“What are you going to do about his body?”
“Xander died over fifteen years ago, Raine. I can’t do anything more.”
“The cops? His body. He has a right.”
“They won’t find his body.”
“I’ve already put a call to it. His body will be cremated, and I’ll collect his ashes. That’s all we’re going to be able to do.”
Raine stared at the floor. The pain was consuming, and it hurt her chest. She rubbed at her heart, needing some respite from the pain. “Did he know that?”
“Yes. He never wanted a big funeral. He always thought he’d be burying me long before he was gone. Always told me I was reckless.”
He reached out, grabbing her shirt and tugging it open.
She let out a little squeal and tried to swat his hands out of the way. “Stop that.”
“We’ve got to get clean, and get rid of these fucking clothes.”
Raine didn’t know why she was fighting. Seconds passed, even minutes, and they were both naked.
Luiz dumped her into the shower, and the shock of the cold had her screaming and trying to get away.
Everything was too much, and she couldn’t handle it anymore. Wrapping her arms around Luiz, she didn’t fight him. She held on as sobs took over, and she couldn’t contain the pain.
He held her tightly, his hand pressed against the base of her back.
She felt nothing but the comforting heat of his body. “He’s gone.”
“I know, babe.”
Raine looked up and saw Luiz was crying right along with her. “You’re crying.”
“I lost him as well. Xander meant so much to me.”
She dropped her head to his chest, and held him as they both cried for a fallen friend. Raine had felt this pain before, and she hated it. She wanted it to stop.
“We’ll get through this.”
“Are you going to dump me with another friend?”
“No. I really thought I was doing the right thing.”
“I fucked up, and I don’t know how to apologize enough. You were right. I should have brought you all here.”
Raine shrugged. “We can’t change what happened.”
“No. I can make it better.” He stroked her cheek, wiping away the tears. “Please don’t cry.”
“I can’t help it.”
“I can’t stand the thought of you crying, let alone seeing it.” He cupped her face, looking into her eyes.
Every second that they were staring at each other, she felt him strip another layer away. She wanted to hate him, to put him out of her mind so she could find an excuse to move on. At the same time, this was everything she had ever wanted, and had been dreaming about. This was such a cruel twist of fate right now.
“I’m so sorry.”
She bit her lip and nodded. “We can’t change it.”
“I know, and I fucking hate that. I want to change it.” He wrapped his arms around her, pulling her close. “I want to make you happy, Raine. Please.”
Raine took hold of his hands, and stared at them.
This was all surreal to her. She was completely naked in the shower with Luiz, the father of her sister’s child.
“You can’t keep me in the dark anymore.”
“I also want to do something with my life.”
“Spend time with Christie, Paige, and Zara.”
She shook her head. “Christie needs to go to school.”
“No, I can’t.”
“Make it happen, Luiz. She is going to have a normal life. You’ve taken so much already. Give her this, otherwise I walk, and I take her with me. You’ll never find us together.”
“You’ll never hide from me.”
“Want to bet? The only reason you’ve been able to find us is because Xander wanted you to. He taught me everything he knew, and I know a lot. That’s all I ask.”
“If I give you this, let Christie have as close to a normal life as possible, then you have to belong to me.”
“What the hell does that mean?”
“No more dating, no more finding someone else. You come to me. I’m your guy. You belong to me, and that’s for everything.”
“You’re blackmailing me to stay with you?”
“Yes and no. If you want Bradley, then you can go to him. I’m offering you a life with me.”
“No one else for either of us? No cheating?”
“I won’t cheat. I’m not going to lie to you, Raine. I loved your sister, but that was the love of a seventeen-year-old. I care about you, and laying my cards on the table here, I didn’t like you going on that date. I think it killed me to know you were having fun, and it didn’t involve me. I bet that was what Xander was counting on.”
“So we could be together. We share a lot of history together, Raine. We’re perfect for each other.”
“Great, so now you’re going to sacrifice your chance to find love.”
“No, I’m not.”
“I don’t want to just be together because a bunch of people thought it was a good idea. I want love, Luiz. I want the chance to have children, and a family of my own. Not right now, but someday I hope to have that.”
“I can give you that.”
“Really. You think you can fall in love with me?” she asked.
“Yeah, I do.”
Okay, that made her pause. She bit her lip and stared at him. “You’re just saying that.”
“You’ve known me long enough to know that I don’t just say shit that I don’t mean. I can fall in love with you. I care about you, and I already feel jealousy at any guy who looks your way. They don’t deserve you. I do. I know I can make you happy.”
He grabbed the soap and started to run it over her body. She didn’t fight him as he touched her, cleaning away the blood. Staring down at her feet, she watched the water tinted red run down, and away from them.
“I can’t believe I killed someone.”
“Why didn’t you run with Christie?” he asked.
“I heard someone coming upstairs, and I’d locked my door, pushing my dressing table in front of it. I messed up because he was getting in. I wanted to be a distraction in case I wasn’t able to get Christie to safety before he found us. I’ll always do whatever it takes to protect her.”