Sin was broodingly quiet when he opened the passenger door to his car. I got in trying to debate whether this was the time to ask some questions. I had been flying blind since this had all unfolded.
Sin got in and turned the car on. His features strained. I reached out to touch his arm, to remind him he wasn’t alone in this. I was right there with him.
“None of this was supposed to go down this way.”
I dropped my hand from his arm and he started the drive back to his place. He drove above the speed limit constantly checking if we were being followed and all I could do was clasp my hands, trying to keep my anxiety under control.
In the end I didn’t push him. He was showing strain and I didn’t have it in me to add to it.
The house was dark and quiet when we entered.
“Was it nice to see Connor again?” Sin asked, conversationally.
I stopped and studied him trying to gauge how to respond. It was only when he raised his eyes to the ceiling did I realize what he was doing. He was setting up a reason to explain why we hadn’t returned back home immediately after leaving Mack’s place.
“Yeah,” I said, wondering if I sounded believable. “There are times I wished he lived closer and then there are times I’m relieved he doesn’t.”
Sin smiled. A tired smile. “He loves you.”
“I know.” I dropped down in the first seat available and leaned my head back.
I was tired, emotionally drained.
Sin took the seat across from me.
Our eyes met. There was still so much to say that we couldn’t. Not in the house.
Then I had an idea. “It’s nice outside tonight.”
“It is.” His attention was completely on me.
I stood and walked over to the kitchen, grabbing a beer for him.
“Let’s sit outside a little.”
He stood, a little hesitant before he took the beer from me and headed into the backyard.
It was dark, the only light from the moonlight.
We were finally alone, no one to listen to what we were saying.
“I need answers Sin.” I was trying to be understanding but there was only so much I could take. And being more emotional because of the pregnancy wasn’t helping either.
He sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. His eyes on me.
“Slater was the friend who was there when I needed someone. When I thought I had no one.”
His voice emotional. I swallowed as I watched him, knowing he didn’t like to talk about his past. I didn’t either, so I understood.
“Mack was the one who helped us survive. If it wasn’t for him, Slater and I wouldn’t have made it through our shitty childhoods.”
I was finally getting some insight to his relationship with Mack.
My heart yearned for the young Sin, the one who had endured a difficult and complicated childhood. I hated how helpless I felt. I couldn’t change anything that had happened to him, even though I wanted to take away his pain and suffering.
He had fixed his relationship with his mother but it didn’t erase the past or the scars. It didn’t erase the hardships and trauma he had to live with.
“He wasn’t always like this. Distrustful, suspicious.”
I nodded. He took a gulp of his beer before sitting down on the patio steps.
“He did what he had to to survive, he did what he had to to protect Sienna but somewhere along the line he…changed.” He ran his free hand through his hair. There was a deep reflective sadness in his voice.
I sat down beside him, watching his emotions play across his handsome features.
“When you’re forced to do things to survive and to protect your loved ones, you do it.” He wouldn’t look at me. “When you’re starving and cold, survival is all that matters. Even when you know it’s wrong…criminal. We all did bad stuff. Some more than others.”
I couldn’t judge. I had my own ghosts from my past but I had never suffered in the way that he had, in the same way he hadn’t suffered what life had dealt to me.
“I was lucky.”
I frowned. “How were you lucky?”
“I didn’t have a little sister to look out for.”
The bigger picture was starting to form.
“I don’t know how he was able to protect her from it all. She had no idea the lengths he went to keep her safe.” His sounded sad almost.
I wanted to reach out to touch him but I didn’t want him to stop. I had to know everything so I nodded instead.
“He took it all on to keep her untouched.” He shrugged and gulped down another sip of his beer. “But that life makes you hard. We got out. He didn’t. It made him very suspicious and ruthless. ”
He stared off into the distance for a few moments before he looked to me. “He isn’t the same Mack that started this life.”
“Slater know about any of this?” It occurred to me that Slater could have been covering for Sin.
He shook his head. “I didn’t want to drag him into this. I tried to keep everyone out of it, including you.”
“Why is he back in your life Sin?” I asked. It was the answer I really wanted. “Are you messed up in something illegal?”
I think that was my biggest fear, that he would be involved in something illegal and not be able to get out of it.
He shook his head. “Nothing illegal. I left that behind and I wouldn’t risk it now.” His eyes glittered with emotion. “I wouldn’t do that to you. Not after everything we’ve been through Tay.”
He let out a heavy deep breath. “Today the cops were trying their luck. Putting pressure on us to see if we cracked. They’ve been trying to take him down for years and are pretty desperate to make a case against him.”
He had lived a whole other life and for the first time I was seeing it for myself.
“Why is he back in your life Sin?” I prompted.
How had his past found it’s way back into his present?
“Sienna reached out to me. She was at her wits end and didn’t know how to deal with Mack anymore. His behavior has become very erratic and Sienna is being smothered by it.” He sighed. “She’s scared of him.”
“Mack is not a person who trust easily. Sienna needed someone she could trust and someone Mack would listen to.”
“And that was you?”
He nodded. “But Mack has changed so much, he isn’t the same person I knew back then. He is a stranger now.” He gave me a pained expression that revealed the turmoil inside. “I remember who he was and that’s the guy I can’t walk away from even when he is unhinged and unpredictable.”
I nodded, trying my best to understand but it wasn’t easy.
“He’s dangerous Sin.” I needed him to remember that he couldn’t completely ignore the actions of the man now.
He nodded slowly. “I know. That’s why I have to handle this situation very carefully.”
I frowned. “Do you think he would really do something to harm us?”
“I don’t know. That’s why we have to be careful. It’s the reason I tried to keep you out of this.”
He lifted his gaze to stare at the stars. He had a faraway look in his eyes.
That made me worry.
“I can’t handle him the way I used to.” He rubbed his free hand over his face. “I don’t even want Jeff in this either.”
That wasn’t what I wanted to hear even if it was the truth.
“You can’t abandon Sienna.”
He nodded in agreement. “No, I can’t.”
He was a good guy, deep down inside and that’s what counted. He was the person you could depend on in difficult times.
This was the man I loved.
“Sienna wants out but Mack will not let her go.”
She was in a no win situation and I felt for her.
“Do you think he would harm her?” I asked.
“Honestly, I don’t know.”
There was so much resting on his shoulders, I wanted to help but I didn’t know how.
How did you handle a man that used violence and death to get what he wanted without putting lives of his sister or us at risk?