Unintended, Page 3Georgia Cates
Dinner… I understand that, but rapists don’t send little old ladies to prepare their victims for sexual assaults. “Did Kieran leave the compound?”
“Yes. He and the other Mr. Hendry had a meeting to attend.”
A spark of hope ignites inside me. Perhaps they were contacted by Thane to negotiate for our return? He and Sin and Jamie won’t leave Ellison and me with these people. I know they won’t.
Mrs. Bruce uncovers the smallest of the three plates on the table. “Mr. Hendry wants you to have oysters.”
“Why in the world would that man care anything about what I eat?”
“Oysters get the juices flowing.”
She lifts her brows and looks downward. “Those juices. The womanly ones that put you in the mood for loving.”
What. The. Hell?
“Eat up, Miss Breckenridge. He’ll expect you to be ready when he returns.”
I’ll be ready. Ready to leave.
“Please, Miss Breckenridge. I don’t want Mr. Hendry to be angry with me because you aren’t ready when he returns.”
These aren’t logical people. They might physically harm this old woman because I didn’t eat these damn oysters. “All right.” I lift the shell and swallow the first of the half-dozen oysters on the plate. Mmm… nice and briny. One of the best oysters I’ve ever had.
“You’re a lucky girl. Mr. Hendry could have had his pick of girls, but he chose you. Not everyone is pleased about his decision, but I for one couldn’t be happier. It’s time this happened.”
Someone has lied to this poor woman. “I don’t think you understand why I’m here.”
“I understand perfectly.” She uncovers a plate of duck confit and risotto. “Eat up. You’ll need your strength.”
I eat what I force down, only because I don’t want this woman harmed, and Mrs. Bruce covers the dishes when I finish. “You didn’t eat much.”
“No need to be nervous. Mr. Hendry is going to make you a very happy woman tonight.”
Happy? I don’t think so.
“Come with me. It’s time for your shower.”
Mrs. Bruce goes to the bed and fetches the gown, frowning when she holds it up for inspection. “He’ll be back soon, so there’s no time to iron it. I’ll hang it on the back of the door, and we’ll hope that the steam loosens the crinkles.”
She goes into the bathroom and turns on the water but doesn’t come out. “Time’s wasting. Get in here, lass.”
I go into the bathroom, and she still doesn’t leave.
“Go on. Turn around.”
I do as she says and she lowers the zipper of my dress. “I’ll launder your clothes for you if you wish to keep them.”
Of course, I want to keep my clothes. What else would I wear home? “I don’t think you’ll have time to launder them.”
I slide the dress down my body, and it takes my ripped knickers to the floor with it. Mrs. Bruce bends down and lifts them from the floor. “Oh dear.”
“He ripped them.”
“I see that. Would you like me to throw them out?”
“Yes, please.” I want no reminders of any interaction I have with Kieran Hendry.
I cover my breasts with one arm while using the other to hold out my bra.
“No need to be timid with me. It’s my job to assist Hendry women as needed.”
But I’m not a Hendry woman. “Do you know anything about my friend, Ellison?”
“I prepared a meal for her, but someone else delivered it to her room.”
“Is she okay?”
“I have no reason to believe she isn’t.”
Mrs. Bruce flicks her hand toward the shower. “Get in, lass. Mr. Hendry will be back before we know it, and he’ll be angry if you aren’t ready.”
Kieran Hendry is an even bigger monster than I thought for making this sweet old lady prepare me for the things he’s going to do to me.
God, I hope there’s a negotiation in the works for Ellison and me.
I stand beneath the hot water and imagine what it will feel like to have him on top of me, between my legs. He’s well over six feet tall. Every bit of fifteen stones. He lifted and carried me over his shoulder in what felt like one smooth motion. He tossed me onto the bed as though I weighed nothing. No part of him that I’m able to see is small. I’m guessing that includes his cock as well.
I wonder if he’ll be violent. “Have you done this before?”
“Done what, dear?”
“Prepared a woman for Kieran?”
She looks confused by my question. “Of course not; you’re the first.”
“Will you tend to me afterward?”
“No. That’s for Kieran to do.” She giggles. “You truly are an innocent lass, aren’t you?”
“I’ve never been with a man.” By force or voluntarily.
“Maybe I should ask Mrs. Hendry to come in and talk to you? She might be able to ease your nerves a bit.”
Kieran’s mother might listen to me. I could plead with her, woman to woman, to stop her son from violating me. “Yes. I would like to see her. Will you go get her now?” Before Kieran comes back.
“Let’s finish with you first so that you’re ready when Mr. Hendry returns, and then if there’s time, I’ll have her come in.”
I quickly rinse the conditioner from my hair. “I’m done.” I turn off the water and step around the glass door to where Mrs. Bruce is standing with an outstretched lush white robe for me. Reminds me of the way my nanny, Iona, would wrap me in a towel after my bath when I was a child.
I tie the belt around my waist and twist a towel around my wet hair. Mrs. Bruce removes the white gown from the hook on the back of the door and shakes it. “The steam helped. Good thing because I certainly wouldn’t want Mrs. Hendry to see that I put you in a wrinkled mess.” She returns the gown to the hook. “Let’s comb your hair and dry it. Mr. Hendry won’t like you coming to bed with wet hair.”
I don’t have time for this. I need to speak to Kieran’s mother before he comes back. I snatch the comb from her hand and all but rip out my hair as I drag it through the tangles. I lean over and dry my hair on hot and high as I shake it out with my fingers. It’s a wild, bushy mess when I stand upright. “Miss Breckenridge… I think we should smooth your hair.”
“Kieran won’t like it… so big.”
Fuck Kieran and what he likes. “Do you have a flat iron?”
“Miss Hendry does. I can get it.”
“Please do. And bring her with you when you return.”
“The Miss Hendry I was referring to is Shaw, Kieran’s sister.”
How many Hendrys are there? And will they all be in this house doing nothing while I’m being assaulted?
“We should probably hurry. Don’t want to keep Kieran waiting because I’m not ready.”
“Yes, Miss Breckenridge.” She holds out a brush. “You should probably try to tame that while I’m gone.”
Mrs. Bruce returns, and she straightens my bushy hair. She’s slow as fuck. “I bet Mr. Hendry loves your long hair. He’s never been fond of short on women.”
Again, fuck Kieran and what he likes. “Can you go get Mrs. Hendry now?”
Mrs. Bruce smiles. “Yes, but let’s get you into your gown first. Arms up.”
She dresses me as though I’m a toddler and can’t do it for myself. It would be completely annoying if I had time to be annoyed.
“It’s endearing that you’re so nervous.”
Endearing? I’m about to be brutalized. What the fuck could be endearing about that? “Can you please hurry, Mrs. Bruce? I’m afraid Kieran will be here any minute.”
This is my last hope. If Kieran’s mother has no mercy on me, it’s over. I’m his to do with as he pleases.
The Fellowship council of Breckenridge men stands when we enter. It’s a show of respect, but we aren’t held in
high regard by them. And they aren’t pleased by our presence. “Welcome. I’m Thane Breckenridge. These are my sons, Sinclair and Mitch. And my nephew, Jamie Breckenridge—Abram’s son.”
“I’m Lennox Hendry. These are my sons, Kieran, Maddock, Calder, and Carson.”
Thane nods. “Come. Sit. Let’s have a drink.”
A red-haired woman enters the dining room with a serving tray of glasses and a large bottle of dark amber. Since it’s the place of the hosting leader’s wife to serve when two councils meet, I assume this woman must be Thane’s wife, Isobel.
“Every great meeting has always begun with a fine whisky. Don’t you agree?” Thane says.
My father nods but his eyes are on the redhead. As if he knows her. “Aye. Indeed.”
She serves us first and works her way around the table until everyone has a glass of whisky. I watch my father watching her. She never once looks him in the face, but I’m convinced this isn’t their first meeting. A man doesn’t look at a woman like that unless something has transpired between them.
“Anything else, Thane?” Isobel asks.
“That’ll be all. Thank you.”
The woman leaves, and Thane holds up his glass. “Here’s to a productive meeting where we’re able to come to a mutual agreement.”
The warm liquid burns all the way down. I’d like a dozen more just like it to numb the anger I feel toward Westlyn for giving her body to countless men. For ruining what could have been something good between us in a situation neither of us can escape. But now I’m going to be stuck with a whore for a wife, and she’s going to be stuck with a husband who despises her for what she’s done.
It’s customary for the two leaders to lead the conversation when two brotherhoods meet, and my father is the one to initiate the discussion. “You’re aware of my backstory with Arabella? How she came to be my wife as part of a treaty?”
“At The Syndicate, our belief is to operate with as few rivals as possible. And The Order has far too many powerful adversaries to ever function at its full capacity. We’d like to change the way it operates to mimic The Syndicate. That means making you our allies rather than our enemies.”
“The Order has been a cruel group of people. What makes you sure that as a whole, they’re going to support this reversal?”
Thane isn’t mistaken. The Order was a cruel group of individuals under my uncle’s leadership, but that stops here. That kind of behavior is counterproductive and will not be tolerated under our leadership.
“The people of The Order enjoy brutality because Torrence did. It’s what they were taught. It’s all they know. They need to be retrained to enjoy something else. I can do that.”
Thane doesn’t look convinced. “How do you propose to accomplish such drastic change?”
“Only one way—rule over them with an iron fist that they fear. Sure, it’ll take making examples out of some brothers, but I’m prepared to do it. A few public executions always put people in their place.”
Executions aren’t something we take pleasure in but they are often necessary.
“Our people will be resistant to this alliance,” Thane says.
Resistance by The Fellowship isn’t the least bit unexpected.
“I understand there’s been a lot of spilled blood between the two, but the benefits of partnering with us outweigh any grudge you hold. It will do nothing but benefit you and your people once we get things on track.”
Thane hesitates. “If we do it, I would have to insist on some type of insurance.”
Jamie’s eyes widen and his fist tightens, stretching the skin on top of his hand so taut that the blue veins appear as though they’re trying to escape. If he isn’t happy right now, he damn sure isn’t going to be happy about what my father is going to say next.
“We’re prepared to give you that, and we want our own insurance. We’d like to propose a double treaty. We take Westlyn or Evanna Breckenridge or Ellison MacAllister as a wife for Kieran, and as a sign of good faith, I’ll give you my daughter, Shaw, to be married to Mitch or Jamie.”
Jamie Breckenridge’s face is blood red. I bet his blood pressure is nearly at stroke level. “We’ll never give a one of them to you.”
I chuckle, wondering if he has so quickly forgotten that we have his sister and lover. “You didn’t give us Westlyn and Ellison, but we have both of them.”
“You’re not keeping Ellison or my sister.”
Sinclair Breckenridge holds out his hand in Jamie’s direction. I’m not part of their brotherhood, but I recognize the hand gesture as a warning to not overstep his boundaries. “Jamie, you sit on the council, but this isn’t your choice. Dad and I will make the decision based upon what’s in the best interest of our people as a whole.”
“We need Kieran’s wife to be a Breckenridge—or the equivalent—so we’re on equal footing. I fully trust that this partnership will work, and it won’t come down to an eye for an eye. I wouldn’t be offering you my only daughter if I didn’t believe it would be successful.”
Thane looks at Sin and then back to my father. “We can’t make this kind of decision tonight. We need time to discuss it.”
I don’t think we could make a snap decision about something this important either, but they need to understand that their women aren’t coming home until a resolve is reached. “In the meantime, we’re keeping Westlyn and Ellison.”
“No. You can’t agree to this, Thane.”
There goes Jamie overstepping his boundaries again. Maybe it’s time I set him straight on how this is going to play out.
“The part where we keep Westlyn and Ellison is nonnegotiable. I need time with them to help me decide which one I’ll take as my wife. If I like neither, then I’ll need a few days with Evanna.”
“You’ll take none of them as your wife.”
Jamie Breckenridge doesn’t know me or how I tick. I don’t take well to being told what I will and won’t do. Especially by a leader’s nephew who will never be the head of his brotherhood.
I grin and lick my lips. “I plan on tasting one of them tonight. Maybe both. I haven’t decided yet.” Aye, I’m being a dick. Taunting a man who is probably about to lose his mind with fear for his sister and lover, but he has opened his mouth more than once when he shouldn’t have. He needs to learn his place.
“That’s enough, Kieran,” my father warns.
“Don’t you fucking touch either of them.”
Despite being a doctor, the dumb bastard is a slow learner. “Who’s going to stop me?”
“I will kill you.”
He stands and pulls his Glock, aiming it directly at my face. Not the first time I’ve looked down a barrel. Hell, it’s not even the second or third or fourth.
“That’s not a good way to begin the treaty.” Does the dumb bastard forget that we’re here because we want peace and prosperity?
“You weren’t thinking that when you put a bullet in me a few hours ago.”
He seems a little pissed off about that. “You pulled your weapon. We had no choice.”
“You were kidnapping two of our women. Of course, I was going to pull my weapon.”
Okay. I can’t say that I blame him for that. “It wasn’t our intention to kill you. Otherwise, you’d be dead.” Jamie Breckenridge doesn’t know that I’m a sniper. He has no idea that I never miss my target. Ever. If I wanted that bullet to go into his heart, it would have.
“Stand down, Jamie.” He doesn’t move. “Now,” Thane adds.
He does as Thane orders and sits, staring a hole through me as though he’s the taunter. I don’t think so. “I will have three days with them. Not a minute less. Who knows? Maybe one of them will be carrying my heir by the time they return, and the decision will be made for me.”
He slams his fist on the table. “Nooo!”
“That’s our offer. We’ll contact you in three days. And just in case you’re thinking of coming for them, we won’t hesitate to put bullets in
their pretty little heads. Enjoy the rest of your night.”
The Syndicate isn’t called the sleeping giant for no reason. We are a peaceful people until our hand is forced. After that, we’re out for blood.
The limo is pulling away from Thane Breckenridge’s property when the car slows. “There’s a woman in the drive, Mr. Hendry.”
“Stop the car.”
My father opens the door to get out, but Isobel pushes her way inside the car. “Isobel. It’s good to see you. I wanted to say something earlier but…”
“I know. It’s good tae see ye too. I wish we had time tae visit, but I only have a few minutes before I’m missed.”
I was right. My dad knows Thane’s wife.
“What is it, Issy?”
“I need to speak tae yer son aboot my niece.” She looks at me. “Westlyn is Abram and Torrie’s daughter. There isn’t a reason in the world that she should be anything other than a monster with those two for parents, but she isn’t. Wes is kind… loyal… dutiful… and pure. My niece is beautiful inside and oot. She’ll make a wonderful wife for ye, unless ye choose tae mishandle her while she’s in yer care. In that case, she’ll come tae despise ye, and believe me, existence is miserable when ye’re shackled tae someone ye hate.”
Pure. That word catches my attention. “Westlyn Breckenridge is pure?”
“Abram might have been a mean bastard, but he made sure that Westlyn wasn’t touched by any brother. He was saving her for someone. It ultimately didn’t work oot, and no man has reached oot tae Thane tae declare interest in her.”
Abram was saving Westlyn for someone but not his older daughter? There must be a reason for that, but what? “Abram is dead. He’s no longer here to ensure his daughter’s purity.”
“True, but Thane and Sin have taken responsibility for Wes. Tae taint her would be an offense against them. She remains a virgin. Of that, I’m certain.”
Not according to Westlyn. “Why would she claim otherwise when I asked?”
“Wes is being the strong, resilient captive she was trained tae be. She sees ye as part of The Order that she loathes. There’s no way she’d voluntarily tell ye that she’s a virgin. Think aboot it. That’s the one sure way tae get yerself violated by yer brotherhood’s enemy.”