Kash told me the next day that my father had found enough damning evidence—text messages, emails Quinn thought she’d deleted, burner phones, fake accounts, and so much more—to put the picture together. Piecing it together with what she’d said to me, it turned out that Quinn thought Peter had always been in love with my mother, even back then despite what she said to me. She thought her days were numbered if Chrissy or I came back into his life, and she was desperate enough to reach out and then hire the Arcane team.
Peter confessed that he might have exaggerated his fondness for Chrissy when he talked to Quinn about the past. He didn’t elaborate on why he did this, or if it was true presently or not, and when I asked Chrissy what she thought, I was given a pat on the arm and told that I needed rest.
That’s the answer I had gotten for most things over the last two weeks.
In that time, a therapist came to Kash’s new loft, which is where we were the first night I woke after the attack. He had moved out of his last place because the media knew his address, so this one was more secret. Even I didn’t know where we were, because I hadn’t left his place. Not once.
Everyone agreed that I should take my time, rest, seek counseling for almost being kidnapped and then finding out that they were going to kill me, but the truth is that I was hiding. I was late in starting graduate school. Kash said the school understood and gave me an extension. If I couldn’t start before midterms, then I’d have to wait for the second semester. That was their final timeline.
I wasn’t doing that. Hell no. Did no one realize how much work I would be behind by that time? Not to mention, who wants to be the student who starts a semester after everyone? No one, that’s who. I know how graduate programs work. You start with a group of students and they become your ride-or-die through projects and speeches. I needed that support, so I waited until my last counseling session to inform the counselor it was my last session.
She blinked at me a moment, crossed her arms over her lap. “Excuse me?”
“It’s time I rejoin the world, starting here. I’m fine. I don’t need any more sessions.”
She sputtered. She protested. She fixed her bun.
None of it mattered.
I wasn’t the scarred girl everyone was treating me as, and while I had indulged and hid away, I knew it was time. Face the day. Feel the sunshine on your face. Smell the coffee. All of those sentiments. I had to get on with my life. Quinn took two weeks from me. I wasn’t letting her take any more, and I really wasn’t as traumatized as everyone thought I was.
They were traumatized.
They were the ones who saw me being lifted out of that van, who saw all the guys bloodied on the floor. All that pounding I heard when I was drugged? I thought it’d been people running for us. No. The running had already happened. That pounding sound was actual pounding, from Kash.
He said Victoria kept insisting on an emergency, said a water valve had broken in one of the bedrooms. Yeah. Shit liar. Kash stopped halfway to the room and came back for me.
He saw me being put in the van.
He made one radio call, notifying the guards, and then he was on them.
He was an animal, taking on three of them. A guard got there after, helping, but Kash took out the last one. It’d been a sight to see, as Matt told me during one of his visits.
I had seen Kash’s hands since. Took four days for the swelling to go down. Cracked and bruised. I thought they were broken, but he had them looked at. They were fine.
Still. I was traumatized at seeing his hands, but everyone else had been affected by seeing me that night. I was wrapped in a tarp, my breathing already slowing enough that they worried I was dead. It’d been a side effect from the drug Quinn gave me, but it wasn’t one she intended. She wanted me killed later, not by her actual hand, but I had a bad reaction to her drug.
I laughed so hard at that. A bad reaction to the drug that she used so that she could eventually have me killed. No shit, a bad reaction.
No one else thought it was funny, but come on. The whole thing was a bad reaction. But now they were worried about what other drugs I might be allergic to. I just thought a good way to avoid them was to not be drugged again. Solved.
No one thought that was funny, either.
But back to my current obstacle: Kash.
There was no more danger. The Arcane team was going away. No bail. Nothing. They were going to a prison that even other prisons didn’t hear about. And even Kash’s grandfather wasn’t a scare anymore. Why he had been in Chicago and in our area, no one knew. The rumors that he was here were proved wrong by footage of him in New York. It was reported that he had flown to Dubai.
And it wasn’t the counselor. She left, a disapproving pinch to her mouth, but I didn’t care. I shooed her out, thanked her for her services, and shut the door when she started to repeat how she didn’t agree with me.
Like I cared.
What I cared about was seeing Cyclone and Seraphina again, in person. We had FaceTimed together. They both started crying when they saw me, but I cracked a joke. That helped. Seraphina was giggling not long later, and Cyclone was asking me questions about a robot ninja. The rabbit was old news. A woman passed behind them, and I had a slight heart attack. I thought it was Quinn.
Kash said it was their aunt. She had flown in from California to help Chrissy and Marie take care of them. My mother had moved back to the estate, once she realized I didn’t need her doting on me because I just wanted to jump Kash’s bones all the time, which he didn’t let me. He waited until my visible bruises had faded, and only then did he gently move inside of me. It was the most frustrating sex I’d had with him. There was no loss of control. It was as if he was scared he’d hurt me, but him being so tender and loving and restrained was what was hurting me.
I wanted him to growl, do his own firm pounding in me, swear. I wanted him rough and passionate. I hadn’t seen that side of him since before the party. That’s what I needed to move on and get over what happened. I needed him, just him.
So, after kicking the counselor to the curb, I was ready to complete my second task.
Make Kash Lose Control.
I met him at the door when he came home from a meeting.
He stepped inside, and a slight breeze grazed me before he shut the door.
He saw me, then stopped. A grin curved up. “What is this?”
I was standing in the entryway, holding a letter for him.
The air was turning hot again, sizzling. His eyes darkened the farther he got in the letter, until the end, and then he groaned. “Jesus Christ, Bailey.”