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Kept, Page 24

Maya Banks

  He cupped his hand behind her head and pulled her to him so he could press his lips to her forehead. “I know so. Now we need to get to the hospital before Drake does something really stupid like tear the damn place down or hurt one of the doctors.”

  Hayley’s eyes widened but she quickly got out of bed and rummaged in the closet for a pair of jeans and a nice shirt. She did a quick hair and makeup job because she didn’t want to look like she and Silas had spent the entire two weeks in bed. Even if that was precisely what they’d done. If Silas hadn’t routinely gotten up to cook, they would have starved.

  Thirty minutes later, she and Silas strode hurriedly into Evangeline’s hospital room, and despite Silas’s assurances, nervousness overcame Hayley, and she hung back, standing behind Silas’s large frame.

  She swallowed when she saw that all of Silas’s brothers were there filling the unusually large hospital suite. But then Drake could certainly afford the best, and she couldn’t imagine him allowing his wife to be in anything but the best.

  To her bemusement, when she entered behind Silas, his brothers all surged in her direction, ignoring Silas’s warning growl, and they each in turn hugged her affectionately, asking how she was doing, ruffling her hair or dropping kisses onto her cheeks.

  Maddox enfolded her in his arms and pressed a kiss to her temple. “How you feeling, sweetheart?”

  She blushed, warm pleasure suffusing her veins. “I’m good,” she said shyly.

  “Silas taking good care of you, kiddo?” Thane asked as he pulled her away from Maddox and gave her another fierce hug.

  She ducked her head bashfully. “Yes,” she said huskily. “I’m fine, you guys. Promise.”

  “Get your hands off my woman,” Silas grumbled.

  His brothers chuckled.

  Drake left his wife’s bedside and folded his hands over her shoulders, his gaze tender as he stared down at her.

  “I’m glad you’re feeling better, honey, and I’m sorry you were dragged into our fight. I’ll regret what happened to you for the rest of my life. It should have never happened, and if we’d done our job better, you would have never been nearly killed.”

  Silas’s expression became pained, and guilt surged on his features, a bleak look entering his eyes.

  “It wasn’t your fault,” she said softly.

  Drake didn’t look convinced. In fact, he looked every bit as guilty and remorseful as Silas.

  Hayley peeked around the men and her gaze skittered to the woman propped on the hospital bed as she took her first glimpse of Evangeline, her own guilt soaring.

  Evangeline’s face lit up with warmth as she smiled at Hayley. “You must be Hayley,” she said sweetly. “I’ve been dying to meet you. I’m Evangeline, Drake’s wife.”

  Silas wrapped his arm around Hayley’s waist and urged her toward Evangeline’s bedside.

  “Evangeline, I want you to meet someone very special. This is Hayley Winthrop. I should have introduced the two of you much sooner,” he said in chagrin.

  Evangeline stared balefully at Silas. “Yes, you certainly should have.” Then she shook her head. “You men. I swear you’re so stubborn and thickheaded.”

  Hayley laughed, charmed by Evangeline’s sweet demeanor. “Boy, you said a mouthful, Evangeline.”

  “It’s very nice to finally meet you, Hayley,” Evangeline said sincerely. To Hayley’s surprise, moisture rimmed the other woman’s eyes and they shone with happiness as she stared back at Hayley. “You can’t possibly understand how happy I am that Silas has someone like you. He’s been so alone for so very long. You’ve made him so happy and for that you have my everlasting gratitude.”

  With those words, any doubt over Silas and Evangeline’s relationship immediately evaporated. It was obvious that Evangeline cared deeply for Silas and only wanted him to be happy, a trait both women shared.

  Impulsively, Hayley took Evangeline’s hand in hers, concern flooding her. “Are you all right?” she asked anxiously. “Is the baby all right?”

  Evangeline smiled and rubbed the mound of her belly, pure joy flooding her features. Drake was immediately at her other side, his eyes so full of love and tenderness that it made tears well in Hayley’s eyes at witnessing something so beautiful.

  “Oh yes, our baby girl is just fine. A little impatient, but she’s been convinced to stay in her mama’s womb for a little longer. The doctor has been able to stop the contractions, and as long as I take it easy, he believes I’ll carry her until much closer to my due date.”

  “And that’s precisely what you’re going to do,” Drake said gruffly.

  Evangeline rolled her eyes and Hayley laughed as the two women shared a brief moment of camaraderie at having such overprotective, hovering men.

  “Are they going to release you then?” Silas asked, concern edging his voice.

  “Not until she’s no longer having a single damn contraction,” Drake growled.

  Everyone’s attention went to the door when it opened and a tall, gruff-looking man strode in. Hayley gulped as she stared in awe. As with all of Silas’s brothers, this man exuded power in his every movement. His stare was piercing, his eyes dark and brooding. He was as big and as muscled as Silas, which was saying a lot.

  More surprising was Silas’s reaction. He jerked, emotion flaring in his usually unreadable expression.

  “Brother,” Silas whispered.

  And then Silas met the other man and yanked him into a fierce hug.

  “It’s damn good to see you again. Welcome home,” Silas said in a suspiciously choked voice.

  The room erupted as every single one of the men assembled greeted the newcomer. It was obvious the man meant much to Silas and his brothers. Hayley and Evangeline exchanged puzzled glances as they waited for an introduction.

  “It’s over,” the man said quietly to Silas. “The Vanuccis are no more.”

  Hayley and Evangeline both flinched as the men explosively reacted to the bombshell. Hayley slipped her hand into Evangeline’s and squeezed, unsure of what this—anything—meant. Tears glimmered in Evangeline’s eyes but relief was evident in her expression.

  Drake held up his hand for quiet, and silence immediately descended. It astonished Hayley that in a room full of dominant, alpha men, Drake wielded so much power and respect.

  “You are Ghost no more, brother,” Drake said, emotion filling his own voice. Then he turned to the two women still looking on with confusion and trepidation, his expression softening with apology when he saw their obvious worry. “Andre, I want you to meet two very special women.”

  Warmth spread through Hayley’s entire body at the sudden sense of belonging. Acceptance. No longer did she feel like an outsider to this tightly knit group. It was in the expression of every man present how important she and Evangeline were to them. She swallowed back the knot of emotion and blinked to keep the sudden surge of tears at bay.

  Drake slid his hand tenderly over Evangeline’s cheek. “This is my wife, Evangeline.” Then he directed his focus to Hayley. “And this is Hayley. She belongs to Silas.”

  To Hayley’s surprise, Andre walked over to her and gently enfolded her hands in his, his eyes softening, losing the hard edge he’d worn when he’d entered the room.

  “I’m very glad you’re okay, Hayley. I couldn’t have lived with myself if I had been too late uncovering the information the Vanuccis had on you. I hope you’ll forgive me for the ordeal you went through. Silas is a very lucky man to have a woman as fierce as you.”

  She gaped at him in astonishment, having no clue how to respond.

  “I think we all know that it was my fault she was without protection and forced to fight off her attackers herself,” Silas said painfully.

  “Bullshit,” Hayley said fiercely.

  The others chuckled and then once more Drake held up his hand for silence.

  “Tell us about the Vanuccis,” Drake said urgently.

  Andre cast a look of admiration toward Hayley. “She took out
the old man’s two oldest sons. The youngest is a pussy and disappeared, afraid for his life. The old man is dead and his empire is in shambles. The women and children fled the country because with the organization destroyed they’re now easy pickings, and the Luconis moved in and took out anyone who had any position of power in the old man’s army. Quite simply, the family business is no more and the vultures have swooped in to take over the connections and alliances that Vanucci once held, and the Luconis know better than to fuck with us. They would be signing their death warrant and they know it.”

  “It’s over,” Silas murmured, looking to Drake.

  There was so much relief in Drake’s expression and suddenly he looked so much less burdened. He stared at his wife, a glitter of moisture shining in his eyes. She stared at him with answering joy and relief and then simply held out her arms, and he immediately enfolded her in his embrace, burying his face in her hair as he rocked her back and forth.

  “Thank God,” he choked out. “Nothing will ever hurt you again, Angel. I swear it on my life.”

  Silas stepped behind Hayley and wrapped his arms completely around her, his lips in her hair. His body shook against her as he gripped her tighter.

  “Nothing will ever harm you now, princess,” he said, echoing Drake’s vow to Evangeline. “I’ll always keep you safe and I’ll never let you go. I need you to believe that.”

  She turned in his arms and hugged him as tightly as he held her. “I know, Silas. I love you. I trust you. I always will.”

  Uncaring of the roomful of people, he crushed his lips to hers, kissing her urgently, his tongue sweeping into her mouth, tangling with her tongue. He pressed his forehead to hers and simply held on to her, relief stark and raw on his face.

  “Let’s get out of here,” he said gruffly.

  She smiled. “Take me home, Silas.”