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Deadline to Damnation (Sons of Templar #7)
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My life is about the story.
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“Do you trust me?” he asked, holding out his hand.
I took it without hesitation. Everything I did with Liam was without hesitation.
He grinned, teeth white and straight, smile melting my heart the exact same way it had in the halls of Castle Springs High School two years ago.
He glanced down at the twinkling water below us, then back to me, his eyes carved emeralds. They were brighter when he was happy. They almost glowed now. Especially when they run up and down my swimsuit-clad body.
I blushed under the heat of his gaze. The knowing. And he did know my body. Every inch. Since he’d taken my virginity six months ago and treated it like a gift. Treated me like a gift. A treasure.
“You want me to go first, wait for you below, or you want to take the leap with me?”
Again, there was no hesitation. “I want to take the leap with you.”
Something moved in his eyes, they brightened, with the mischievous glint that he was known for as a teenage boy. But something else, something that belonged on the face of a man. Which was what he was turning into. His lean muscles were bulking up. His face was getting sharper, more straight edges. And then there was the way he made me feel like a woman. Only a man could do that.
His grip tightened on my hand as he yanked me in, kissing me brutally and beautifully. I melted in his arms.
His eyes were dark when he pulled back, dark with a man’s desire. He glanced down to my bikini again. With hunger.
My stomach flipped. And it had nothing to do with the cliff we were about to hurl ourselves off of.
“Ready?” he murmured.
“Always,” I whispered back.
Then we jumped.
“Why are you doing this?” I demanded, ripping myself from his arms. Something I’d never done before, his arms were the place I’d live forever if I could.
Where I’d planned to live forever.
Until he told me his plans.
Plans that he’d made without telling me. While promising us a future. While we talked about our marriage, made a blueprint for an entire lifetime. He was making those promises to me while making life-changing decisions without me.
Decisions that would take him to a war half a world away, without a promise of return.
“Because it’s something I have to do, babe,” he said, voice hard. I’d never heard it like that before. “You know that.”
“No, I don’t know anything!” I screamed. I’d never screamed at him before. “I thought I knew you. Knew us. And now you want to take yourself away from everything to fight in a war that isn’t even yours?”
Those hard edges I’d noticed in the softness of today sharpened even more. Sharp enough to cut. There was no boy from today left. “It is my war,” he replied. “And yours.” He paused, running his hands through his hair as he did when he was frustrated. It was silky, long. I loved to run my fingers through it. It’d be short, gone like the boy of today when the army shaved off his hair and his youth. I took it all in. The hair. The emerald eyes, his handsome, breathtaking face. The one that stole all the girl’s hearts at school, but the one who’d only been focused on me.
And he’d never looked at me like this before. With this hardness. With something missing. He was detaching himself from me. Already. The decision was made. Cold terror washed over me. I’d been so confident of the control I had over my life, blissfully happy, wandering around town with a small but heavy diamond on my finger and love in my heart. I’d never had a reason to guard my happiness, I’d grown up in a good family who nurtured me, I hadn’t experienced hardship or real tragedy. I saw it, on TV, in other people, so I knew it existed, but I was stupid enough to think it wasn’t going to happen to me. I was used to clear blue sky. I forgot that storms existed.
“You knew I was going to enlist,” he said finally.
I shook my head rapidly, calling up snatches of conversation where he’d mentioned the army casually, without any commitment. “No, I knew that you got into Harvard. Full scholarship. I knew you’re the smartest person in the room, and that you’re going to be somebody. I knew we had plans to go to colleges close together, to live together when we were done. Take on the world. I didn’t know you were going to throw it all away.” I paused, tears prickling the backs of my eyes. “I didn’t know you were going to throw us away,” I choked out.
The naïve happiness of our day was a faint memory and I felt like I’d never be happy again like I had been in that moment. When the future was as cloudless as the sky above us and as clear as the water we’d jumped into.