If you’ve read Crossed Paths, you’ll agree this book ended amazing! But did you know the last chapter didn’t make it in to the final published version?
That’s right, little did we know when we published Crossed Paths, the last chapter was missing. (Oh, no!) That didn’t matter in the overall awesomeness of this book. The story came out great, but… that last chapter!! *Insert distraught crying*. It was too good to be left out. AND…I’ll be using it to kick off Ocean’s Deep, which I plan to start writing at the beginning of 2024. So, let’s dive in to that last chapter!
(Crossed Paths is a STANDALONE in the Anna Monroe and Boston Marks series. It is a Pitch Black Thriller/Mystery/Suspense.)
Suggested Reading Order:
BONUS SECRET CHAPTER
“This is yours?”
An older woman with salt and pepper hair paced the living room. She had to have walked the small path up and down a good one hundred times since she’d stormed into the cabin with the FBI. I wasn’t sure who she was, but she knew my dad…and her uncertainty of him didn’t escape any of us. My dad was sitting across, glaring at Liam, who was handcuffed on a chair diagonal from the sofa. Gilbert hadn’t moved or taken his eyes off one of the men he considered family. Whether the loss of trust was hurting me or him more, I wasn’t sure. Something told me he had suspected Liam, or at least wasn’t as surprised as the other men appeared.
“Everyone in this room that isn’t a Fed is mine, Gabriella. My son. My new soon-to-be daughter in law.” He paused. “And this bastard right here. He’s still mine too. Not for long, but until he’s dead, I own him.”
Liam didn’t say a word. Gabriella, who appeared to be in charge of the agents, turned to me.
“Do you know who you are?”
“I’d hope so.”
“Did your father ever tell you the reason behind your name?”
“Gabriella.” My father’s tone was sharp as he gave her a glance. His hard stare softened as he looked at me, but he went back to Liam, burning him alive with his gaze.
“My mom said it’s because that’s where they met.” I paused, not able not to glance at my dad. “Why did he name me Boston?”
Silence. Gabriella raised one of her eyebrows at my father, continuing to pace. Anger ruled me ever since I saw Anna beneath that bastard I so badly wanted to tear apart. I turned to her, easing down her hand that held the icepack to her nose and cheek. My teeth ground as I shook my head. We didn’t speak. We hadn’t since she’d knocked his ass out, and I knew why she had.
I would have killed him. I would have made him suffer worse than any human alive. She knew that and saved his life. For that, I was fuming. This bastard didn’t deserve to live after what he did. Yet…she’d spared him, and maybe I knew why. I would have never been fulfilled with the lack of injustice that came with it. The police hadn’t been but a few minutes behind us thanks to Anna calling Laurel’s mother. She saved a lot more than him and that girl in those minutes. She might have saved us all.
“Elaine tells me you’re here to stay.”
“Like old times?”
My dad’s head cocked to the side.
“I can’t change who I am. What you do need to know is I’m taken care of in all realms of our world, and I’m not here to start any shit with anyone. If I’m left alone, I’ll do the same to others. I have a family. They’re my top priority. They always have been, and you know that.”
She stayed silent, continuing her back and forth.
“Why was I named Boston?”
More silence. It was Liam whose voice broke through the heavy energy filling the room.
“He named you Boston so there would be no doubt whose city this belonged to when you came of age. You were meant to rule it after him.”
My dad’s hit to Liam’s mouth was solid. Muscle split on his lower lip and Liam growled, taking deep breaths through his nose.
“The businesses are a front.”
“Fuck, Gil. Enough is enough. You’re tired of the secrets. We’re back. Just tell him. Boston has a right to know who you’re about to become again. It’s inevitable.”
“Are you sure you want him to see exactly who I am?”
“He should.” At the woman stepping forward, my eyes narrowed, watching them all.
“What the hell is going on here? Dad…does this have to do with— How much deeper does this go?”
“Too deep for you to worry about at the moment.” He glanced to Anna but came back to me. “You’re not ready. This is my debt. Someday it will be yours. That won’t be today or anytime soon. You’re doing good work. You and Anna have something going on here. When you’re ready to leave that behind and settle down, only then will we talk. If that day never comes, never worry about it. If it does, I’m always here for you, and we’ll be ready. It’s time for you and Anna to go home, Son. I’ll be home by the morning.”
“We’ll go over the story of what happened, then.”
The woman’s voice held finality causing Anna to stand.
“What do you mean, story? We already told you what happened.”
“You did, child. You told your side. Tomorrow, depending on the outcome, we’ll make a final statement.”
Anna didn’t speak as the woman dismissed us with her gaze. She was back to pacing. Back to cautiously watching my dad. I stood, joining Anna. We didn’t make it a few steps before Gabriella called out my name.
I turned. “Yeah?”
“You may see my agent around from time to time. Stay away from him. He’s only there to observe. He’s not your enemy, nor is he your fathers. I’ve already explained that to Gilbert.”
“You’re talking about Agent Reece.”
At her nod, I glared, shaking my head.
“I don’t need a fucking babysitter. If we have to be monitored, send someone else.”
“I won’t do that.” She pointed to Anna and then back to me. “You two are oil and water in more ways than you realize. You’re a working machine now, but once you introduce a leak, you’re both going to clash. When you do, I’ll have damage control ready.”
“I don’t understand.”
“No, you don’t. Word of advice?”
I shrugged, but I didn’t like where she was going with this. I didn’t like anyone thinking that me and Anna wouldn’t work. Her finger lifted and she once again pointed to Anna.
“Your loyalty is with Elaine and Everleigh.” She moved to me. “You’re your father’s son, through and through. Oil. Water. Don’t let either side cause a leak. They’ll try, mark my words. You love each other. Let that be enough. It isenough. Once you start to question whether it is, you lose. There will be no easy break on either side, and I can’t have either of you acting on that. Oil. Water.”
My anger reached levels I couldn’t process. “You’re wrong. Anna and I aren’t what make the machine run. We are the fucking machine. Nothing will ever come between us. Not her side or mine. You think blood, friends, or duty can break what we have? Where were any of you when she and I were dying from what happened to us? Dying,” I exploded. “Living your goddamn lives. That’s what you were doing. Anna kept me alive, and I did the same for her. Nothing will ever be stronger than our love. You can riddle me this way or that, but you don’t know me, and you sure as hell don’t know her.” I wrapped my arm around Anna, stopping cold after two steps.
“Nothing will ever be stronger than your love for her…except your love for yourself. Your needs. Your obsessions.Those are the oil, Boston, and perhaps the leak has already begun. For her sake, I hope not.”
I didn’t turn around. My hand added pressure to Anna’s back as I led her outside. I didn’t speak. I wouldn’t even look at her as we headed to the SUV.
What the hell did that woman know? Nothing. Or maybe she did. Maybe she knew about the reversal for my vasectomy and that was her warning. I didn’t care. Anna was mine. She was everything to me, and I sure as fuck wasn’t going to let Gabriella or anyone else get in the way of that.
“I suppose that was the big boss.” Anna’s voice was barely a whisper. “I think I’ve heard Elaine or Ev say her name before. It rings a bell. I don’t think I like her very much.”
“Me either.” I slowed as we approached the passenger side door. The federal presence was still heavy outside as agents walked the property. Laurel had already gone to the hospital to meet with her mother. The moment we got on the main road, I knew it was going to be a complete circus. I also knew my father was going to have his way with Liam James, and I wanted part of it.
Oil and Water.
As I stared into Anna’s eyes, I tried fighting the cravings. They called to me. Told me to turn around and go back to my father’s side where I belonged. But should I? Could I have Anna and be at my dad’s side too? I didn’t think so. Not as I continued to learn more about who I truly was. Boston: The city that was mine. But how? To whom? To men like Zev and Roman? Mateo? Liam?
“Boston…you know we have lots to talk about, right? I mean, this trip hasn’t been what I’d call normal. Your dad—”
My finger pressed gently against her mouth for only as long as it took for me to replace it with my lips.
“Can we forget about all that? At least for a while?”
Her hands wrapped around my wrists as I trapped her face inches from mine.
“I won’t forget.” She searched my expression as the frown took over. “I won’t forget, but I will overlook. At least for the time being. But you can’t. I know you, Boston, and I love you. That’s why I’m going to go to the hospital to check on Laurel, and then back to your parent’s house. I’m going to spend the night talking to my mother about our wedding and start planning our trip home.” She licked her lips. “You do what you have to with your father. Whatever that is, I don’t want to know yet, but I’m trusting you to be smart and safe. To do what you feel is right. I’ll be waiting for you in bed, so when you do get home, you can make it up to me.”
Her words didn’t seem real. More like a test, but I knew the woman I loved. She overlooked Elaine. She knew The Whitlocks had secrets. She even suspected the worst about my father. It didn’t matter. She obeyed and followed along, but I knew she was secretly weighing the evil world she was only just discovering. The one my father had dropped hints about. I’d never truly give in and be part of it, but that didn’t mean that I couldn’t find my place along the edges of the darkness there.
“You know I will. Baby, I’m going to make it up to you so good. Oil and water, my fucking ass. We’re perfect for each other, and I’ll spend every day for the rest of my life proving it.”