I should want to string her up, want blood for blood, and who knows? Maybe if things had gone differently and Bax had pulled the trigger, I would indeed want all of that, but right now, all I could feel was pity. Reeve had wanted an evil man dead that had hurt someone she loved, and I had made an evil man die because he was going to continue to hurt and torture those I loved. We just stared at each other, I don’t know if she really wanted redemption or some kind of validation from me, but she wasn’t going to get it.
“My brother almost died because they found him. A very nice, decent man didn’t make it because you handed over that location. I’ll heal from the knife wounds, they hurt but not nearly as much as watching the man I’m in love with hold a gun to his own head because he was that desperate to get me out of that warehouse alive. I understand what happens when you make a deal with the devil, Reeve, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think you don’t deserve your time in hell for paying him back.”
She opened her mouth and then closed it again. She blinked back the last of her tears and her mouth twisted up in a sardonic grin.
“I quit the group home. I’m going to the cops to tell them what I’ve done. I don’t know what that means for me, but it’s the right thing. I got so lost in what I was doing, in revenge and hate, I don’t even know who I am anymore, and that’s exactly what I was trying to prevent from happening to you. Only you seem more like yourself than you ever have before.”
“Having all kinds of people trying to kill you can really be eye-opening, and Bax . . . well, let’s just say he makes me understand that there is who we want to be and who we ultimately have to be in order to make it in this life. Finding the right blend of those two parts of ourselves is really the only thing we can strive for. When you go to the cops, you might want to avoid a detective named Titus King. He’s Bax’s brother, and if he knows you gave away my location, it might not go so hot for you.”
“I’m so sorry, Dovie. I know I screwed up and I hate that someone as honestly wonderful as you had to pay for it.”
I lifted an eyebrow. “I can pay my dues as long as the reward is worth it in the end.”
Her smile went from sardonic to sad. “You think your reward is Bax?”
“I think my reward is happiness, and I can’t be happy without him, so my reward is living in a place where that happens.”
“It’s never going to be easy. Giving everything you have to someone like him . . . he could end you.”
I would have shrugged, but by now the pain meds were wearing off, I was starving, and moving anything but my eyes and my mouth caused bolts of agony to run under the entire length of my skin.
“Some boys . . . they are just better when they’re bad. Bax is one of them and I’m starting to think my brother might be one of them, too. I just have to be good enough for all of us to balance it out.”
She laughed a little and I saw genuine remorse on her beautiful face. “If anyone can be that good, it’s you. I wish you the best of luck, Dovie. I really do.”
“You too, Reeve.”
I should’ve probably warned her that once Bax was out of jail, once he knew she was the reason Novak’s creeps had known where to grab me, she might want to keep an eye out. I could look past it, but something told me he would be much slower to forgive.
The nurse came back in and offered me some Jell-O and the blandest broth I had ever tasted. I was tired again, but the fed at the door mentioned Race was coming in with his own protection detail, so I forced myself to stay awake.
When he finally showed up, it took everything I had not to burst into sobs at the sight of him. He looked like he had been run over by a truck, and the worry and concern in his moss-colored gaze had to reflect the emotion in my own.
“I’m so glad you’re okay.” His deep voice sounded like rocks rolling down the side of a cliff.
“You too. You look about as good as I feel.”
He limped over to the side of my bed and gingerly picked up my hand. He turned it over and put his fingers on my pulse. It was a little thready and weak, but it was there.
“You almost died, Dove. I’ve never been so scared of anything in my life.”
I curled my fingers around his and gave them a gentle squeeze. “I’m okay.”
“And Novak is no more. I wish I had been there to see the look on his face when Bax pulled the trigger.”
I opened my mouth to explain, to try and lay out what really happened, but Titus’s voice rattled around in my head. The hard choice felt an awful lot like lying.
“Did you know Novak was Bax’s dad?”
His blond head dropped a little and I saw his chest rise and fall with a deep inhale and exhale. “He never said anything about it, ya know? Never came out and told me, but when I first saw the two of them together, there was no missing it. They f**king look exactly the same, have the same eyes. I asked once and he left me up on the Hill without a ride home, so I never asked again.”
“What’s going to happen now, Race? What are we going to do?”
He squeezed my hand and that grin that always made me feel like everything would be okay lit up his face.
“We’ll figure it out. We always do.”
“Bax won’t let us come see him.”
“That, Dovie, is a fight you might have to battle on your own. I believe he cares about you, as much as he has ever cared about anyone, but he doesn’t know what that looks like long term.”
I narrowed my eyes. “I’ll just have to show him.”
Race snorted and had to sit down. His injuries weren’t as severe as mine, but he most definitely wasn’t in tip-top form.
“If he breaks your heart, I’m going to kill him.”
“What if I break his?” I had to laugh a little, which I instantly regretted, as it felt like acid was being poured across my chest as Race groaned and shoved his fists into his eye sockets.
“This is going to suck for me, isn’t it?”
“Come on, if anyone deserves a happy ending, it’s us.”
“I don’t know about Bax, but you, Dovie, you deserve the best of everything.”
He was right, I did, and I was going to get it, even if my “everything” was going to make me work for it.
THREE MONTHS WAS NOTHING compared to five years. I could do three months locked up standing on my head. Well, I could’ve done it without blinking if I hadn’t actually had something to lose this time. I spent every day, every minute, every second, breaking down and dissecting what could have happened differently. Even though I refused to see him, to see anyone but the feds that were hounding me over and over again, Titus bullied his way in. I knew Dovie had almost died. I knew she was having a really hard time sitting by while I was locked up, and I knew it broke her heart every time she tried to come and see me and I told the guards to send her home.