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Brutal Obsession: Chapter 58

VIOLET

“Do you want to deal?” Willow shuffles the cards, leaning back against the footboard of my bed.

I hold out my hand for the stack and shuffle again. I’m being discharged today, after the doctor checks out my most recent blood panel and gives the okay. Then I’ll have to wait for paperwork, but everyone who works here tells me it shouldn’t be later than three o’clock. Ish.

Sometimes things run slowly.

Willow’s been a comfort. She arrived early, right after the morning rounds, armed with iced lattes and breakfast sandwiches. And games. Something else, too, that I only briefly looked at before tucking it away again.

I relayed what happened with the senator. She’s less surprised than Grey was, but I think she has a better handle on how things work. Tricky relationships between parents and children, money and agendas.

“Knock, knock.” Grey leans into the room. “You have a visitor.”

“You knew Willow was going to be here, didn’t you?”

Willow rolls her eyes.

“Not her. Or me.” He comes farther into the room, and worry creases the corners of his eyes. “Just say the word, and I’ll have security toss her out.”

I swallow.

A second later, my mother inches into the room. Her gaze darts around, from the bag of saline over my head to the window, to the monitors, to the needle taped to my arm. Everywhere except me, right in front of her.

Willow slides off the bed, taking the cards from my hand. “I’ll be outside.”

Grey takes up a position against the wall. Maybe out of her sight, or out of her focus, but certainly not out of mine.

“I was so worried,” Mom finally says.

I don’t answer.

What the hell am I supposed to say to that?

She clears her throat. Shuffles. “Violet, please.”

“Are you here hoping I’ll be prescribed more opiates?”

My mother flinches.

I sit up. “I’m going to tell you something. And I need you to hear it, okay?”

She nods and approaches, stopping at the foot of the bed. She grips the plastic.

“You traded in being my mother for drugs.” I keep my eyes glued on hers, and she doesn’t look away. “You brought me to his father’s suite, at one of Grey’s biggest games, because you wanted money from him.”

“I’m sorry,” she whispers.

I close my eyes for a moment, then force myself to meet her gaze. “I think it’s best if we go our separate ways. I love you, but…” A lump forms in my throat. I love you, but —the phrase has been haunting both of us for a while. My mother and I just don’t fit together.

Still, she doesn’t move. “I only ever did this for us—”

“Don’t lie to her,” Grey snaps.

“I’m sorry,” she repeats. “I’m so sorry.”

I let out a breath when she slinks away.

Grey sits on the edge of the bed, then pulls my arms away from my chest. He interlocks our fingers. “You okay?”

“I’ll be fine.” I look down at our hands—and then I remember what Willow brought. I release him to lean over the edge, grabbing her bag from the floor. “I got you something.”

His eyebrow raises. “Oh, yeah?”

I set the bag on my lap and pull out the photo album. It was kept safe in the attic crawl space in our apartment.

He looks at it for a moment, presented in my hands, like he’s second-guessing whether it’s what he thinks it is. He flips open the first page and glances down at it. Has it only been a few months since he took me up into his room and snapped at me to put this down?

I’m glad I didn’t.

And then he starts to talk. I settle back against my pillow, and he adjusts to sit next to me. He tells me about the photos, pointing out people, and my heart aches for him.

I rest my head on his shoulder as he weaves another picture entirely about the family he lost. And for most of it, I hardly dare breathe in fear that he’ll stop.

Grey offers me his hand.

I wave him away and step out of his truck, then look around. We’re not in front of his hockey house. Not near my apartment either. I expected one or the other after we left the restaurant that served us a huge brunch.

We’re in a nice neighborhood a few blocks from campus, close to the stadium.

“I rented this for us,” he says in my ear, wrapping his arms around me from behind.

I eye the white house he directs my attention to, filling with suspicion. It’s nice . Manicured lawn, a covered porch with two rocking chairs on it. The backyard is fenced, from what I can tell.

He opens his hand in front of me, revealing a set of keys.

I take them and let him guide me up the concrete walkway. I unlock the front door and step through, poking around. Still suspicious, maybe, that something’s going to jump out and ruin everything.

It’s been a week since I was released from the hospital. I’ve been hiding away in Greyson’s room at the hockey house, only emerging when he returns from practice to coax me into the kitchen for food. He’s accompanied me to the rented studio, too, although I’ve been dancing without my pointe shoes.

They’re evidence, I guess. Not that I would want them back.

Mia made me dance until my toenails cracked and bled. When the nurse gently slid the shoes off my feet, she cringed. Dried blood stained the satin.

I have to go back to class tomorrow. And next week, the Hawks play in the national tournament finals. They beat the team in the quarter finals, then won again on Friday. Saturday, we head to Boston to face a team they’ve already played—the Pac North Wolves. One of the first games I went to, actually. Greyson says they’ve had a major improvement over the season and they’ll be harder to beat than they were.

Anyway, this is real life, and I need to get back to it.

Mia was arrested. She’s sitting in county jail, and Grey’s dad has told us that they’re transferring her to Virginia—where she was born and raised, I guess. He kept his word and pulled some strings. He also told the judge of her threat against his son, and the judge was more than happy to withhold bail.

I will have to testify at some point. Face her again.

“You with me?” Grey asks.

I refocus on him and force a smile. “Yep.”

He holds out his hand. I take it and let him show me the house. It’s small, a perfect size for just the two of us. A kitchen with a window into a living and dining room. A bedroom and bathroom tucked out of the way. Stairs lead up to a big bedroom and bathroom on the second floor. It’s bright and airy.

“Do you like it?”

I nod, releasing him to run my hands over the kitchen counters, the walls. I turn on the faucet just for the hell of it, wetting my fingers before I shut it off and wipe them dry on my pants. I let out a laugh.

“You mean we don’t have to worry about anyone overhearing us?” I ask.

He smirks.

My smile slowly fades. “I have something to ask you.”

His expression turns serious, too. “You can ask. You don’t have to preface it with a warning.”

“Okay.”

He waits. When I remain silent, he stalks forward and smoothly lifts me onto the counter. I part my knees, letting him get closer, and loop my arms around his neck.

“Vi,” he urges. “I might die of curiosity.”

He knows that Mia threatened his life. He knows his father came to the hospital and his guarantee of her prosecution was the only reason I confessed.

But he doesn’t know what Mia told me.

“Jack’s the one who broke into my room,” I admit. “And I think he had something to do with the articles about you. Or at least my portion of them.”

Grey’s gaze shutters, and then he meets my eyes again. “That’s not a question.”

I grip the back of his neck. “I know you took care of it last time.”

“Still not a question.”

“I figure you might strike back again. With this new information. And… I want to be there. Will you let me?”

“You’re asking to come along with me?” The corner of his lips turn up. “You want to watch me break his other leg, Violent? Or maybe you want to break it yourself?”

He doesn’t wait for an answer. He presses his lips to mine.

My eyes close, and I hold him tightly. I let my mind go with his kiss, wiping the slate clean. His hand moves up my front, his index finger finding the scabbed cut on my breast. He pulls my shirt down and breaks the kiss to look down at it.

“We’re connected, you and I. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you.”

I nod.

“If Mia Germain ever gets out, I’m going to kill her.” He catches my lips again, nipping me before retreating again. “That’s a fucking promise.”

“I believe you.”

He brightens. “Good. Now, let me show you how I really feel about you…”


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