Page 29


Regardless of how many times I explain the situation, I know there will never be a chance of getting business from them or anyone close to them in the future. For the first time in almost ten years, the job I love is becoming something I hate.

I have just finished emailing the agent handling the sale of Roberts Insurance, NC. Things are looking good for a quick sale. I didn’t expect to get a bite within the first week of putting the listing up, but so far, there are two companies with heavy interest. Thank God.

“Dee?”

I smile when Beck’s voice carries out of the house onto the deck where I’m relaxing with Chelcie. I shut my laptop and look over at her.

“I’ll be right back. Do you need anything?”

She looks up from her own computer for a second, shakes her head, and returns her attention to whatever she’s working on.

Walking through the double doors and back into the living room, I make my way towards where I hear his heavy steps echoing from the front of the house. I round the corner into the foyer and almost collide with Beck. “Whoa there, Big Boy, where’s the fire?” The smile on my lips slips away when I notice the look in his eyes. “What is it?” I whisper.

He doesn’t answer right away. He pulls me into his arms and just holds me. My anxiety is climbing. It really could be anything as long as we have some sick fuck out there watching our every move. “Beck, please, talk to me.”

“Greg’s on his way. I tried. I really did. I know you aren’t ready to have this talk, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer. I’ll sit with you if you need me to, but I think he needs to know what really went on.” His eyes are pleading with me to understand, and I get what he’s saying. Until Greg knows everything, it won’t be out of the way and in the past.

“Okay.” Wrapping my arms around him, I let his comforting scent and strong body ease some of the tension from me. “I know you would sit there with me, and that means the world, but we both know you don’t want to reopen that wound. We’ve moved past it, and I don’t want to see that pain in your eyes again. I need to do this on my own.”

“Are you sure?”

His arms pull me in tighter and I smile against his chest. What did I do to deserve this man?

“Yeah, Baby, I’m sure.” I pull back and look up into his loving eyes. “It’s something I need to do. I need to stop leaning on you for my strength.” He offers me a small smile and an understanding nod. “I love you. Thank you for understanding.”

“I love you, too.” His lips press against my forehead and I close my eyes relishing his touch. “I don’t like leaving you when I know you might need me, but I get it. How about I take Chelcie down to the office? I’m sure she would love to visit with Sway, get out of the house, and have his crazy ass pamper her. It’s almost lunchtime anyway, so someone can chill next door with her while Sway does his thing.”

“That sounds perfect. I’m going to go change out of my pajamas. Come find me before you head out?”

He gives me another soft kiss, but lingers when my tongue dances across his lips, asking for access. When we finally break apart, he pulls me in for another tight hug before taking off through the house calling for Chelcie.

With a deep breath, I head up the stairs to get ready for Greg’s arrival.

****

Beck had come to tell me that Greg is here before heading out with an excited Chelcie. Regardless of the reasons for them leaving the house, I’m happy that she will be able to breathe some fresh air. Maybe when I finish this heart-to-heart, I can talk Greg into letting me leave, too. I might as well take advantage of these overgrown apes offering their protection.

Walking down the stairs and through Beck’s large house makes me feel like I’m walking the length of ten football fields. Knowing that Greg’s waiting, and that the conversation with him isn’t going to be a nice, happy one, makes the walk even more daunting. I hear him puttering around the kitchen when I reach the hallway leading into the living room. I take a deep breath and come out of my hidden sanctuary. His head snaps around when he hears my footsteps against the hardwood floor. I can feel the distance between us in the energy floating through the rooms.

“Hey.” I smile weakly as I walk around the thick leather chair that Beck and I love to cuddle in, and run my fingertips along the back, hoping to ground myself to something that Beck’s touched. It might sound stupid, but just that little touch makes me feel like he’s right here with me.

Greg doesn’t speak. He just stands behind the little half-walled, breakfast bar that separates the kitchen and the living room. His blue eyes, which normally hold nothing but kindness and love, are clouded with worry. God, I hate this. I wish he could have just remained oblivious to all of this shit.

“You want to go sit outside? It’s a nice afternoon.” I try to smile again, but he still just stands there looking at me. “Can you please say something?”

He breaks eye contact and looks off to the side, just staring into space. I know he’s thinking, because he runs his hands through his hair a few times, drops his head, and holds the back of his neck, just shaking his head lightly.

“Please.”

His head pops up and the pain behind his eyes squeezes my heart. Between Izzy and Greg, I think I always knew he would handle things the worst. Even though we didn’t even know each other when the majority of this shit went down, it doesn’t matter to him. I’m his family, and if anything happens to his family, he feels it like it’s his own pain.

He takes a few more minutes before walking towards me. His eyes never leave mine until I’m forced to look away when his chest crashes into my face. His arms wrap around me in a vice like grip. He just stands here, holding me as if he’s afraid that if he lets go, I’ll fly away. I give him this, sliding my arms around his thick torso and holding him just as tight. His heart races against my ear, and his breathing is coming in rapid pants. My heart breaks a little, knowing that there is no way to explain this without hurting him more.

“I’m sorry,” I mumble against his chest.

“Are you kidding? What the hell do you have to be sorry for?” He pulls back, and my arms fall from his body and hang lamely by my sides. His warm grip against my biceps keeps me standing when I see the emotion in his face.

“I didn’t mean to hurt you. We’ve always been able to tell each other everything, but this… This was just something that I didn’t know what to do with. It’s taken me a lot to get to this point, Greg. You had so much going on this last year that, even if I had been ready to talk, there was no way that I could have thrown this on you. Not with everything that was going on with Melissa and Cohen.”

Things got a little crazy for a few months when Greg almost lost his son because of a crazy grandparent. Not to mention, the drama he went through with that whore he used to sleep with. Now that Melissa is almost six months pregnant with their twins, and they are all finally happy, things are definitely in a better place for me to let him in. He has someone to help him ease his mind from this.

“God, Dee. You know I would do anything to help you. You’ve been my family for years. When family needs you, for whatever reason, you’re there. Don’t you realize how much the people in your life love you?” He looks so confused. Damn, this is not going to be good.

“Come on, let’s go sit down.”

He lets my arms go and follows behind me. I walk back around Beck’s chair, once again trailing my hands across the soft leather. I close my eyes and picture his handsome face, smiling and full of love. I let my body fill with his love and open my eyes with a new determination.

I sit down on the couch and pat the cushion next to me. Greg smiles and shakes his head with my action. I’ve seen him do that a million times with Cohen, so he knows it’s my poor attempt at throwing some lightness into this darkness that’s swirling around us.

“I’m just going to start at the beginning and as hard as this is going to sound… just please, let me finish before you say anything.”

He nods his head and I take a deep breath before I start telling my story.

He doesn’t move once as I begin speaking. I start with my childhood and work my way up through high school. His eyes get hard a few times, mainly whenever I mention my father. I pause for a second before I tell him about Brandon breaking into my office. I know he will be able to handle that part, but it’s going to be a stretch thinking that he’ll be able to control his anger when he finds out just how bad it got. My eyes have been watching my fingers play with a string hanging from my shirt, while I try to figure out how to tell him the rest.

“Dee?” I look up and see his puzzled gaze. The question in his eyes and the understanding nod show me that he realizes that this is part of the bad I’ve been keeping from him. “Go on, please.”

I open my mouth a few times before I get the words out. I keep my eyes glued to his as I tell him about the first attack Brandon made against me, the rape, and the fear that kept me from saving Izzy before she was finally able to free herself. I rush to get each word out, because with each continuing second, I watch a little part of one of my best friends break apart and splinter into a million pieces.

“I don’t think I ever dealt with it. At least not like a normal person would. I pushed it under the rug and continued to live my life the only way I knew how at the time.” I pause and look away from his angry eyes for a second, trying to calm my nerves. “When he hurt Izzy, that time at the condo we had, I think that was the start. Beck noticed and didn’t let me cave in, but even he couldn’t save me from myself. We had the most amazing week together before it all blew up and the lights went out in my life.” His eyes narrow in question, but he doesn’t interrupt me.

“It was a few weeks after Izzy got hurt. I had been pushing him away and doing my best to keep him in a nice little box so that he wouldn’t work his way into my heart, but Beck worked his way in.” I smile remembering those early days. “We didn’t even have a chance to tell anyone. Funny how that works. Everyone thought that we’d been playing these bedroom games for the last two years, but in reality, he’s held my heart the whole time.” I shake my head. I still can’t believe that Beck was the only one who ever noticed my pain. Well, Beck and Maddox, but Mad never let on that he has been silently watching my private struggle.

“I wasn’t even upset that you guys didn’t notice, you know?” I whisper the words, but he jerks when I finish talking. I swing my eyes back to his face and flinch when I see his eyes and lips pressed tight. I have to look away to get the rest out. Part of me wants to scream at him, but I know whatever angry words I might say, he doesn’t deserve them and knowing him, he’s beating himself up worse than I ever could. It’s no one’s fault but my own that I shut down and didn’t know how to process the pain. I wore the masks I needed to wear and I locked them out. I was my own worst enemy.

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