Breathless (Merciless 3) - Page 25

And the names I don’t recognize from men who live on the east side of the state… I imagine they have families too. Or did. Before this happened.

My father made me go to the funerals whenever someone died. Always. I’ve never missed any of them. He said they were family and deserved that respect. As much as I’ve hated my father and as much as I think I’m nothing but a bother to him, or maybe a bad memory of my mother, I always respected the dead and their families.

This time I won’t be able to, and for some reason that hurts me deeper than I think it should.

Two names that haven’t come up are Nikolai and Mika.

The first, a man who I’ve loved in more way than one.

And the second, a man I’ve dreamed of killing myself.

In this world, there are men who are good, and there are men who are evil. I won’t be convinced otherwise. In war, both types of men die. And both types of men populate every army.

“How are you doing this morning?” Addison’s question pulls my gaze from the coffee maker to her. I meant to turn it on and never did. I can’t concentrate on anything else but the war.

She looks like she didn’t get any sleep at all. The dark circles under her eyes are a dead giveaway. “I came in to check on you last night, but you were already asleep.”

My lungs seize thinking how grateful I am that she didn’t come in while Carter was there. I’ve never felt so torn in my life as I did last night. It’s an impossible situation.

“Yeah, I passed out.” I offer the lame excuse and it feels fake on my tongue knowing I’m hiding the truth from her. I finally hit the button to start up the machine but then have to check to make sure I added water. I did.

All the while, Addison heads to the fridge as if it’s any other kitchen, knowing Eli fully stocked it last night.

I almost tell her Carter came over purely out of guilt, but I swallow my words. She won’t understand. She clears her throat and speaks before I can confess though.

“I saw Daniel… that’s what took me so long.”

Unshed tears shimmer in her eyes and she slams the fridge door shut before tossing the butter on the counter so she has both hands free to press her palms to her eyes. “I’m sorry.”

“You have no reason to be. Out of everyone involved, you have no reason to be,” I say and wish she could understand how empathetic I am to her. “I get it. Let it out,” I tell her while putting my hand on her shoulder and running it back and forth to try to soothe her.

“I just can’t believe he’d be okay with the way Carter treated you. That he would do nothing.”

I let out a long breath, understanding why she’s standing so strongly against Daniel, but hating that I’m a part of that reason.

“I’ve come to terms with two things,” I tell her, hoping it will help her. “One, I love Carter even if he hates me.” The first confession brings her eyes to mine. “Two, I’m not going to sit back and do nothing. I won’t ever let him do something that will hurt me or my family without fighting him.”

“How can you be with him, knowing…?” She doesn’t finish, but she doesn’t have to.

“I don’t know how. I honestly don’t. And I don’t know if any of it really matters.” I lean my back against the counter and grip on to it from behind. “I can’t stop this war. I can’t protect everyone. I can’t stop the people I love from dying.” As I say the last part, my mother comes to mind and I try to block her out. I’m already spent with emotion and trying to balance right and wrong, love and war, that any mention of her will be my undoing and it’s not even ten o’clock in the morning.

“This life is brutal,” I whisper and then clear my throat to face Addison again. “But it’s my life. And I want to be in control of my own decisions.”

“You know we’re still locked up, right?” Judging by the hint of a smile on her lips, her words are meant to make me laugh and they do, a small breath of a laugh.

Reaching for the butter and content to let the conversation die, she adds, “Let’s eat before we think of how we’re going to escape.”

“I can hear you,” a voice says from behind us and scares the shit out of me. Eli’s in the doorway, a smirk on his lips and if he was closer I’d be tempted to smack it off his face.

“I’m sure you all can,” I answer him and look toward the ceiling. “I haven’t found the cameras yet.”

Tags: Willow Winters Merciless Erotic
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