Chapter Thirty-Three

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Hector hissed in pain every time Rachel dabbed his wounds with antiseptic. Sitting shirtless on the bed before her, a map of burns stretched across his abdomen, transforming his skin from a warm caramel color to a fiery red.

"I'm sorry, baby."

She caught him smiling at the term of endearment, his hand giving her hair a light stroke while he used the other to brace himself against the bed.

"Not your fault." He said between deep breaths. "It's my fault for not being able to control myself. Just seeing him hit Yalina...it snapped something in me, Ray. I couldn't control it."

"I don't blame you for that. It's the reaction any normal person would have. I just wish you'd listened to me and had let me go alone."

"I can't..." He grimaced, jerking away slightly as she placed a bandage over his wounds. "Bear the thought of leaving you alone in a room with those three. Especially not Vazquez."

"Nicolas wouldn't let him harm me."

"I'm telling you, that man is prideful and the way Nicolas talked to him in there...he won't forgive that so easily."

"You heard what was going on?"

"I did and I'm afraid Vazquez will do something to hurt you to get back at him. Men like him don't take being shamed very well."

"Then we'll stay here a while, until it all blows over."

"Damn it." Collapsing back onto the bed as soon as she'd finished, he stared up at the ceiling angrily. "I screwed everything up. It was so important—so damn important that we get Nicolas to lower his defenses...now after this he never will."

Rachel sank into the bed beside him.

"Actually," She began. "Something good did come out of all of this."

"And what's that?" He asked, turning his head a fraction of an inch to look at her.

"For one? That Nicolas will do anything if I call him dad. And... I also got this." Pulling the dart out of her shirt, she held it so that her body obscured it just in case Nicolas was watching.

The thought sent a shiver down her spine. She'd hoped that at least her bedroom would be a place of privacy but at this point she wouldn't put anything past him.

Hector studied the dart and she could see the gears spinning around in his eyes.

"Good job, hermosa." He said. After so many times of him calling her that, she now knew it meant beautiful. Flushing a little, she put the dart back on the bed and tucked it under her thigh.

"I figure we can use it to subdue him...once the time comes." She whispered. He nodded his head and motioned for her to lay next to him.

Once nestled into the crook of his arm and careful not to hurt his burns, she draped an arm over his waist and held him tight.

"I'm sorry about Yalina."

Expelling a long sigh, Hector kissed the top of her head and said, "It shouldn't have surprised me but it's one thing to know your loved-ones have been Marked but a whole other to actually see it."

"I know but it will all be over soon, one way or the other."

"I'm sorry for the way I acted today. I should have never put you in that position." He admitted.

"No, don't do that. Don't you ever apologize for being who you are. Your protectiveness is one of the things I admire and love most about you." She shifted a little on the bed and he sucked in a small breath.

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