And then he was gone.

I barely held it together for ten seconds before I felt myself shatter into a million pieces and heard my sobs fill the room. I’d protected myself from ever experiencing this type of hurt again by making sure I never gave anyone my heart. But I had never stood a chance against Kash. From the minute he almost took my car door off, he had taken my heart and kept a firm hold.

And now there was nothing left to protect. I somehow knew that I would never have to worry about guarding my heart again. Because even now, through the pain in my chest, through the betrayal I felt down to my core, I knew that Logan Kash Hen—Ryan would always have my heart.


ON AUTOPILOT, I walked out to the waiting room, where Mason was sleeping on one of the chairs. I couldn’t make sense of my emotions, and every bit of me was fighting to go back into Rachel’s room despite her pleas. But I knew I’d fucked up the best thing I’d ever had and would ever have.

She was right. I had hated her shields, and I’d pushed her every day until they were gone. Funny that it would be my fault that they had all gone back up, thicker than ever.

Someone cleared his throat, and I glanced up to see Candice’s brother standing there. He stuck his left hand out toward me and cleared his throat again. “Eli Jenkins. Thank you for saving her. She’s always been like a sister to me.” When I didn’t respond at first, he looked at Mason, then back to me. “You’re her fiancé, right?”

My stomach tightened. Ex, I thought to myself. Ex-fiancé.

He dropped his hand and it was only then I realized I still hadn’t said anything. “I’m sure it’s been a long day for you. We can talk later. I just wanted to say thank you.”

When he started to turn around, I quickly spoke. “You don’t need to thank me. I would do anything for her.” Including walk away. “Watch out for her, okay?”

He gave me an odd look but nodded before walking back toward her room. I sighed heavily and ran my free hand down my face.


Mason shifted in the chair beside me, and a few seconds later he spoke gruffly. “Give her time, bro. She’ll come around.”

“I don’t think so. She trusted me, and I broke that trust beyond repair.”

“She’s just stressed, it was a hard day. Give her—”

“And it’s my fault, Mase! All of this was my fault. In less than forty-eight hours, my fiancée gave me back the ring I’d given her to protect the people she loves, was almost murdered, and then broke up with me again. For real this time, and it’s because of what I am. I told you, who we are . . . what we do . . . we can’t have relationships. And this is why. I don’t blame Rachel for anything. I put her in this situation, she was in danger because of me.”

Mason quickly stood up and began pacing. “No she wasn’t. All that shit had gone down with her and Blake before we’d ever even shown up. It had been going on for years, and it had nothing to do with your job. You being a cop is what saved her yesterday morning. Like I said, give her some time. She’s gone through a lot over the last few months, but she loves you.”

I don’t love you. I’m in love with an illusion. I’d known heartache before, but what was happening now couldn’t be described as heartache. Those words had shattered my soul. I felt hollow and lost. And like I could easily drown in the searing pain making its way through my body. “She doesn’t want to see me, Mason. She wants me gone. I couldn’t keep her safe even after I promised her I would. The least I can do is give her what she asks. It’s over.”


“Stop. She deserves a normal life, not the one I have to offer. I couldn’t protect her before, but I will now, by walking away.”

Before he could say anything else, I began walking out of the waiting room and hospital. I was at Mason’s truck for almost half an hour before he joined me. “Both of our dads will be here later today,” I said.

He paused with his door half-open. “What?”

“They’re going to help us pack up and move back to Florida.” I grabbed the handle just inside the door and hauled myself into the cab. Putting on the seat belt should have been a lot easier than it was, but the sling and the additional pain in my shoulder and right side of my chest were making it damn near impossible. Note to self: Don’t get shot again. It doesn’t tickle and makes putting seat belts on a bitch.

“When did you talk to them?”

“When I was waiting for you.”

“Kash.” He sighed and finally got in the driver’s seat but didn’t put the key in the ignition. “I don’t think you should do this. Give her time, yeah, but don’t fucking run away.”

If I didn’t feel so dead inside, I would have snorted at him. “I’m not running away.”

“Yes you are. You’re being a little bitch! You always think people are better off without you. You did this with Megan and now you’re doing it with Rachel. But with Rachel, she’s best with you. I didn’t have to know her before the two of you met to know that. So some shit went down, and she’s terrified. Understandable. But you’re being a bitch thinking that you caused all of this and that running from her is going to keep her safe. God, you’re so fucking dumb.”

“She almost died, Mason!” I yelled, and turned to face him. “She almost fucking died!”

“And so did we! With us it was because of our job and a psycho. With Rach it was only because of the psycho. She is alive because of our job. Get that through your thick skull.”

“We’re done talking about this. I’m not running from her, Mase. I’m leaving for her. Think what you want about that, I really don’t fucking care anymore. But she asked me to leave and our job here is done. Staying—” Would be too painful. “There’s no reason to stay.”

“You’re such an idiot,” he sneered, and cranked the engine.

It’s too little way too late. The pain that had nothing to do with getting shot intensified and I sucked in a quick breath. “Yeah . . . I am.”



JUST AS I was raising my shirt over my head, there was a knock on the door and I barely had time to push the material back down before it opened to reveal Candice.

“Hey,” she said softly.

I hated that tone. Everyone in my life, including Candice and her parents, had used that tone on me the entire year after my parents died. It’d been months since the incident with Blake, and they were still using this tone with me. Like I was going to break if they spoke to me like a normal human being. He was her cousin. I almost wanted to give her the tone right back and ask how she liked it.


“What are you up to?” she asked quietly as she walked into my room and lay down on my bed.

“I was just about to take a shower.”

“What are you doing after?”

And this was now the norm as well. What are you doing, what are you eating, why are you going to sleep, why don’t you want to come out with us . . . next she was going to ask why I was still wearing clothes.

“I’m probably going to go to sleep.”

“Okay, that’s fine.”

Fine? It was almost midnight. “What are you doing, Candi?” Yeah . . . I flipped that shit around onto you. How does it feel?

“Just checking on you.”

“Ah.” This was awkward. “You know, it’s been three months. I’m okay.”

She sat up from her sprawled-out position on my bed. “I know you are, I just—I wish you . . .”

“Wish I would what?” What more could I do? I’d kept my job. I’d gone to a therapist like Janet had begged me to. I wasn’t sitting in the corner rocking back and forth talking about the boogeyman that was coming to get me. I really didn’t understand what else they could expect of me.

“Rachel, I’ve been talking to Mason—”

“Oh, no. No, no, no. Candice, we talked about this!”

“He’s miserable, Rach! Mason’s worried about him. His parents are worried about him. The chief made him take some time off because he’s just not the same.”

My chest tightened and I sucked in air quickly through my teeth. Turning so my back was facing her, I blinked rapidly until my vision was no longer blurry. “He lied to me about everything. I can’t—why am I even talking about him right now?” I huffed a pathetic attempt at a laugh. “No more.” Besides, he hasn’t even tried to contact me.

“Rachel, you told him not to talk to you!”

Shit, did I say that out loud?

“I know.” I sighed heavily. “I know I did. And I don’t want him to, but he—he didn’t even try to fight for us after. He left and that was it. My word, I’m being such a girl.” Leaning against the wall so I was facing Candice again, I crossed my arms under my chest and worried my bottom lip. “I wasn’t playing games with him, and I’m still not. I wasn’t testing him to see what he would do. When I told him I wanted him to go and not come back, I meant it. But the fact that he did it is killing me now.”

“You still love him, right?”

A pained laugh escaped me. “Of course I do. I always will.”

“Then call him, I have his real number! You’re both miserable, this is stupid.” She grabbed my phone off my nightstand and started walking toward me.

“I can’t, it’s not that simple.”

“Yeah, actually, it is!”

I pushed the hand that was holding my phone away. “Candice, no. What he did is unforgivable. I’m still in love with him, but that doesn’t change what he did and what he could do to me again. I almost married him without knowing his real last name. How would he have even done that? Just continued to act like his last name was Hendricks forever?” I snorted. Snorting was good. It helped me not break down into a crying mess in front of her right now. “I’m done talking about this, and I’m done talking about him.”

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