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Ruthless Saints: Chapter 26


What have I done?

Lifting my eyes, I see the heartache I’ve caused Carson, and it lashes brutally at my heart. I wrap my arms around him. “I’m so sorry. I was so stupid. I should’ve given you a chance to explain.”

I want to crawl under the couch and just cry. Carson doesn’t keep count of how many people he’s saved but just the ones he’s killed. He sees himself as a monster, and that’s why I thought he was one.

But God… he’s the farthest thing from a monster. He’s a saint… and I treated him like shit.

I hold him tighter, wishing I had known all of this sooner.

I swallow hard and say, “In my defense, you really shouldn’t use the term assassin. You can’t blame me for equating that to a ruthless killer.”

I shake my head, and unable to stop rambling, I just keep going, “Also, I was traumatized. I wasn’t thinking straight.”

Carson just sits frozen, and it has me pulling back. Unable to keep still, I get up and begin to pace up and down the room.

What have I done?

Again the question shudders through me.

“And you did lie to me. It was a shock. Shit…” I wipe the back of my hand over my clammy forehead, “your collection of guns also didn’t help things.”

I keep pacing faster and faster as the full impact of what I’ve done hits. “Shit… shit… shit.”

My eyes dart to Carson. He just stares at me, looking a little confused.

“I’m so sorry I ruined things between us.” I stop for a moment then start to pace again. “Shit.”

My tortured hermit, and I just ripped his heart out.

I gasp as it hits again. “I’m so sorry. I never meant to hurt you like that. If I had known, I wouldn’t have left. I mean… we could’ve talked the rest of our problems out.”

Shock ripples over Carson’s face, and his eyes zero in on me. “You wouldn’t have left?” he asks, his voice way calmer than I feel.

I nod. “You’re not an assassin, Carson. You’re a vigilante. There’s a huge difference. That’s the reason I left. Freaking assassin my butt.”

He gets up from the couch, cautiously asking, “Will you come back?”

I stare at him for a moment. “We have a lot to talk about still, but I’d like to try.”

Carson’s breaths begin to speed up. “You want to try a relationship? With me?”

My face crumbles with emotion and walking to him, I wrap my arms around his waist and hold him as tight as I can.

“Is that a yes?” he asks.

I nod against his chest. “We can take it slow and really get to know each other this time.”

His arms clamp around me so tightly it borders on being painful. “I’ll go at whatever pace you want.”

“There’s a lot we still need to talk about,” I say as I pull back. “Let’s sit. I just got a lot of exercise in with all the pacing,” I joke, trying to lighten things between us.

Once we’re seated again, Carson asks, “What else do you want to talk about?”

“Everything.” I let out a burst of laughter. “Sorry. It’s going to be a long conversation.”

He gestures for me to start.

God. Where?

Start with the hardest part.

“With what you do, I’m sure you make a lot of enemies.” Carson takes a deep breath and nods. “I…” I think for a moment about how to word it right, not wanting to do more damage than I already have. “What if they come after me?”

His answer comes fast, “That’s why I got MJ for you.”

I nod then say, “By the way, she’s really good. She totally wiped the floor with this guy who kept asking me out.”

Carson’s eyebrow lifts, and his eyes narrow. His voice drops low as he bites out the words, “What guy?”

“Just some guy.” I make a careless motion with my hand. “I don’t know who he is. The point is MJ’s good. I asked her to teach me how to fight.”

“When did this happen?” he asks, not looking happy at all.


Slowly Carson nods. “I’m glad you feel safe with her.”

“Oh, back to the topic of your enemies. If we date, can I still move around freely?”

“Of course.” He reaches for the tag around my neck and taps a finger against it. “If something does go wrong, I’ll find you quickly.”

“Yeaaah… I’m kind of hoping nothing goes wrong. Once was enough for me.”

“It shouldn’t have happened.” He says, regret tightening his features. “I was so focused on trying to figure out how to tell you who I am that I made a stupid mistake,” Carson explains. “If you had known what I do, I would’ve been armed, and they wouldn’t have gotten near you. I’m sorry I let it happen.”

“There was a whole group of…” I remember how he took out the nine in the room and stop from saying he was outnumbered because clearly, he wasn’t.

“I don’t just have enemies. I have a lot of contacts who will help if trouble comes knocking,” Carson tries to set me at ease.


“Damien and Winter. They’re only a couple of hours away. Lucian. He’s in Italy and owes me for saving his ass. My brother and Demitri. Even my brother’s business partner will help out.”

It makes me feel a lot better hearing that.

What else? Oh, right. The lie.

“I get why you lied to me, but please don’t do that again.”

“I won’t.”

“Is there anything I should know?” I ask. “Now’s the time to tell me.”

Carson thinks for a moment, then shakes his head. “Not that I can think of. You know everything. If I’m not working, I’m home.”

“So you don’t have any dark secrets hidden in that bat cave of yours?”

His mouth curves up into a hot grin. “No, I don’t.”

I only have one question left, and I have to swallow hard before asking, “When we were in that room, how did you do it? Not showing any emotion?”

Carson takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly before he looks at me. “Keeping you alive was all that mattered. It killed me, but knowing what they could do to you kept me from reacting.”

For the first time, I admit, “You just sitting there, not even looking at me hurt more than what they did to me.”

Carson begins to reach for me but then stops and lowers his hand.

“I’m not saying it to make you feel bad. I just need to talk to you about it.”

“If I could, I would’ve traded places with you in a heartbeat,” he murmurs, the regret deepening on his face.

I give him a pleading look. “If we get back together, you won’t let that happen to me again?”

He lifts his hand and places his palm against the side of my neck. His thumb brushes over my jaw. “I promise it won’t. I’ll protect you with my last breath.”





Hailey’s eyes drift over my face, and a smile begins to tug at her lips. “Is that your natural hair color?”

“Yes. It made it easier to watch you.”

“I felt you,” she admits. “Except for the last week.”

“Sorry,” I apologize. “I couldn’t stay away.”

“You make it impossible for a girl to get over you,” she says with a teasing tone.

I keep staring at her, scared this is just a dream.

“Will you forgive me?” I ask.

When Hailey nods, the sun starts to break through the darkness.

“You’re mine?” I ask.

A smile I haven’t seen on her face before tugs shyly at her lips as she nods.

“Are you still scared of me?”

She scrunches her nose. “A little bit.”

Tilting my head, I say, “I will never hurt you.”

“I know.” She sucks in a breath and gestures at me. “I need to get to know this version of you. You were intense when I thought you were just a recluse but knowing what you’re capable of doing with your bare hands… and all the weapons…” Her hands flutter nervously, “The whole setup… it’s very intimidating.” 

“We’ll take it slow,” I assure her. “Get to know me again.”

“I’d like that.” She gets up, then says, “I’m going to make coffee. You want some?”


I watch as she prepares the two cups, and then it hits – Hailey’s giving us another chance, and this time there are no lies to ruin it all.

“Just so you’re aware, I’m never letting you go,” I say.

She glances at me with a teasing smile. “You’ve made that abundantly clear.”

Bringing the coffee, she hands me a cup. She sits down, leaning her shoulder against the cushion.

“Can I really not ask you about the contracts?” she asks.

I hate talking about my work but knowing I have to be open with Hailey about it in order to keep her, I say, “What do you want to know?”

She lowers her cup and rests it on her knee. “How does it work?”

“They send the request through, and after I check it out, I reply whether I’m accepting or declining it. After it’s done, the contract is closed, and the payment’s made to my account.”

She gives me a questioning look. “How much do you get for a contract?” Reaching over, she touches my forearm. “If you don’t mind me asking.” Pulling back, she takes a sip of her coffee.

“It depends.” I shrug as I set the cup down on the floor next to the couch. “The time frame I’m given and who it is make a difference in what I ask, but it’s usually between five and ten million.”

Hailey sputters into her cup and coughs a couple of times, and then she gives me a what-the-fuck look. “You’re joking… right?” Her eyes widen. “Oh my God, Carson. What do you do with all that money?” Shaking her head, she mumbles, “I can’t even fathom it.”

“I use some of it to make the work easier. Paying contacts and things like that.” Dimpo flashes through my thoughts. “Some of it I use to help people.”

Emotion washes over Hailey’s face. “The innocent ones?”

I nod. “Sometimes their circumstances place them at risk, and I just make it easier for them, so they don’t get caught up in the same shit again.”

 Hailey places her empty cup on the small coffee table, then she tilts her head at me, looking at me with amazement. “Do you even realize what a difference you’re making in the world?”

I shake my head and, scared she’s not seeing the real me and that it will hit her at a later stage, I say, “Don’t make me something I’m not, Hailey. When all is said and done, I’m still an assassin, and I’m not going to stop.”

Heartbreak ripples over her beautiful face. She scoots closer to me, and lifting her hands, her palms find my jaw. She stares deep into my eyes. “Carson, how can you not see it. You keep count of the bad you do but not the good. It’s like you’re refusing to even think that there can be any good in you. Why?”

My gaze drifts over her, wishing I could see myself through her eyes. “Like I said, information can be dangerous. I keep count of the kills so my enemies won’t forget. But the good…” I shake my head and Hailey’s hands lower to her lap. “I forget about them, so no one will be able to trace them through me.”

They’re scattered across the globe like little pockets of lights.

Starting to feel hot, I shrug out of my jacket and hang it over the arm of the couch.

“The tears on your left arm. They’re for every kill,” Hayley says, her eyes on the tattoos. “You should get stars on your right arm for all the ones you’ve helped.”

I let out an empty burst of laughter. “I don’t think so.”

Hailey leans into the cushion again, her eyes soft on me. “What do the other tattoos mean?”

“The eight-pointed stars on my collarbones means I’m a high-level criminal, and the double-headed eagle stands for power and justice.”

“Punishing the bad for their crimes and hope for those who can’t help themselves,” she murmurs. Her eyes lift to mine. “That’s how I see the double-headed eagle… and you.”

I really don’t want to fuck this up, but I have to say, “As long as you understand, I’m not going to stop. Whenever I walk out of the door, I’m going to kill someone.”

Hailey just stares at me, but there’s no more horror in her gaze. “I choose to think of it as you walking out the door to save someone.” Then she lets out a chuckle. “But I’m not helping you pack your guns. I’m not touching those things.” She shudders. “I have a gun phobia.”

“I prefer you don’t go near them. I don’t want you getting accidentally hurt,” I agree.

Turning my body toward hers, I rest my arm on the back of the couch.

Her gaze drifts over my body, then she asks, “How’s your shoulder?”

“It’s fine.”

“Can I see?” she asks, lifting a hand to the collar of my shirt. When I nod, she moves much closer, and pulling the fabric slightly back, she inspects the scar. “At least it healed.”

I turn my face to hers as she begins to pull back, and our eyes lock, her soft scent drifting around me. Anticipation explodes through my chest as Hailey moves her hand from my shoulder to the side of my neck.

“Will you forgive me?” she whispers. “For judging you so harshly?”

“There’s nothing to forgive.” The atmosphere grows intimate, and unable to stop myself, I close the small distance between us and press my mouth to hers.

When Hailey doesn’t pull away but instead moves closer to me, wrapping her arms around my neck, I lose the little control I had.

My lips claim hers with all the hope I’ve clung to over the past three months. My tongue brushes against hers, showing her just how much I love her. Then my teeth begin to nip at her lips from all the pent-up frustration of not being able to touch her for so long.

If it were up to me, I’d strip her naked and fuck her, making sure every inch of her body never forgets who it belongs to.

But she’s asked me to take it slow, and what Hailey wants, she gets.

Reluctantly, I break the kiss and pressing my forehead against hers, I mutter, “Slow is going to suck.”

“Huge hairy donkey balls,” she groans as she scoots away from me. “But we need to take it slow. I really want a relationship between us to work and don’t want to ruin anything.”

The corner of my mouth lifts, and I place my hand on her cheek. “As long as I get to see you smile every day, we can take it slow.”

Hailey’s face lights up with happiness, and I just stare at her as her light chases the darkness.

The moon only shines at night because of the sun.

Hailey’s my sun.


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