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Ruthless Saints: Chapter 17


It’s the hardest three words I’ve ever spoken.

I’m an assassin. A killer for hire. The evil in the shadows.

Hailey tries to turn her head away from me, but it slumps back because she has no strength.

There are cuts on her face. Above her left eyebrow, on her cheek, her bottom lip. Her skin is swelling feverishly, the blood starting to dry. Her throat is marred with angry red welts, and blotches are scattered over the top of her chest.

I know it’s not the worst of her injuries. The way her breath whistles tells me her ribs have probably been broken.

I glance around us to see where we are.

Fuck. Another twenty minutes to St. Monarch’s.

My eyes snap back to Hailey, and I can’t find any words that will make any of this better. Her face tightens with pain, and a broken sob drifts over her lips, like a forlorn wind howling over a vast empty space.

I hold her gingerly against me, pressing another kiss to her forehead.

Then she chokes, “D-d-don’t.”

Her eyes remain closed, and I realize she’s refusing to look at me. My own shuts against the unbearable ache it causes to rupture in my chest.

“I’m so sorry, baby,” I whisper again.

She makes a strained sound, almost like a whimper, but not quite. Fear is etched on her face, and the realization hits hard.

What we had has been broken. Hailey now fears me.

I can’t tell her she’s safe with me because she’s not.

I can’t tell her I won’t hurt her, not while I’m holding her broken body in my arms.

I can’t tell her I love her, not after I deceived her for so long.

There’s nothing I can say, nothing I can do, and it makes me feel frustratingly powerless.

As if he can feel the turmoil in my soul, my brother says what I can’t, “We’re almost there, little one. You’re safe now. You’ll feel better soon.”

His words pull another desolate sob from her, and it rips at my tattered heart.

When we drive through the gates of St. Monarch’s, I feel no reprieve. After Alexei brings the SUV to a stop in front of the entrance, I’m careful as I move to climb out of the car.

Every time Hailey winces, it makes my heart ache excruciatingly.

Madame Keller receives us at the door, gesturing inside. “The room next to my office,” she says.

I carry Hailey to where they have an emergency room set up, and walking inside, I head straight for the bed. Gingerly, I lay her down, and I press another kiss to her forehead, then I whisper, “They’ll take care of you.”

She doesn’t say anything and still refuses to open her eyes, her features tense.

I pull back and look at the damage my lies have caused before I turn around and walk out of the room. My throat closes up as I’m suffocated with regret and heartache. It lashes at my soul, tearing through whatever was left of my humanity.

“Carson,” Alexei calls behind me. Seconds later, he darts in front of me, and then his arms wrap around me. “She’s going to be okay.”

I shake my head.

She’s not.

She’ll never be okay again.

I found the most beautiful creature, and I destroyed it.

“Demitri’s with her. They’ll fix her up.”

Patch her together. She’ll never be whole again.

Her smile won’t be as bright. Her light wasn’t strong enough for my darkness.

The thought drives me down to my knees, and Alexei crouches in front of me, placing his hands on my shoulders. Then he says, “You’ve been shot. Come, let’s get the bullet out.”

I shake my head, unreasonably thinking they should leave it inside me so it can poison me the way I poisoned Hailey’s life.

Alexei tightens his grip on me and tugs me up to my feet. “Come.” He pushes me back and then forces me to move. I’m shoved down in a chair, not taking in any of my surroundings.

“Do you need anything?” Madame Keller asks.

“We’re good,” Alexei answers. “Just take care of the girl.”

I stare blankly at Alexei’s shirt while he cuts mine open in the front. He injects me with something, probably a painkiller. I don’t have the strength to wince as he begins to dig the bullet out.

He should take out my fucked up heart while he’s at it.

I hear the bullet clank as he drops it in a steel bowl. There’s a sharp burn as he sterilizes the wound. I can’t bring myself to flinch as he stitches me up.

Hailey’s afraid of me. She probably hates me.

Still, I can’t lose her. I’ll take her hate as long as I don’t have to face a day without her.

It’s fucking fucked up.

“What do I do?” I ask Alexei.


“Hailey.” I swallow hard. “She’s going to want to leave me.”

“We don’t keep women against their will,” he says, his tone intolerant. Placing his hands on either side of my head, he forces me to look at him. “Do you hear me?”

“I can’t let her go,” I admit, feeling weaker than I’ve ever felt in my life.

Alexei stares me down for a couple of seconds. “Don’t, brother.”

“I love her.”

He shakes his head. “You can’t force her to stay. I won’t let you.”

I’m strong but not near as strong as my brother. “How do I do this?”

“The same way Hailey has to. The hard fucking way.”

It will kill me. I can’t live without Hailey. I can’t go back to the absolute darkness. I need whatever light she has left.





You’d think I would’ve passed out by now, but no, I’m awake for every torturous second. There’s no reprieve.

The physical pain has been dulled by drugs.

It’s the mental and emotional sides that are chaotic.

I’m tempted to ask them to sedate me, but I’m too scared. I have no idea what this place is, I only know it’s not a hospital.

There are two women and a man. And Demitri. The one woman is elderly, and she just stands next to Demitri, both of them watching me with sharp gazes. The other woman is dressed in black, like the man. Their clothes look like combat uniforms.

They’ve cut the ties from my wrists and taken x-rays of me. Now they’re talking about my injuries impassively as if I’m not here.

“Four broken ribs on the right side and two cracked on the left. Her right elbow has been dislocated. No internal damage. Just bruising. It will heal.”

The man straightens my right arm, and it yanks a whimper from me. He pulls on my wrist, and I cry from the unbearable pain as he pops my elbow back in place.

“Give her something stronger for the pain,” Demitri bites the words out, sounding angry. He comes to stand on the left side of the bed, and when he places his hand on my shoulder, I flinch.

It doesn’t escape his attention, and his hand moves to my head, gently brushing over the strands. It offers me no comfort, nor when he says, “You’re safe here, Hailey.”

I don’t believe a word that comes from any of them.

They inject more drugs into the IV, and against my will, I lie still while they tend to my wounds. My clothes are cut off, making me feel self-conscious. The blood is washed away from my skin, and when they’re finally done, a blanket is placed over me.

The elderly woman comes closer. “We’ll give you something to sleep, child.”

Sluggishly I shake my head. I don’t want anything. God only knows what they can do to me if I’m unconscious.

“You need to rest. It will help your body heal,” she argues.

I manage to shake my head again, my mind growing foggy from the painkillers. I feel it wash through me, the physical pain lessening until I’m numb.

“The painkillers should knock her out,” the man says, and then he leaves with the other woman.

I hear the door creaking, and thinking everyone has finally left, I close my eyes. I hear a chair being moved and pry them open again.

Alexei takes a seat next to the bed, his eyes drifting over me. It takes a lot of effort to turn my face away from him.

“I should’ve stopped it, little one. I’m sorry,” he murmurs softly. “You’ll be here until you’re better.”

I struggle to turn my face back to him. “And… then?”

Our eyes lock, and I see no malice, only empathy, which is unexpected. “You tell me what you want to do, and I’ll make it happen.”

If I could frown, I would. Or laugh because it sounds like he’s actually on my side, which is ridiculous.

His eyes drift over my face again. “I’ll sit with you while you sleep. I won’t let anyone come close to you. Rest, little one.”

I want to believe the words so desperately it makes tears mist my eyes.

Alexei takes out his phone, and after doing something on it, music comes from the device. I don’t know what it is, but it’s beautiful. It makes my emotions pulse like an erratic heartbeat.

He sets the device down next to my head, then places his hand on the top of my hair. He begins to stroke the strands, and it makes a tear spiral over my temple.

Leaning a little forward, his tone is gentle as he says, “You’re safe. I won’t let anything happen to you ever again.”

I manage to mumble, “Let… me… go.”

Alexei pulls his hand back. “As soon as you’ve healed.”

I don’t believe him.

My trust in humanity has been obliterated to smithereens. I’m not emotionally equipped to deal with any of this.

I hear the door open again, and slowly my eyes move past Alexei. The second I see Carson, a sob flutters over my lips. He’s only wearing cargo pants, and the tattoos no longer look hot. They look threatening. His shoulder has a bandage stuck to it.

It takes the last of my strength to turn my face away from them and to mutter, “Leave.”

Still, I don’t fall asleep. Drowsily I lie, feeling paralyzed, and it makes everything worse.

“It’s going to take a month or two until she’s fully healed,” Alexei grits the words out.

Carson says nothing. Still. And it hurts so much.

I can’t stop the tears from falling.

Eventually, Carson whispers, “I’ll sit with her.”

“I’m not leaving. I promised Hailey I’ll keep her safe.” Alexei takes a deep breath. “Until she’s ready to leave, consider me her personal guard.”

I hear movement, and even though I startle, I still can’t move as Carson wipes the tears from my temple.

I’d recognize his touch anywhere.

His breath skims over my skin before he presses his mouth to my forehead. He keeps still, and I feel his lips tremble.

 Again I’m torn by the emotions crashing through me. I still can’t tie the two sides of Carson together.

I need the recluse I fell in love with to hold me, to comfort me. But I don’t want this killer, this assassin near me.

I can’t believe he’s an assassin even though I saw him kill men with my own eyes. It’s unreal, and it fills me with fear.

Contractor equals killer. How the hell was I supposed to guess that?

Was everything we shared a lie?

It feels like it was.


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