Submission Is Not Enough(7)

By: Lexi Blake

“I’ll get the van started.” Hutch nodded to him, their eyes meeting in silent promise. Hutch would watch over her. Hutch had been his friend for years. He would watch Erin, make sure she was all right.

He had seconds left. Oh, his body might go on for a few moments more, but she had to leave. He stared at Erin. His love. His joy. Did she know how much joy she’d brought him? “Let Case take care of you. He won’t…he won’t know what to do. Took care of me so long, he doesn’t know what to do with himself. Now go, baby. I’m done.”

He let his head roll back. He felt a bit stronger than he wanted her to know. Faith’s hand on his chest made it easier for him to breathe. He might make it long enough to have one of the senator’s men shoot him in the head. But Erin would live. His team would live.

He was going to miss his brothers, but she was everything. They would take care of her. He had not a single doubt in his head. His brothers would watch out for the love of his life. She would be family to them, a Taggart if not in name then by the force of his love.

“No. You promised.” Erin held his hand to her chest and he felt something wet hit his face.

She was crying. For him.

“Such a pretty girl.” He didn’t want her to cry. “Don’t cry. You never cry.”

“Don’t do this to me.” Her jaw was set in a stubborn line. “You don’t get to do this, Taggart.”

“Erin, ask Tag…” He could barely speak. He had to tell her, had to ask this one thing of her. “Fuck, ask Tag to forgive me.”

Her head shook. “No. No. You tell him yourself.”

“Love you, baby. Forever.” He went still. They were out of time. He was too weak, but he could make one last sacrifice for her. She would stay with him. She would die with him. They all would.

“Theo? Theo?” Erin’s voice became panicked and she tried to shake him.

He wanted to hold on to her forever, but he let his body go limp. Right before he gave in to the darkness, he felt her warmth. She’d loved him.

That meant she could love someone else, someone better. It meant she could move on and find the life she deserved and his family would stand beside her.

She wasn’t alone. He’d done that one thing for her.

It was so odd that he wasn’t angry, wasn’t sad. All he could feel as his strength drained was an overwhelming grace.

He’d been loved. By his brother, Case. He couldn’t have asked for more. He’d been blessed again when he’d found Ian and Sean and taken his place in this weird and wonderful family.

And Erin. His stubborn girl. She’d loved him and he’d given her a home and a family.

It was a good fucking life to be loved. It was all a man could hope for.

He tried to tell her again, to tell her he would love her forever, that if there was any way, some odd place where souls could meet in the after, he would find a way to wait for her, to watch over her.

But the darkness came, its warmth flowing around him.

Theo Taggart died with one prayer—that she would live and be happy.

He came to in a cold white room, nausea rolling through his system.

It was too bright, too much for his eyes to handle.

He was going to throw up.

Something cool washed over him, as though calming water rushed through his veins.

“The anti-nausea drug I gave you should be working right about now,” a soft voice said. “Sorry. I thought you would sleep longer. I should have known you were strong as a bull. How do you feel?”

Disoriented. So fucking confused. Where was he? What the hell had happened? He tried to sit up but strong hands pressed him down.

“Don’t try to move,” the feminine voice said. “You’ve recently had some serious surgery. I was able to stabilize you back in the Caymans, but we had to come to Havana to perform the real miracle. You almost didn’t make it.”

“Make it?” His lips felt so dry, his throat parched. Why did everything hurt? “Why are you holding me down?”

“Don’t mind Robert. He’s only doing as I asked. If you’ll be still, he’ll let you go. You have to understand that the bindings are there for your protection. You can’t struggle against them or you’ll undo all my good work.”

Bindings? He tried to move his legs and sure enough something stopped him. He was trapped. His wrists were held to the bed. Was he in some kind of hospital?

“Where am I?” Intel. He needed intel. That’s what his brother had taught him.

He had a brother. His mind was foggy, but he was pretty sure he had a brother.

Shouldn’t he know?

“I think he’s fine now, Robert.” A woman’s face came into view. She was blonde, her hair in a chic bob. So unlike Erin.