Twisted Games (Twisted 2) - Page 12

“I’ll check it out and let you know.” Rhys snapped his menu closed when our server approached. “Burger, medium rare, please. Thank you.”

I placed my order and waited for the server to leave before repeating in a tight voice, “I already bought the tickets.” Translation: I’m going whether or not you like it.

“Refundable ones, I hope.” His sharp gaze glided through the restaurant, not missing a single detail about the patrons or room layout.

Aaaand there went the down in our relationship, just like clockwork.

“Your job isn’t to run my life. Stop acting like an overprotective parent.” My frustration mounted. I would rather hate him all the time than have my emotions swing back and forth like a broken gauge. It was exhausting. “How are you still employed? I’m surprised your previous clients haven’t complained to your company about your…your…”

Rhys arched an eyebrow while I fumbled for the right words.

“Your overbearing tendencies,” I finished lamely. Dammit. I needed a bigger arsenal of better insults.

“Because I’m the best. They know it, and so do you,” he said arrogantly. He leaned forward, his eyes darkening. “You think I want to parent you? I don’t. If I wanted kids, I’d get myself an office job and shack up in some cookie-cutter suburban home with a picket fence and a dog. I’m in this field of work to save lives, princess. I’ve taken plenty of ‘em, and now—” He stopped abruptly, but his words lingered in the air.

I flashed back to his words from the parking lot. It got too much. The deployments, the uncertainty, the funerals. Watching men I considered brothers die right in front of me.

Rhys hadn’t gone into detail about what happened when he was in the military, but he didn’t need to. I could only imagine.

Guilt and sympathy blossomed in my stomach and curled around my heart.

That was why I vacillated so much in my feelings toward him. I disliked Rhys’s attitude and actions, but I didn’t dislike him, because I understood why he did what he did.

It was a conundrum, and unfortunately, I didn’t see a way out of it.

“It only takes one slipup,” Rhys finished. “One second of distraction, and you could walk into a minefield and get blown to hell. One lapse of judgment, and you could end up with a bullet in your head.” He leaned back, shutters falling over those gunmetal eyes. “So no, I don’t give a fuck if you already bought tickets. I’m still gonna check the place out, and if anything looks off, you’re not going. End of story.”

My mind swirled with a dozen different responses, but the one that came out wasn’t the one I’d intended to say at all.

“We’re not in a war zone,” I said gently. “We don’t have to be on guard twenty-four-seven.”

Rhys’s jaw hardened, and even though he’d gotten out of the Navy years ago, I wondered how long he’d been fighting his own inner battles.

“Life is a war zone, princess. The sooner you understand that, the safer you’ll be.”

While my life wasn’t perfect, it was far better than most people’s. I knew that. I’d grown up in a bubble, protected from the worst of humanity, and I was incredibly privileged for that reason. But the idea of living life like I was at war with it every day made me indescribably sad.

“There’s more to life than trying not to die.” I kept my gaze on Rhys as our server brought out our orders and set them on the table. “It’s just a concert. I promise I’ll be fine.”

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