Breathless (Merciless 3) - Page 35

“What if he tries to take you back?” The raw note of fear in her voice means more to me than I could ever tell her.

I shake my head. “Eli is coming with me, and Carter knows about it. I’m not leaving you, Addison. I promise. He wouldn’t let it happen.”

“So, you two…?” She doesn’t finish the question.

“Are… speaking, but still not okay,” I answer slowly.

“Why go then?” she asks, and I know she’ll understand my reasoning.

“He’s my friend, and he’s going to die or he’s going to help kill the man I love.” Tears brim, but I hold them back. It’s the painful truth, and I know I need to change it. “If I don’t do something, those are the only two outcomes.”

“Are you…” Addie looks anywhere but at me, until she gathers her thoughts and finally asks a question I don’t know the answer to. “Whatever you tell him, or ask of him… will he listen to you?”

Cason comes into view from the very doorway she was just looking toward. “I don’t know,” I answer her with a weak smile, although I stare back at Cason. Something thuds hard within my chest knowing Nikolai has always tried to keep things from me. He thinks it protects me, but I know now that he’s wrong.

Addison’s gaze follows mine and the clinking of her spoon against the bowl as she places her dishes in the sink marks the finality of our discussion. “Be safe,” she tells me quietly as she leaves.

“You too,” I tell her and listen to the sound of her retreating down the hall to the bedrooms as Cason steps into the kitchen. His jeans are dirty, covered in mud from the knees down.

He was doing something… and I can only imagine it involved a shovel and shallow grave.

“I heard you might be going out.” Cason starts talking the moment Addie’s out of the kitchen. I wonder if she stopped in the hall, holding her breath and staying as still as she can so she can listen.

I’ve done that more times than I can count.

“I am.” My answer is hard as I look Cason in the eye. “Right now, actually.”

“Are you sure you want to do that?” he questions me. The man’s nearly a foot taller than me, with broad shoulders and arms that are a dead giveaway he spends too much time in the gym.

“You’re the muscle.” I ignore his question and ask him my own. “Aren’t you?”

He tilts his head, considering me.

“You guys have a certain look to you,” I explain as I walk through the kitchen and head to the living room. It’s a modern house with an open concept floor plan, so he has no problem viewing me as he crosses his arms and leans against the wall.

“The scar on your chin, the tattoos across your knuckles, probably where they’re scarred too,” I speak to him as the vision of men my father referred to as the muscle, invades my memory. They’d come to the house every once in a while, with big envelopes stuffed full of cash they’d leave for him. As polite as they were to me, I knew what they did.

They beat the shit out of men who didn’t pay up. My gaze drifts to the mud on Cason’s shins… and they buried the men who didn’t learn the lesson fast enough.

Slipping on my shoes, leather ballet flats, I peek up at Cason and ask him, “Do you have bullet hole scars too?”

His eyes are still assessing me as the silence drags on. It doesn’t even look like he’s breathing as I stand tall and make my way back to him. There’s a matte black earpiece in his right ear, and I wonder if Carter’s listening. I wonder if Carter’s asking him to stop me because he doesn’t have the balls to do it himself.

Fed up with Cason forcing me to talk to myself, I tell him, “It’s three blocks down, and Eli is accompanying me. Thank you for your concern.”

As I walk toward the stairway, glancing at the clock on the stove to make sure I’m on schedule, Cason decides to walk in front of me, his large chest becoming as unyielding and firm as a brick wall.

“I urge you to reconsider,” he tells me with a voice that comes from deep in his throat. Towering over me, he’s a man who creates fear. And it stirs in my blood, warning me to back down and simply survive the encounter. I look him in the eyes and tell him calmly with a hint of a smile and a narrowed glare, “See, I knew you were the muscle.” Inwardly, I feel like I’m about to choke on a spiked ball of panic.

I stare into his dark eyes, meeting his gaze and refusing to back down. Not this second, and not the next. Never.

Tags: Willow Winters Merciless Erotic
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