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“I’m packing my stuff.” My voice shook as I waved toward my suitcase. “Seems pretty obvious, right?”

“Yeah, it does seem obvious, but what I don’t get is why are you doing it?”

Turning from him, I walked over to my shirts and picked them up, dropping the pile into the suitcase. “My place has security. I don’t need to impose on you any longer.”

“You can stay here as long as you want to, and you damn well know that, Roxy.”

“I know, but I’m sure you want your space.” Finding my yoga pants under my tote bag, I started to pick them up, but Reece grabbed my arm, spinning me back around. My breath caught.

His lips were thin as he spoke. “If I wanted my space, I would’ve told you. That’s something else you damn well already know. So don’t play this game with me and put this on me. You’re leaving because of—”

I didn’t want to hear him finish the sentence, and I wasn’t sure what happened next other than I lost it. All my control snapped like a band pulled tight. I yanked my arm free and then I planted my hands in his chest, shoving him.

Caught off guard, he stumbled a step, the backs of his legs bumping into the bed. His brows flew up. “Did you seriously just push me?”

I couldn’t tell by his tone if he wanted to laugh or push me back, and that pissed me off. I was no longer empty that was for sure. I was brimming to the top—full of anger, helplessness, and a million other things. So I pushed him again, and this time he sat down. I was breathing heavy as I stared at him.

“Did that make you feel better?” he asked, voice deceptively even.

“Maybe it did.”

Tipping his chin up, he raised his arms. “Babe, if pushing me around gets you to slow the fuck down and think about what you’re actually doing right now, then have at it.”

My jaw dropped. “You want me to push you?”

“Not really.”

I hesitated and then started to turn back for my pants, but his hand shot out and the next thing I knew he’d hauled me into his lap. “Oh no, you don’t. You’re going to tell me why you want to go back to your place. The real reason.”

“I already told you.” I pulled back, and he yanked me forward. We were chest to chest, my knees on either side of his legs, and he had an iron grip on my wrists. My heart was racing as our gazes locked. “Let me go.”

“That’s not the real reason.”

My fingers curled helplessly. “What? Are you also psychic? Did you hit your head on your gun belt?”

One side of his lips curved up. “No. I’m just not blind. Man, this wasn’t how I imagined today was going to go,” he said. “I know you got a lot going on in your head, but we need to talk it out.”

“There’s nothing we need to talk about.” His hold loosened enough that I was able to push off his shoulders to stand. Or try to. The moment my hands connected with his shoulders, he muttered a curse and held me tight.

“That’s such utter bullshit and you know it. There’s one thing I never thought you were, and that’s a coward. But you are acting like one now.”

“What?” I drew back as far as I could. Leaving him would require every ounce of strength I had. That wasn’t weak.

“Don’t do this,” he said again. “Stop acting like a coward.”

“I’m not being a coward! I just don’t want to do this anymore with you. It was fun, but that’s it. I want to go home. I want to move on with my life—”

“Oh, for fuck’s sake, you can lie better than this. You’ve wanted me since you were fifteen and now that you have me you aren’t willing to risk getting hurt for me? What kind of shit is that?”

Whoa. He just called me right on that. “W-what do you mean getting hurt?”

“You think I don’t know?” He shook his head. “You are afraid, Roxy. Afraid of getting hurt—ever since what happened to Charlie. You don’t want to feel that kind of pain again. I get that. But you can’t live your whole life like that, throwing everything away—throwing this away—just because you think you are going to get hurt. And it’s not just with me. It’s with everything.”

I didn’t know what to say to that.

Reece kept going. “What? You leave today, are you going to go back to dating a string of losers who aren’t worth breathing the same fucking air as you, because when it comes down to it, you really don’t care about them? Your heart isn’t in it, so you’re safe? But with me, it’s different.”

“You don’t understand,” I whispered, stunned.

“I don’t understand?” He looked like he wanted to shake me. “Babe, I know what it’s like to be afraid. I watched friends die overseas. I come home and every day I go to work knowing it could be my last. I think about my brother, knowing he faces the same shit I do. I’m afraid of losing you.”

I gasped. “Me?”

“Yeah, you. You, Roxy. You have a fucking stalker. I’m scared shitless for you.” Now he really looked like he wanted to throttle me. A little. “It goes beyond that. You could get into the car and crash. I’ve seen the way you drive.”

“Ha,” I muttered.

“Anything can happen to you at any moment, but you don’t see me running away from what we have—what we could have. You’ve got to deal with what happened to Charlie. That doesn’t mean you have to deal with that alone.”

“What do you know about dealing with this?” I snapped.

He pinned me with a look.

“You barely talk about the shooting! You have nightmares because of it!” I shouted, throat stinging. “It’s not like you know how to deal either, Mr. Fucking Perfect.”

“I’m not saying I know how to deal. Fuck, Roxy. You and I both know I had a hell of time handling that and I still do!” he yelled back, and for a second, I thought he might pitch me across the room. I’d kind of deserve that. “I drank myself into a fucking stupor by not dealing with the fact I shot and killed an eighteen-year-old kid.”

I flinched. “Reece, I—”

“No. You’re going to hear me out on this. For almost a year, I dealt with what I had to do by drinking instead of talking to someone—anyone about it. If it weren’t for Jax, I probably would’ve swallowed a goddamn bullet, because let me tell you something, I had to make that choice between life and death enough times in the fucking sandbox to know making that call fucking sucks. I still chose to be a cop knowing I could face that again. Didn’t make it a goddamn bit easier when I had to.”