“That’s why I distanced myself like I did. From everyone. Once I – once it became clear what it was doing to them. By then it was too late. I wasn’t the only dealer in town. Not by a long shot. I… couldn’t change it back. So I kept doing it. I’m not proud of myself, Griffin.”
Griffin looked at me. “He pretty much stopped talking to anyone but me and Axis. Kept using and dealing, mind you. But he didn’t talk. Which made him even more of a local legend. Which gave him even more personal power for them to work with.”
“Wasn’t my intent.”
“Doesn’t matter what your intent was. Matters what’s been happening.”
“You should have left the city.” They both turned to me, and I continued. “Did you never even think of that? Just leaving?”
“I tried. They had their hooks in me. Every day I spent out of Vegas got worse. More painful. I made a deal.”
“But now you’re trying to break it…?”
He laughed. “Yeah. Turns out I’m not suicidal anymore.”
A smile. “I fell in love with you.”
Blood drains from my face. In love with me. It’s the first time he’s said it. Months and months together, and he’s never said it, says he’s never said it to anyone. “I love you too,” I half-whisper.
“He’s manipulating you, dammit,” Griffin hissed.
“Bullshit. Bullshit. You need her for this. So you get her pregnant – no condoms, or did you poke holes in them? – and you drag her here and profess your undying love, so she’ll go and risk her life and soul for you. Stupid faux-romantic bullshit.”
“I do love her,” Kellen said quietly.
“That’s not why you don’t want to do this. You don’t want to do this because you’re afraid. You are a coward, Kellen. You hide in the drugs. You hide in your silence. You’re going to get her killed because you’re afraid to hold up your end of the deal you made. You knew this was coming. You seduced her just in time.”
“Stop it!” I cried. They did, both turning to look at me. “Stop it. I don’t care. I love him. What do I have to do?”