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“She’s my boss’s niece. It’s not my style to date anyone related to my boss or even another employee. Things can get messy. I don’t like messy.”

It’s hard to keep this neutral expression. My face wants to contort into shame. I was the definition of messy.

His gaze trails around the room. It’s a little messy too. “After meeting her at work, I thought it might not be a terrible idea after all. She’s nice. And funny. Easy to talk to.”

Stab. Stab. Stab.

It’s fine. The man who saved my life is allowed to torture me. I’m completely at his mercy for the rest of my life.

My grip on the doorknob tightens.

“But then you showed up—fucking appeared out of nowhere.” His voice permeates a little grit, thickening the air in the room.

The muscles in his jaw pulse several times.

“I’ll leave,” I say. “I’ll go wherever you want me to go. Back to Madison. Seattle. Dallas. New Zealand.” I fight the emotion growing in my throat. “I’ll go to Hell if you want me to.”

Tears fill up my eyes.

He flinches. “Why would you say that?”

I choke out a painful laugh, feeling that old but familiar edge of insanity. “You killed a man for me. Every breath of oxygen my lungs draw in has your name on it. I owe you my life. So I’ll live that life absolutely anywhere you want me to live it.”

His hardened expression fades into pure anguish.

I blink to release the tears blurring my view of him. “The hypnosis didn’t work. I couldn’t remember. But I was so scared.”

Even now, I still remember how scared, angry, and hopeless I felt banging on Doug’s apartment door.

“I went to his apartment with a bottle of sedatives and a knife.”

“Jesus …” he says.

My eyes glaze over, seeing visions of my defeated fist resting on his door when the man told me he was dead.

“I hated you for leaving me without saying goodbye. I hated myself for thinking I would remember what happened to her. And I hated him for killing an innocent child and a young woman. There was this part of me that knew there had to be more. More deaths. More lives lost.”

I shrug, shifting my jaw side to side, gaze affixed to the floor between us. “If I didn’t kill him, the anger, fear, and guilt were going to kill me.”

His black boots come into view. I lift my head, tracking his path to me.

“Do you want to know what he said before he died?”

I wipe my eyes and shake my head.

“No?” He stops just in front of me, so close I can feel the heat of his body.

“No,” I whisper, meeting his gaze. Missing the depths of those whisky eyes.

“I think you need to know.”

I close my eyes. “No.”

Spearmint seeps into my nose. He’s close. Incredibly close.

“Ginny is perfect for you.” Not a lie.

“I don’t want Ginny.”

Pain floods my chest, to the pit of my stomach.

“I want you to know what he said before he died.”

More tears escape as I squeeze my eyes shut tighter. “Why?” I manage between strangled breaths.

His hand touches my cheek. My body shakes with emotion.

“Because I want you. And the only way I can have you is if you know everything.” His words carry so much weight, so much anguish.

Opening my eyes, I reach for him. He steps back, dropping his hand from my face and grabbing the doorknob. I step aside, feeling desolate again.

“There’s not a middle for us. It has to be all or nothing.”

Sucking in a shaky breath while hugging my arms to my body, I nod once.

He starts to shut the door, but stops halfway. “Cash the check.” The door clicks shut.

CHAPTER FORTY-TWO

I get it.

He killed Doug. I am the indebted one.

But I’ve come so far. Let so much go. I don’t want to relive the past.

Not anymore.

Part of me fears the possibility that a dozen other restless souls live inside of me. I don’t want to go backwards. Never again.

It’s like the world knows when we need to find each other and when we need space. It’s been a week since Griffin came to my apartment, and we haven’t bumped into each other since then.

I’ve thought about going to him, but I don’t know his phone number or his apartment number. So either fate puts us in the same place again, or he has to come to me.

Griffin has become Beth’s obsession since I told her we used to be engaged. She’s twenty-seven with an adoring husband and a three-year-old son—but my story is her happy escape.

“Do you have a tampon?” she whispers a few minutes before our spin class starts.

“Oh … um …” I hop off my bike. She follows me to the cubbies. I dig through my purse and pull out a tampon that looks like it’s been buried at the bottom of my purse for a year. My nose wrinkles. “Sorry. The wrapper is still intact.”

“Lifesaver.” She snags it from my hand. “Here.” She bends down. “This fell out of your purse.”

I take the envelope. “Thanks.”

She scurries off to the ladies room.

Shit. I was supposed to cash Griffin’s check. I slide my finger across the seal of the envelope, opening it.

There’s a check and a sticky note with his phone number.

It’s been right here in my purse for weeks. I glance at the check. It has his address and apartment number on it.

And because I’m such an idiot who refuses to accept my awesome name, he made the check out to Samantha Samuels.

I grin, shaking my head.

Cash the check.

After class, I shower and run up four flights of stairs because I’m too impatient to wait for the elevator. I knock on his door with one hand while peeling my shirt away from my sweaty skin.

I should have waited for the elevator.

He opens the door. Chatter and laughter spill into the hallway.

“Hi.” His eyes widen in surprise.

I crane my neck to see past him. NASCAR is on the TV. Our old TV. And there are a dozen or so people, men and women, mingling in his apartment.

He’s having a party and I didn’t get an invite. Well, this is wonderfully awkward.

Something tells me he’s not wanting to discuss the details of how he killed a man and what that man said before taking his last breath.

“Wow.” I hold up my hands and take a step back. “I should have called. My bad.”

“We’re just watching the race and hanging out. Come in.”

I shake my head. “I don’t want to crash your party.”

He chuckles. “I didn’t say you had to crash it. If you can behave, then you’re more than welcome to come in.”

Taking a deep breath, I paste on my best smile and step over the threshold to his apartment. He closes the door as I force myself deeper into the small crowd of people, catching a few smiles here and there from a roomful of strangers.

As I worm my way toward the kitchen, praying there’s some sort of alcohol, I freeze. There’s a blonde with her back to me, just a few feet in front of me.

Swayze 2.0.

I can’t believe he invited me into his apartment with her here. Before she turns, I pivot to make a beeline for the door. This was a horrible idea.

Smack.

I run into Griffin’s broad chest. Whatever he had in his red cup just slopped down the front of both of us.

I grimace as he holds the dripping cup away from our bodies.

“Shit. I’m sorry.”

“What were you doing?” He frowns at his wet shirt.

I lean in and lower my voice. “I was leaving because you invited me to come in and Ginny is here. That’s awkward. Why would you do that?”

His brows draw inward. “She’s not here.”

I jerk my head back, doing a weird eye roll.

Griffin looks over my head and his face relaxes. He leans over and sets his cup on the counter. Grabbing my shoulders, he turns my body so my back is to his chest.

I try to wriggle free before Swayze 2.0 turns around.

“Everybody, meet Samantha. She lives on the second floor. New girl. Be nice. She’s easily spooked.”

Blonde girl turns, and she’s not Ginny.

“Hey, Samantha,” everyone replies in choppy unison.

You could fry an egg on my face. I’m so flushed with embarrassment. I don’t like being the center of attention, and Griffin just said I spook easily, which is not true. Well, not entirely true. He introduced me as Samantha when I was only trying on that name for a day.

However, the most cringe-worthy part of this situation is he has me positioned so I’m hiding his wet shirt, but my shirt is wet and my nipples are hard because whatever he had in his cup was cold.

Griffin releases me and I curl my shoulders inward to hide my nipple issue. “I gotta go.” I start to brush past him.

He grabs my hand and yanks me to the left, straight into his bedroom.

“I need to change my shirt!”

He shuts the door and brings a finger to his lips. I pull the wet material away from my chest.

“You can’t leave until you tell me why you came to my apartment.” He shrugs off his wet shirt.

I stare. And stare. And … stare.

“You’ve seen it all before.” He yanks a clean tee off a hanger.

I shrug. “Never gets old.”

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