Indebted Epilogue Page 2

I would be lying if I said entering the muggy warmth had been easy. The scars on my back twinged. The crack of the whip as Jethro hit me for the First Debt hovering in the stagnant air.

Orchids and white jasmine perfumed the air, granting peace where before there’d been only pain. I hadn’t been back since that day, but it didn’t give me nightmares with unresolved issues.

I found closure by trailing my fingers on the post where Jethro had tied me. I smiled softly as I weaved old memories with new—knowing my plan of making him care had worked.

We’d begun this as enemies, fighting against each other.

But we’d ended up as partners, stopping the war side by side.

The tapping noise came again, hidden by foliage on the other side of the octagon.

I stood up just as Jethro stepped into the room, his golden eyes more amber honey in the gentle sunshine of the glasshouse.

“I looked for you in our wing.” Jethro’s gaze narrowed on the whipping post in the centre of the octagon. Newly budded flowers and juvenile vines helped hide its original occupation. “I never expected to find you in here.”

Moving toward me, his touch landed on my shoulders, digging deep with need and love. “You okay?”

Sunlight highlighted his silvering hair, glittering like some expensive thread. His cheekbones cut shadows, his brow etched with contours. And his lips…his lips were slightly parted and damp from his tongue.

Ever since Cut had taken his last breath, Jethro had changed. Not significantly but enough to notice subtle evolutions. He held himself higher, not proud like the rightful heir to his fortune, but like a man no longer crippled with negativity and hatred seeping from the air.

He looked younger, wiser, calmer, gentler.

I smiled softly, lifting my hand in invitation. “I am now you’re here.”

His fingers slinked through mine, sending arcs of electricity into my heart. He squeezed, bending his elegant legs to sit beside me, dragging me back to the bench.

I sat willingly, melting into his side, inhaling his unique scent of woods and leather.

Hip to hip, thigh to thigh, our hearts beat to the same rhythm.

Sighing contentedly, I snuggled into him, kissing his throat as his arm wrapped around my shoulders, gluing me tighter against him. “What are you thinking about?”

I closed my eyes, letting the gentle warmth of late spring’s sunshine eradicate any leftover history. “You can’t tell?”

Jethro shook his head. “It’s scrambled. You’re sad but not. Happy but calm.” He pulled away, looking into my eyes. “You’re focusing on too much too fast.”

My lips twitched. “Ah, finally a way to fool you. I was beginning to think I’d never be able to keep a secret.”

His face darkened. “You promised there would be no need for secrets.” Anxiety stiffened his body. “Is everything…okay?” He waved at the room. “Did you come here for a reason? Do you still hate me for that day? For hurting you so much?” His voice lowered with regret. “Fuck, Nila. I’d give anything to rewind the clock and—”

“Shush.” I cupped my hand over his mouth. His five o’clock shadow rasped beneath my palm. “Everything is fine. I’m just…sitting still. If that makes sense. I’m letting my thoughts wander without thinking, finding ends to things that need to be finished.”

Imprisoning my wrist with his fingers, he tugged my hand away from his mouth. “That makes perfect sense.”

His fingers drew lazy circles on my inner wrist, sending delicious shivers over my skin. Looking at the blooming flowers and exotic breeds, he fell silent.

For a while, we didn’t say anything, both of us lost in our own thoughts. Every breath I took scattered rainbow-diamonds over our laps. My Weaver Wailer—or should I say Hawk Redeemer—was the last piece, the final symbol that the past few months weren’t a nightmare but real.

And I’d survived them.

Even if there was a way to get it off, I didn’t want to. I’d grown accustomed to the weight. I wore its fracturing rainbows with pride, and I liked the thought of the diamonds being my friend instead of my enemy, gracing my body until I took my last inhale.

Jethro kissed the top of my head. “I have something for you.”

“Oh?” I pulled away, looking into his gorgeous face. “Do I need to be worried?” My thoughts filled with teasing. We’d all been so serious; it was time to play again. My lips spread as I asked, “Is it time for another de—”

“If you ask me if it’s another debt, I’ll put you over my knee right here and spank you.” His voice flirted with gruff and sexy.

My eyes flittered to the post, a coy smirk widening. “You know you could spank me on the pole and replace the First Debt with a better ending.”

His throat contracted as he swallowed. “What better ending?” His eyes flashed dark. “If I remember rightly, I almost raped you after that debt. I felt sick to my fucking stomach for ever thinking that way, let alone being turned on by hurting you.”

He looked away, shaking his head in disgust. “I don’t understand how I got off on that. How I could ignore your pain and find anything remotely erotic about it.” He curled his lips. “You called me a sadist, remember? I refuted it, but once I’d finished tending to your back, I wondered if you were right. How could someone like me—someone who’s gone his entire life absorbing other’s thoughts—suddenly be turned on by another’s agony?”

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