I have to admit I'm more than a little blindsided by her confession..
I had been expecting her to tell me she had some kind of affair she was ashamed of.. Or share some of her father's torrid political skeletons, but this.. This is fucking monumental..
Human trafficking, slavery, torture, forced marriage.. I hate to think what else.. The things she's been through are comparable to the most horrific things I ever saw during my deployment in the special forces, or my time in the IRA ..
And believe me, I saw some fucked up shit..
Things that I still have flashbacks to and nightmares over to this day.. But through all that I had my boys, the Marines.. Yevie got to where she is all by herself, fuck, I don't know how she survived..
"I'm not goin' anywhere, Yevie. You need me.." She lifts her watery gaze to me and shakes her head, sending her waves whipping and tumbling over her shoulders..
"I know I do.. But I'm poisoned now.. I can't stop it.. Maybe I never could.. They are going to make me suffer for my disobedience.. There was no point in dragging you into this, Patrick .. God, I'm so sorry.." She sobs again, this time her shoulders jerk from the force of it..
I pull her from her seat into my lap, cradling her head to my chest as she cries against my bare skin.. I can feel her warm tears as the fall from her cheeks to streak down my abdomen.. "Shhh princess.. I've got you.." She sniffles and pulls back to look up at me. Even with puffy, red-rimmed eyes she is still the most beautiful woman I've ever seen..
"Why aren't you freaking out right now?" Her voice trembles and her delicate features scrunch up critically..
I huff out a long breath.. She said she didn't care about my secrets, and I hope she was telling the truth because right now my secrets are her only chance of getting out of this..
I can't fix this by myself.. I'm going to need Specter and Alpha Team's assistance on this one.. "Yevette.. When I told ya I was a sniper in the Marines that was the truth.. But, I also shoulda' told ya that I was a Devil Dog.." She stares at me blankly.. The terminology clearly lost on her.. "Special forces, princess.." I explain..
Her pretty amber eyes widen as she follows my meaning.. Generally speaking, special forces officers are known for being one thing..
Probably why Spectre employs so many of them..
"Archer, Jackson and me, we served together.. N' Once we got out, a woman - Ah, Iris Santiago, recruited us to the private security firm we all work for now, Spectre. When I met you, our task force - Alpha Team - was working a job at Carrington Corp.."
She shakes her head, disbelieving.. "Wait.. You're saying you're like in some kind of secret agent.. private investigation squad..Team, thingy.. Along with Honey's boyfriend and Ellerie's ex?"
I can't help it, I let out a small chuckle at her phrasing and the fact that she already knows about Devereux and Ford knockin' boots.. "Ah, Ellerie Devereux is a member of Alpha team, too.. Heh.. 'Secret agent private investigation squad team thingy'.. That's catchy, we should put it on our t-shirts.."
"Sure..You could.." She replies as though she is not really listening, instead she is far off in her mind, trying to process the information I'm throwing at her.. Suddenly her eyes clear and her head snaps up in my direction.. "So.. Honey knows about this?"
I nod.. Making a mental note to text Honey a heads up that her BFF knows she's been keeping secrets.. She will be happy.. After all, she's been busting my balls about coming clean for weeks.. "She does. After she found out about Archer n' Alpha Team, she actually asked me to keep you safe.." I tuck a loose cocoa lock of her hair back behind her ear.. "You n' me, we had already become friendly by that point.. I figured there wasn' any harm in keeping an eye out.."
Her eyes search mine.. Probably for any hints that I'm still holding back.. But I'm not.."So you knew about Zach from the beginning? The attack.. The trial.."
I nod.. "Yeah, I knew.."
She sucks in a sharp breath.. "Was it real? Our friendship.. It was real, wasn't it?.. It felt real.."
I smiled down at her, of course it was real. Everything I ever felt for Yevie since the moment I laid eyes on her was real.. This literal angel who came out of nowhere and landed in the centre of my universe.. "It was all real, princess.. Hell, I didn' even tell the bossman about us until a few days ago.. You were never a job to me, Yevie.. You were always that sweet girl who smiled at the new guy in the office one mornin' and made me want to forget who I really was.."
She tucks the lock that has fallen loose again back behind her ear and closes her eyes.. "This is a lot.. I mean.. I'm not upset with you.. At least, I don't think I am.." She slides down from my lap and pads around to the other side of the kitchen bench, then back.. "It wouldn't be fair, I wasn't honest either.." She paces again, back to the other side..
"It's not really the same, princess.. It would be understandable if you were pissed.." And back around to stand in front of me again.. She's like a nervous bundle of energy as she bounces on the balls of her tiny bare feet..
"No.. It's not the same.. But.. It's not - not the same.. You know?" I nod.. I understand guilt, I have enough of my own to recognise it in her eyes..
"If yer not mad, then I'm not gunna' argue against meself.. I'm fuckin' relieved.." She smiles at me with an adoration in her eyes that I'm not quite sure I deserve.. But I'll still take it.
"How could I be angry at you for trying to protect me?" She lifts her hand to my jaw and strokes her fingertips along the stubble that has appeared since I shaved this morning.. "Why are you telling me this now, Patrick?"
I place my hands on either side of her waist now.. I'm still half expecting her to push me away, and my pulse thumps harder when she doesn't.. "Because ya asked, princess.. And because now I know Hunter Paxton is involved.."
I don't trust Paxton.. It's as simple as that. The bossman might think the CIA hot-shot is alright, but that's only because West's moral compass doesn't exactly point due north.. My sense of right and wrong is a little less in the grey than his.. But Paxton.. Well, I'm pretty sure his moral compass has been busted his whole life..
"Okay, who the heck is this Hunter Paxton?"
"He's CIA and he's a god damned snake in the grass.." Her eyebrows shoot up at the mention of the CIA and she considers my words..
"If he's CIA.. Why was the Senator asking about him at lunch?"
I hum in agreement.. "That's a good question, princess.. One I intend to find the answer to, fer sure.."
A long pause stretches out and we both stay frozen, eyes on each other until she speaks again.. "So that's it? All our secrets are out.."
I wince.. "There's jus' one more thing.."
She sighs and slips back into her seat next to me.. "Alright.. Go on.." She sips her scotch in preparation..
"For the last few years I've been tracking down the others who survived the IRA camp back home, but weren't as lucky as me.. I try to help the ones I find as much as I can.."
The glass clinks as she drops it back to the counter, surprised.. "That's.. Really noble of you Patrick.."
I shake my head, taking a swig of my own drink for good measure.. "It's really not.. I can help 'em, so I do.. But one of' em, the first one I found after I left the service, was a girl who had been my friend through some pretty fucked up shit.. Actually, you know her.. I kinda' made sure ya did.."
Yevie blinks at me.. "I do?..Who?" Her head cocks to one side quizzically..
Her mouth falls open just a little.."KC? My lawyer?"
I nod. I don't know.. Maybe if I hadn't done what I did, Yevie would have gotten different legal advice.. But Kirby - or Summer O'Cléirigh, as I knew her back in Ireland before she changed it to Kirby Carter - is a fucking excellent lawyer now.. So I doubt the outcome would have ever differed. "I may have prevented some other legal firms from taking you on so you would go to her.. I didn't tell her you were coming though.. I knew she would take you on without any encouragement.. She would've been just as surprised to see me in that courtroom as you that day.."
She's quiet for a moment, but then she smiles as she stands and reaches out to me, tugging my hands, signaling for me to stand up.. So I do.. "Wow.. So you're like, a sweetheart.. But a very sneaky one.."
I laugh.. Her acceptance of me, who I am and the things I've done, is almost overwhelming.. I hadn't dared to hope for this outcome but here it is, right in front of me..
And now that the truth is out, there's really nothing left to say.. I place two fingers beneath her chin, tilting it upwards so I can look into her golden eyes and my chest tightens with an ache in the best way..
Her hands come up around my neck and my cock twitches to life at her touch as she pulls me down towards her kissable cherry lips..