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He played with the fingers on my hand. “And what how would you handle it? If it was you and your family?”

I sighed in sympathy at how lost and vulnerable he seemed. I straddled his waist and wrapped my arms around his neck. “Who were your idols growing up?”

He looked at me, surprised. “Erm… James Dean, Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood – I suppose people who could handle themselves, didn’t take any shit.”

“And why do you think that was? Why was it those types of actors that inspired you?”

He sighed. “I guess it was because I had no control at home, I couldn’t fight back against my dad, and I wanted to be like them. It’s why I got so big, you know, why I body-build, and why I got the tattoos and shaved my hair. I wanted people to look at me and see someone strong, someone who could handle himself, not someone who got beat up every day for most of his early life. I suppose how I look – big and menacing – is like my armour, impenetrable. At least to most people,” he said, poking me in my side, making me jump and giggle.

I loved how he was gradually revealing more about himself, opening up and trusting me. I held back the tears welling in my eyes and kissed the tip of his nose. “So imagine little… Johnny in, I don’t know, Hogsville, Montana, who gets hit every day by his father and watches helplessly as his mother takes repeated beatings so his wanker of a dad doesn’t go for his baby sister and him, over and over. Imagine if Johnny adores Tudor North, ‘The Blade Reaper’, and he woke up one morning to his hero on TV, confessing how he was abused as a child and how he was putting his energy into raising awareness of the issue and that he wanted to help other victims of abuse. It could give him hope.”

Tudor was staring at me slightly dubiously, but I continued. “The press will hound you, that’s a given, but is it not worth it to help even one child? To show even one person that there is more to life than the end of a fist? At least that’s how I feel about it. It might be a bit naïve, but surely this is your chance to do what every celebrity says they’re going to do. Give back, make a bit of the world right through the power of their art. All that crap.”

He smiled at me in disbelief and pulled me into his embrace, looking at me with love. “How did I live before you? Without you?”

I shrugged teasingly. “In a constant mood, from what I can gather.”

He chuckled and kissed me. “Before I got Sunshine back in my life.”

He was such a mush!

I stood and held out my hand. "Come on, big boy, how about we go to bed and I'll make you forget all this for a few hours?"

His eyes lit up as he slowly lifted himself from the chair. "And how exactly will you make me forget, Ms. Munro?" he teased.

I put a hand on my hip disapprovingly. "Erm... Scrabble you num-nut, what did you think?"

He swept me off my feet and began to carry me to his basement. "I've got a Scrabble word for you. It’s spelt S - E - X."

I put a finger to my cheek and tapped. "Hmm? You used an 'X', isn't that a triple letter score?"

He pulled my ear to his mouth. "You're gonna get a triple score," and he began to pick up speed, until he threw me on his bed and proceeded to strip.

Scrabble quickly became my new favourite game.

Chapter 29

“Life is more than how many breaths you take,

but the moments that take your breath away.”

Anon

Kate, Tudor’s viper publicist, was a stiletto-heeled-force to be reckoned with. She was forty, had bright red hair, was about five foot nothing and scared the absolute shit out of me! Even Tink had some verbal restraint around her – something I had never seen happen before. She was all business and got straight to the point as we gathered around the dining room table to discuss Tudor’s options.

"Good news is we have found the source of the leak, the little f**ker. It was a rookie cop who was paid quite handsomely by a big-time journo who he'd contacted after Boleyn was attacked. He was on the scene and identified you instantly, thought he could make a quick buck. He paid off a couple of doctors from Victoria and Kelowna to get a hold of your medical records, that’s how he got the information on your injuries and accessed confidential files on your father’s history – it was all there for him to piece together. Needless to say, he's being dealt with internally by the police. The bad news is that it's out now and we've got to address it, we are backed into a corner."

Tudor looked first at me and then at Henry. "I've been thinking, I feel I need to address it truthfully, all of it, full disclosure. Sunshine said something last night that I keep thinking about. She said that by me being open about it I might be able to help other people to know they're not alone and that they are not to blame. I could even work with charities – I’d love to help out. I think that if we can get something positive from all this shit then at least there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. At least, I think that's the way to go. What’s your professional advice?" he asked Kate.

Kate swivelled in her seat to regard me, her eyes narrowed. "You advised him to do that?"

I gulped loudly, drawing a sympathy squeal across the table from the fairy. "Y-yes. Don't shout at me!" I pleaded.

I heard a laugh next to me as Tudor shook his head. Hey, I wasn't kidding, I was deadly serious; she’s scarier than the Bogeyman!

She raised her abnormally thin pencilled-in brow. "It's good, and it’s what I thought he should do."

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