I probably should have told him about my weekly visits to Greta. Then again, Kill never gave me a chance to talk to him. Since he hadn’t asked me about my relationship with Paxton even once, I hadn’t offered any information.
In truth, Pax and I were done before I’d even found out that he lost all our money.
Before I’d set eyes on my ex-husband for the first time.
Before I’d tugged Paxton behind a living sculpture for a make-out session, frantic and full of vengeance, in a pathetic attempt to forget how Cillian rejected me.
Marry someone boring, like you.
Paxton had worked at the wedding as a part of the security staff and enjoyed my attentions the entire night. Every time I bumped into Kill, with his frosty detachment, I ran back to Paxton’s arms. By the time the sun rose the next morning, with Sailor and Hunter off to their honeymoon, Paxton was tucked inside my bed, arm flung over my naked back, snoring contently.
He’d stuck around, and I’d never questioned his existence in my life.
I just thought Auntie Tilda had worked her magic and sent me a love to help me forget the one I was never meant to have.
Grabbing my bag, I slid into my Tesla and drove the short distance to Cillian’s house. Petar opened the gate and directed me to my new parking spot. He led me to a room on the second floor, right next to the master bedroom, blabbing happily about the home theater system, jogging trail that framed the property, and indoor pool like an eager realtor.
“Petar, can you show me the demon fountain?” I asked him when we climbed up the stairs.
He froze, then shook his head. “Mr. Fitzpatrick wouldn’t want me to. No.”
I wasn’t surprised to find all my things in my room. My possessions were unpacked, and my clothes folded, hung, and arranged neatly in a walk-in closet.
“Anything you need, just let us know.” Petar bowed his head, an impish beam on his face. “Seriously. A home-cooked meal, extra pillows…the name of a good shrink. I’m at your service, Persephone. On call twenty-four seven.”
Chuckling, I gave him the thumbs-up. “Thanks, Petar. You’re a star.”
He turned to leave while I pulled out my laptop. My yoga class had already started, so I might as well prepare new material for next week’s school lesson plans.
“May I say something?” Petar stopped at the door.
I looked up from my laptop, surprised. “Of course.”
“I can’t tell you how happy everyone in this place is to have you here. I’m not sure how exactly you managed to persuade Mr. Fitzpatrick into moving in—I’ve never seen a woman who wasn’t an employee, his sister, or his mother set foot in this house—but I’m glad nonetheless.”
My smile stayed intact, but something rattled in my chest. Something very close to maternal wrath I couldn’t completely understand. How lonely was Cillian that he hadn’t entertained any women in this place before?
The fact Kill had broken so many of his contract clauses with me had planted a seed of hope in my heart. I knew if I watered it with wishful thinking and faith, it would grow and blossom into expectations.
And expectations from a man who swore to never love you were a dangerous thing.
“I intend to stick around.” I kept my voice neutral.
“I hope you will.” Petar nodded. “And if there’s anything I can do to make you stay, please let me know.”
As soon as he spun on his heel and left, I made my way into Cillian’s room.
I had some homework to do if I wanted to learn who my husband really was.
I ended up dozing off on Cillian’s bed, the mixture of adrenaline, heartache, and anger making my systems crash. I should have gone back to my room, but his linens were drenched with his scent, and the temptation to nuzzle into them was too much. Besides, pissing off my new husband had become something I was dazzlingly good at—why break a tradition?
It was hours later, after the sun had already set, when a nudge to my foot stirred me awake. I stretched on the king-sized bed, blinking the world into focus.
Kill sat on the edge of the mattress, clad in a sharp navy suit, complete with a gray tie and a pea coat. His aroma—of ice, the crisp night, and cedar wood—told me he just got home. Didn’t even stop to take his coat off.
“That’s not your bed,” he announced.
“If I’m good enough to warm it, I’m good enough to sleep in it.”
I pushed up on my elbows, blowing my hair out of my eyes.
“No one said you’re good enough to warm it. I took you on the kitchen counter and against the window, not my bed.”
“Keeping track and cherishing every moment, I see.” I batted my eyelashes.
“Don’t be ridiculous.”
“Aww, but you started it, hubs. What’s the time, anyway?” I looked around. My stomach growled, begging to be fed.
Jesus Christ and his holy crew.
“Do you always work this late?”
He undid his tie with one hand, shrugging off his coat at the same time.
“My social calendar is—by choice—wide open. As your legs should be every night when I come back home, by the way. It is not my job to undress you to candlelight and Frank Sinatra.”
“I prefer Sam Cooke and incense.”
“I don’t care what you prefer.”
“Rectify that,” I said dryly. “Today. Or live a life of celibacy. I’m not your blowup doll. If you want me to fulfill my marital duties, you better believe you are going to fulfill yours. You will never, ever touch my things without my permission again, move me around like I’m a chess piece, or make a decision about our lives without consulting me first. Additionally, you will be home every evening not a minute after seven, so we can have a meal together before we have sex. Like a normal couple.”
“What part of our relationship gave you the illusion of a normal couple, the fact I bought your ass like you were a discounted bread maker on Black Friday, or had you sign a thirty-seven-page contract, an NDA, and a waiver before putting a ring on your finger?” He tossed his tie and coat on an upholstered recliner in the corner of the room.
I ignored his words. The scar tissue Andrew had wrapped around this man made it hard to pierce through and touch his core.
Tough, but not impossible, I hoped.