“I want a future with you. Starting over with you… it sounds too good to be true.”
“It doesn’t have to be. What’s stopping us?”
“Phi, you know why. You know what I have to do.”
Her eyes close and her lips press tight. “Have to do or want to do? You don’t have to get revenge on your father, Jon. That’s your choice to do so. But what will you really gain from destroying him? Do you really think that’s going to make you feel better?”
“You don’t get it. You don’t know how evil he is. All the fucked up shit he’s done to countless people, including me. Somebody has to take him down. I swore it would be me.”
I hate disappointing her—I hate the frown working its way onto her lips and the way her bright hope has vanished without a trace. It makes me desperate to fix it. Convince her this doesn’t mean we can’t have the future she’s envisioned.
“Hey,” I say, cupping her face in my hands. “We’ll be together, Phi. You have no idea how much I want that too. Even if I don’t think a guy like me deserves that level of happiness. But Ineedto do this before I’ve earned it. Then we can run off wherever you want. I promise I’ll give it all up. We can start fresh.”
Her frown remains. She’s still not convinced enough. My heart pounds faster at the prospect I could be losing her. I fumble around in my jacket pocket and pull out the jewelry box Vasco packed up. I was saving it for a more special reveal, but she needs to understand how serious I am about our future.
This necklace symbolizes that and more.
“I love you, Phi. I want everything you want. I had this made for you, because I want you to know that. This is my promise to you, okay?”
“It’s beautiful,” she whispers.
“Wear it at all times. As a reminder. No spying devices included.”
I ease her around and carefully drape the necklace along her décolletage, fastening the clasp at the back. My arms encircle her from behind and I drop a kiss to the nape of her neck. We stand stock-still for a moment, her in my arms and my nose in her hair. She smells so good. Her scent both comforting and erotic at the same time.
“Fine,” she says finally, “then I’m going to help you. We’ll take him out together.”
“No. I don’t want you anywhere near my father or what goes on. I’m keeping you separate of it. This is between me and him.”
“If it’s your fight, then it’s my fight—”
“I said no, Phi. Not with this. You have to stay separate of it. Let me handle this, and then we’ll do things your way—we’ll go away together.”
She turns around in my arms. Her eyes find mine. “You swear?”
“Jon,” she snaps, “youswear?”
“I swear. I’m not going to fail. I’ve been working toward this from the time I was a kid. I’m getting my revenge. Before, I didn’t care what happened to me afterward, but that was when I didn’t have anyone waiting for me afterward. That was before you. Having that light at the end of the tunnel—you—I’m going to succeed.”
Her next breath quivers out of her, but she gives a slow nod. It’s reassuring and complicit. The trust she’s putting in me is palpable. It means the world.
“But let’s still go away,” she says. “Please, we deserve a vacation. A break before you do what you’re going to do.”
I grin and claim her lips in a soft kiss. “Alright,” I agree. “We’ll go away for a while. I can push off some things for a week or two. The break might even help me refocus.”
She slips out of my hold and darts for the closet. A short laugh leaves me as I stand back and watch her. Deep down I know it’s going to happen—I’m going to succeed. I’ll finally exact my revenge against Lucius and then my future will be wide open to spend the rest of my days with Delphine.
I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life. More confident.
There’s no stopping me, because a future with Delphine means everything.