He abandoned me.
I hate him. I love him. I miss him.
I won’t break. I’m strong, and I’m still fighting. All I have to do is accept that Simon has moved on without me. I’ll learn to continue and forget him, but trouble comes calling. It always does.
Now the choice is mine. Lure Simon to his death, or to leave Fort Wills to keep him alive?
I still hate him, but I can’t let him die.
I’m not the boy she knew.
I did what was necessary, but now it’s time for me to return home, to win my woman back. Tabby has always been mine, and now I’ll prove that what I did what made me the man she needs.
I can’t live without her, but I’m not prepared for the pain my absence caused. I’ll make amends and get her to fall in love with me.
Our story didn’t end. It will never end. I’ll make her see we’re always supposed to be together.
Her man is back, and I’m not going anywhere.
He stood shirtless, showcasing all the brand-new tattoos decorating his body. Her attention was caught by the ink, some tribal, others with more detail. The unmistakable graveyard across the base of his back was somewhat disturbing, but it was so tastefully done at the same time.
This was Simon.
This was the guy who owned her heart.
He turned, catching sight of her, and they both froze.
She looked at him, waiting.
They weren’t the same people. He’d snapped those two guys’ necks like it was something easy to do. It wasn’t easy. The last person she knew who could do that was Lash. Probably Killer. To snap a guy’s neck, it took strength.
Staring at him now, words failed her.
Neither of them spoke.
The kettle on the stove whizzed, breaking into the silence.
Simon turned away.
“Do you want a coffee?”
“Where am I?”
“You’re safe. That’s where you are. Coffee?”
“I need to call Lexie.”
“I suggest you don’t.” He pulled the kettle off the burner, turning toward her.
“Because what you say counts now?” she asked. “It’s what I’ve got to do because you as my lord and master, I now have to follow your rules, is that it?”
“I don’t want to fight.”
“Neither do I.” She dropped her gaze from him. “I need to talk to Lexie.”
“Not going to happen.”
“Is this your attempt at kidnapping?”
“Yes. You’re not going anywhere, Tabby.”
“Don’t you fucking dare call me that.”
“I’ll call you whatever I want to. You’re still mine, Tabby.”
She burst out laughing. “Oh, I’m yours now? The big, bad man has come back to town and he thinks we’re just going to pick up where we finished. Is that it? You think you can come here and have me again?”
“You’re mine, Tabby.”
Staring at him, she shook her head. “I used to think I was yours. I believed in us, but you, you only take care of yourself.”
“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”
“I saw the tape,” she screamed at him.
“Yeah, I saw the tape of you in Vegas. At one of Ned Walker’s fights. I’m not stupid, Simon. I know what those fights mean. I know how dangerous they are. To the death. You were in an illegal fight. The same guy who told me five years ago to wait for him because he had to get his shit together because he killed someone!”
“I did get my shit together.”
“By killing more people? That’s not getting your shit together. That’s living on a never-ending excuse.”
“No, what I realized, Tabby, is that some men and women have to fucking die! They don’t deserve to breathe the same air as you.”
Her mouth opened and she closed it. “You’ve got to be kidding me. You’re going to blame all of this on me now? It’s my fault you had to do what you had to do, is that it?” She pressed her lips together. “I guess it is my fault. If I hadn’t been in the wrong place at the wrong time—”
“Then I guess Ryan wouldn’t have had the perfect oppo—”
“I said fucking don’t.” Simon picked up a knife and threw it across the room. The hard blade embedded in the wood of one of the posts.
Tabitha was nowhere near it, but she saw the violence simmering beneath the throw, waiting to erupt.
Silence rang between them.
She watched him, waiting.
“What happened was not your fault. None of this was your fault, Tabby. Never ever for a single fucking second believe it.”
Tears filled her eyes as she looked at him. “I have to call Lexie.”
“No, you don’t.”
“Yes, I do because I have to speak to my son,” she said. There was no point hiding Nathan. She couldn’t do it.
Simon stared at her. “Your son?”
“That’s right. My son. He’s five years old, nearly six.”
He stumbled back as if he’d been hit. “He’s mine,” Simon said.
It didn’t sound like a question.
This time, Tabitha looked away, the tears she always tried to control spilling down her cheeks.
“I don’t know,” she said. “That one time the condom broke, it was so close to … what happened.”
“He could be Ryan’s?”
She sniffled. “I don’t want to talk about this.”
“You didn’t want to risk it?” Simon asked.
She looked at the man she loved more than anything. Even now as she hated him with a passion, she loved him. That was what sucked the most. She loved and hated this man. Right now, hate was stronger but she couldn’t be the reason he died. It was why she’d come to Piston County.
“I … the test to determine his paternity was too risky for me. I … I felt him move. I felt him, and I couldn’t go through with losing him. There was always a chance he was yours and I couldn’t kill a part of you.”
“You could find out the truth,” Simon said.
Tabitha wiped at the tears in her eyes. “And do what? Put him up for adoption? Give him to someone else?” She clenched her hands. “Nathan is my son. I took the test but … I never opened the results. You weren’t around. I couldn’t even get in touch with you. I talked to Anthony, Lash, my dad, Devil. None of them would help. We’d get random sightings.”
She pressed her lips together. “Regardless of who his father is, I loved him, and for me, that was all that mattered. I love him. He’s my son, and I’ve been taking care of him. I have to call Lexie.”
She stared at Simon.
His jaw clenched.
He shook his head. “No.”
“Are you fucking kidding me right now?” she asked.
“I’ve told you. No. My parents will take care of him.”
She picked up the nearest object, which looked like a vase. She threw it at him. The first throw didn’t make her feel any better. Picking up item after item, she kept on throwing them at him, screaming out as she did.
Simon dodged them and he came toward her. Turning on her heel, she rushed toward the door, but she didn’t get anywhere. He was a lot stronger than her. He wrapped his arms around her waist, spun her around, and pressed her up against the hard wood of the door.
She slapped him hard across the face.
He captured her hands, each one, pressing them above her head. She stared into his eyes, waiting.
Simon didn’t let her go.
“I hate you,” she said.
“And I’m still in love with you.”
“And now I’m back, to stay.”
She shook her head. “I don’t trust you.”
“One day, I will earn that trust right back.”
Before she could stop him, he slammed his lips down on hers.