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Little Stranger: Epilogue

Olivia—2 weeks later

wedding veil drags down the grand staircase as my dad waits at the bottom, clutching his walking stick as he rises from his wheelchair. It’ll keep him on his feet until he’s done walking me up the aisle. He smiles when he sees me in my dress, the one Mom made me wear even though I said I hated it.

It’s tight everywhere, and I think I broke a rib trying to fit into the thing.

Trying to hide Malachi’s initials burned into my body was hard, but I managed to cover the branding with make up before anyone came into my hotel suite.

Everyone is waiting for me—my future husband, who’s probably forgotten my name, and my future family, who care more about status than anything else.

My foster sister, Molly, is one of my bridesmaids. She joined the family not long after Malachi was sent to prison. At first, the courts were unsure whether to place her in my family’s care, but she’s had a blast with us.

She wishes she’d met Malachi, said he looked like he’d be a fun big brother from the pictures I showed her, and I admit, he really was a fun brother growing up. We did everything together. Set aside all the things we shouldn’t have been doing, he was also my best friend.

Those eight years without him were torture, but the last two weeks? Hell.

He broke into my apartment the day after I walked away from him and took all the cameras out. He left a note telling me he’d drawn a moustache on Mom’s face months ago and I should wipe it, and that all my wine bottles are spiked.

He turned his phone off—disconnected it.

As much as I can’t be with him, I think I would’ve loved it if he was watching me. But I know he isn’t anymore. He’s just… gone.

And I know I made the wrong decision.

Now I can’t do anything but hook my arm through my dad’s and walk to my future husband.

“You look beautiful, angel,” Dad says, grinning. “You’re going to make a wonderful wife.”

I try to smile and fail.

I don’t look up as we approach the double doors, the wedding music playing on the other side. I halt, taking a deep breath as “Here Comes the Bride” starts, and the doors open to reveal everyone seated in their chairs. I scan them, looking for black hair, a smirk, a cheeky grin or a wink, but he isn’t here—I wish he was though.

I make it halfway down the aisle before my lungs give up, and the panic sets in. I stop abruptly, my dad nearly tripping over his walking stick, and I look up at him. “I… I can’t do this.”

“Olivia,” a stern voice comes, and I look up at Xander. The arrogant asshole who told me I’d have to lose some weight before we could have sex. It’s safe to say I made sure I ate everything in my minifridge last night. “Walk towards me now.”

I turn to Dad. “Please let me go.”

He looks confused, glancing between me and Mom. “Angel, what’s going on?”

“I love Malachi,” I rush out, and his eyes widen. “I’m so sorry for what he did to you, but I love him, Dad. I want to be with him.”

A wave of relief washes over me, and I let out a laugh. “I love Malachi.”

Xander shakes his head. “Keep fucking walking, Olivia. Don’t embarrass me.”

Mom steps away from her seat, and for the first time in forever, she doesn’t force me to keep going. She sighs and nods at me as Molly winks.

“Go,” Dad says, kissing my cheek. “We’ll deal with them. Be happy, angel.”

I drop the overpriced flowers and grab the front of my dress, turning and running out of there. I leave my heels where they slip off and yank my veil off as I rush out the front entranceway.

I spin and look around for him, but I can’t see him.

“Malachi!” I yell, unclipping the band around my waist to rid myself of the long overskirt, leaving it where it falls as I run towards the gates, pushing out of them and gasping for air as I flag down a cab and give them directions to the place he took me at Halloween.

His house. Ours. Something I walked away from.

I climb out of the car as soon as it reaches the destination and stop when I see Malachi standing by the metal gate, disbelief written all over his face as he pushes it open and takes a step towards me.

He’s topless, face and chest glistening from his exercise, black hair wild and curly, with a pair of sweats sitting low on his hips.

Malachi has been the one for me since forever.

He’s my forever.

My heaven and hell.

“Olivia?”

So clear. So clear and pure and full of love.

I laugh out a cry and run at him, launching myself into his strong arms that instantly wrap around me.

“You’re mine, Malachi. You’re mine and I’m yours and I love you more than words can explain. Please forgive me. Please. I want you. I want to be with you, build a life with you, and make memories with you. I want to wake up every morning with you by my side. I want you to chase me through these woods and take me against a tree. I want everything you have to give. All of it. Everything. Because I chose you. I—”

Malachi kisses me into silence.

He grins against my lips. “I love you, Olivia.”

I giggle and wrap my legs around his waist, my face sore from how hard I’m smiling. “I love you too. Will you take me inside our home and show me how much you love me?”

He shakes his head and drops me to my feet. “I want to rip that fucking dress from your body then make you bleed all over it.”

Butterflies are going wild inside me, my chest rising and falling with anticipation. “I dare you,” I tease. “I dare you to chase me and make me beg for it.”

Malachi groans and snatches my jaw, pressing a harsh kiss to my mouth before shoving me back, grinning and gesturing to the woods.

“Run, little stranger.”

THE END


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