Walt whined, and I reached for him absentmindedly, stroking his fur.
“She’ll be back,” I muttered. She had to be. This wasn’t how we were supposed to end. But then my eyes landed on the counter, and my knees gave out.
She wasn’t coming back.
She’d left her key.
Me: I need you to messenger over the items I’ve been asking for.
I typed out the fast text, my body rushing with adrenaline as I followed the text with my apartment address and gate code for the delivery driver.
Me: I’ve done everything you’ve asked me to do. You owe me those things.
I glared at the screen before setting my phone on the kitchen counter, sparing a quick minute to check the security system I’d had installed a couple of weeks ago.
I raked my fingers through my hair, my heart still shredded from seeing Roman yesterday. Something about the anger in his eyes, the devastation in his voice…it had broken me in a way I didn’t think possible.
When he’d begged me to not do this to us? When his body had been flush with mine? I thought I’d lose the resolve I’d gathered. For a second, with him so close, his scent, the love and hope shining through his eye...God, I’d wanted to stop it right there. Wanted to fall apart in his arms, tell him the truth, but I couldn’t be reckless with his safety.
And seeing him, it had shifted something inside me. Some deep resolve I couldn’t shake and didn’t want to.
I knew what needed to be done.
Before both of us slipped past the point of no return. And if it cost me everything? Then it was at least worth the risk.
Because Roman was worth everything to me.
I sucked in a sharp breath, propping my iPad up on the counter, pulling up my Instagram profile. I had more followers than ever after the pictures I’d posted of Roman and me, but I resisted the urge to get lost looking at the candid shots.
Fuck, I missed him.
Instead, I checked a few emails, then went to my room to change. I’d had to deliver a painting to a customer earlier, and it was beyond time for yoga pants and my custom Raptors T-shirt I’d had made last month—the one with Padilla scrawled across the back.
Returning to the kitchen, I pulled out my cast iron skillet to start a quick dinner, but I heard a soft click from the patio. Followed by the beep-beep from the security system alerting me that the back door had been opened and shut.
Ice shot through my blood, but I willed it to calm as I whirled around just in time to see Rick set a box down on my kitchen counter.
“What the hell?” I snapped, but my eyes widened on the box.
The one I’d hidden from him. The one I’d asked him to messenger to me. The one and only possession worth a damn to me out of everything I’d left at his house.
“Don’t know why you’d want this old box of crap,” he said, leaning against my counter with a satisfied grin on his face.
I shifted the iPad I’d left on the counter, clicking a few buttons to occupy my hands. To calm my mind.
This is your only shot at the truth.
I reached for my phone in my pocket, covertly hitting Roman’s contact in my favorites—I knew the motions without having to look at the screen. I sat the phone screen down on the counter, keeping my glare on Rick. He tracked the move, a small delight rushing through his eyes, like me sitting the phone down was a peace offering. A show of faith that I didn’t need to call for help.
God, he was delusional.
“Why the hell did you just come through my back door, Rick?” I finally asked, layering my tone with equal parts bite and frustration. My muscles trembled from the adrenaline rushing my veins.
If he picked up, Roman would call the police. He’d hear what was going on right now, call them, and get to me. He was only fifteen minutes away.
I couldn’t call the police—Rick would stop me before I could explain the situation to them. He’d smooth things over, painting me as an irrational woman with a vendetta. He’d always been able to charm his way out of anything. No, I’d planned for this, expected this. And I needed proof.
Rick tapped the shoebox. “You said you wanted this.”
“I told you to messenger it.”
“Please,” Rick said. “For this worthless crap? You practically begged me to come over.”
“How did you get that from me asking for my things back?”
“It was as good as an invitation,” he said, pushing off my counter and stalking toward me. I backed up near the stove, swallowing hard.
“You wish, Rick.” I showed my disgust. “It’s over between us. It’s been over.”