Bound By Vengeance(88)

By: Cora Reilly

“You once told me I needed to be brave. Who’s not brave now?” I challenged.

Growl whirled on me, grabbed me by the shoulders and pressed me against the wall. “I want you. I want you to stay with me because you want to stay. I want you to want me.”

I exhaled. “I do.”

Growl released me. “Do what?”

“Want you. Want to stay with you.”

Growl stared. “I…I think.” He ran a hand down his face. “I’m no good with words. You know that.”

“But you could be. Perhaps you just need to try,” I said softly.

His eyes filled with resolve. “Not much scares me anymore,” he rumbled. “But this, between us, it does. My emotions they do scare me.”

“But why?”

“I gave up hoping for something good a long time ago. It made things easier. Nothing could hurt me. Pain is nothing. People’s insults mean nothing. I cared about nothing. There was nothing I had to fear. But when I got you, I suddenly realized what kind of life I’d led. How little everything had meant. And while I was fighting Falcone’s men, I realized how much I enjoyed being with you, having someone to talk to, sharing meals with you, walking Coco and Bandit with you, and even sharing a bed with you. I never thought I could like that kind of thing, never thought that I might need something like that, but now…” He trailed off, the uncertainty back. “Now I’m fucking scared to lose all that, to lose you. I never knew I needed you but now I can’t imagine being without you. I…I love you, Cara.”

I let out a shuddering breath. I’d never expected those words from Growl. Not even close. I touched his heart and cheek. “And I love you, Growl.”

Aria had been right. I needed to make a choice. And I chose love. Mother would come to accept that. After all, she’d once given up everything to follow love.

“Ryan,” he growled. The name sounded wrong coming from his lips, like they weren’t used to forming those letters anymore.


“That’s my real name.”

“Oh,” I whispered, overwhelmed by the situation. “That’s a beautiful name.”

He smiled tentatively. It still surprised me how it changed his edgy face. He leaned down and kissed me, then pulled back a few inches.

“I want New York to be a new beginning for me and you, if you want that too. And I want to be known as Ryan in this new life.”

“And I want a new beginning with you, Ryan,” I said. He wrapped his arms around me and held me tightly.

“I don’t deserve you,” he murmured against my hair. “Yet. But I will.”