The ground beneath Alina seemed to shake. She buried her face in her hands and rocked back and forth. Oh, no, no, no...no! This couldn't be happening!
Alexander took a step backward. "What are you going to do?"
For the first time, Alina heard complete and utter fear in Alexander's voice. She forced herself to her feet. She would be strong for Alexander's sake.
"Alina, if you claim to love this man, then you will be placed under suspicion, as well," Conner said. "You will be considered by some to be just as guilty as he is. Tell me you don't love him."
Alina knew Conner's words were true. "I'm forced to choose?" she whispered. "To choose between Summeridge and Alexander?"
A muscle in Conner's jaw jerked at the sound of the villain's real name.
Alexander refused to meet Alina's eyes. "You shocked me, Conner. I must say, you're a worthy adversary. But you haven't completely taken me in. No, I've other tricks up my sleeve." He pulled a gun from what seemed like thin air. "Such as this weapon."
Conner reached for his own gun, but Alina cried out, "Stop it, both of you! You're acting like children! I hate Alexander! I've never loved him! I only wanted to trick information out of him!" Dismayed at how natural the lies were falling from her tongue, Alina let out a laugh. "It would appear he thought I fell for him, but I never did." Alina turned to Alexander and spat in his face. "You're a fool. All men are fools. You tried to use me, just as my father and brother tried to use me. But I'm not falling for it this time."
As the words fell from Alina's tongue, she recognized her own cowardice. She hated herself. She turned away from Alexander's gaze.
All she was aware of before she passed out was that Alexander had turned and run in the opposite direction.