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Drowning to Breathe(5)

By:A. L. Jackson

The one who wanted something more. To be something better.

I wanted it so fucking bad I’d gone and forgotten all the garbage still eating at my heels.

Forgot about the fact I was either going back to jail or back on the road. Instead, I carried on with Shea like I was always gonna be here, wanting her and Kallie as my own when the shit in my life owned me.

Now with Kallie and Shea being tied to Jennings?

I had no idea how to make any of this right.

He cleared his throat. “I know you’re already well aware of this, but there is no question he’s out for blood, and you’ve become his target. I won’t pretend to know Shea or her little girl, but the fact he’s willing to use his own child as bait shows how ruthless he is.”

“She’s not his child.” I spat it out faster than I could think better of it, like I had the fucking right to claim it.

“No? That’s not what the paperwork says.” Exasperation laced his words, before they slowed with caution. “I’ve always been on your side, Baz, and I’m always going to be. You deserve happiness, more than just about anyone I know. But you’re going to have to ask yourself if this is worth getting your hands dirtier than they already are.”

Worth it?

Anthony had no clue Shea and Kallie were worth everything.

I’d give up anything and everything to protect them.

Even if it meant what I was giving up was them.

I didn’t give him a straight answer. Instead, I gritted my teeth and forced out the words. “All I want you to worry about is getting that little girl back where she belongs.”

Anthony pushed out a heavy breath. “Okay. I’m taking a red-eye. I leave in two hours. You and I will talk when I get there. But whatever you decide, I’m going to be at your side through all of this.”

Of course he was. Never once had he let me down.

His voice took on the tone he reserved for business. “I got in touch with Kenny. He was able to contact a family attorney in Savannah. He’s supposed to be good. Really good. He has a meeting set up for Shea first thing in the morning. I’ll have the details with me when I get there.”

“Thank you,” I muttered roughly.

I hated the callus way he’d just laid everything out, not having a clue just how deep I’d gotten. Yet I couldn’t find it in me to be pissed at my friend.

He didn’t know how important Shea had become. What she meant.

Or what loving her might cost.

Guess I hadn’t, either.

I ended the call, reluctant to look back on her.

She was shaking when I finally did. Her hands were clasped in front of her like she was sending up a prayer. “What did he say?”

“What I knew all along. Me bein’ in your life is only gonna hurt you. Hurt Kallie. And there isn’t a chance in this godforsaken world I’ll be the one to stand in the way of you getting your daughter back.”

I snagged my shirt from where it’d been discarded on the floor and yanked it over my head. The fabric stuck to my damp flesh. I shoved my feet in my boots. The whole time Shea watched me as if she couldn’t comprehend what was happening any more than I could.

Then she rushed to stand. The towel dropped from her shoulders as she took an anguished step forward. “Don’t you dare leave me, Sebastian Stone.”

Her pink pajamas were still wet, the cut of those long, toned legs set firm in their defiance, shirt clinging to her soft, soft skin.

So perfect.

So gorgeous.

The girl everything I never knew I wanted.

“I’m sorry,” I barely breathed. It was the truth. I was fucking sorry. Sorry I wasn’t different. Sorry I wasn’t better. Sorry she hadn’t been more honest. Sorry our worlds had collided in a way they never should.

“The two of us?” I shook my head. “Maybe we’re no good for each other, after all.”

We were nothing but volatile, kindling and gas and the strike of a match.

I took a step toward the door. It hurt so bad my voice went flat. “I will do everything I can to help you get Kallie back. My attorney contacted someone who can help you. I don’t care what it costs. I’ll pay anything. Won’t stop until it’s done.”

I turned and strode across the landing, focused ahead.

Shea clamored behind me. Her breaths came harsh and hard. “Sebastian…don’t.”

I made it down three stairs.

“Look at me,” she begged.

My feet faltered. I couldn’t resist. I looked back. Looked back on beauty. Both her hands were fisted between her breasts, right over her heart I was sure I could hear above the roar in my ears. That sweet, innocent spirit calling out for me above the slow seeping pain that groaned from within.