Sweet Temptation

Page 39

“Thanks for the update. I’m glad they found the son of a bitch,” Micah said. “If you see Sanchez, let him know how much I appreciate all his efforts.”

“Think he’s planning to come by later to see if Angelina’s up to talking,” Nathan said.

Micah nodded and gathered Angelina close once more. His two friends waved and headed back out of the door, leaving them alone.

He stared back down at her face, her lashes resting delicately against her cheeks, the dark smudges beneath her eyes, like bruises.

This ... this was what love looked like. Vulnerable yet strong. Constant, unwavering. She’d fought her way back to him, protecting not only herself, but her unborn child and him. She’d put herself between him and Chad, a fact that laid him low every single time he remembered lying helpless on the floor while she bargained for his life.

He was absolutely, completely unworthy of her loyalty. The magnitude of injustice he’d heaped on her was enough to make him sick. He’d treated her like some sexual conquest, a toy to slake his lust while he kept his heart guarded and safe.

She was beautiful inside and out. She was strong, resilient, and he couldn’t imagine anyone else having his children.

God, children.

He closed his eyes and blew out his breath. The knowledge that she carried his child blew his mind. Not even with Hannah would he have experienced such indescribable satisfaction that the life he and a woman had created was theirs and solely theirs. A child shared between him and a woman he loved. With Hannah, that child would have been shared with David, his but not his. It was an agreement that caused no regrets, but now the knowledge that he had to share nothing with another man was a revelation that opened the door on possessiveness he’d never known he could feel.

He could never share Angelina or their child with another man. It made him crazy to even think about it. She was his and only his.

He bent and whispered against her soft skin. “I never want you to know another day without my love, Angel girl.”


“Detective Sanchez is here to see you. Do you feel up to talking to him?”

Angelina lay quietly on the bed, absorbing the dark around her. Her shoulder and ribs throbbed, but she’d refused any more pain medication, even though the nurse had assured her that it wouldn’t harm her pregnancy. Angelina didn’t want to take any chances, though.

She glanced up at Micah, who stood over her bed, concern etched deeply in the lines of his face.

“I’ll speak to him,” she said softly, knowing she could no longer delay the inevitable.

For two days she’d refused any visitors and stayed in her room with only Micah for company, but even so, she’d been moodily quiet and reserved, only answering direct questions from Micah and refusing to discuss what had happened.

Micah likely thought she was still processing the fright she’d received, but in fact she was collecting herself. Preparing herself for the future she had decided on. And dreading the moment when she had to tell Micah that Chad had been responsible for David and Hannah’s deaths.

Micah watched her uncertainly, as if he wasn’t sure what to say to her or how to say it. He hesitated a moment then reached for her hand and squeezed it. He opened his mouth as if to speak but then shut it again. Then he turned and went back to the door.

A few moments later he returned with Detective Sanchez.

“Turn the light on,” she told Micah in a quiet voice. There was no reason to conduct the interview in the dark.

She turned her face away and into her pillow when the room exploded with light. It took several long moments before she could focus on the detective without squinting.

“Thank you for seeing me, Miss Moyano,” Sanchez began formally.

“Please, call me Angelina.”

He nodded. “Angelina. I’m hoping you can answer some questions for me. We have Devereaux in custody, but he’s not saying anything. He lawyered up as soon as he hit the door, and he hasn’t opened his mouth since.”

Angelina sighed. “I’ll answer your questions to the best of my ability.”

For an hour she recounted the exact sequence of events, from the time Chad took her from The House to the moment the helicopter took her to the hospital. She left nothing out, not even the part when she’d stood over him with the gun wanting so desperately to shoot him.

Micah and Sanchez exchanged glances at the sudden tension in her voice. She went completely stiff, and she struggled even now with the surge of anger that assaulted her.

“Why did you want to kill him?” Sanchez asked gently. “Is there something else?”

“Did he hurt you?” Micah interjected fiercely. “More than what you’ve told us?”

Angelina looked away. “No. I told you everything he did.”

“Angelina look at me,” Micah said. “What aren’t you telling us?”

She raised her gaze to meet Sanchez’s, and she took a deep breath. Tears filled her eyes. The detective leaned forward and touched her hand.

“He killed David and Hannah.”

Micah went completely silent and Sanchez’s brow wrinkled in confusion.

“What did you say?” Micah asked in a dangerously quiet voice.

Sanchez looked at Micah and shook his head sharply. Then the detective turned back to Angelina and his expression softened.

“Now tell me what you mean. Who are David and Hannah?”

She avoided Micah’s gaze and focused on the detective. “David was my brother and Micah’s best friend. Hannah was Micah’s wife. They were killed in a car accident three years ago. Or what we thought was an accident.”

“And what makes you say that Chad killed them?”

“He confessed. It was why I flew into such a rage and attacked him in the house. It was how I got away from him.”

An inarticulate sound of rage came from Micah’s direction, and Sanchez ignored him. He stared hard at Angelina. “Did he tell you why? Did he give you details?”

Angelina closed her eyes as hot tears slipped down her cheeks. “He killed David because of me. I don’t think he cared anything about Hannah. He was obsessed with me even then. I never knew. David never told me Chad had approached him about me. Chad spoke to him when I was sixteen years old, and apparently David hit the roof. Told Chad if he ever caught him near me he’d kill him. Chad waited and approached David again when I was twenty. Apparently David must have told him to buzz off again, and it sent Chad over the edge. He said he caused the accident that killed David and Hannah. All because he saw David as a barrier to him getting to me.”

Micah got up so abruptly he knocked over the chair. Without a single word, he left the room, letting the door swing open behind him.

Angelina turned on her side, curling into as tight a ball as she could. She’d seen the anger and the torment in Micah’s eyes. The pain and betrayal. He’d lost everything because of her. Because of a man’s obsession with her.

Sanchez touched her arm in a gesture of comfort, but she flinched away.

“Please,” she begged. “I’ve told you everything. Just go away. I want to be alone.”

More tears spilled down her cheeks and she buried her face in the pillow. Her shoulders shook, causing excruciating pain to the bullet wound. Sharp pain stabbed at her ribs, but she ignored the physical discomfort.

She honestly didn’t know if Sanchez left or not. She ignored everything but the unrelenting pain in her chest.

I’m so sorry, David.

God, it wasn’t fair. One man had cost her everything. Worse, Micah, completely innocent in the whole thing, had lost the two people he loved most. David and Hannah had lost their lives and their future together.

She hunched her body in misery, ignoring the pain slicing through her shoulder and ribs.

“Hey,” Connor said softly next to her ear. “Sweetie, what’s wrong?”

She turned and all but flung herself into his arms. He caught her awkwardly and was forced to sit on the bed next to her so he could ease her back down on the pillows.

“You’re going to hurt yourself. You should be more careful,” he admonished even as he stroked her hair in a soothing motion. “Where’s Micah? Sanchez came out and said you were upset as hell.”

“He walked out,” she said, her voice muffled by Connor’s shirt.

“Any particular reason why?” Connor asked mildly.

“Oh, Connor, if only I didn’t have to tell him. I didn’t want to hurt him, but he had to find out.”

“You’re not making a lick of sense, sweetie, but I’ll sit here and listen if you want to talk.”

Despite her vow not to ask for any more pain medication, after two days of battling pain, she was at the end of her limit.

“I hurt,” she croaked out. “Can you call for pain medication? I’ll tell you all about it and then maybe I can forget for just a little while.”

Micah walked blindly through the hospital corridors, no clear direction in mind. He needed air. He needed to be alone before he completely lost his composure.

Tears blinded him, and he steeled his jaw, furious at his display of emotion.

Where the fuck were the exits?

He rounded the corner and encountered another maze of hallways. He strode to the far end, only to dead-end at the chapel.

At least it would be quiet and maybe he’d be alone.

He entered the small area of respite and slid into the last pew in a row of four. It was blanketed in quiet, and more importantly, he was the only occupant.

Long-held tears slid down his cheeks. He braced himself on the back of the pew in front of him and leaned forward, burying his face in his arms.

For too long he’d held back any emotion when it came to Hannah. He’d always assumed he was the unlucky victim of a random tragedy. He saw them all the time when he was a cop. Too many times he’d been the one to tell a husband or a wife, a mother or a father, that a loved one was gone. And then it had been him.

Never had he imagined that an act of rage had been responsible for taking away the people he loved. And God, Hannah, completely innocent. A victim. She’d been in the wrong place at the wrong time. If she hadn’t been with David that day, she’d still be alive.

Fury blew through his consciousness, a bleak, destructive storm. That bastard had taken David and Hannah from him, and he’d damned near taken Angelina.

So many lives devastated because of Chad’s sick fixation on Angelina. Angelina, who had just been a teenager, innocent. There was no way she should have attracted the attentions of a man old enough to know better. A man who’d sworn to uphold the law and protect the innocent.

Micah raised his head and stared down at the simple cross that hung high on the far wall, overlooking the pews. It was a symbolic gesture, but it left Micah cold.

“Why?” he asked in a cracked voice.

The cross blurred in his vision, and he closed his eyes in an effort to hold back the tears. His chest was heavy and ached so damn much that breathing was hard.

Promise me, man. If anything ever happens to me, promise me you’ll take care of Angelina. She’s something special, Micah. Heart way too big for her own good. I worry because she doesn’t see everyone for who they are. She’s too busy looking for the good. I’ve tried to get her to adopt some cynicism, but the truth of the matter is, she wouldn’t be the same girl if she did.

A long-ago conversation, one he hadn’t remembered until now, floated through his mind with such clarity that it was like David was sitting next to him in the pew.

He hadn’t given Angelina any thought after the funerals. He’d made a cursory effort to support Angelina in her grief, but he’d been too wrapped up in his own to do her any justice. He’d left Miami within the month, just as soon as David’s affairs had been settled and Angelina was provided for. Financially. He damn sure hadn’t stuck around to make sure she had the emotional support she needed.

He should have been there when she started getting the creepy notes. He should have been heading the investigation. He should have been protecting her. He never should have left her to fend for herself.

I failed her, man. I’m so sorry. I’m so damn sorry.

He closed his eyes again.

I’m sorry, Hannah. I loved you so much. We were happy. I wanted forever. I should have seen it. I should have protected you better.

An image of Hannah’s smiling face wavered in his memory. Laughing, so happy. So gentle and loving. Yes, he’d loved her with everything he had. Angelina deserved that same love, that same depth.

Hannah was gone. It hurt to say it. It hurt to think about it. Maybe the hurt would never fully go away, but Angelina understood. She’d always understood.

Angelina was here. She loved him. He loved her. He wanted a life. With her. He wanted a family, one they’d build together. Love, laughter, children’s smiles, Angelina’s love. He wanted that.

He bowed his head and whispered a simple prayer, one he hadn’t said since he was a boy struggling to survive in a house where there was no love or understanding.

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