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Hitched: Chapter 22


Selena

Nothing about tonight should have surprised me. Lex is unpredictable. He’s always been unpredictable, but he surprised me when he let Jamie watch us. It didn’t surprise me when he came to his senses and killed him, though. It was a pendulum, a moment of pleasure before a man was murdered.

The back door slams, and I go to the sink to wash everything off me. My come, Lex’s come, the guilt. The way I don’t even think about the key on the table until I dry myself off and walk back to my discarded jeans. I put on my pants and stare at the Ford keychain.

I grab the key and button up my jeans, remembering the heat of Lex’s touch. I want to leave. Well, a part of me wants to leave. The rest of me is torn. My instinct should be to run, get away from him as fast as I can, but I walk slowly, with hesitation in every step.

My instinct is dull.

Go.

Stay.

Go.

I argue within my mind. I play back everything that happened. The initial carjacking, Lex almost selling me for a piece of plastic, and Lex commanding my husband to fuck me. But I also remember when Lex killed the men for laying hands on me. I remember all the times he pushed me outside my comfort zone and made me feel better than I’ve ever felt. I’ve been so alive since the moment he got into my car and told me to drive.

I have a decision to make. And I have to make it now. I grip Lex’s pistol and grab the door’s handle.


Lex

I pat the mound of soil with the shovel and breathe in the humid night air. I carry the shovel back toward the cabin and try to reflect on everything. Do I want Selena to leave? Absolutely not. Do I think she should? Yes. I used to think she wasn’t safe from everyone else, the other people who are poised to hurt a woman like her, but those aren’t the people who’ve hurt her.

It’s been me. Time and time again.

I abducted her. I tried to trade her for a fucking ID. I ignored every no and pushed her until it became a yes. I’ve made her kill for me and commit robberies. I’ve almost killed her on so many occasions while trying to protect her from the monsters of the world . . . but I’m the biggest monster of all.

I need her to go. She needs to escape and be a rabbit—blissful, happy, and running free. She doesn’t need to be in my cage any longer. She has what she needs to survive now.

To escape the biggest predators.

I lean the shovel against the back porch and head inside the dark cabin. Before I even get to the living room, I see that the tabletop is empty. I release a breath of pained relief. She finally left. She opened her cage and escaped.

The pain in my relief comes from how fucking lost I am without her. She’s been all I’ve known since I escaped prison. I felt things for the first time in a very long time, maybe even my entire life. I had happiness with her.

But I’m not allowed to stay happy. I don’t deserve it.

While I escaped the prison for my body, I couldn’t escape the prison in my mind. That’s a life sentence, and I’ll never have freedom from that, even as the most freeing thing lies beneath me. There’s no way to turn off who I am. Even for her.

I send a fist through the wall by the back bedroom, and then another. An animalistic scream laced with the frustration I deserve to feel bursts from my throat. I thought I could let her go. When I told her to hate me in the woods, to leave me, there was a part of me that knew she wouldn’t, but now she’s gone, and I can’t handle it.

The anguish turns into anger. Lexington rears his ugly head, trying to blame Selena for what happened. There’s no one to blame but him.

Me.

All I can think about is grabbing my gun. I don’t know what I’ll do once I have it in my hand, but I don’t want to do any of this without her. I can’t.

The moment I walk through the living room, I hear the sound of the slide racking on my pistol. I turn toward the sound and see Selena behind the silver barrel, staring at me. There’s a sharp breath of relief when I see her, but it’s short-lived when I take in all the anger on her face. Her eyes are hard and foreign. Her lips are a tight line.

“What is this, rabbit?” I ask as she puts her finger on the trigger. This girl has never handled a gun, and I don’t fear she’ll willingly shoot me; I fear she’ll accidentally shoot me while trying to puff her pretty little chest.

“I’m fucking sick of how you treat me,” she snarls.

This is not how normal couples have this argument. But we aren’t normal.

“You aren’t going to shoot me, rabbit.”

I go for the barrel, but she aims it away from me and pulls the trigger. I don’t jump, but she’s not used to hearing gunshots and nearly leaps out of her skin at the sound. Splinters of wood break away from the hole in the wall and flutter to the ground.

“You aren’t a killer,” I say with a laugh.

Her hands shake as she puts the gun back on me. Her finger trembles on the trigger. This girl is going to fucking shoot me in the head on accident. I can’t even grab the barrel because she’s so damn shaky.

“Why are you upset, Selena? Are you mad because I killed that man?”

“No!” she yells, blowing hair off her forehead in her frustration. “I’m sick of you telling me to leave! I’m tired of worrying about the next thing that happens that makes you push me away!”

I groan. “Really? You’re pointing my gun at me because I told you to leave? I was just giving you the freedom you deserve.”

I was willing to get on my knees with my gun because I thought she left. I’d be almost inclined to beg once I got there, if I knew it would make her stay now.

Her finger curls around the trigger, and her eyes narrow. “Do you even care about me?”

Do I? I’d kill anyone who hurt her, including myself. I’ve laid my heart out for her, even if it’s not in the way she expects.

I ignore the risk and the anger and deflect the barrel upward as I step into her. I decide to bare my underbelly and try to explain why I’m not always myself.

“I’m sorry for what I did to that man. And to you. There’s a battle within me to try to be good for you. It’s a whole war inside me. I can’t win every battle to be the good guy you sleep with. I’m not even sure which one is the true me, but I’d like to think it’s the one who would never lay a hand on your pretty head. But I don’t know, and that’s why I push you away.” With a heavy grip on the gun, I wait for her to drop it before I grab it and put it behind my back. I pin her against the wall, lifting her wrists above her head. Her heartbeat crashes against mine. It angered me to no end when she pulled the gun on me. It burned the blood in my veins. But on the same breath, I kind of fucking liked that she did it. She proved her little point.

I lower one of my hands from her wrist and slide it down her body, but she drops her gaze and shakes her head. “No, Lex,” she says, and her weakened words prod at Lexington. He loves when she’s truly prey. When she’s weak. But I keep that side at bay and drop her wrists.

Everything feels so fragile, like a glass balancing on a pin. Forcing her further would knock that glass off its delicate balance.

I lean in and kiss her forehead, tasting the saltiness of her anxious sweat. “You sleep out here, and I’ll go sleep in the bedroom.”

We need to make this work. Somehow. Giving her space seems like the only way to do that. Everything is so raw that it will rip us both wide open if we push tonight.


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