Home > Indebted Epilogue (Indebted #7)(3)

Indebted Epilogue (Indebted #7)(3)
Author: Pepper Winters

My heart fluttered. I hadn’t given it much thought. But the more I studied Jethro’s abhorrent self-confession, the more an answer unfurled inside my mind.

He felt what others did. He had no choice. And yet he’d still been under the influence of Cut’s conditioning just enough to block out avalanches of sensation.

Would it make sense he’d picked up select thoughts? Drank in my desire for him, my aching, burning need when he’d taunted me with history and barely-given kisses?

I looked at my fingers, twining together in my lap. “I think I know why.”

His eyes shot to me, his eyebrows raised with questions. “Know what?”

“Why you were turned on that day.”

He tensed. “It was a sick thing to do. Out of everything I did to you, masturbating on your back still fills me with shame. I wish I could take it back.”

Twisting to face him, I stroked his cheek. “Before you berate yourself, stop and think. Did you never question why you desperately needed to come? Why you wanted me so badly?”

He froze.

I laughed. “Come on, Kite. You know your condition inside and out, and you’re telling me you can’t figure what caused that minor incident?”

He growled, “It was hardly minor.”

Not waiting for me to reply, he soared upright, untangling himself to pace. “I don’t understand. What are you saying?”

I stood too, smiling as if I had the secret to everything—which, in a way, I had. I thought he’d figured it out that day. That was why he’d been kind to me afterward, why he’d softened even when he was told not to. “You enjoyed hurting me that day because of me.”

“Yes, because of you,” he snarled. “I got so fucking hard over you. And I hated you for it. You made me enjoy your pain when I normally run from feeling anything remotely intense.”


Jethro slammed to a stop. “You’re not making any sense. Spit it out.”

I moved toward him. “You felt what I felt. Yes, it hurt. Yes, that whip was my worst nightmare and the lashes felt like a bazillion bees stinging my back, but before it grew too painful, I wanted you. God, I wanted you. I was so wet. If you’d stopped after a couple of strikes, I wouldn’t have fought you. I would’ve willingly spread my legs and taken you because all I could think about was how much I needed you.”

Jethro’s mouth fell open. “You’re saying I fed off what you were feeling that entire time?”

“Toward the end, I’ll admit I hated you. I wanted more than anything for it to stop, and when you tried to take me, it was the last thing I wanted to happen. But, Jethro, before that. I genuinely craved for you to touch me. I begged for it. But you never cracked. You wouldn’t even kiss me.”

“Fuck.” He dragged a hand over his face. “I honestly thought I’d lost it. For months, I feared who I’d become because of what happened that day. I stayed away from you for weeks afterward, because I didn’t trust myself. I thought I’d get off on hurting you more. I was fucking terrified I’d finally turned into Cut.”

My heart beat harder for him, wishing I’d known so I could’ve comforted him. Then again, we weren’t exactly friends yet. He’d suffered on his own, but perhaps that was the way it had to be for him to finally realise there was something rich and deep and undeniable between us.

“I guess there’s a lot of things we need to go back over and put to rest.”

His arms lassoed around me tightly. “I think you’re right.” Nuzzling my hair, he murmured, “How about we go to each place where the debts were completed and replace them with a happier memory.”

I hugged him back. “I’d like that.”

Sex to replace the First Debt.

A lakeside picnic to replace the Second Debt.

My mind skipped to the Third Debt—the debt that would’ve broken me if it weren’t for Kestrel protecting me by being such a gentleman. At the time, I’d been conflicted, hurt Jethro wasn’t there, confused as to my body’s reaction to Kes.

But now, I was glad we’d had that moment together. I loved Kes. I couldn’t admit it before as I didn’t fully understand it, but I loved him more than a friend but less than Jethro. A friend who would always have my heart.

Jethro sighed, knowing where my thoughts were without me having to vocalize.

His condition truly took any secrecy out of our relationship. I would never be able to hide anything, and in some ways, it annoyed me. I would never be able to sulk behind white lies or indulge in a cold shoulder if we ever had a fight.

But at the same time, it was refreshing to know there would never be anything between us because his gift worked both ways. Yes, he could feel what I felt, but at the same time, I could read him better than he knew. His eyes, his face, his body—they all told me what I needed to know.

Jethro cupped the back of my nape, running his fingers along my throat and collar. “I know what Kes did to you that night. At the time, I fucking hated him for it, but now…I’m actually glad you had that with him. You deserved to know how much he cared for you.”

I nodded. “Me too. It was wrong in a way but right as well. It doesn’t mean I love you any less, but there’ll always be space for Kes in my heart.”

Jethro smiled sadly. “As it should. He was part of me, my only true confidant. I’m glad you’ll miss him as much as me.” His head tilted, lips coming to meet mine.

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