Page 12 of For the Taking

“What happened after?” he asked.

Meghan was breaking all of her rules. He did save her, so she knew she had to give him the benefit of the doubt.

“What happened after? I left the system when I was eighteen, and been working my ass off ever since. I don’t trust easily, which is why we’re here now.”

“You’ve just told me everything there is to know about you.”

“Not everything. There is a lot of stuff you don’t know about me,” she said. “Your turn.”

She picked up an egg roll, taking a bite.

“My turn?”

“I tell you my secrets, now it’s time for you to tell me yours.”

“No.”

“Come on. I’m not going to tell anyone. I promise. Do you think I’m working for Peace? Really? He just sent two men to kill me, and you’re still not going to trust me?” She was a little hurt.

Riley looked at her. His eyes were so pretty and intense. They were the kind that either delivered pleasure or pain.

“Doesn’t Peace know it’s you?” she asked.

“He does.”

“What does it matter that I know if you’ve already given him the message you’re after him?”

“He has a lot of enemies.”

She lifted her hand up. “And I’m one of them. I want him dead. He’s the kind of guy who thinks he can take what he wants, and to hell with the consequences. Even if I was to sleep with him, he’d toss me out when I was done. I’ve seen the pictures in the newspaper. Heard the whispers of another woman being found dumped in the lake or a dumpster.”

“Not all of them are him.”

“Are they you?” she asked.

“No.”

“I … I can’t go back to my place. I can try to run out of the city, but where else am I going to go? There’s always going to be another David. Another someone who thinks they can take without care.” She shrugged. “I don’t know how to show you I can help.” In all of her life, she had never given anyone a chance.

“Why should I believe you?” he asked.

“You’ve killed for me.”

“I didn’t kill them for you.”

“I know, but you still saved me. No one has ever done anything like that for me.”

“Is this the foster system sob story?”

“You can mock me all you want. It doesn’t change the fact it’s true. You helped me when you didn’t have to. I’m willing to help you. I’ve got nothing to lose.”

“Apart from your life.”

“Then what better way to go out than taking some asshole with me?” Why was she still arguing about this?

David Peace wasn’t her concern, and yet, he’d sent people to fucking kill her. Now she was pissed off, and more than anything, she wanted to prove to him he’d messed with the wrong woman.

How dare he try to kill her?

Or even think of raping her.

“He killed my wife,” he said, startling her.

“What?”

“Ten years ago, I was chained to a fucking warehouse, and I watched him beat her, and then shoot her in the head. She was pregnant with our first child.”

Tears filled her eyes as she thought about this man, this strong, sexy man, being chained to a wall, having to watch the love of his life be taken from him.

“I’m so sorry.”

“He thought he had killed me. One of the men I trained, he shot me in the leg. I imagine I was supposed to bleed out. He only shattered my bone.”

“Your men?”

“I was once one of the men who’d have been beating you at the orders of my boss. I worshipped David Peace. He was more than just my boss. He was my mentor.”

“Oh,” she said.

“I would have died for him. I’d taken many bullets for him. Been stabbed, maimed, nearly killed several times. All in the name of protecting him.”

She listened as he told the story of his wife and how she was easily manipulated.

As Riley talked, she watched him. He wasn’t angry or sad. There was simply no emotion to him. He told it like it was an essay, not even a story. Just a bunch of facts written down in his mind.

“Now, do you want to help me? There was a time I’d have been the one to shatter your hand.”

“Have you hurt women before?” she asked. She swiped away her tears.

He wasn’t crying, and right now, she didn’t want to show any kind of women.

“Yes.”

“The women you hurt, did they capture David’s eye and all he wanted from them was a good time. Sex?”

“No.”

“Then you wouldn’t have done this to me,” she said. She was convinced of it.

“You really are naive.”

“No, I’m not. You are. You ever wonder if he kept things from you? From what you just told me, you worshipped him. You made him feel powerful, and he liked the feeling. Your wife ruined it, and by then, he may have had someone else to manipulate into being loyal. I don’t for a second believe you have what it takes to kill a woman who doesn’t deserve it.”

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