Breathless (Merciless 3) - Page 2

“Come with us,” Nikolai urges, raising his voice to command her, but also beg her, and I take my focus from Aria, staring at the man Nikolai is.

He reminds me of the boy I once was.

Foolish and reckless. But he never went through the shit I did. He was bred into this life, he wasn’t thrown into it and forced to fight to survive every fucking day.

Yet he thinks he can take her.

“I’m staying,” Aria says with authority before I can say anything. Her declaration makes Nikolai flinch. A small bit of hope flutters in my chest. My throat tightens, and my chest aches, feeling as if it’s on the verge of ripping wide open. She’s staying.

“We don’t have time for this!” one of her cousins yells out, glancing around the room as if any minute now, I’ll change my mind and kill them all.

He’d be right if it wasn’t for Aria.

She wanted them. She chose them.

“I’m not leaving without you,” Nikolai growls and stalks to Aria, ready to take her. That’s my cue to reach for my gun.

Their reunion has lasted long enough, and I refuse to let him take her. No one will take her from me. No one.

Adrenaline races through my blood, my breathing coming in heavier as my jaw clenches. The gun is hot in my hand. Hotter than it’s ever felt before. It’s pointed at Nikolai; Aria’s is pointed at me.

My voice is deep and rough as I tell the three of them, “You have two minutes to run.”

“Carter,” she says, and Aria’s voice is a desperate plea, but she has no room to bargain and I have no mercy remaining, not even for her. I ignore her, feeling the rage from what she’s done seep into the marrow of my bones as I finish stating, “and then we’ll open fire.”

My brothers move slowly, reaching for their guns as Aria’s expression crumples with pain and she rocks backward toward the wall, with her nervousness evident.

Nikolai’s jaw is tense, his light blue eyes sparking with hate. “Come with me,” he says beneath his breath. “Take her!” he commands his allies.

But they run, leaving him alone and leaving her behind. “She had her chance!” one of the men yells behind him. Their sneakers squeak as their footsteps pound on the freshly polished floor. Cowards. Talvery men are cowards.

“Aria, please,” Nikolai begs her as if it breaks his fucking heart. Fuck him.

“One minute,” I grit between my teeth and he finally looks at me. My grip tightens on the gun. One squeeze of the trigger and I’d be rid of him forever. I’m so close to pulling it, just to end it all. He looks me in the eyes and I wish the look I give him back was enough to kill him.

“Go,” she whimpers, her eyes flickering from my gun to him. “Get out of here!” she screams at him.

“I’ll come back for you,” he tells her as if she’s his long-lost love.

I hope he does come back for her. My nostrils flare and my chest aches as she gasps for breath watching him leave. Come back for her, Nikolai. Come back, so I can break your fucking neck. I bite my tongue, tasting the metallic tang of blood in my mouth.

I will kill him if it’s the last thing I do.

He’s still running away from her. My blunt nails dig into my palms as my fists tighten and the anger and jealousy mix into a deadly concoction. Red bleeds into my vision and it’s all I can do not to pull the trigger as it follows his movements.

“I wanted to tell you,” Aria sobs as the sound of Nikolai running away fades in the hallway. “I didn’t think–”

“Tell me what?” I ask her.

“That they were coming,” she says with a pain in her voice that matches the one swirling in her eyes. She’s breaking apart, barely breathing and I can see the regret, the remorse. But only one thing resonates with me.

“You knew?” I question her and feel a chill rush through my body that sinks all the way to my bones.

She never loved me. She never did. You protect the ones you love. Always. And she didn’t protect me.

I was a fucking fool and she isn’t the woman I thought she is. She’s a fucking liar.

“Are we really letting them go?” Declan’s question slices through the haze of disbelief and treachery.

“You knew?” I ask her again, my temper coming back anew.

“I, I…” she stutters over her words, her gaze darting over my face, fear and pain causing her hazel eyes to glass over with tears. She lowers her gun all the way down, not daring to point it at me anymore and I drop mine as I move closer to her, each heavy step sounding more foreboding than the last.

Tags: Willow Winters Merciless Erotic
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