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Between Never and Forever: Part 2 – Chapter 42


A drug can morph your reality, mix up time, and confuse your space. I woke up fighting the arms that were wrapped around me, scared it was Ezekiel.

Scared for my life.

Yet, Dex hushed me right away and murmured over and over, “I got you, Kee. I got you.”

When I finally stopped flailing, it occurred to me I was in pajamas, back in my suite, and lying next to him. Every word caught in my throat as I tried to be strong and say something.

His hand hovered close to my face before he softly laid it on my cheek like he wanted me to see him going slow so as not to startle me. “I promise I’ll never ever let you go again,” he whispered. “I’m so sorry he got that close to you.”

This man. He was apologizing when actually he’d saved me. “Is he… Did he—”

“We were there seconds after you passed out. You’re fine. He’s taken care of.” Dex’s jaw flexed. “Rest, Kee. I. Got. You.”

My eyes drifted closed again. I didn’t know if it was the drugs that had been laced in my system or that my body was mentally drained. Either way, I slept into the night only to wake and puke up whatever was in my stomach.

A doctor checked on me then and explained that the effects of the drug I’d been given were much like being roofied. I would be fine, but he recommended rest.

Dex didn’t leave my side.

That night, my mind couldn’t take on thinking about anything else.

The media, the wedding, everything waited.

It was Dex and me in that room together, him holding my body to his as he whispered over and over, “I got you.”

The next morning, I stared at the ceiling for a couple minutes, knowing I had to move forward. I wasn’t going to let what happened with Ezekiel control me again. I knew I’d have the tools to work through it. I knew I’d have the people around me to work through it too.

Life sometimes isn’t fair and we have to go through hell. Life sometimes is beautiful too in that hellish fire, showing you that you’re strong enough and that you have support around you to make it.

I let the tears escape for a minute, and Dex rubbed his thumb back and forth on my chin before he turned my head toward his. “I got you, Kee.”

“I know,” I whispered. “I’ll be okay too. I know I will.”

He nodded. “What do you want to do today, heartbreaker?”

“I need to press charges.” I wouldn’t stand aside anymore. I would fight the label and Ezekiel and do whatever I needed to do.

“There’s no need.” Dex stared at me with an intense gaze, so intense I knew he wasn’t joking.

“How can there not be a need, Dex?” I whispered. “Ezekiel will keep doing what he’s done to me to others.”

“He won’t. I’ve taken care of it.” There was that jaw flex again. “And it’s best you don’t ask the details.”

“That wouldn’t be the way to start off a marriage,” I said quietly and then looked up at the ceiling again. “Unless we’re not getting married now. Which is probably for the best. I can only imagine the media storm that’s already—”

“It’s all being taken care of,” Dex repeated. “And we’re still getting married. Don’t underestimate the power of the family you’re marrying into. We’ve held off the news, Ezekiel’s name will be buried, and no one will ever ask of him again.”

I stared at him, trying to read between the lines as he got up to pace in nothing but black boxers. Back and forth, back and forth in front of the king size bed.

He’d worked everything out for me again. And together, I knew we would keep working things out. A sense of calm washed over me as I watched him. I didn’t need to know details right then. I just needed to know that we’d always keep helping each other.

We’d be a family. One I’d always wanted. I knew it with my whole heart. “You saved me. And I know you’ll keep saving me when we’re married.”

His eyes snapped up and I saw their vulnerability for just a second. “No. If I’m being honest, I didn’t protect you. I moved too slow when I should have jumped over every law to move fast. He should have never been able to get near you.”

“Dex, that’s not—”

“I should have put it together sooner.” He paced away, then turned to me with fury still in his eyes.

There was my Dex. Always coming to a final conclusion about something.

I stared at him. “That Ezekiel was crazy? How could we have known he was more than a simple creep?” I tsked. “Don’t cement something so ridiculous into your brain. No one could have figured it out.”

He hurried over to me as I started to get out of bed. “No. Stay in bed.”

“Only if you stay with me,” I told him. I didn’t ask him more questions. That was all for later. Suddenly, I knew all he needed then was us together.

“I’ve got a few calls—”

“Work later, Dex. Rest now. With me.” That’s all we needed to do now. Everything else could wait. Life sometimes needed a pause and we needed to give in and pause it when necessary.

He gave in. We showered together and then he lay with me for hours. He also fielded calls from Olive and his family and our friends. We held off putting anything out to the press because he said he wanted to talk to me when I was feeling more up to it.

Olive and his PR team must have handled it all.

We were off the radar for another day and then I woke to Dex not in bed with me. I heard him in the living room working, so I got up. It was the only time I was alone without him, and I took that time to walk over to my wedding dress.

We’d been so close to me walking down the aisle just days ago and now it hung in the hotel closet where Dex had left it. The lace of it was beaded with beautiful crystals and the lilac color actually shimmered in the sunlight.

I ran a hand over it, but I stopped at the base where there were just four tiny dots that weren’t the color of lilacs. They were tiny dots of red. Dark red. Splatters of blood. Just four. No more.

But I knew what had happened. He’d never admit it. None of them would. Yet, when Mitchell called hours later, I also knew exactly what he’d say.

“Ezekiel fell down a flight of stairs.” He sounded frantic. “Did you know? He had a heart attack not much later is what they’re saying. It’s not… Something isn’t right. I know it’s them, Keelani. Did those Hardy guys…? What did you do?”

“What did I do?” I waited for the answer. There was silence, and it’s how I knew the power had shifted. Gone was my fear of him, and in its place was strength. “Why would I have done a thing to that man, Mitchell? Is there something you’d like to share?”

“No. No. Ezekiel was fond of you though. He said he might want to…”

“He might what, Mitchell?” It was clear that in the past, Ezekiel must have gone to Mitchell for information about me.

He growled into the phone and then his tone turned vicious. “How do you expect me to cover something like this up? How do you expect to right this? We need a new deal, and we need to work on this together to—”

“I won’t sign a new deal with you ever,” I said without another thought. “You should think long and hard about what you’re insinuating and your role within that record label. How many women have you disclosed information about, Mitchell?”

“You little bitch. You’re still under contract and I will make your life—’

Maybe I was still groggy. Maybe I wasn’t thinking right, but I hung up on him. I’d figure out how to leave Trinity even if I had to go to court, because something was very apparent to me. Dex was willing to risk everything for me, and I was now willing to risk everything for him.

He was at the door seconds later. “I thought I heard you up.”

I sighed. “Just ironing out a few things.”

He sighed. “Kee, I’m so sick of that record label.”

“What?” I narrowed my eyes. “Were you listening to my phone call?”

I got his dimples then. “Your ass knows I was.”

“I’m going to have to take them to court and fight to get out of that contract, but I’m going to.”

He nodded a couple times before he said, “I definitely think your mother would be proud of you now, heartbreaker.”

I smiled at him. “I think she would too.” I took a deep breath. “Now, should we talk about the secret in the room?”

His brow lifted.

“If we’re getting married, we won’t hide things from each other. So, you need to tell me. You did something to Ezekiel.”

He cleared his throat and scratched his head. And like a boy being reprimanded, he threw back, “He did something to you first.”

“That’s… You can’t categorize what you did as retaliation.” But I couldn’t help the butterflies in my stomach at seeing the man I knew I loved acting in the way he always did. Dex had his boxes. He lived with and accepted them fully. “There are consequences for your—”

“For what, heartbreaker?” God, he was smiling so big.

“Is he really gone?” I whispered out.

“If I said he was?”

No secrets between us had me answering, “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t happy I don’t have to worry about him anymore.” My chin shook though at my next thought. “I’d be scared you’d have to worry about the repercussions.”

“One less man in the world to terrorize women is something I won’t worry about. I promise you that. We make the laws in this country with the amount of money we make. I know it doesn’t seem fair, but it’s true.”

I looked at the ring on my finger, purple sparkling sunlight back at me in the best way. “It doesn’t seem fair that I ever considered that we wouldn’t marry, does it?”

He smiled and then slid his phone out to send a text. My phone beeped, and I saw then a group text had been started with him and all of his siblings along with me.

Dex: Kee’s contract isn’t up with Trinity yet. We’re getting married for real soon. So you all ready to buy the label so she can do whatever she wants?

Dimitri: Finally.

Izzy: Oh God, yes. I love her new sound. We need to invest.

Dimitri: I’ll start moving things around.

Lilah: Let’s beg Jax Stonewood to be on a song.

Dom: We’ll buy it out by EOD. We’ll need a statement to go out.

Declan: This is Evie. I’m so excited!

“Dex! No,” I screeched. “What the hell am I supposed to say to all them?”

“Just say yes. Don’t worry about anything else. Just live, heartbreaker. With me, forever.”

I stared at my lilac wedding dress hanging there, and his words brought tears to my eyes. “My mom said that to me before she forgot again. Did you know that?”

“Your mother is a smart woman.”

“I worry I won’t ever be as smart as her most days, that I can’t make her proud, that I’ve lost her. And you with my dad, Dex…” My voice broke, remembering the talk I had with him. “You’re taking on a lot being with me.”

“No more than I was before I was with you dreaming about being with you.” He sighed and stepped up to me to pull me close. “Did she like your wedding dress?”

I nodded.

“Do you think she’d like to see it on you in the spring down by the lilacs in your backyard?”

“Dex… I just want you to know I’m going to be a completely different person soon. A new look, a new brand, and the press might hate me and—”

He cut me off. “You asked me once why I needed you in my home. Not just wanted. Needed. It’s because I was dying without you, Kee. Suffocating. Couldn’t fucking breathe without you. Is that answer enough? I didn’t commit. To anything. I haven’t loved a woman before you nor will I love another after you. I knew it then like I know it now. I have always loved you, and I hated you for that, Kee.” He dragged a hand over his face, and then he got down on one knee. “Only because I couldn’t be with you. So, you’re wearing my ring but I want you to say it too. Say you’ll marry me. Say we belong together. Say yes because I’m asking you now. Will you marry me?”

“You’re not telling me?” I whispered.

“I will if you say no, but I’ll ask first.” His dimples showed. And I knew as I looked at him that was the truth. Dex would always protect me. He wanted to. He needed to. But he’d also take into consideration my requests.

We were a team, and I knew as I gazed at the lilac lace splattered with red, it was the only team I wanted to be a part of. “You know you didn’t get rid of all the evidence. If I marry you in that dress, someone might see,” I whispered.

“Maybe you and not just someone but everyone, needs a reminder that I’ll make the world bleed if it hurts you. Do you get that?” he whispered against my ear.

I grabbed his shirt and pulled him close, crying now because there was no way to stop myself. “Then don’t let them hurt me again, because I sort of like the world we’re creating.”

“Is that a yes? You’ll marry me? Be with me forever?”

“Yes… For forever and ever.”


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