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Wretched: Chapter 34

NICHOLAS

Guilty. The feeling of shame or regret for your misconduct.

I’ve never thought about the word much, but the guilt I feel for every single thing involving Eveline is a tornado, whirling quick and strong, destroying everything it touches. And then it compounds because I know, without a doubt, if I went back and had a chance to do it all over, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Not knowing her—not existing in her world—is a far greater tragedy than playing a small part within it.

She loves me.

She loves me.

But she doesn’t know who I am, and I have no doubts that when she learns the truth, everything will be over for us.

And fuck, it hurts like a bitch.

I silence Zeke’s call, having only used him as an excuse to leave before I did something stupid, like blow my cover and beg her for understanding, or lie completely and say I feel nothing at all. I was on the spot, and I don’t like being on the spot, so I fled.

The sky is cloudy and gray, the smell of the first upcoming snow in the air, dead leaves and debris crunching under my feet as I speed walk the yellow brick path. I’m staring down at my phone and sending off a quick text to Zeke, letting him know I’m busy, which is why I don’t see the person standing in front of me before I run into her.

My body jostles, the phone flying from my hand, the screen cracking when it hits the ground.

“Shit.” I bend down to pick it up. When I rise from grabbing it, I come face-to-face with Dorothy.

She purses her lips. “So you know then.”

It isn’t a question and my forehead scrunches, trying to figure out what the hell she’s talking about. Know what?

She crosses her arms, her nails tapping against the inside of her elbow. “Typical. I’m always the last person to find out anything.”

“What?” I brush off the chips of glass from my screen.

She throws her hand at the cottage. “About the greenhouse.”

My hands pause from where I was trying, and failing, to fix my phone. “Oh,” I say carefully, my stomach twisting. Greenhouse? “Right. You mean you didn’t know about that until now?”

She scoffs. “You know it’s just like Evie to not include me. Her and Nessa were always leaving me out, and she hates that our dad doesn’t do the same.”

My heart speeds, pieces of a puzzle clicking into place, creating a picture I had no idea existed.

“Well,” I lick my lips, glancing behind me. “Seems like you know now, at least.”

“Yeah.” She sighs. “But it kind of sucks, right? I mean, who wants to learn about plants?”

My stomach sinks, her words repeating in my head like a mantra. “What exactly are you learning?”

“How to make Evie’s product, obviously.”

My ears go numb and my mouth runs dry.

She tilts her head, eyes narrowing, and I try to school my features, but I don’t think I’m successful.

“You know,” she continues. “I didn’t mean to hold you up from whatever. I’ll let you go. Just… forget I said anything, yeah?”

She moves around me in a hurry and I let her pass, my heart slamming against my ribs.

Shock trickles through my limbs like ice.

Eveline is the supplier. 

Holy shit. 

I spin around, my body trembling as I hurry to my car, sliding into the seat and numbly leaving the estate. I don’t pay attention to my surroundings, and I have no clue if the guard at the gate even waves goodbye. All I know is I’m supposed to meet Seth at the motel in three hours for our weekly check-in, and now I actually have something to tell him.

Something big.

Because this time I’ve found our guy. But I didn’t expect it to be her.

My mind is on autopilot as I drive through Kinland Heights, pulling around to the back lot of the motel. I park, but I don’t get out. Instead, I sit in my car, watching the digital numbers on my dashboard click over, one minute after the next, until the sun dips beneath the horizon and the moon rises to take its place.

The thought of turning over Eveline makes bile climb up the back of my throat, the nausea feeling like I’m being tossed at sea. I blow out a breath, my elbows resting on the steering wheel as I rub my eyes.

What the fuck am I supposed to do?

Leaning back in my seat, I remind myself of all the reasons why I became a DEA agent in the first place. To put criminals, like her, behind bars. It’s been my goal ever since I was old enough to realize that drugs and the people who put them on the streets are what cost me my childhood.

My family.

My innocence.

It’s all I’ve ever known, and while the things I feel for her are so strong they dull everything around me… they’re still new. And my hatred for what she stands for is just as strong. Isn’t it?

My hand flies to my chest from the throbbing pain, spreading outward like ivy and wrapping around every piece of me until I feel like I’ll buckle beneath its weight. I don’t want to do this, but I also don’t know if I could ever look her in the eyes again and not see all the trauma from my past.

Both options are painful, clamping down on either side of me and tearing until I split in two; jagged pieces that won’t ever fit together again.

Emotion clogs up my throat, tears burning behind my eyes. I exhale, my cheeks puffing out as I try to shake off the sadness.

I know that in my heart of hearts, this is what I have to do.

So I turn off the car, open the door and walk to the motel room to see Seth.

The way I always have.


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