Cav lied to me.
Bile rises in my throat. How could I be so wrong?
I wrap my arms around my body, cold chills racing across my skin despite the heat of the Belizean morning. Static fills my head. Or is that the blood rushing in my ears?
My brother’s voice pierces the white noise. “He’s my fucking half brother.”
That can’t be right. Impossible.
I’m transported back to the day Creighton told me all the secrets our uncle had spewed. That Creighton wasn’t his nephew. Which meant he wasn’t my full brother. That our mother was the mistress of some mobster who would never marry her because he was already married.
And Cav is the mobster’s son too.
Every piece I fit together in my brain triggers another twist of my belly until I’m nauseated.
But one thought overarches it all, and I curl my fingers into the fabric of my shirt to keep my hands from visibly trembling as I repeat it in my head. Cav lied to me. Every step of the way.
I know I should look at him, but I can’t do it. I’m not physically equipped to face that kind of deceit head-on. My eyes won’t cooperate, studying the lines of grout on the tile floor instead.
Another shiver rips through me, and this time I almost throw up in my mouth.
Please, God, tell me I didn’t accidentally commit some kind of incest.
“Who is your mother?” I ask Cav, my voice shaking as I stare at the floor.
“Greer, look at me.” His tone is quiet but forceful.
“Don’t fucking tell her what to do,” Creighton says, the words firing like invisible bullets at Cav.
“Because only you get to tell her what to do?” Cav’s voice is laced with acid. “You have to control everyone and everything around you, Karas. She’s a fucking person with a mind of her own. Not one of your subordinates.”
The front door to the house flies open, but I don’t honestly care who else is coming in. All I want is the answer to my question and for the buzzing in my head to stop, preferably thanks to lots and lots of alcohol. I think I’ve earned it.
“Who is your mother?” I repeat, perilously close to hysteria.
It isn’t Cav who answers me, though. Creighton does.
“She was Dom Casso’s mistress after our mother, Greer. You’re not related to this piece of shit. Only I am.”
If the logical part of my brain were functioning correctly, I probably would have pieced that together myself without needing to ask, but I’m too off-balance right now. Something inside me feels broken, but I refuse to admit it’s my heart.
It can’t be.
“Greer—” Cav starts again, but Cannon interrupts.
“Crey, you ready? The airport isn’t going to let the jet sit for much longer. They want us out now.” My brother’s second-in-command—his sidekick, really—steps through the door to the bedroom.
“Come on, let’s go,” Creighton says to me, holding out his hand.
“Greer, you’re not leaving with him. Look at me, goddammit.” Cav’s tone is pure command, but I don’t make any move to comply.
“Don’t you fucking tell her what to do.” Creighton’s words resemble a growl.
White noise overwhelms my thoughts. Information and emotion overload. I’m paralyzed, my feet rooted to the floor, my arms frozen around me.
“Look at me, baby girl. Please.”
I drag my gaze from the floor at Cav’s feet and up toward his face. It could have taken five seconds or five minutes, but my sense of time is shattered. Twenty minutes ago, I was asleep with this man wrapped around me, but when I look at him now, I see a stranger.
I don’t know him. At all. I never have. The truth beats into my head like the waves crashing on the shore outside.
Creighton steps closer and wraps a strong arm around my shoulders, allowing me to sag into his strength. My big brother has never done anything but shield me from everything bad in the world. He’s the one person in my life I can truly count on. No hidden motives. Just . . . overbearing protectiveness.
“We’re leaving. And if you so much as come within two hundred yards of her, I’ll have Dom deal with you.”
Cav’s father. The mobster. Creighton’s father. The mobster.
I can’t. Can’t process. The pieces aren’t snapping together anymore; they’re lying scattered on the metaphorical floor of my brain like a toddler threw a tantrum.
When Creighton’s feet move and the arm around me forces me to step toward the door, I go.
“She’s not leaving with you.”
It’s a declaration, but I can barely hear it over the buzzing in my head.
Cannon swoops in behind me, and I imagine he and Cav are facing off like boxers in a ring. I don’t turn my head to see. My body won’t have it.
He lied. About everything. The words tumble through my brain on repeat. I gave him the most vulnerable parts of me, and he’s never given me the truth. About anything.
Every repetition is another fist to the gut. And if I’m being honest—maybe to my heart.
The static grows louder in my head, drowning out the shouting in the bedroom as I let Creighton lead me, one foot in front of the other, out the door of the beach house.
So much for fantasies becoming real.
“Get out of my fucking way.” If this slick fuck doesn’t step back right now, I’m going to knock his head off his shoulders. Greer just walked out the door, looking half-drunk from the bullshit she was fed.
I need to get to her. Need to explain. It wasn’t all a lie. She’s only getting half the story—the half they want her to hear—and now this prick is blocking my path from the bedroom.
I don’t hesitate to swing. What shocks me is how quickly he dodges the blow—like a seasoned boxer. What surprises me even more is the fist that flies toward my jaw and connects.
The burst of pain doesn’t register because everything is already black.
Cav didn’t even try to follow me.
It’s just one more thought that joins those on shuffle in my brain as we reach cruising altitude and the jet’s Wi-Fi kicks in. The static has died down, and now I feel . . . empty. Hurt. And the hurt is filling in the emptiness faster than I expected.
After digging into the bag of clothes Creighton stashed in the bedroom at the back of the jet, I change out of the dress I wore last night. The dress I wore before I gave up that last slip of my virginity . . . to a man who lied to me from the day we met.