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“After you got shot and all of the stuff with Brandon finally ended, something inside of me shut down. I didn’t know how to deal with everything. The memories of what he had done to me and to Izzy. I couldn’t see past the fear he had brought back when I was tied and at his merciless hands. Seeing Izzy’s life so close to being taken, and you, Jesus, Greg, watching you almost die. I shut down. The depression wasn’t even a match against the rest of the battles raging inside of me. Beck was there every step of the way for months until I finally succeeded in pushing him away.” I keep my eyes locked with his as I finish my story. I tell him about the times Beck saved my life, the therapy I’ve been in for the PTSD, and everything in between. When the first tear falls from his eyes, I almost have to stop talking, but somehow, I manage to get to the end.

When the last word leaves my mouth, he takes a great shuddering breath. He stands from the couch and walks over to the window overlooking the backyard. I can see his reflection against the glass. His eyes are closed tight, and I watch him struggle with his control. Right when I’m about to open my mouth and beg him to say something, anything, his eyes open and he turns, just staring at me. His eyes are full of unshed tears, and his Adam’s apple is bobbing with the force of his emotions. He opens his arms, and I move quickly from my spot on the couch. It’s only a few steps, but when his arms come around and close tight around my body. I let out a sob. He buries his head in the crook of my neck, and I can feel the wetness of his tears against my shoulder. His big powerful body is shaking with the enormity of his grief. We stand here for the longest time, just offering each other the strength needed. I know he needs to let all of it sink in, and if we have to stand here for hours, then so be it.

By the time he pulls back, my own tears have wet the fabric of his shirt. His eyes are dry but bloodshot, and the sadness in his gaze causes my own tears to come rushing back.

“I’m sorry.” I repeat my earlier words. He shakes his head and offers me a small smile.

“The way I see it, you have nothing to be sorry for, Dee. As much as it tears me apart to know you were fighting all of that and didn’t tell anyone, I look at you now on the other side of all that pain, and I couldn’t be more proud. Beck’s your rock and, Babe, even if I hadn’t been so foolishly blind I’m pretty sure that he’s the only one that would have ever been able to help pull you back up. God, it’s eating me up to know what you’ve been living with.” He shakes his head, clearly still trying to calm the emotions that I’ve brought forth.

“I don’t blame you. I don’t want you to think that, even once, during all of this time, that I blamed you for not seeing. I didn’t want you to see. I hid and put the happiness on to the extreme. You can’t beat yourself up when I did my best to make sure that you couldn’t see. That’s on me, Greg.” I can tell he doesn’t agree with me, but he doesn’t argue.

“Don’t keep things from me anymore, Dee. Family doesn’t do that shit.” His eyes lose a little of the sadness, and his tone gets sharp.

I silently let some of the worry seep from my body when I realize the worst is over.

“I won’t, I promise.”

“Are you doing okay… with everything that’s happening right now? You aren’t struggling or anything?”

I know what he’s asking. He wants to know if I’m sinking and need a life vest.

“Yeah, Greg. I’m really doing okay. I’m worried, but I think that’s pretty normal. I’ve called Dr. Maxwell a few times since I’ve been back from the hospital. She’s helped me stay on track, and to be honest, I don’t feel the hooks of my old fears at all. I’m stronger now. Between all of my coping techniques and everything that is John Beckett, I’m pretty close to normal. I still have my moments, but most of the time, those are a few nightmares that keep me up, and even those are coming less frequently.”

“And Beck? You two are good?”

“We’re amazing.” The conviction behind those words has Greg’s smile coming out, and for the first time since he got here, the smile I return isn’t forced, and it washes all of the pain from my body like a waterfall. The thought of Beck and all the love we share is enough to heal even the deepest of my wounds.

“Thank you for telling me. I know that wasn’t easy, and I’m not going to lie to you, it hurts like hell, but I’m glad that you let me in.” He takes a deep breath and looks me hard in the eyes. “If you ever keep shit like that from me again, I’m going to let Melissa kick your ass for me.”

We both laugh, and just like that the mood is lifted, and even though the pain lingers in his eyes, I know that everything is going to be okay.

Chapter 25

I’m about two seconds from climbing the walls of my office. I have been here for almost two hours and haven’t heard a word from Greg or Dee. Axel and Coop have been giving me my space and I’m thankful for it. Axel came in when I first got here, and I almost took his head off with one of the books I threw at him.

Coop doesn’t even bother. He takes one look at me and keeps walking past my office until I hear the door close to his own. Emmy is the only one I’ve been able to talk to and even that’s been with a bark to my tone.

Maddox takes one for the team and spends the next two hours next door with Chelcie. Sway doesn’t pick on Maddox as much as he does the rest of us, and even when he does, Maddox doesn’t seem too bothered by it.

The knock on my door pulls me from my own head, and I look up to meet Coop’s hesitant eyes.

“I’ve got to run out for about an hour. We’ve got another stalk and snap case. Another rich homemaker who is convinced her husband is sleeping with the secretary.” He laughs and shakes his head. “This is exactly why my ass won’t ever let a chick get her hooks in me. I would end up being a case on your desk to come stalk and snap.”

“You know, the best thing that’s ever happened to me is having Dee return my love, so I won’t ever see where you’re coming from there.” Leave it to Coop to lighten the lead ball in my gut. Where the hell are Dee and Greg?

“I’ll take your word for that one, Brother. You know I respect you assholes and your relationships, but that shit just isn’t for me. I’m not the kind of guy worth some chick’s trouble. Too many mommy issues.”

“We all have our own issues to bear, Coop. You’ll get your happiness one day.” I frown when I see the serious look he’s putting out.

“Don’t hold your breath there. Anyway, you need anything while I’m out?”

I shake my head, but before I can answer, my phone rings. I wave him off and swipe the phone to answer, letting the tension fall from my shoulders when I hear Dee’s voice come over the line.

“Hey! Guess what?”

She sounds happy, so at least I can stop picturing her hiding in the closet in a ball.

“What’s that?”

“I’m finally leaving the house! And before you start telling me a million reasons why I shouldn’t leave, you don’t have to worry. Greg’s with me. We’re going to swing by and grab some take out before we come to you. Will you ask everyone if they want anything?”

I can’t help but smile when her tone hits my ears. There isn’t even a sliver of the sadness that I have been expecting. I know that the talk they had wasn’t easy, but I also know that Dee isn’t the same person she was a few months ago. She’s proven today just how far she’s come. My girl is strong and she did it all on her own.

“Yeah, Baby, give me a second.”

She hums her agreement and I place her on hold long enough to go ask Axel and Emmy what they want.

“You there?”

“Yup!”

My heart expands a little more with every word she speaks. Yeah, she’s got this.

“You’re going to have to call either Maddox or Chelcie. She’s been next door for about a couple of hours now with Maddox standing guard. Coop ran out to meet with a new client, but whatever you get him will be fine.” I finish up telling her what Axel and Emmy want before reminding her to grab her handgun and to keep it in her purse with her at all times. With her assurance and the knowledge that I know Greg will protect her, we hang up and I start my new stream of worries.

I wouldn’t be as calm as I am knowing that she’s left the safety of my house if I didn’t know she has protection. I might not be there, but Greg can handle anything that pops up, and the fact that she’s got her concealed doesn’t hurt.

That was one of the first things we did when we returned home from North Carolina. After she was well enough, I went out and bought her a Glock of her own, and then we went to get her permit to carry concealed. She hasn’t had the chance to fire it yet, but she knows how to use it, and just knowing that she’s got some way of protecting herself makes me breathe a little easier.

The thirty minutes it takes for her to walk into my office seems like forever. I have been close to pacing the room when she comes breezing in. I stand here next to my office window and take a moment to drink her in before I am able to move. She’s wearing a black tank top and a pair of white shorts that cover just enough to make her decent. Her long, bronzed legs seem to go on forever, and of course, she’s got on a pair of white and black, polka dot heels. The things those shoes of hers do to my body should be illegal.

“Snap out of it there, handsome. You’ll have to wait to act out all those dirty thoughts flying around in your head until we get home. Lunch is served.” She walks her sexy ass over to my desk and starts emptying the contents of her bag. I let out a painful groan when she bends over to pick up a pack of soy sauce that fell from the bag. Goddamn, that ass! She laughs and tosses my fork at me before sitting down and starting to eat without me.

It takes me a few seconds before I can will my dick to calm down, and then I walk over towards her. I bend down and kiss her deeply before pulling my chair closer to her. We eat in a comfortable silence, both of us just happy enough to be together right now. I know why I have been so anxious; I needed to see for myself that she was really okay. Even if she doesn’t speak the words, I know that she’s here because after that talk with Greg she needed me, and damn if that doesn’t feel fucking great.

It really brings it all home, just how far we’ve come. Before she would keep shutting me out and would never allow me to think that she needed me. Now… now she doesn’t even have to think about it. She needed me, so she came and got me.

“Where’s Greg?” It’s driving me nuts not knowing how things went, but I don’t want to push her to talk about it unless she wants to. Mainly, I just want to make sure that she really is okay.

“He’s eating in the conference room with Axel. I brought Maddox, Chelcie, and Sway their food before I took the little happy trail of joy to get in here. I swear, I don’t know why you guys let Sway leave that on the sidewalks.”

She laughs and I shake my head, remembering when Sway spent two whole days painting the sidewalk in front of the business strip gold… with glitter speckled all over the place. We all gave him a hard time about it, but he’s got a point. There isn’t anyone around that can walk on that ridiculous paint without a smile.

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