voice cracked at the end and soon he was covering his wife in order to get in on the hugs. Eli stood at the foot of my bed with his hands resting on my feet, just staring at me with water-filled eyes. Being the strong and silent one as always.


“I’m okay, Rachie,” George said. “We’re all okay, just worried about you. How are you?”

I had no idea. My body ached from where Blake had cut me, and overall I felt like I’d been run over by a dump truck. But my broken heart was worse than any pain I’d ever known, and my exhausted mind was taking too long to numb myself to everything. So how was I? I was shattered. “I . . . I’m really not sure.”

“You must be exhausted,” Janet said. “The doctor said you should rest after everything that you went through. And I know now that you’re awake they’ll be coming in to give you something for the pain again soon; that should help you fall asleep.”

Speak of the devil . . . the nurse walked in and started shooing Candice’s parents aside so she could give the next dose of pain meds and check all the machines I was hooked up to. As soon as she was gone, Janet spoke up again.

“Rest, baby. Visiting hours are almost over and we came here straight from the airport. We’re going to go get settled in at a hotel and we’ll be back in the morning to take you home. Do you want us to bring you anything other than a change of clothes?”

Shaking my head, I studied each of their faces and thanked God for keeping them all safe. “Love you guys.”

“We love you too, sweet girl. We’re so—we’re sorry.” She cried and stepped back so George could hug me close, before Candice did.

When they were gone, Eli walked silently up to me and bent low to press his forehead to mine. “I love you, sis. I’d kill him if I could for hurting you.” I just nodded my head and squeezed his hand when he pulled the chair up next to the bed and sat down.

“You should go back to the hotel with the family, Eli.”

“There’s no way I’m leaving you alone. A guy I’d always looked up to just tried to kill you. I’m not going anywhere. Go to sleep.”

I wanted to fight him on staying, but my eyelids were already drooping and I was asleep before I could try to say anything.

THE NEXT TIME I woke it was dark in the room. The only lights and sounds were coming off the multiple machines I was hooked up to and the hallway outside my cracked door. I wasn’t in much pain this time, but the wraps on my torso and arms, as well as the bandages on my throat and chest, were making it impossible to forget why I was in there. My body felt heavy, like I was weighted down with bricks, and even turning my head was—

My body locked up and I tried to throw up my walls, but my heart was betraying me. It pounded just as hard as it always did when Kash . . . Logan . . . whoeverthefuckhewas, was near. I looked at his handsome face through the sliver of light peeking in the room and tried to figure out just who he was.

This man who had stolen my heart.

His expression was kept carefully blank, but I saw the haunted look in his eyes. And knowing Kash, I’d bet that if the room had been well lit, I’d have been able to see the muscle tic in his jaw. But . . . I didn’t know him.

“Who are you?” I asked, my voice hoarse and raspy from a combination of too much sleep, stress, and trying to scream against the gag.

My haunted stranger’s eyes widened and he jerked back in his chair. Looking at the door, to the machines, and back to me, his mouth opened and shut once before a horrified whisper filled the room. “Rach, you—y-you don’t . . . remember who I am? They didn’t—they didn’t tell me you were having memory loss.”

He stood quickly and grabbed the chart off the end of my bed. Laying it near my feet, he started flipping through pages and leaning close to read in the dark. It was only then that I noticed his right arm was in a sling. He was hurt? Had that happened when he tackled Blake off me?

A shudder rolled through my body and I cleared my throat. “I remember you. I remember everything.” He stopped looking through the file and looked back at me. “But I don’t know who you are.”

His face looked pained as realization set in. “Rachel—”

“You look an awful lot like a guy I was engaged to. But that guy—” My voice shook and tears filled my eyes. “See, the funny thing about him . . . is he wasn’t real.”

“Rachel.” His voice was full of anguish as he walked back to the side of the bed and pulled the chair close to me. “I didn’t want you to find out that way . . .”

“Who. Are. You?”

“Babe, you know me.”

“No. I don’t, and you don’t get to call me that.” The tears were now falling freely down my face and my heart began cracking all over again. “What is your name?”

“Logan Ryan. Not Hendricks, and my middle name is Kash; I’ve gone by that my entire life.”

“And Mason?”

“Mason Gates. And he’s not my cousin. We met at the police academy almost five years ago.”

I nodded and tried to swallow the lump in my throat. “So, you’re a cop?”

“Uh, yeah. Mason and I are partners. Up until we moved here, we were undercover narcotics division. Why we’re here is a long story, but we came to find the killer behind the Carnation Murders. We had to stay undercover as we looked for him. And, Rachel”—he leaned forward, putting a hand on my arm and keeping it there even when I tried to jerk it away—“I swear we had no idea it was Blake West. We were following a trail for someone else. If I had known, you wouldn’t have ended up here. Babe, I’m so sorry.”

I let the babe slip as my mind raced. “Carnation Murders? What— I don’t— Wait. Plural? Blake . . . Blake killed people?” I remembered what Blake had said to me: So none of them deserved to have your beauty . . . And like the other Rachel imposters . . . Oh my God.

Kash’s eyes roamed over me, his face twisted in what could only be described as agony. “He won’t hurt anyone again. He’s dead.”

I couldn’t have stopped them even if I tried. My steady tears as my heart broke over Kash suddenly turned into loud sobs as I took everything in. Blake was a killer. He’d tried to kill me. He was dead now. Kash was an undercover cop. Kash, the only person to see through my walls and knock them down, was a stranger.

He hunched over the bed and, with the arm that wasn’t in the sling, cupped my cheek and attempted to brush the tears away. His forehead rested on mine as he tried to calm me.

“It’s okay, Rachel. He’ll never touch you, or anyone, again. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry I failed you. I didn’t protect you, and God, I’m so damn sorry. I love you so much.”

Turning my face away from his hand, I spoke through clenched teeth. “Please stop touching me.” Another sob worked its way from my chest and I took a deep breath, trying to steel my body against the pain that wouldn’t stop coming.

“Babe, you have no idea how many times I wanted to tell you. I’m so sorry. But everything we had was real.”

“I need you to leave.”

“Please don’t ask me to do that. I love you, Rachel. More than life itself.”

“I don’t love you. I’m in love with an illusion. Please just—don’t make this more difficult than it needs to be. I can’t do this with you, Kash. You lied to me. And it wasn’t just something as simple as you telling me I look beautiful when I’m sick. You lied to me about you. That is an unforgivable lie. You hated my shields and broke them all down. You didn’t want anything between us. But you made me fall in love with a man who doesn’t exist.”

“He does. I’m that guy. I’m him, Rachel . . . everything about us was real, I swear to you.”

“When I woke up today, I didn’t even know what your name was. I thought you were a bartender, Kash! And now that I’m thinking about it, you’ve still never told me where you’re from.”

“Tampa Bay, Florida. Ask me anything and I’ll tell you, but you know me.”

I shook my head and blinked back the new tears pricking my eyes. “It’s too little way too late. How can I ever believe anything you say?”


“Go. Please.” He started to speak, so I cut him off again. “Don’t come back, Kash. I don’t want to see or hear from you again.”

He stood there staring at me for countless minutes. I could see his eyes gloss over in the dim lighting in the room, and when he turned for the door, I saw the tears start falling down his face.

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