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Page 74


"Tell me what the hell is wrong," he said, flashing in front of her and causing her stumble back before she managed to catch herself and hold her ground.

"Tell you what's wrong?" she repeated in disbelief before she screamed, "You left me, you son of a bitch!"

"What the hell are you talking about?" he demanded even as he racked his brain, trying to figure out what the hell she was talking about. He'd never left her. He'd always been there for her.

Always.

"You were my best friend. The only person I had and then one day you acted like I didn't even exist!" she snapped, gripping the sheet against herself with both hands so tightly that the skin covering her knuckles turned white. "There was no warning, no goodbyes, no explanation! One day I meant something to you and the next you acted like you had no idea who I was!"

He ground his jaw as memories of that day flashed through his mind. Out of all the days that made up his already too long existence that was the one that pained him the most and the one he avoided thinking about. He'd hurt her that day, but he did it for her.

Months before he made the decision to push her away as his struggle to take her slowly became more than he could handle. Danni had been blissfully oblivious to the change in him while she hung on him, sparred with him, talked with him until the early morning hours and fell asleep in his arms as he fought the draw of her blood.

The day he finally found the strength to push her away had almost been too late. He'd just got back from a really f**ked up patrol where he came across a large nest of vampires that were killing off the homeless. His backup had been delayed because of the full moon and the damn vampires had a group of f**king gang-bangers as their minions.

It hadn't taken long before things went downhill and he ended up taking a chest full of lead and got knocked out by one in the head. His backup team came in time to clear the rest of the nest and take out the minions before they could do any further damage, which he appreciated. They even managed to clean him up and get enough blood down his throat to help speed up his recovery and hold off bloodlust, but barely.

When he stormed into the compound hours later and saw Danni, barely seventeen, smiling hugely and running towards him to get the scoop on that night's patrol the way she did every night something in him snapped. The moment she threw herself into his arms and her delicious scent teased his nostrils, he no longer cared about anything.

In that moment it hadn't mattered that it was Danni in his arms, or that he cared for her. It hadn't even mattered that there were more than two dozen heavily armed Sentinels around them. All that mattered was her blood and that he didn't have the strength to fight it any longer. When he grabbed her by her arms and pulled her closer he somehow found the strength to do the right thing, but he knew even then that he wouldn't be able to stop himself again so he did the only thing he could think of.

He pushed her away and walked away from her like she meant nothing.

"I deserved better than that!" she snapped, drawing his attention away from a memory that was better left forgotten and focused on the beautiful woman wrapped in a sheet, standing in front of him. Her eyes were a violent red that shimmered with unshed tears.

"I didn't owe you anything, Danni," he snapped back, wishing like hell that she'd left this in the past where it belonged. He didn't want to talk about it back then and he sure as hell didn't want to talk about it now.

"Yes, you did!" she cried, the tears breaking free and making him wish that she'd just hit him instead. He couldn't stand to see her crying and knowing that he was the reason for it seared his soul.

"I was still a kid, you bastard! You just shoved me aside and cut me off without a word!" she yelled, releasing her hold on the sheet so that she could wipe frantically at the tears streaming down her face.

When the sheet let go and started to fall to the ground she grabbed it and yanked it back up before he could help her. She held it with one hand as she used her other hand to wipe angrily at the tears that wouldn't stop.

"Baby, please stop crying," he said, his voice breaking as he watched the strongest woman he'd ever known fall apart.

"You didn't say anything," she sobbed loudly as her body trembled. "You didn't say anything. You just left me," she mumbled as her body rocked with each sob that felt a like a knife being shot through his heart.

"I never left you, Danni," he said hollowly as he reached out to take her in his arms, but she stepped back. "I never left you," he said more firmly as he once again reached for and this time he managed to pull her into his arms before she could move away from him.

He prepared himself for a fight, a slap, a kick, a punch, anything and everything that he deserved, but all she did was sag in his arms as she gave into her pain and cried. He couldn't take it, couldn't stand to hear her cry, knowing that this was his doing.

"I never left you, Danni. I should have, but I couldn't leave you," he swore against the top of her head as he pressed a kiss against her temple.

"Y-you d-did!" she cried softly against his chest as his hold on her tightened.

"No, no, I didn't, sweetheart," he whispered as he closed his eyes and held her. "I should have for your sake, Danni, but I couldn't. I came up with a thousand reasons why I couldn't move on, but the truth is that I was that I was a selfish bastard and couldn't stand to be away from you," he admitted at last.

"You weren't there for me," she mumbled softly against his chest as she wrapped her arms around him and held him tightly as if she was afraid that he'd leave her.

That would never happen.

He knew he couldn't part with her. He just couldn't, but he also couldn't risk her safety by taking her along with him while he tried to figure a few things out and move onto the next stage of his life. He'd have to figure out what to do with her in the meantime, because they couldn't stay here and put Jax's pack in danger. He needed to get his mate to safety before the Master sent everything at his disposal after them.

"I was always there for you, Danni," he whispered, "Always."

"N-no, you weren't," she sobbed against his chest. "You weren't there for me anymore. You left me and I had no one! You just abandoned me! I had to move on without you and I was so scared, Caine, and you weren't there to catch me if I fell."

"I was always there," he whispered fiercely.

"No," she sniffled, "you weren't. You weren't there to make sure that I was okay and you weren't there when everything fell apart and my parents were killed. I needed you so badly and you weren't there!" she cried out even as she tightened her hold around him until he thought his ribs would break, but he didn't care.

"I was there," he promised as he pressed another kiss to the top of her head.

"No, you weren't," she said firmly as she shook her head against his chest. "You have no idea what I went through, w-what I did."

He swore softly as he pressed another kiss to the top of her head. He never meant to tell her, but the woman was killing him and he needed her to know that she'd never been truly alone.

"I know that you think that you were all alone back then, Danni," he said, sighing as he pressed one last kiss to the top of her head before pulling back and admitting, "but you never were. I was always there for you and kept you safe even when you crossed the line."

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