If We Fall, page 1
IF WE FALL
(CORRUPTED LOVE #3)
If We Fall
If we fall…
I’ve protected Serena from everything I could in her father’s world, but with each horrible act he committed, I knew the time would come when protecting her wouldn’t be enough. When that day comes and it’s either Robert or me who survives, I will do what I have to so the woman I love and my child are safe.
May heaven help me.
Every day I grow stronger as the child Ryder and I created grows inside me. I’m no fool, though. I know my father will do everything in his power to keep his control over us. But I’m not that scared little girl I used to be anymore, and the time is coming when he will realize that.
We’re fighting for even more than love now. This time, we’re fighting for family.
If We Fall is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and events are the products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to events, locations, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
2017 Copper Key Media, LLC
Copyright © 2017 Copper Key Media, LLC
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the copyright owner.
Published in the United States
Cover Design: Sara Eirew
Photo by: Sara Eirew Photographer
Adult Content: Contains graphic sexual content
Corrupted Love Trilogy Playlist
Make You Feel My Love—Adele
Comfortably Numb—Pink Floyd
You Must Love Me—Madonna
All I Want Is You—U2
Love Me Like You Do—Ellie Goulding
The Difficult Kind—Sheryl Crow
In The Air Tonight—Phil Collins
Back In The Saddle Again—Aerosmith
Only The Young—Journey
High Enough—Damn Yankees
Wrapped Around Your Finger—The Police
Hanging By A Moment—Lighthouse
Touch, Peel and Stand—Days of the New
It’s All Coming Back To Me Now—Celine Dion
Gimme Shelter—The Rolling Stones
At Last—Etta James
Listen to all the music that inspired the Corrupted Love Trilogy on YouTube
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Click on the covers below to learn more about the series:
Table of Contents
About the Book
Corrupted Love Trilogy Playlist
About the Author
Books by K.M. Scott
Books by Gabrielle Bisset
I hear the faint sound of someone playing a piano off in the distance, and I lift my head to figure out where it’s coming from. I’m in my rooms at the estate, so I guess the music is coming from outside. Walking down the steps, I hear it grow louder. It sounds happy, like the person playing the notes is enjoying every time their fingers hit the keys. The tune is familiar, but for the life of me, I can’t place it.
As I reach the bottom of the stairs and turn toward the back of the house, the final notes of the song play and I finally figure out what it is. The wedding march or whatever they call that music that plays when the bride walks down the aisle toward the altar.
Who’s getting married?
I hurry toward the garden and turn the corner of the house to see a crowd of people standing in front of wooden folding chairs, all staring forward toward a gazebo I don’t remember ever seeing before on the estate. A woman stops in front of it and a man reaches out his hand to take hers.
Who is he? I’ve never seen him at the estate before. I look around to find a familiar face and see Robert at the back of the crowd looking pleased at what is about to happen. No one else seems happy, though. None of the guests are smiling, and even the groom looks miserable.
Walking over to where Robert is standing, I ask, “What happened to Charles?”
He turns his head slowly and that crocodile grin of his spreads across his face. “It’s not Janelle getting married, Ryder.”
Panic rushes through me as I stand there waiting for the groom to raise the bride’s veil. I watch as his face morphs into Robert’s face. Horrified, I shake my head in disbelief. He promised he wouldn’t do this to her.
“No! You swore you wouldn’t marry her off to anyone else. You gave your word.”
Robert simply shrugs, all the while grinning that infuriating smug smile. “There are consequences to everything, son. You know that.”
“Who is he? Why does he look just like you?” I ask, my heart racing as the minister begins the ceremony.
“He’s my new son to replace you, Ryder, so of course he’s going to look like me. If you had done what I wanted, you’d be standing there with her and you’d look like me.”
“Don’t do this! Don’t make her marry him. I’m right here. I’m the baby’s father, so she should be marrying me.”
He shakes his head, still smiling, as all the men turn around to face us. They slowly begin walking toward me as they reach out to grab my arms.
“You won’t be around, so someone will have to take your place, son. You knew this. You knew there would be consequences to your actions.”
The men close in around me just as I watch the bride’s veil being lifted. Serena looks back toward me with that same sad look in her eyes she had that first night I met her, and my heart breaks as I avoid her gaze to see how her wedding dress hangs over her pregnant belly.
“No! Don’t let them do this, Serena! Run away! We can still be together.”
Hands claw at me, tearing me in pieces, and as I begin to disappear, I hear her cry out, “Ryder, don’t leave me here alone! You promised you’d protect me! Why did you lie?”
I didn’t lie. Just run away and I’ll find some way to get to you.
Slowly, I opened my eyes and looked around, but nothing looked familiar. I tried to sit up, but a jolt of pain shooting from my left shoulder and down my arm stopped me cold. Beads of sweat broke out on my forehead as I tried to handle the pain that quickly pushed out all the other thoughts in my head, like where the fuck was I?
After a few minutes, I could focus again, so I tried once more to figure out what was going on. Wherever I was, the room was colorless. White walls. White drapes on the windows. Was I dreaming?
My eyes fluttered shut, but I didn’t want to sleep anymore. I didn’t want to have that nightmare ever again. I didn’t know where I was, but I knew Serena wasn’t there with me, and I had to find out why.
Trying once more to sit up, I pushed past the excruciating pain and lifted myself off the bed. The sound of metal knocking against metal startled me, and I looked down to see my right arm handcuffed to the railing on the side of the bed.
What the fuck?
“Mr. Rhodes, I think you’ll find you can’t leave, although in your condition, you probably shouldn’t go anywhere.”
I turned to see a man dressed in a dark blue police uniform standing near the window smiling. He looked way too happy to be there talking to me.
“Why am I handcuffed to the bed?” I asked as my mind started to clear from the fog of whatever I’d been given.
“Because you’re under arrest.”
I didn’t bother asking for what. I’d done enough in the years I’d worked for Robert to be arrested a dozen times over for more than a few crimes. Whatever they thought I did, I probably did it.
But I didn’t care because now that I was wide awake the only thought in my mind was about Serena.
“Where is she? Is she okay?” I asked the stranger staring at me intently.
“Who?” he asked in a voice that said he didn’t really care who I was talking about.
“Serena. She’s pregnant. What happened to her?”
I moved to swing my legs off the bed, but whatever drugs they pumped into me made the room swim around me and I fell back onto the bed. Pain shot through my shoulder again, but I didn’t have time to be lying around. I had to find Serena.
“Whoa! You’re not going anywhere, buddy,” the officer said in his authoritarian tone. “Just lay back and relax.”
He tried to hold me down, but I needed to find out where Serena was and if she was okay. What the fuck about that didn’t this guy understand?
“I need to see her. Where is she? Is she okay? For fuck’s sake, she’s pregnant with my child. I need to see her!”
The guy gave up trying to hold me down and ran out of the room as I struggled to stand through the haze the painkillers. I put my feet down on the cold tile, which startled me for a moment, and lifted myself from the bed only to feel the metal tug on my wrist remind me that no matter how much I wanted to get the fuck out of this room, I wasn’t going anywhere.
Well, unless I ripped the railing off the bed.
Bracing myself for the pain I knew would surely come, I yanked my arm up hard away from the bar and succeeded in doing not a damn thing. Well, except for making my shoulder feel like someone was burning through it with a red hot poker.
One of Maryland’s finest and a few of his friends in police uniforms returned just in time to overreact to my attempted escape and force me back into the bed. Holding my hands up in surrender, I hoped none of them were trigger happy.
“I’m not trying to get away, guys. I’m just trying to find out where the mother of my child is and if she’s okay. I just want to know she’s all right.”
A second guy as uptight looking as the first shook his head. “Just relax. You’re not going anywhere.”
Frustrated, I tried to keep my temper under control but all I wanted to do was fucking scream. “I get that. I just want to know she’s okay. Is that too much to ask? Can’t someone find out if Serena Erickson is here, wherever here is, and if she’s all right? I’ll do whatever you want me to do if you can just find out.”
Nobody answered any of my questions, and before I could start begging to know if Serena was okay, they filed out of the room, leaving me lying in that bed alone and terrified that the woman I loved was hurt.
A young nurse with sympathetic brown eyes that reminded me of Serena’s came in to check on me. Her nametag said Katie and with a smile, she asked, “How are you feeling, Mr. Rhodes?”
I looked down at my arm handcuffed to the bedrail and sighed, letting the air out of my lungs with a loud whoosh. Looking up at her as she checked on my shoulder, I stared into her dark eyes and pleaded with her. “I’m okay, Katie, but I want to know if my girlfriend is okay too. Can you please find out for me?”
She turned away, fixing her gaze on my arm, and shook her head. “Aren’t you concerned about your injury?”
I quickly glanced down at where her fingers gently pressed on the bandage. “No. It doesn’t seem to be life threatening, so not really. I just want to find out if Serena is okay. She’s pregnant, Katie. She was there when I got shot, and I don’t know if she’s okay. I just want to know if she and the baby are safe. Can’t you find out for me?”
She turned her head to look toward the door and then back at me. “I don’t want to get in trouble.”
“I don’t want you to either. I just want to know if she and the baby are okay. That’s it. Can you please find out for me?”
Katie nodded and hurried out into the hallway. I waited as my memory of what happened slowly came back to me. I shot first and then Jesse got a shot off before he fell. I’d been hit in the shoulder, so maybe that meant Serena hadn’t been hurt.
I could only pray to God that she and the baby were okay.
The door opened again, and Katie hurried over to the side of my bed. Pretending to fix something on my bandage, she whispered, “She’s down on the maternity floor. She’s in labor right now. That’s all I could find out.”
Even though I was handcuffed to the bed, likely charged with murder for Jesse’s death and shot in the shoulder, I couldn’t help but smile. Our child was coming.
Katie smiled and let her gaze drift down my body. “Did you really do what they said you did?”
“What did they say I did?”
She looked up at me and winced. “They say you killed someone.”
I thought about how true those words were and not just now. But of everyone I’d ever killed, Jesse was the one I truly regretted. I never wanted to hurt him. I didn’t have a choice. There was no way I could let him hurt Alita any more than I could let him hurt Serena.
“Was it to protect her? Serena, the woman who’s having the baby?” Katie asked, wide-eyed as she waited for me to answer.
Nodding, I admitted the truth to her, a perfect stranger. “I would do anything to protect her. She’s everything to me.”
Katie smiled and gently patted my forearm as she turned to leave. “She’s one lucky girl. I hope things work out for you two.”
As the door slowly closed behind her, I closed my eyes and hoped they did too.
I’m here, Serena. I might not be there next to you, but I’m close by, so don’t worry. You’re strong enough. You can do this.
An hour passed and then two as I sat in that room alone waiting for any news about Serena and the baby. The guys in the uniforms stayed out in the hallway, and every so often, one of them pressed his nose to the thin pane of glass in the hospital room door to check if I was there.
Not that I was going anywhere. The handcuffs around my right wrist made sure of that.
I tried not to let the thought in, but the reality that I might never see Serena again or get to meet my child floated into my brain. I couldn’t think that way. Yes, I’d have to pay for what I did, but I had to believe I’d see her and the baby sometime soon.
I wouldn’t be able to go on living if I didn’t believe that.
After nearly three hours, my mind began to turn on me. Maybe I would never get to meet my son or daughter. A murder charge wasn’t something that was just going to go away. I’d done a lot of bad things. Maybe now I’d finally have to pay for all of them.
My chest tightened at the idea of missing out on everything we’d always dreamed of. No house in the mountains. No yard for a dog and our kids. No happiness in the end.
As I sat there in my misery playing out an empty future without Serena, the door opened and in walked two new Maryland State troopers and Robert. One o
“What’s happening?” I asked him as panic began to race through me.
Were they going to take me away before I had the chance to even see my son or daughter?
The man lifted my arm and unlocked the handcuffs that had kept me attached to the bedrail. Letting my hand fall to the bed, he unfastened the cuffs from the rail and looked down at me.
“You’re free to go, Mr. Rhodes. It isn’t murder if you’re defending someone. At least not a crime we can keep you in custody for.”
I looked from one officer to the other and then to Robert, in shock at what I’d just heard. They weren’t charging me for Jesse’s death?
The two troopers filed out silently, leaving just Robert standing there staring at me. He cocked one eyebrow and shook his head. “Floyd was right. Fate loves you, son.”
I’d never understood what the hell either of them saw that made them think fate even liked me in any way, but now wasn’t the time for that discussion. Scanning the room for my clothes, I saw my pants and shirt on a chair in the corner, so I swung my legs out of the bed quickly and stood up.
But the drugs still coursing through my body made my head spin, so I sat down hard on the bed to get my bearings. “Robert, I need my clothes. I need to get dressed and get down to Serena before she has the baby.”
He said nothing but handed me my things. I dressed as quickly as I could, easing my left shoulder into my shirt as pain pulsed from my wound and my heart raced. I’d finally get to see Serena and meet our child for the first time, just like she and I had planned.
Well, not just like we’d planned. We’d had something better in mind when we thought about welcoming our first child into the world, but no matter. I might be a little late, but I’d get there and be by her side when it counted.
I stood up from the bed, slower this time, and even though my legs felt shaky, I didn’t have the time to get all of my strength back. Serena needed me, so weak or not, I had somewhere to be.
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