Twisted Games (Twisted 2) - Page 81

My father was a piece of shit, and as far as I was concerned, he didn’t exist. Any man who could leave a woman high and dry like that didn’t deserve recognition.

Even if all I wanted was a family, I would rather eat nails than waste energy seeking him out.

“It’s crazy how much our parents shape our lives,” Bridget said. “With their choices, their memories, their legacies.”

A shadow of sadness passed through her eyes, and I knew she was thinking about her own parents. One gone at childbirth, the other passing just a few years later, and she’d had to grieve, as a child, with millions of eyes watching her.

I remembered seeing a photo of her walking behind her father’s casket as a kid, her face scrunched in an obvious attempt to hold back tears, and thinking that even though I had a shitty home situation, at least I could cry at my parent’s funeral.

“I think part of the reason I’m so scared about being queen is I’m afraid of not living up to my mother’s legacy. Of disappointing her somehow.” Bridget stared at the ceiling, her expression pensive. “I never met her, but I read and watched every interview I could get my hands on. The home videos, the stories from the staff and my family…she was the perfect princess and daughter and mother. She would’ve made a great queen. Better than me. But I killed her.” Her voice caught, and somehow, I knew that was the first time she’d ever voiced those words.

A deep ache pierced my heart, and it only grew when I saw the unshed tears in her eyes.

I straightened and cupped her face in my hands. “Bridget, you did not kill your mother,” I said fiercely. “Do you understand? You were a baby. You are not guilty just because you were born.”

“They didn’t plan for me.” A tear slipped down her cheek. “I was an accidental pregnancy. If it weren’t for me, she’d still be alive, and she would be queen, and things would just be better for everybody.”

Fuck. Something cracked in my chest, hard enough it would’ve alarmed me had I not already been so torn up over Bridget. There were very few things in the world I couldn’t withstand, but Bridget crying was one of them.

“Not for me,” I said. “Not for your friends, family, or any of the people whose lives you’ve touched. Your mother made a choice to have you, and no one blames you for what happened to her. It was a medical situation that could’ve happened to anybody. It had nothing to do with you.”

“I know.” Her voice cracked.

I gripped her tighter, desperate for her to understand. I didn’t know why it was so important. I just knew it was. “Do you remember what you told me during the tour? We always end up where we’re meant to be, and you were always meant to be here.” With me.

Bridget let out a half-laugh, half-sob. “Mr. Larsen, I do believe that’s the most words you’ve ever said to me in one sitting.”

“I’m sure that’s not true. If it is, I expect a royal medal.”

She laughed again and wiped her eyes. “I’m sorry. I don’t usually break down like this. I don’t know what’s gotten into me.”

“No need to apologize.” I rubbed a remaining tear away with my thumb. “Just tell me you understand.”

“Yeah,” she whispered. “I think I do.”

I kissed the top of her head, my heart still aching. If only she could see herself the way I saw her.

Beautiful, smart, strong. Perfect in every way that mattered.

By the time we left our suite, the sun had dipped below the horizon and Bridget had regained her cool composure, though a hint of vulnerability remained in her eyes.

We walked in silence toward the elevator, once again the princess and her bodyguard. But when we turned the corner, she stopped so suddenly I almost ran straight into her.

My senses snapped into high alert as I scanned the area for visible threats.

No weapons. No paparazzi.

But what I saw was almost worse.

“Bridget.” Steffan’s eyes widened with a mixture of surprise and alarm. “What are you doing here?”

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