Beneath These Chains (Page 74)

Lord wrapped his hand around my wrist. “But he would’ve never been in this position if it wasn’t for me.”

“Us,” I reminded him. “He targeted Jiminy and Denton because of me. He would’ve never done that because of you. So if you’re going to shoulder the blame for this, then I’m going to carry more than half of it.”

Lord slid my hand closer to his lips and pressed a kiss to my palm. When he lowered it, he didn’t let go. “No—there’s no way this is your fault. That’s perfectly clear.”

“Then it’s perfectly clear it isn’t your fault either.” I mimicked his move and lifted his hand to my lips and pressed a kiss to his knuckles. “And I’ll keep reminding you of that fact. We choose our own path. You could’ve taken a different one, and so could I. But … there was something missing in Mathieu. Because what he did, it’s not something you could’ve stopped.”

It was several long moments, but finally, he replied, “I know, logically, but it’s gonna take me some time to believe it.” He squeezed my hand. “So, what now?”

That was a good question, and I only had one answer I could give. “We let go, and we move forward.”

Lord stood beside me as we watched the car take my mother away to rehab. He stood by me today in the same way he’d stood by me all week—as my rock. And I’d like to think I’d done the same for him. Dealing with the aftermath of Mathieu’s and Denton’s deaths had put us into new territory. We’d forged through together, coming out stronger on the other side. I’d held him as he’d broken down after we’d had Mathieu interred. He was a man who could carry all of my burdens and never stumble, and I’d taken on the weight of his too.

Lord laced his fingers through mine and pulled me against him.

“What do you say about getting out of town for a few days?”

“I’d say that sounds amazing, but what about Chains?”

The shop hadn’t yet reopened.

“I was good with keeping it closed a little longer, but Con offered his services. He’s going to cover for a few days so we can get a break.”

I smiled. “Okay.”

“Good. That saves me from having to kidnap you.”

I pressed a finger to my lips and pretended to reconsider. “On second thought, I think this is a terrible idea. I probably need to be kidnapped.”

Lord ducked and wrapped an arm around my waist and picked me up and over his shoulder.

“Not a problem. Packed your bag already anyway.”

I tried to swing my head around to look at him, but it was impossible from my position.

“You what?”

“I wasn’t taking no for answer. The kidnapping part wasn’t really a joke.”

I burst into laughter, and the sound made me feel lighter and more alive than I had in days. “I knew there was yet another reason I love you.”

His response was to land his palm on my ass with a smack.

“What was that for?”

“Because you love that too.”

Lord lowered me to the ground beside the ’Cuda and opened the door.

“In you go.”

Instead of getting in the car, I wrapped my arms around his neck and pulled his face down to mine.

“Kiss me first, pawn star.”

When his lips met mine, I put everything I felt for him into the kiss. When I finally pulled away, he looked down at me.

“Best decision I ever made was to hire you.”

“Only because I made you.”

He smiled and pushed a wild strand of hair out of my face. “Then I guess it was the best decision I ever made not to fire you.”

“Not to correct you, but I didn’t let you do that either,” I said, my lips turning up into a grin.

“Stubborn woman. How the hell did I get so lucky?”

“Maybe it’s that voodoo magic sprinkled across the doorway of Chains … but I like to think it’s because my daddy brought us together. That watch of his sent me to you, so I guess I’ve got both him and my mama to thank.”

“That explanation works just fine for me. Now let’s get out of here.”

I glanced down at the passenger seat and back to Lord. “How about I drive?”

His lips quirked into a small smile, and he pulled the keys from his pocket and dropped them into my hand. “I’d only give up the keys for you, sweet thing. Any damn time you want.”

I closed my fingers around the keys as he led me around to the driver’s side and opened the door.

I slid behind the wheel and waited for him to climb into the passenger seat.

I grinned at the rumble of the Hemi as I turned the key.

“Next time, we’re taking Eleanor,” I said.

“It’s a deal,” Lord replied.

I shifted into reverse and wrapped both hands around the wheel—ready to conquer the world and anything the future had to offer with the man beside me.

“What the hell is he doing here?” Elle whispered-yelled at me over the laughing and general raucous of the party going on around us. She took a step to the side for a better view, and I slid my arm around her to keep her from unexpectedly taking a dip in Lake Pontchartrain.

“Whoa, sweet thing. You’re about to run out of dock,” I murmured into her ear.

She looked down at her feet and shifted even closer to me as she realized the edge was only inches away.

“Shit. That was close.”

I tightened my grip on her. “I’d never let you fall. You know I’ve got you. Always.”