do her best to keep you safe. I told her you had a mental break because of it. That you never signed anything. At best we can get him shut down, maybe even criminal charges. Rape. Maybe." "Wouldn't you be subject to that charge as wel?" I watched him flinch and look away as he fiddled with papers on the table. "Possibly. I don't know. I was under contract for the script. The script played out the way we expected. We thought we were acting. We thought you were acting. It was in the script that you would struggle and fight. It was the plan. None of us knew you weren't privy to the script, Liam. None of us. Just you and Deakman. So yeah, if this goes wrong, the six of us could end up—" "Then I want no part of it." That same feeling of useless cowardice washed over me. "I won't be the cause of that. Not to you or any of the other models. I've wished vile things on you. But not jail because some greedy bastard wanted to put me in my place. No, forget it." "If everything goes right, Deakman wil be the only one in jail. For ilegal use of your likeness or whatever term we can come up with. Possibly get you the rest of the money he owes you. Something. We don't even have to folow up on the forced—" "This is ridiculous. I don't want the damned money. It's just going to open up old wounds. I'l have to go out and face him. It's going to get ugly." "It's already ugly. Your wounds are so goddamned open I see your bleeding heart." "I'm fine. I have a good life here. I'm doing great." "Sure you are. You live in a rundown apartment and work as an insurance salesman." "I live there because I want to. I make good money. Not as much as you do obviously, but more than enough to live on. I have a good bit tucked away. And I'm not a damned salesman." "How many lovers have you had in the last four years? And I'm not talking about a quick jack off in a bathroom somewhere. I mean a flesh and blood lover whose name you not only knew, but cried out in the throes of passion. How many, Liam? Hel, I'l even settle for a quick fuck. How many?" I walked away from the table. My hands shaking as I crossed to the far side of his apartment to the bank of windows overlooking a private balcony. I could see the old Capitol from here. At least I could see one of the red striped awnings that covered the windows. I jumped when he laid his hand on my shoulder. "Liam?" "How many have you had? Since I left. Quick fucks, lovers. Whatever." I countered. I felt his sigh on my neck. I let him wrap his arms around me. His chin on my shoulder looking out toward the scenery beyond. "Besides the twenty on camera. A few off, I can't remember. I was angry and cheap sex assuaged that anger. One lover. Just one. Liam, I want you to come back to me. I love you with everything I have. But if I can't have you. I want Kel." "Do you love him?" I couldn't stop the pain twisting in my chest. I don't know what hurt more. That he could so easily pass me over for another man. Or that he was making me choose. Him or Kel. I couldn't have them both. If they had each other then I'd have no one. "I do. I love you more. I want you more. Friday night nearly kiled me. Having you inside me again. I want that forever. And I want him. I can't have you both. I know that. Give me one of you. Walk away if you have to, but don't take Kel away from me too." "I can't make that choice. Don't ask me to. I can't be with you and I can't stand knowing he's with you." "Why? Just tel me why?" "One." "What?" "You asked how many lovers or fucks or whatever. The answer is one. Friday night. Just you. I haven't even kissed anyone since you. Why do you think this is kiling me? Because I'm jealous or furious or whatever because of Kel? I've been in love one time and I stil love that man. But I'm terrified of him. I'm afraid of you, Seth. And that's the only answer I can give you. Big goddamned coward is what I am. Hiding from everything, pretending I'm not damaged goods. I can't give you Kel.