Stepping to my feet, I clasp my hands around my throat, racing out of the room. My vision blurs as I start to feel like I’m suffocating.
“Tara,” his voice calls, but I don’t stop. My feet move, but I can barely stay upright. I feel so weak.
“Stop,” he yells, and I do as he commands. Halting to a stop, my legs finally give out. Collapsing to the ground, I lay my hands flat in front of me, wailing uncontrollably. My sorrow for the loss of Emily, the pain I feel so deep inside feels like I’m rotting at the core.
“Baby, please…” Nate’s voice is just a whisper, and I tilt my head, looking at his contorted face. “I know you’re hurting, T. You should never have to see that… that, shit,” he growls as I see he’s trying to comfort me, all the while controlling his own rage.
“You have to find him, Nate. He has to pay,” I snarl, my nostrils flaring as I try to process this all through my messed-up head. Through the horrific images that flash through my mind. I can’t unsee that image. I can’t change what happened to Emily. I’m helpless.
“I’m gonna torture the bastard for what he’s done. I won’t rest until he’s dead. You have my word.”
Kneeling beside me, I rest my head against his chest, his rapid heartbeat pounds against me. “We should get you back inside.”
“I can’t,” I blurt out as the anxiety grows. “I can’t go in there. I can’t be anywhere near this place.”
“Davo and the rest of the guys are on their way. I’m calling church to discuss what we should do. I need you here with me, baby. I ain’t letting you outta my sight.” His arms tighten around me and I inhale deeply.
“I know this is a shock for you, but I need you to think about your health right now. It’s no good for you or my baby if you’re getting worked up.”
Blinking hard, I try to clear the tears pooling in my eyes. “How am I supposed to think about this with everything going on?” I choke out.
“What’s there to think about?” he asks, his eyes focusing on me, his brows drawing together. I shudder, remembering just how Nate’s eyes resemble those of the monster who hurt me.
“The baby… the rape. I don’t even know if I can do this, Nate.”
“We’re doing this,” he replies, his voice so low it’s almost a growl.
“But we have to face the facts, Nate. This baby might not be yours. It might be your father’s.” I swallow, hoping to clear the lump in my throat, but it doesn’t work.
“I told you this baby is mine. There doesn’t need to be any mention of my father or what happened. You understand?” I can sense the anger in his tone, even though his face appears neutral.
“But…” I start saying, only for him to cut me off, pressing his finger against my lips, silencing me.
“No fucking arguments.”
“You’re not listening to me.” I thrust my arm out and watch, as if in slow motion, how he falls back on his ass. “I don’t know if I can live with not knowing the truth, Nate.”
On my feet, I glance over to the door, then back over to the huge metal gates, and I feel like this place is closing in on me. I have nowhere to turn that doesn’t scare the hell out of me. I’m trapped.
I’m trying to stay calm, but my own emotions are starting to suffocate me. I don’t know what to do. “I need to get out of here,” I tell him as I watch him crawl up from the ground, dusting down his ass.
“Let me take you inside. Up to the bedroom. You should rest.” He steps toward me, grabbing me by the arm. I look down at his hand clamped around my upper arm, then back up to his face.
“Why aren’t you listening to me? How can you be so calm?” I ask, glaring at him.
“You’re freaking out and I’m trying to help you, Tara. I’m no good at this shit, but believe me when I say I’m trying.”
“What about, uh, Emily?” I force out the words, my shaky finger pointing to the main door of the house.
“I’ll take care of her,” he says with sorrow in his eyes.
“I don’t think I want to know.” I’m not sure I can take it right now. Walking back inside, my arms crossed over my chest and my head down, I make my way up the stairs and into the only room in the house that holds anything other than awful memories.
The closer I get to the top of the stairs; I can hear my cell phone ringing. Picking up my speed, I head inside, grabbing my purse and retrieving my phone. Swiping across the screen I answer the call.
“Hey,” I say a little breathlessly.
“Is everything okay, I mean are you okay?” Izzy’s voice is quiet and full of concern.
Sighing, I drop my head as I try to think of the words to explain what happened. So much shit has transpired in such a short space of time.
“Did you do the test, Tara?” she continues as my silence causes her to press me further.
“We had a delivery,” I blurt out, my eyes filling with fresh, unshed tears. “It was Emily. Her head and hands... in a box,” I choke out, my hand covering my mouth.
“Oh, Jesus Christ,” she exclaims. “Honey, I’m coming over. You shouldn’t be alone.”
Without giving me the chance to answer, she ends the call. Buzzing fills my ears, but I slowly lower the phone, staring at the screen. I step over to the bed, dropping down against the mattress. I slump my shoulders as my mind races with thoughts I can’t control. What if being here with Nate is a big mistake?
I won’t ever deny the love that I feel for him, but this. The whole brutality of the MC. All of the wicked things that have happened since I fell in love with Nate. I want to be with him. I want to support him as president. But I just don’t know if I can. How can I be okay with death and pain? Knowing that innocents are being hurt at the hands of the MC.
I sit in silence, staring into space. I’m not sure how much time has passed by, but the sudden sound of voices cuts through the silence. I lift my shoulders, my head looking toward the door. My eyes find Izzy, and I shoot up from my slumped position on the bed, racing over to her. She wraps her arms around me, holding me while I sob against her.
“Why is this happening?” I choke out. “Why is Jeffries so hell-bent on making everyone’s lives miserable?”
“I don’t know,” she whispers, her hand working over my hair as she tries to soothe me. Relaxing my hold, I pull back, sniffling and swiping away the tears that roll down my face. I glimpse up at Izzy, her beautiful eyes fixed on me.
“This is all… so wrong,” I say with a shake of my head. I press my fingers against my forehead as I turn and make my way back over to the bed. Izzy follows me, gently closing the door behind her. Making her way over to the bed, she sits down beside me, her eyes trying to find mine as she tries to get my attention. I look at her, but it does nothing to ease the constant feeling of dread that crushes my windpipe. It’s like it’s slowly squeezing, suffocating me.
“I’ve messed up, Iz,” I whisper. “I fell for an outlaw, and now everyone around me is suffering.”
“You gotta try to separate yourself from what happens with the club, Tara. Nothing that happens here is because of you. You gotta believe that.”
Taking my hand, she squeezes gently. “I know who Brax is. I know how he makes his money and how dangerous it is that he’s a criminal. Doesn’t mean I’d be without him. I’ve accepted all the things about him that I don’t like. Because I have no other choice. I love him. It’s that simple. You need to try to do the same. Because you know Nate loves you.”
“The test was positive, Iz. I have a thing growing inside of me,” I say pointing to my stomach with both hands. “And the fact it could be that monster’s, terrifies me.”
“Oh, honey,” she says, wrapping her arms around my shoulders, pulling me into the comfort of her embrace. “There’s every chance it’s Nate’s though, right?”
“Yes,” I reply meekly. “And he seems happy. I mean, he doesn’t want to contemplate that it might be his father’s. He’s stepping up no matter what.”
“He said that?” she asks, furrowing her brows.
“Well, that’s amazing. Isn’t that what you want?”
“The thought of being pregnant terrifies me. The thought I’m pregnant with Jeffries’ baby is unbearable. I’m not ready to be a mom, Iz. How can I be? In a place like this?”
“You guys need a place away from here. Somewhere safe and secure.”
“I shouldn’t have to live my life like that,” I snap, a little harsher than intended. “And Nate will always be a part of this world.”
“He won’t let anything happen to you. That much I’m certain of.”
“I was raped, Izzy. By his own father. How much worse can it get? How safe can he keep me? He can’t, not unless I’m with him twenty-four seven.”
“We do what we need, just to get by. It’s a difficult time right now, but it won’t always be this way.” I glance at her lips and watch as the smile forms. I want to believe what she says, I hope more than anything it’s true. But right now, in this dark time, I’m struggling to see the light. I’m full of anger and hatred for the asshole who has been determined to ruin us. But I won’t let him.
“Let us help you. We’ll find you a place of your own. One where you and Nate feel safe.”
I nod slowly, accepting her offer. “I think it’s for the best.” I swing my legs from the bed, standing on my feet and turning to offer her my hand. “But first, I need your help to convince Nate.”
Glancing to my hand, she reaches up, taking it. “I got you, girl. Let’s go convince biker boy.”