Fearless Page 88

“So barbaric,” she mumbled. I dropped beside her, already feeling sleep trying to overcome me when I noticed my belt lying on the bed. I leaned away to remove it but then hesitated.

“Why are you still holding your belt?” she asked curiously.

“I was going to tie your hands together so you couldn’t leave in the middle of the night again.” She shifted, ready to run, but I caught her hand and threaded my fingers through hers and pulled her close. Her entire body was tense, and I couldn’t stand the thought of my touch being the cause. “But I have a better idea.” She turned her head enough to look me in the eye.

“What?”

“If you can stay the night without running, then I’ll know I can trust you and vice versa.” I gave in to my body’s demand for sleep. My last conscious thought was that I hoped she wouldn’t run.

Chapter Twenty-Seven

LAKE

I was the first to wake up the next morning and used the few moments alone to watch Keiran sleep. I’d become accustomed to stealing moments like this, and it started with the first night in our apartment together. He had a nightmare that night and almost every night since. Over time, the nightmares decreased until he no longer had them. I still liked to watch him sleep—to see his guard down and peace replace his demons.

Maybe they were gone.

Or maybe there was one left that wasn’t rightfully his…

“You didn’t run.” His deep voice rumbled above me. I shook my head because emotions stronger than me clogged my throat. He seemed to sense it and pulled me closer for comfort, and it worked but not how he meant it to. The white sheets were around our waist, exposing his naked chest and my breast. The feel of our naked skin together was beginning to redirect my thoughts. He kissed me deeply until I writhed against him.

He abruptly pulled away with a groan and grabbed his phone from his jeans. “We should get going. Di’s already gone back to her apartment.” We had a five-hour drive back to Stanford.

“Before we go back and try to make sense of our lives again, I think there’s something you should know.”

“What is that?”

I figured out a long time ago there was no right time or way to tell him what I learned the day Mitch died, so I decided to just say it.

“You didn’t kill your mother.”

He stared at me, unmoving, and then his expression turned savage as he ripped away from me and left the bed, leaving me feeling cold.

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“Your father—he told me how your mother really died.”

“Well then, he lied, Lake. I had the gun. I pointed it at her. I killed her!” His roar shook my core, and I instinctually wanted to huddle into a ball and make myself as small as possible.

But I couldn’t do that.

He was falling apart right before my eyes, and it was up to me to keep him together and see the truth.

“Baby, listen to me.” I got up and chanced walking closer. I felt as if I were sticking my head in a lion’s mouth and hoping he didn’t bite it off. “Listen to yourself—you had the gun, you pointed it at her, and then she was dead, but did you pull the trigger?”

“I don’t remember, but I guess I had to since she died,” he snarled sarcastically and moved away from me like a skittish kitten.

I followed after him, refusing to back down. “Your father had a gun, too. He pulled the trigger because he didn’t think you could do it. You didn’t kill her. I know you didn’t and you know, too. You question that day. I know you do.”

He barked a short, dry laugh and clutched his hair. “He’s doing it. He’s fucking with me from the grave and he’s using your gullible ass to do it.”

I didn’t feel myself move or my fist as it connected with his jaw as hard as I could. His head jerked and he cursed before returning his enraged glare on me. My hand throbbed as I pulled it back.

“You’re not going to make this go away by trying to hurt me.”

“Why are you doing this?” He shook his head and hissed when he clenched his teeth.

“Because you deserve to know. You don’t have to accept it today or even tomorrow. The only living person who knows about your mother’s death now is you. You can either make sense of it or continue to suffer as you have, but I thought you should know.

And because I had nothing else to say, I retreated into the bathroom, locked the door, and slid down the length of it until my naked bottom touched the cold tile.

How would I ever be able to fix my broken love when he was still afraid of the dark?

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