Take a good look at what you did. She is in someone else’s arms now.
Who deserves her.
Now, Paxton’s door taunted me.
I pushed it open, unbothered about stomping into his territory unannounced. He did that twice to me. It was time he got a taste of his own medicine.
He was in the room, having an intense phone conversation, standing in front of a small, dirty window with his back to me.
“You think I’m not trying? It’s not as easy as I thought. She’s changed, man. Probably all that dough and gold-plated cock.” He snickered, snorting. “I’m not gonna hurt her. I still love Persy, you know. She’s always been my girl. I just want in with her ass, so I can get my way, too. There’s too much money in that pot for me not to get my share.”
At least now I knew she hadn’t fucked him yesterday.
Silver linings and all that jazz.
I grabbed the phone from behind him and killed the call, tossing the device onto his bed. He whipped his head around, his mouth hanging open.
I shoved him toward a wooden desk pushed against the wall, shutting him up.
He sagged onto it, plopping down.
“Time for a little talk, Veitch.”
“You’re the Fitzpatrick guy.” His brows furrowed. “The dude she married.”
“And here I thought you were just a pretty face.”
We examined each other. He was a good-looking kid. Light hair, soft features. Clad in a broken-in leather jacket and saggy jeans that made it look like he needed his diaper changed.
Paxton folded his arms over his chest.
“Look, man, I don’t want any trouble.”
“If you didn’t want trouble, you wouldn’t chase it across the planet. Do you really think I’d let you touch what’s mine?”
He shook his head. “I don’t know what to think. All I know is that Persy and I had a good thing going. I fucked up, but she’s a good girl. She could still forgive me.”
That meant she hadn’t yet. My heart slowed for the first time since I saw him enter her apartment. I tugged at the leather gloves in my back pocket, slapping them over my thigh and putting them on. His throat bobbed with a swallow. Good. He needed to know I wasn’t above getting down and dirty to get my point across.
“Don’t mistake Persephone’s goodness with naiveté,” I warned. “She is past forgiving you.”
“You don’t know her like I do.” He shook his head.
“What I do know is that you tried to pay Byrne with her as currency, which is why I’m here. Now, you’re going to listen carefully and follow my every instruction, and I will spare your miserable, pointless life. Veer off the lane I put you on, and I’ll make sure you slam into a ten-ton semi-trailer and feed whatever’s left of you to the hyenas. Are you following me so far?”
He clutched the edges of the table behind him. I reached over, grabbing the gun I noticed was tucked in the back of his jeans, cocked it, and pushed the barrel against his forehead.
“You’re going to write a ten-page letter to Persephone, in which you apologize profusely for being the shittiest husband in the history of civilization. In this letter, you will take the entire blame for the fallout of your marriage and excuse her from any wrongdoings. I will read and approve the letter before you send it. After you send it, you will pack a bag, drive to the airport, and buy a one-way ticket to Australia. Once there, you will drive to Perth, where you will settle down. Perth, in case you’re wondering, is the farthest point geographically from the US of A, and therefore exactly where I want you to be, at least until Virgin Galactic offers flights to Mars, to which I would be happy to relocate you. You will not, under any circumstances, contact my wife. You will not, under any circumstances, write, call, or meet her again. If I hear you as much as breathed in her direction, I will unleash my three-headed hounds on you—a Hades reference, in case it escaped your bird-sized brain—no matter where you are. I will make sure you experience the most painful death known to man. Tell me you understand.”
I pressed the barrel harder to his forehead. Paxton groaned, closing his eyes, dripping sweat.
“I will provide your flight ticket, accommodations, and a work permit. The rest is for you to deal with.”
“This is not a conversation.” I held up my free hand. “This is me feeling uncharacteristically charitable and not blowing your brains out, mainly because blood makes my wife feel queasy.”
He nodded again, gulping.
“Forget she’s ever been a part of your life.”
“Oh, and Paxton?”
I slid the gun down the bridge of his nose, tucking it into his mouth. His eyes widened, a drop of sweat trailing down the same path the barrel had made, exploding on his neck.
“How’d you end up here? We both know you don’t have a penny to your name.”
“Arruw Arrameeth,” he said around the barrel.
“Andrew Arrowsmith?” I pulled the weapon from his mouth. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
“He found me in Mexico. Paid for my flight back here. Got me this apartment and told me to get my girl. Said she was in trouble. That you were hurting her. Good guy. Nothing like you.”
Andrew knew Persephone and I had been estranged and tried to take advantage of it.
I wiped away a stray tear that slipped from his eye using the gun. “That, I agree with. Do as I say, and nobody will get hurt. Other than Arrowsmith, but I suppose that’s not your problem, is it?”
He shook his head.
I emptied the gun of bullets, put them into my pocket, then threw the weapon onto the cot he’d used as a bed, next to his phone, walking away.
“Have a nice life, Veitch.” I saluted with my back to him.
He didn’t answer.
He knew there wasn’t a chance of that ever happening.
“My goodness, Tin, how did you get this boo-boo?” I leaned down, brushing a nasty, open wound on Tinder’s knee.
We spent the day together, just the two of us. Joelle and Andrew attended a charity event and decided to only bring Tree, the “normal” child, along. The one who didn’t make any funny noises or made heads turn. Joelle looked guilty when she asked if I could tutor Tinder alone today. I knew the idea to leave him behind didn’t come from her. I couldn’t help but resent her for not fighting for her principles. For her son.