She ran like the devil himself was chasing her, tears streaming down her face. She knew she was overreacting, but what he had said had hurt, and hurt badly. When would she learn happiness was short-lived? She would always lose everything she cared for, like she would lose Liam when he chose Edward over her. He had to; he was his best friend and bodyguard.
Why was love always associated with pain?
Edward was stunned, frozen in place as he watched the closest female in his life run as fast as she could away from him.
The two SRR officers radioed that Gabriella was out of control and on the run, and Liam ran to the cliff edge, his heart pounding. He saw Gabriella running for all she was worth up the path. Then he saw Edward safely standing on the beach with Liam’s two teammates. He started down the path as she started up.
She was so absorbed in her meltdown she didn’t hear or see Liam until she ran full-force into him, nearly knocking him off his feet. She yelped in shock, breathing heavily and crying as he grabbed her.
She couldn’t hear Liam or process his words until he shook her hard and yelled, “What the hell happened, Gabriella?”
She collapsed in his arms, feeling safe. With the way things were going, she would lose that safety net, too.
Edward, waking up from his shock, sprinted up the path where Gabriella had just landed in Liam’s arms.
What had he done? He realized he had betrayed her. He had purposely punished her and hurt her before she’d had a chance to hurt him.
He had to try to rectify this colossal mistake. He loved her and couldn’t survive if he truly had pushed her away.
For months, he had been protecting and nurturing this sweet, little soul, and in two minutes flat, he had destroyed everything he had accomplished. What a fucking prick he was. As he got closer, he called out to Gabriella, but when she saw him, she yanked herself out of Liam’s arms and again ran up the path to the cottage.
Liam was still at a loss as to what the hell was going on. He turned and followed behind both Gabriella and Edward as he listened to Edward beg for Gabriella to stop and listen.
Edward reached Gabriella just as she got to the top of the path. He knew she wasn’t listening to him, so he did the only thing he could think of. He tackled her to the ground.
Liam came behind them and grabbed Edward by the scruff of the neck, ripping him off Gabriella with his fist raised and ready to punch Edward in the face.
Gabriella screamed, “No! Stop!” just as the captain of the SRR and the operative from Scotland Yard grabbed Liam’s arms, forcing them behind his back before pushing him to the ground face first with a knee in his back.
Liam was beyond furious; in a blind rage. He needed to get to Gabriella who was crying and screaming.
In less than thirty seconds, the two men who had contained him were flat on their backs, and the other two who had finally made it up the path were also on the ground, nursing sore jaws.
Once he had their attention, he had words with Tom, the captain in charge, explaining that the situation was his fault.
“I don’t care whose fault it is,” Tom responded. “Liam should never have raised his fist to you. I am relieving him of his duty, and he will be relieved of his service. Now, Prince Edward, move from in front of him.”
With venom in his voice, Edward leaned in towards the men. “If any one of you opens your mouth about this, I will make it my life’s mission to bring each and every last one of you down. I won’t rest until you are all destroyed. Do you understand me?” Edward spit the final comment out of his mouth.
“Go to hell, Edward. I don’t need your protection! No one touches any of my girls and walks away unscathed! I will face the consequences.”
“Shut up, Liam, and look after Gabriella. We will sort out our family shit after they leave. And make no mistake, you two are my family.”
Edward then turned and escorted the group to their vehicles with their assurance of silence while Liam took Gabriella inside to clean her scraped hands and knees.
Liam grabbed her face and gently kissed her still hiccupping mouth.
She was scared shitless. Not just from being tackled by Edward, but from Liam’s reaction to Edward and Edward’s reaction to the SRR guards. Those men were intense. She still didn’t know how it had gone wrong so quickly. She did know Liam had protected her, she had protected Edward, and Edward had protected Liam. The circle of protection was a continuous loop between the three friends.