For one fucking incredible week, I forgot the shit life I’d protected her from. For one amazing week, I forgot how shit that life was—a criminal life, a violent life, a life of gang brutality, underground MMA fighting, illegal gambling, and corrupt-as-fuck cops.
Seven days of existing in a euphoric state, subconsciously fantasizing that this was now my reality.
Seven days safe inside the walls of the home I’d built for her, the sanctuary where I knew no harm from my shit life could come to her.
Seven days of losing ourselves in the pleasure of each other’s bodies.
One incredible week.
And then I woke up from the pleasure-fogged delirium of being in love with Ronnie, the euphoric state of knowing she loved me back, when she suggested we go for a walk along the nearby beach.
How did I deal with the reality of Ronnie loving me, knowing the life I’d left behind could one day hurt her?
It was easier when I’d thought she hated me.
See what I mean?
Worst decision I’d ever made was telling her how I felt.
The fucked-up thing was I wouldn’t take it back. Not at all. I just had to figure out how the hell to move forward from this point.
Ronnie was sitting in the middle of our bed, dressed only in one of my T-shirts, her hair a tousled mess from days and nights of fucking, her cheeks flushed, her breasts rising and falling with ragged, post-orgasm breaths. She looked at me and smiled. “Beach? Walk? Fresh air?” Her eyes danced with a mischief I would never tire of. “Sound doable?”
We hadn’t left the security of the house apart from a brief sojourn to the local police station a week ago to make a statement about Detectives Dewey and Kitchner—two of the corrupt-as-fuck cops I mentioned earlier. We answered questions about them. Questions like, “Why did you feel the need to cable-tie Detective Dewey to the gym equipment in your basement, Mr. Pratt?” And, “How did Detective Dewey come to have a broken clavicle, scapula, left humerus, and right patella, Mr. Pratt?”
We’d been outside in that week, of course. The house had a pool, and we’d swum in it often—as well as done other things that took on a whole new sensation when weightlessness is involved.
My chest tightened at her playful question. Was Ronnie going a little stir-crazy? She’d never been one for staying cooped up inside. Even when she’d been sick with the mumps at the age of seventeen, she’d spent the days sitting on her parents’ back deck, reading and drawing in a battered sketchbook, soaking up the sun’s rays, a contentment on her face she was most likely unaware of.
She’d also—most likely—been unaware I’d watch her during those moments, aching for her, longing to go to her, to take her in my arms and show her—
“Do I get the feeling you don’t want to go to the beach for a walk?”
I dragged in a slow breath at her question. Something told me this wasn’t going to go well.