Axel (Carolina Reapers 1) - Page 69

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“And you thought Cannon was a PR nightmare,” I joked with a smirk. Then I walked out of the press room and headed down the tunnel to where the bus would be waiting.

“Axel!” Langley shouted.

I turned, tucking my hands into my dress pants pockets as she hurried toward me.

“Did you mean it?” she asked, looking up at me with something I wouldn’t dare call hope. Been there, done that, and not going back.

“Mean what?” I asked, my voice dropping with a rough edge. I needed to get the fuck away from her before I did something incredibly stupid like kiss her. I’d made enough of an ass of myself these last six months without breaking down in front of the Reaper bus and begging my wife to love me.

“What you said in there,” she said quietly like she’d just noticed we were still in public.

I took in the curve of her face and shadows beneath her eyes. “Yeah. Every word. You’re amazing at your job, Langley. Always have been. The Reapers are damn lucky to have you. Look. I just...I can’t do this with you. Not here. Not now.”

Before I lost what was left of my dignity and self-control, I got on the bus and sat next to Price. At least I knew he wouldn't be interested in talking, and there was no room for my wife to force me into a conversation that wouldn’t end well for either of us.

Tomorrow we’d divorce.

I’d slice myself open and let my heart bleed out.

Then I’d start the business of stitching myself up and healing whatever was left.

20

Langley

Every word.

Axel’s voice echoed inside my head as I buckled myself into the seat on the plane.

The way he’d handled that reporter…

When she’d fired that ridiculous question about where my true support lied, a small, broken part of me thought Axel might rip me to shreds. He’d certainly done so that night he’d moved out. Not that he didn’t have the grounds to do it, after everything. But the bigger part of my heart knew he wouldn’t. Knew he’d never throw me to the wolves. He wasn’t that kind of man.

Two weeks.

Two miserable, awful weeks.

Sure, I’d never been sharper, stronger, or more respected in my field after handling the ref incident, but the success was…empty.

Even with Silas handing me the beyond important task of hiring the perfect candidate to head up his charitable foundations—his billions of dollars—it felt hollow. It was an incredible honor and responsibility, but with the way my heart had been broken, it was all just noise. Two-thousand worth of applicants’ noise, and tomorrow I’d have to start the real work—interviewing the one-hundred applicants that had made the cut. This person had to be smart, compassionate, keen, and firmly rooted in Charleston. The person needed to mesh well with the Reapers since they’d be representing our family in the world beyond the rink.

I pinched my nose, a headache forming between my eyes.

I wanted to talk to Axel.

I wanted to tell him all the things that had festered in my soul these past weeks.

But he wouldn’t give me a chance.

Maybe because he didn’t want to. Maybe he wanted the clean break, just like we’d originally planned.

But I hadn’t planned on how deeply I’d fallen for him.

A glass of ice tinkled next to me, and I opened my eyes.

Faith had taken her seat next to me, two small glasses of whiskey in her hands.

“That may have been the most interesting press conference I’ve ever seen,” she said, handing me one of the glasses.

I huffed and took a sip, the sweet burn of the cool liquor going to work on the headache.

“Thanks for this,” I said, tapping my glass against hers.

“Figured you’d need it.” She eyed me expectantly.

“What?”

“Did you talk?”

I shook my head. “He…wouldn’t hear me out. Wouldn’t give me the time.”

Faith sighed, those eyes still focused on mine. Still waiting.

I raised my brows at her. What more did she want from me?

She rolled her eyes. “Seriously, Langley, what the fuck are you thinking?”

I jolted in my seat, shocked at how her soft voice had managed to scold me so thoroughly on the quiet plane.

“Excuse me?”

She set her drink down. “You have to try harder.”

I ground my teeth for a second. “I’ve been trying, Faith.” I hated how broken my voice sounded. “I’ve tried to speak to him. Tried to explain—”

“At the arena,” she cut me off. “Or at away games.”

“Well, I can’t exactly stomp across the yard, kick your door down, and force him to spend time with me.” Despite how often I’d thought on that insane plan. He’d been staying in Lukas and Faith’s guestroom—so close to home and yet still untouchable. Unreachable.

“You could—”

“He left the divorce papers on the counter when he moved out,” I interrupted her. “I’ve been carrying the stupid things around in my bag for days. Refusing to acknowledge them because it hurts too damn much. I fucked up. I know I did. But, damn it, Faith, I was trying to take care of our family. Here. Trying to ensure he had a Reaper family to come home to. If I would’ve known what that would do to our relationship…” I sighed. “I would’ve handed the dumpster fire over to you and walked you through it over the phone. I didn’t know. I didn’t understand.”


Tags: Samantha Whiskey Carolina Reapers Romance
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