"You're leaving him there?!" I stare at him aghast. He nods and reverses down the drive and onto the road before speeding away.
"Text your parents. We have to talk without interruptions," he commands, and I quickly shoot off a text to my Mom.
Luckily I had texted her last night to gush about my evening before falling to sleep. I realise my hands are still shaking as we pull into a diner not far from the house. We walk in and I was relieved to see it was mostly empty, so we chose a booth towards the back as a waiter came over and took our orders.
I stare at Cal, waiting for him to speak. He meets my gaze and nods.
"What the fuck just happened?" I whisper.
"So, New York. The house we broke into? It was my girlfriend's."
He has the grace to look down then, before he continues.
"Lucia. No one knew we were seeing each other. She wasn't meant to be in."
He closes his eyes, clearly remembering that night.
"We were almost done. She came in, saw us all."
I don't know what to say, so I just remain quiet.
The waiter comes over, placing our milkshakes in front of us, which we both leave untouched.
"You could do with the sugar, for shock."
Cal nods at mine. I fold my arms and stare at him.
He looks at me through those beautiful dark eye lashes.
"I told her to run," he whispers, his eyes hardening. "She didn't. They dragged her upstairs. I ran towards her and tried to stop them. They were men, Gretchen. She was a young girl. I lied to you before. I didn't run...But they weren't about to let me stop them. They punched me hard enough to knock me out. When I came to, there were police everywhere."
I realise I have tears running down my face. He was struggling now, his face creased with emotion.
"She never told them we were seeing each other. The police guessed I had a part in it."
I swallow, barely able to breathe as I imagine a young Cal going through this.
"I had a good lawyer. Lucia survived, but only just. She can never have children and she doesn't leave her house. She has no life, not really."
His voice is full of sadness and sorrow.
"I admitted to taking part in the robbery but not what happened to her. Not that, ever."
His voice is full of disgust.
"So yeah, Verno was Lucia's pops. He wanted me dead. In his eyes even if I didn't touch her, I didn't help her either."
I reach out and hold his hand and he looks at me in surprise.
"Go on," I plead, my voice is broken but I want him to tell me everything.
"I got a fine, and a caution. I was the youngest. Four of the men went to prison for what they did. They got five fucking years. It was a mockery of the justice system. So Verno created his own justice system. They died, in jail."
He says this with no emotion.
"So, Andre?" I ask, "What did he do?"
Cal's face changes to that of pure anger.
"He was vile Raven, really fucking bad. Like, to the core. He went on the run. I never heard from him or saw him until today. He was the worst of them all- what he did to her-"
He shakes his head violently as if trying to erase the memory.
"It was just me and him left and Verno wanted us both dead."
I stare at him, trying to process everything he had just told me. I reach forward and drink my milkshake in a few gulps.
I wish it was wine.
Cal watched me carefully.
"He must've found out she was my...girlfriend."
He looks like he is in physical pain. I can't even begin to comprehend what he was telling me. We sit in silence as we absorb what has been said.
"So that's why you killed him today," I say softly, my voice lower than a whisper.
He doesn't onfirm this verbally, but he doesn't have to. His face says it all.
"He would have really hurt you Gretchen. I couldn't let that happen again; no way. I just couldn't. What he is capable of-"
He closes his eyes and his hand tightens around mine.
Cal killed a man. For me. For Lucia too, I realise sadly. He killed an awful man, who would have probably killed us both if given the chance.
"So the body-" I start before Cal places a finger to his lips to silence me.
"Will be gone shortly. I have to go back to meet with Verno. I have to end this baby."
What?! Is he fucking insane? Verno would kill him surely?
"No Cal. No. I'm going with you," I stammer, wondering why I was saying this. Love really is blind, and fucking stupid too.
His eyes meet mine coldly as I sit back in fear.
"No Gretchen, you're not. This is not up for debate. I need you to be safe. I also need you to know how much I love you, ok? No matter what."
His eyes burn into mine as he grabs my hand and squeezes it.
"I can't believe what you had to see today. I am so sorry. So fucking sorry. I swear I think you need time to process-"
This time I snap.
"No. No I don't. Because unfortunately for me, you don't get to choose who you fall in love with. I fucking love you. You saved me."
His eyes shine with love as he gazes at me.
"So I kill a man and you still want to be with me? Wow. You are marriage material indeed."
He attempts a smile. "I'm going to get you home. I have to be back at mine shortly."