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Forgotten Luca (The Four #1)
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1086247809 (ISBN13: 9781086247800)
But his name wasn’t Billy and he’s no longer a frightened kid lost in a world where he was nothing more than a possession. His name is Remy, and while I didn’t recognize him upon meeting him again, he sure as hell remembers me.
It would be easier just to turn my back on him a second time, especially since that’s exactly what he wants, but there’s no way I can let the tormented young man go. At least not without trying to make things right first. The problem is, even if I can make up for leaving Remy behind so long ago, I’m not sure I’ll be able to walk away from him twice.
I don’t know what that means, but I do know that it scares the hell out of me.
Because needing in my world comes at a heavy price… one that not even I can afford to pay.
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“Yeah, he’s fine, Aleks. We’ll probably be talking long into the night, but I’ll have Remy check in with you tomorrow for sure.”
I didn’t know what to make of the fact that the young man who stepped into the darkened apartment was talking about himself in the third person, but part of me didn’t care as I drank in the sight of him. There was a light on just above him, but it was only enough to make out a few of his features.
But it didn’t matter because everything about him was stamped into the deepest recesses of my brain.
No, not Billy.
I’d known him only as Billy the first time I’d met him when he’d been a kid. That moment was also etched into my mind, but for very different reasons. And it seemed like it wasn’t just my brain that couldn’t rid itself of every second of that dark day when I’d done something, become somebody, I never would have dreamed possible.
Every cell in my body remembered that day.
The feel of the terrified, crying boy who’d had to have the strength of an adult to deal with what I’d had to do to him to keep us both breathing.
They would have left him alone, you cowardly piece of shit.
The voice in my head was ugly and cold, but I knew it was true.
Billy… no, Remy, wouldn’t have been punished for what had happened. He’d been too valuable to them.
I would’ve been the one who wouldn’t have walked out of that house alive.
The kid had saved my ass by playing along with everything I’d told him to do.
And I’d fucking left him there.
“Yeah, Aleks, here’s Remy. It was nice to meet you, finally, even if it was just over the phone,” Remy said. He had a messenger bag strapped across his midsection and sitting on one hip. I could see his left hand fisted on top of the cheap-looking material. His right hand was holding the phone against his ear. He pulled the phone away from his face for a moment as if he were actually going to hand it to someone. I watched as he drew in a deep breath, then put the phone back to his ear.
“Satisfied?” he asked with what probably was supposed to have been a humorous drawl, but he didn’t smile. The voice he used was the same one I’d heard earlier in the day right before he’d slammed his fist into my jaw.
His natural voice.
“Yeah, Joe’s great,” Remy said.
I knew he was talking to Aleks Silva, my brother’s boyfriend. What I didn’t understand was why he had pretended to be someone else… Joe.
Who the fuck was Joe?
I actually felt jealousy curl through my belly, and that made me want to throw up.
Because no way in hell could I or should I be attracted to this young man.
Not after what I’d done to him.
“Yeah, I’m just going to stay with Joe for a few days… until he’s sure I’ll be okay on my own,” Remy said, his voice a strange mix of confidence and certainty that, again, didn’t match his body language. I willed him to turn completely around so I could see his face full-on.
I knew I should probably say something to make my presence known, but I needed these moments to take in everything about him. I’d already been through his apartment… after I’d broken into it.
And breaking in was exactly what I’d done—and it had taken a hell of a long time, considering the young man had four different locks on his door. Thankfully, he lived in a small building that didn’t have a lot going on so late in the evening.
“I’ll call you when I’m back in town,” Remy said, clearly lying, since we were in town… downtown Seattle, to be exact.
I leaned back in the chair I was sitting in. It wasn’t particularly comfortable, but from looking around Remy’s apartment when I’d first managed to get into it, I’d already determined Remy seemed to prefer function to fashion or comfort. His furniture was the kind you could get from any cheap furniture store, and while not exactly new, it hadn’t seemed like thrift-store used, either. His bedroom had just a mattress and a dresser in it, and his small kitchen sported only the basic appliances and a few pots and pans. His refrigerator was mostly empty.
Which might explain why Remy was so skinny.
“Yeah, I’ll tell him,” Remy remarked as he said his goodbyes to Aleks. From the expression on Remy’s face, I could tell it pained him to lie to his friend.
So why was he doing it?
You know why.
I actually shook my head before I caught myself.
No, I refused to believe that. From the information I’d managed to pull together in the last few hours, Remy had been living a quiet, comfortable existence in the two years since he’d moved to Seattle from Chicago. He had a good job at a local security firm and from what I’d seen this afternoon, he was part of a large group of men and women who considered themselves family, despite so few of them actually sharing any blood.