“If you do this . . .” Taking in a deep breath she paused, as if needing strength to continue. Trent remained silent, waiting as she gathered the nerve to tell him to go and fuck himself. “If you do this, I can’t be here when you come back. Emma and I—we can’t be a part of this life.”
Her fatalistic tone scared the hell out of him, and Trent knew this wasn’t some exaggerated threat. He made to speak, to remind her that he was doing this for his family, but Ace, who’d been unusually quiet, grunted from behind him.
“Looks like you got a choice to make, Marine.” He stepped out of the house, eyes narrowing as he took in the scene. “Walk away from her . . .” The sound of his boots hitting the porch grew louder, and one of the men lit a cigarette, while the other cocked his weapon. “Or you can walk away from me.”
The not-so-veiled threat reminded Trent that when this was over, Ace would pay. He swallowed hard before he looked back to Teal.
But Ace wasn’t done. “Don’t make the wrong choice, because if you think I’ve been an asshole to her before, well then Marine, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”
Trent glanced around, taking in Mutt’s restless movements, and Gator’s gun, cocked and loaded.
He closed the little distance between him and Teal, and leaned down and kissed her lips. The taste of her so familiar and sweet, his body yearned for more.
Holding back, he moved away and side stepped, making room for her to go back in the house. “You may want to pack some shit up for you and Emma Mae.”
Teal closed her eyes for the briefest of moments and swayed, before opening them and turning away. The cold hollow sound of her voice punched Trent in the gut. “There’s nothing left for us in that house; nothing that can’t be replaced.”
Those words wounded him more than any bullet ever had, pained him more than the sight of her walking away, because she was right. There wasn’t anything in that home she couldn’t replace, including him.
He watched the taillights as they disappeared into the night, his gut churning until finally, his body went numb.
Mutt slapped Trent on the back, then draped an arm over his shoulder. “She’ll come back. They always do.”
Trent turned and eyed the man. He hadn’t expected the candor of his voice, nor the look of understanding in his eyes when his gaze met his. But just as fast as it been there, it was gone, along with the weight of his arm.
“Fuck yeah, even when you tell them bitches to stay gone.” Gator shoved his gun back in his pants and clapped his hands together. “Let’s get this shit on the road, shall we?” He shoulder-bumped Trent as he pushed past him.
Trent growled. “You motherfuckers want to act like you didn’t cost me the one thing—”
“No, no.” Ace’s voice was low and menacing. “Dipping your dick in that blonde chick when you knew she wasn’t worth more than a one-time fuck. That’s what cost you.” Ace pointed to the direction Teal had driven off in. “You want that woman back? You shore up your past and get your fucking shit in order.”
Trent felt his hand grip his gun, and before he knew it, his gun was drawn and pointed in Ace’s mean-looking mug. The reason Ace had a gun in his face wasn’t because he’d called in his boon, it was because Trent knew he was right. Shayla had been trouble from the second she’d sauntered her ass up to him. The problem was, he hadn’t cared. He’d had an image to uphold, and a blonde bombshell on his arm added to the picture, no matter how much of a pain in the ass she’d been.
“Shit, man,” Gator’s slow southern drawl held a warning Trent wasn’t sure he’d heed. “Calm down, Marine.”
He heard the boots moving to attention, and the guns being pulled from leathers. Though his mind told him that even with his three weapons, he was outgunned and outnumbered, he couldn’t find the fucking sense to lower the gun.
Ace’s lips curved into a knowing smile. He knew—hell, everyone knew—that Trent was fucked six ways till Sunday if he pulled the trigger.
Trent moved the gun what seemed to be a millimeter away from his mark, his aim somewhere off in the distance, and pulled the trigger. The sound of the bullet exploding from the muzzle shocked him out of his rage, and reminded him of what he had to lose had he shot Ace.
Ace smiled and strode to Trent, gun in hand. Though his gait flowed like water, slow, sure, and steady, a tumultuous storm raged behind his eyes. “Marine, I’m gonna give you that one, seeing as how your lady friend broke your heart and all.”
Trent felt his temper boiling up again, his aversion to this man and infuriation at his own situation, pulled bile from his gut and pushed it up his throat. Still, the only fear Trent felt was at the loss of his wife and child.
He closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths to calm his raging nerves. He couldn’t allow himself to get killed, whether he was coming back to an empty home or not.
“But the next time you aim that mother fucker at me . . .” Ace eyed Trent with the devious smile of a man who feared nothing—a man with nothing to lose. “You better pull that goddamned trigger.”