Ruthless Saints: Chapter 7

CARSON

The motion sensors go off, and soon beeping fills the house. I rush to the monitors, and my heart stutters in my chest.

Hailey.

I’ve been holed up in my house, avoiding going out because I didn’t want to run into her.

And now she’s come to me.

Fuck.

I turn off the beeping and keep watching her from the monitors. She’s carrying flowers, and she looks uneasy as she inches closer to the front door.

I watch as she sets the flowers down, and then she whispers, “I hope it wasn’t goodbye.”

Sadness tightens her features, and it makes the heaviness that’s taken up a permanent residence in my heart double in weight.

Smile.

Her lips twitch, but instead of smiling, it looks like she’s fighting back the urge to cry.

“Hailey,” I whisper, reaching out to the monitor. The pad of my finger brushes over her, and then she turns around and walks away.

When she disappears around the bend, I walk to the front door and open it. Crouching, I pick up the wilting flowers.

The urge to run after her becomes a torturous battle. I close my eyes and keep thinking about her safety.

Forcing myself to my feet, I slam the door shut and walk to the kitchen. Lifting the paper towel, I place the flowers with the others, which have already dried out.

The urge bubbles through my chest again, and this time I fail. Running to the door, I rush out of the house, and I don’t stop until I see Hailey walking ahead of me. I move into the trees lining the road so she won’t notice me should she glance behind her.

She’s wearing shorts again, her long legs on full display.

Hailey lifts her arms and gathers her hair away from her neck, and I wish I could send a breeze to cool her down.

Staying hidden behind a tree, I watch as she walks into her house.

You’ve seen her. Go home.

I remain standing until she comes out again, dressed in jeans and a sweater.

She’s probably going to the bar.

I wait until she’s a safe distance away before I follow after her.

My arms feel empty since I got to hold her.

My life is dark and cold again.

The nights are long and the days even longer.

Nothing is the same as before Hailey walked into my life, and I get a feeling it will never be the same again.

Suddenly Hailey glances over her right shoulder, and I dart to the left. I crouch behind the fence of the elderly lady who works at the bakery.

Fuck, that was close.

I wait until Hailey is out of sight, and knowing she’ll be at work until midnight, I walk back to my house.

 You can’t do that again.

Even as I chastise myself, I know I’m not going to listen.

There’s no harm in watching her.

At least give yourself that.

Just watch her.

 


 

Just watch her?

I shake my head at myself as I follow the bus Hailey’s on at a safe distance with my SUV.

My phone begins to ring, and seeing Alexei’s name flashing on the screen, I mutter a curse. I press the answering button on the steering wheel.

“Sorry I missed you,” my bother’s voice comes over the speakers.

“Work is work,” I say. “You’re okay?”

He lets out a chuckle. “Of course.” There’s a moment’s pause, then he says, “I’ll come to you. Next week?”

Shit.

I can’t say no, and I really want to see him. It’s been too long.

“Okay.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing.”

“I can feel it, Carson.” Alexei’s voice darkens. “Did something happen I should know about?”

“No.” Wanting to set him at ease, so he won’t worry, I add, “I had a close-up contract. You know I hate those.”

“Who?”

“Rudaj.”

“Were you compromised?”

I take a deep breath as the bus turns into the town of Bern. “Yes.”

“Fuck, Carson. When? Tell me everything?”

I relay the fucked up contract sans anything Hailey related to my brother. I can feel his anger growing with every word leaving my mouth.

When I’m done talking, Alexei snaps, “I’ll be there tomorrow.”

“I took care of everything,” I try to assure him.

“Carson.” His voice is cold with warning.

Knowing I can’t stop him, I mutter, “What time tomorrow?”

“I’ll let you know.”

We end the call, and letting out a sigh, I find a parking space so I can follow Hailey on foot. I wait for her to get off the bus, and only when she’s a safe distance away do I get out of the SUV.

There are many tourists on the streets, making it easy to follow Hailey without her noticing me.

I’ve lived in Switzerland for nine years, but it’s the first time I actually see the beauty the country has to offer. All through Hailey’s eyes.

Strolling along the cobbled streets of the medieval old town, I savor every smile gracing Hailey’s face. She stares at everything with absolute wonder.

She looked at me like that.

From the tallest cathedral to the Zytglogge clock tower, I follow her to the Aare river. Hailey stops on a bridge and stares down at the water.

Time slowly fades away, my eyes glued to the woman who’s upended my life and left it in chaos.

Still… I’ve never felt more at peace, even with the looming threat of Alexei arriving tomorrow.

 


 

HAILEY

 

I’m starting to think I’m imagining things. It seriously feels as if someone’s watching me.

I glance around the bridge, my eyes darting from one person to the next, but I don’t find anyone watching me.

You’re being silly.

My stomach grumbles, and it has me heading in the direction of a store I saw earlier. Tomorrow morning, I’ll visit the market and treat myself to something nice, but I settle on buying fruits for now. I get myself an apple and banana and a bottle of water, then walk to a bench facing the river.

Sitting down, I peel the banana, and as I take a bite, the tiny hairs on the back of my neck stand up. Chewing, I glance around.

You’re going to drive yourself insane.

I focus on the gorgeous blue of the water until the worry ebbs away, and then my thoughts fill with Carson.

I wonder if he got the flowers. I wonder what he thought when he saw them.

Last night I asked Lars if Carson’s been at the bar during the day, and he said no.

Maybe he’s just gone on business.

Maybe it was just goodbye for now and not forever.

Why can’t you stop thinking of him?

I miss Carson.

I miss the quiet way he looked at me. As if it was just enough for him to see me.

I miss the opportunities we didn’t have.

A kiss.

Lying awake all night while I talk, and he listens.

Experiencing what it would be like to make love to him.

God, I miss him.

More than I miss my parents and I haven’t seen them in months.

How did I fall so fast? Why didn’t I stop it?

With the apple and water forgotten on my lap, the sun sets while my thoughts keep spinning around Carson.

Pulling my phone from my pocket, I open the screen and go to my list of contacts. I stare at the number under ICE, and before I do something stupid and call it, I scroll down and click on my mom’s number.

“Hey, Sweetheart,” she answers almost immediately.

“Hi, Mom. How are you?”

“Same old but good. And you?”

“I’m great. I’m sitting on a bench by the Aare river. The view is gorgeous.”

“I’m glad you’re getting to see the world. Are you still in Saint Luc?”

“Yes, I’ll only look at moving to another town in two months.”

“Good, take your time and see everything. Remember to send photos. I’m uploading them all so I can make a collage of every country you visit.”

My mom’s a photo hoarder. If my dad gave her half a chance, every inch of the house would be covered with photos.

I let out a chuckle. “I’ll definitely send some of Bern. It’s so pretty here.”

“Have you made any friends in the village?”

“One.” There’s a stab of heartache. “But he’s a recluse, and I think I scared him off with my incessant talking.”

“I doubt that, sweetheart.”

There’s a moment’s pause, then I admit, “I really like him.”

“What’s his name?”

“Carson.”

“What does he do for a living?” the interrogation begins.

I chuckle again. “It doesn’t matter because I doubt I’ll see him again.”

“You said the village is small. I’m sure you’ll run into him from time to time.”

I get the weird feeling again, and glancing to my right, I see the shadowy outline of someone near a tree.

“Mom, I have to go. I’ll call again,” I say as I get up, my eyes on the figure.

“Okay. Be safe. We love you,” Mom quickly calls out.

“Love you too.” I end the call, but as soon as I glance back up again, the figure is gone.

A frown forms on my forehead.

Did I imagine it?

I’m sure I saw someone standing there.

Feeling freaked out, I pick up the apple and bottle of water, and shoving them in my backpack, I quickly walk in the direction of the hostel.

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