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|Moonlight on Nightingale Way(On Dublin Street #6)(29) by Samantha Young|
“It’s not done,” I disagreed, hearing the irritation in my voice and not caring. “You have a teenage girl waiting for you at home now. A week ago, okay, fine, I would have dropped it, let you keep whatever shit that’s stirring inside of you to yourself, but it’s not just about you anymore.”
Logan turned his head and glowered at me. I tensed, waiting. And to my surprise he began to talk. His voice was gruff, low, however, like the words were dragged from deep down in his belly. “I’m not a criminal, Grace.”
There was a pain in those words he couldn’t hide, and I felt the burn of tears in my eyes in response to it. “I know that, Logan.”
“No, you don’t.” He shook his head and looked away from me. “I wasn’t that kid. I wasn’t that teenager, and I certainly wasn’t that man, and I didn’t surround myself with men like that either. The men inside… So many of them aren’t even men. They’re just scum who think because they like violence and like playing with knives and drugs that it makes them men. I was breathing in scum for two fucking years, listening to them and the vile, ignorant things they talked about. Things they planned to do when they got out, the men they planned to fuck up, the women they planned to hurt. And I listened to them plan to hurt one another. Because it’s war.” He turned to stare at me now, his nostrils flared with anger, with the memories. “It’s a war in there. And if you don’t want to get fucked-up, you have to make them fear you.”
I shivered at the look in his eyes. “What does that mean?”
“It means I had to find a balance. I wanted out early for good behavior, but I also had to make sure no one messed with me. I spent every day in the gym bulking up and allied myself with certain men.”
“What kind of men?” I was almost afraid to ask.
“The kind of men who are real hardened criminals. The kind of men who have done very bad things, Grace. One of my closest friends in there – and we still talk to this day – was in for manslaughter. It was his third conviction since he was fourteen. That’s the kind of men I let into my life. What kind of man does that make me?”
I ached all over for him. “The kind of man who did what he had to do to survive.”
“You say that, but you don’t know what I was party to in there.”
“And I don’t need to.” I shook my head. “Not unless you really want to tell me. Because otherwise I don’t care. I don’t need to know. It doesn’t change who I think you are.” I rested my hand on his leg. “Logan, it was two years of your life. Two terrible years, I know. But in the grand scheme of things, two years should not define who you are.”
His fingers tightened around the steering wheel. “You’re forgetting the reason I was in prison.”
Sensing I hadn’t quite won this round with him, I said, “Then tell me about it.”
“I was at work,” he said immediately. “I used to be head mechanic in a garage. Shannon came in… stumbled in.” When he gazed at me this time, he looked truly haunted. “Fuck, Grace, you should have seen her.” He shuddered and looked down. “Her top was ripped, her jeans undone, her face… Fuck, her face. Bloody, swollen. And her arm was hanging funny. Dislocated.” He wrenched his eyes from the floor to my face. “I grabbed her, shouted at someone to call for an ambulance, and as we waited, she told me her boyfriend had done it. I can’t explain it. I’ve never felt rage like it. She’s Shannon.” He seemed to plead with me. “She’s my wee sister. She’s the kindest person I’ve ever met until you. She means the world to me. I wanted to kill him. He tried to rape her. He beat the shit out of her. And later I found out it wasn’t the first time he’d hit her. The thought of her fighting him off, trying to get to me so I could protect her… the thought that I wasn’t there…” He trailed off, his emotions getting the better of him, and I waited as he attempted to get a handle on them.
“I had only one thought,” he whispered. “To find him and give him back as good as he gave.” He cleared his throat, his face turning hard. “They call it bloodlust. Maybe it was, because once I got ahold of him, I couldn’t stop. A colleague, a friend of mine, he followed me. Dragged me off.” Logan glared at me now. “I put Shannon’s boyfriend in a coma. What kind of man does that make me, Grace? Fit to be a father?”
I had a feeling he wanted me to be outraged. Disgusted. Take Maia away. Seeing him so raw, so exposed, and so ashamed of himself was too much. I didn’t want him to feel that way about himself. And so I sought to help in any way I could.
A story I had told no one, not even Aidan, came to mind, and I found myself telling it to Logan. “When I was fifteen I woke up one evening and there was a boy in bed with me. He had his hands on me, touching me. I fought him off, hearing laughter around me, and when I managed to get away from the boy, to get out of the bed, I discovered my brother, Sebastian, and a few of his drunken friends in my room. He’d brought them into my room to deliberately do that to me. My parents weren’t home.” I looked at my lap, trying to hold back the tears. I hadn’t realized how painful it would be to say the words out loud. “I ran out of the room and locked myself in my bathroom, and I could hear them laughing the whole time. The one who had touched me, I knew him. He was my brother’s best friend. He stood outside the bathroom and taunted me until my brother got bored and pulled him away. I was terrified.” I forced myself to look at Logan, and he was staring at me, incredulous, outraged. “Sebastian did things like that all the time. He thought it was a game. We’re both lucky he didn’t get me raped.” I stared solemnly into Logan’s eyes, hoping the point I was trying to make would have an impact. “Life is shades of gray, Logan. I don’t know if what you did was wrong. The law says it is, but I just think you were acting on an instinct that most people have. If I could choose between how Sebastian acted or how you acted, I’d choose your actions. That’s all I know.”