I leaned against the door and stared at her with a nonchalance I didn’t feel. God help me, but I couldn’t take my eyes off all those dark curls cascading over her tiny shoulders. The slender slope of her neck drew my attention, and I imagined closing my hands around her throat and squeezing the essence from her, imagined the panic in her eyes as she neared loss of consciousness.
“Miss me?” I asked.
Her eyes, already wide at the sight of me, grew even rounder. “What?”
I crossed my arms, aware of how my biceps bulged. “I didn’t stutter, sweetheart. It’s been a long time. Did you miss me?”
“Did I…?” She shook her head, as if I’d uttered the most ridiculous question she’d ever heard. “What do you want, Rafe?” Her words fell from her lips in a nervous whisper.
“I think you already know.” You couldn’t send an innocent man to prison without expecting some sort of consequences. Except Alex didn’t know two fucks about me. The real Rafe Mason was about to do reprehensible things to her, like toss her deceitful naked ass into a cage.
Her gaze veered to the floor, and I barked at her to look at me.
“If I could change things, I would,” she said, inching back, a fist rising to her mouth to hide her trembling lips.
“Would you now?” I tilted my head. “What would you do differently? Would you take it back, what, a week later? A month? Maybe after I’d been in there a couple of years? Eight fucking years, Alex. That’s what you took from me.”
“I don’t know what you want from me.” Two more steps back.
I pushed away from the door and followed, hand sliding into my coat pocket to finger the syringe. “I want to know why you lied.” I’d waited so long to ask that question, and the set of her jaw told me she wasn’t going to answer. “You didn’t even have the guts to face me at the trial.” She’d refused to make eye contact, even once. That hadn’t surprised me nearly as much as Zach’s cold shoulder treatment. How he believed I’d do something so vile, to Alex of all people, was beyond comprehension. She must have put on quite the performance for her family, because her testimony in court had been mechanical, as if she’d read from a script.
She’d stripped everything from me in that courtroom. My career, friends, freedom, and she’d displayed no emotion while doing it.
“I-I can’t do this now,” she said, a tremor stringing her words together. “I have to go.” Darting past me, she made a run for the door and managed to fling it open by the time I whirled around. That’s when the duffle swinging on her shoulder caught my attention, and it dawned on me she was running.
Because of the note I’d left on her door? Guess my mind-fuckery had done the trick, only I never expected her to take off. There was no way she could know what I had planned for her. Before she escaped the house, I shot an arm out and slammed the door shut, then pressed into her soft curves that fit perfectly against me.
“You’re not going anywhere.” Even in that heady moment, as adrenaline pumped through my veins, I hesitated. What I was about to do changed everything. I was about to become the criminal they’d accused me of being.
But no one deserved comeuppance more than Alex.