14| Conflictions and Confessions

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A dark feeling latched around my heart as I stared at the sorry state my father had left her in. 

She was struggling to breathe as she clutched onto the chair my brother had vacated a moment ago, her fingers digging into the leather as the strength of her stubborn will kept her from falling into it. Any other woman in her situation would have crumbled from the cruelty she had been dealt, but she wasn't as weak as I thought she would be.

Lola might have been the one who had been stripped of her dignity, but I was the one who was completely fucking pathetic.

A violent thrill had thrummed through me at the sound of my father's bullish commands, but I had done nothing to put a stop to them. Instead, I had watched the fear on her face as she had conceded to my father's every demand, her fingers fumbling as she got rid of her clothes and bared herself to him. I had stayed silent under the display of power he was putting on for me, my hands curling into fists as I refused to fall for his bait.

Despite the guns and the gangsters she had been surrounded by—and despite the way she had been treated, I knew more than anyone that this had nothing to do with her.

My father was teaching me a lesson, telling me that even though I had taken a liking to a woman he didn't approve of, that the true power always lay with him. He had proved it with his final slew of words, and he had proved it by the way he assumed that my infatuation with her wasn't going to last for long.

Once I discarded her, she would be fair game. My father would do as he pleased and from the way he had taken in the sight of her and graded her like a piece of meat, I knew exactly the plans he had intended for her. With a body like hers she would do well with the clientele we had, but just thinking of her at the hands of other men made my blood boil.

"I'm not—I'm not a whore." She repeated the words she had said to me the first time I had met her, but there was no confidence behind her statement this time.

Her back was to me as she refused to meet my gaze, her body trembling under the aftermath of my father's wrath, but she had understood everything so easily. My father's words always hid a darker meaning and she had unearthed it without any help.

"You're not?" I asked as I moved towards her, the need to comfort her rushing through me even though I knew I was incapable of it.

There was just something about her that made me want to be gentle, that made me want to cherish every moment she could stomach in my presence. Every time she looked at me with her inquisitive gaze, every time she took a deep breath like she thought the next moment would be her last, and every time she touched me—always with meaning, always with much more care than I deserved.

My heart was struggling to keep its steady rhythm, my will wavering in its conviction the more I was getting to know the person she was.

The tenderness I had for her was like the mark of death—it was a weakness I knew I could not afford. There were people that had been waiting to seek their revenge and ruin me, and if they knew about her they would know how to do it. She did not deserve to be the scapegoat for my sins, even still I didn't know how to let her go.

What I felt for her was more than lust, and I knew that a feeling like that was dangerous.

I knew that something more than that could not last in the vicious world I lived in.

"Freddie, I'm not—I can't, I don't know how to—" She sputtered out, letting out a strangled sob as my presence finally shadowed hers. I grasped onto her arm without remorse, pulling her terrorised form towards mine so that she wasn't hiding away from me anymore.

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