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Kept, Page 15

Maya Banks


  “That’s okay, princess. I like you right where you are. Just let me hold you for a little while and then I’ll take care of my girl.”

  She sighed again and allowed her mind to drift, enjoying the euphoric haze that seemed to envelop them both. She could so easily imagine this being their future. Their forever. As soon as she registered that thought, some of the glow dissipated and her lips turned down in unhappiness. Why couldn’t she just be happy with what she had? Why set herself up for potential disaster? Why did she have to risk damaging her relationship with Silas by being a clingy, insecure twit? She knew without a doubt Silas would never tolerate or accept a woman trying to make demands, conditions or ever calling the shots when he was abundantly clear on his position when it came to him having absolute control and his demand for complete submission.

  She was jolted from her thoughts when Silas stirred beneath her, and it was automatic to clutch him in an effort to prolong the moment and preserve the intimacy they’d shared. Silas affectionately kissed the top of her head.

  “Time to take care of my princess.”

  He gently eased her off him and onto the bed, where she curled up, still boneless. He ran his hand gently down her side before leaving the bed to get a cloth to clean her up. Hayley watched his muscular ass flex as he walked away and made a sound of feminine appreciation because her man was the definition of perfect. She’d never seen a man built the way he was. Broad shoulders and chest, lean waist and arms and thighs rippling with muscle with not so much as an inch of spare flesh to be found. She loved his body, loved snuggling up to him, but she loved his heart the most and how dedicated he was to her comfort and care. He indulged her every whim and spoiled her shamelessly. What more could a woman ask for? He was the total package.

  Despite her best effort, reality intruded as she recalled that, once again, Silas had blatantly rejected her attempts to pleasure him with her mouth. And it wasn’t the first time. Or the second. No longer could she chalk it up to heat of the moment, coincidence or even her imagination, and though the last thing she wanted was to incite any discord between them, it was too important to her to know if he didn’t want her or if he simply found her too inexperienced and inept.

  Hadn’t he promised to teach her everything she needed to know? How to please him? He’d seemed genuinely delighted by her inexperience and had reassured her more than once that he was glad he was the only man who’d ever made love to her, just as he had expressed enthusiasm for being the source for anything she needed to know or learn.

  When Silas returned to the bed to clean her up, she felt shy and nervous and suddenly very unsure of herself.

  Ever in tune with her every mood, he sent her a seeking look as he tossed the cloth in the hamper. He settled on the bed and tucked her into his side as he kissed the side of her head.

  “What’s wrong, princess?”

  Should she bring it up? God, this was so awkward. And what was she going to do if the problem really was with her or he simply didn’t want her that way? Silas wasn’t the type to pacify anyone. He wouldn’t evade her question or lie to make her feel better. Suddenly she wasn’t so sure she wanted to know the truth.

  She briefly closed her eyes and silently inhaled a long, fortifying breath. Oh, please don’t let her be making the biggest mistake of her life. She turned slightly toward Silas, tilting her head to peek up at him from beneath her lashes.

  “Can I ask you something, Silas?”

  Silas tensed as he saw uncertainty and obvious discomfort flash over Hayley’s face. She looked vulnerable and scared. Automatically he reached out to touch her face in an attempt to ease the lines of worry. What could possibly have her so anxious about asking him anything? Was he that rigid and imposing? He wanted her to trust him and never hesitate to come to him for anything. Had he done something to make her feel as though she couldn’t?

  “I hope you know you can ask me anything, my sweet girl,” he said in a gentle tone.

  She glanced down a moment before lifting her gaze once more, color staining her cheeks. “Why don’t you want me to touch you . . . there . . . to pleasure you like you pleasure me?” she asked in a low voice.

  Silas’s brow furrowed in confusion, not immediately understanding her question. She always pleasured him. Hell, being in the same room with her pleased him. Looking at her pleased him.

  “Why won’t you let me touch you with my mouth? Do you not want me that way? Is it because I don’t have any experience? Am I that terrible at it?”

  Her flush deepened, and her expression became more distressed as understanding flashed painfully in Silas’s mind. He closed his eyes, tormented by the thought that he’d made her feel unwanted. Not good enough. As if she didn’t please him. When nothing could be further from the truth. Dear God, how did he explain? How could he tell her of his shameful, degrading past and why the mere thought of having anyone perform oral sex on him sent him to dark places in his past he never wanted to revisit again?

  He desperately scrambled for something to say, an explanation. Something that would reassure her without having to delve into the sordid details that would horrify her and forever change the way she looked at him. How could she possibly ever want to be near him again if she knew the awful truth? What if she no longer wanted him?

  He slid his hand down to tuck his fingers beneath her chin, nudging upward so she was forced to meet his gaze.

  “Hayley, you trusting me to be your first lover, the gift of your virginity, is the single most precious gift anyone has ever given me. I said this before and I absolutely meant it. In no way does your innocence and inexperience affect my absolute desire for you. I love that I’m the only man who has ever touched you so intimately, the only man who has ever made love to you, and I love even more being the one you discover your passion with and being the man who teaches you anything you want to know. Nothing will ever change that.”

  Her eyes and expression very clearly showed her confusion and uncertainty. Her doubt.

  “Then why?” she whispered. “Why don’t you want me to pleasure you in that way? You can show me how if I’m doing it wrong. I want to give that to you, Silas. It’s important to me.”

  Silas closed his eyes as awkward silence fell over them and pain slashed through his heart. To withhold the truth from her would only feed into her insecurity and she would forever perceive it as a rejection of her, and he’d die before ever making her feel that way.

  And yet if he lost her by confessing who and what he was, a part of him would die anyway. Bracing for her inevitable horror and rejection, he sucked in a tortured breath, his expression going as bleak as he felt.

  “It’s not you, princess,” he said in barely above a whisper. “It’s never been you. You’re so fucking perfect and I’m . . .” He closed his eyes again and looked away as unfamiliar emotion and vulnerability gripped him.

  Beside him, Hayley shifted, going up on her knees as she slid her hands into his, holding tightly.

  “You’re what, Silas?”

  “Damaged. A monster. A killer,” he said dispassionately.

  Her sudden intake of air was audible, and he tensed.

  “I’ll never believe you’re a monster,” she said in an angry voice. “I don’t care what you believe. What you’ve been told. You are not a monster and I won’t have you say it.”

  “I killed my own parents,” he said bluntly, his eyes going to her face to witness her reaction.

  She didn’t so much as blink. “Then I’m thinking you must have had a pretty good reason,” she said softly, her hold on his hands never loosening.

  For a moment he was completely robbed of speech as he stared at her in astonishment.

  “Tell me, Silas,” she gently prompted. “Tell me why you killed them.”

  “They were abusive. Obsessed with money, though neither of them ever worked a day in their lives. One night when I was nine years old I was hiding in one of the bedrooms, as usual, while my parents were throwing one of thei
r parties where the goal was to get as drunk and as high as possible and then be hungover for days after. Though I feared the parties, I actually looked forward to the aftermath, when my parents would be too strung out and hungover to even notice me. Those were the only times I wasn’t subjected to their abuse. Any other time I was their outlet for their frustration with their own pathetic, miserable existences.”

  Hayley made a sound of distress but said nothing. Her only other reaction was the instant tightening of her hands around his. He couldn’t bear to look at her, to see the sympathy and compassion shining in her eyes.

  “So there I was, cowering under a bed, only aware of the sounds and smells of sex, alcohol, drugs and the too-loud music that always blared through the piece-of-shit house my parents had found abandoned and moved into. One of the men they were partying with stumbled into the bedroom just as I had decided to risk leaving my hiding place and escaping out a window because things were getting bad, much worse than usual, and I just wanted to escape.

  “When I saw the way he looked at me, I knew something was very wrong. I was so scared that I was frozen in place, unable to move, much less run. At that moment my fear was as strong as the hatred I had for my parents, their constant abuse, their nightly parties, the never-ending uncertainty I lived with. He dragged me to the middle of the room, shoved me to my knees and unzipped his pants. I was so terrified and shocked that I didn’t even fight him. But when he squeezed my jaw so hard I thought it was going to break to make me open my mouth and then shoved his dick down my throat, I went crazy. I bit him . . .”

  Silas broke off, the memories of that night crashing over him, battering his senses. God, he hadn’t thought about that night in years. Hadn’t allowed himself to. He chanced a look at Hayley and flinched when he saw tears rolling down her cheeks. He shuddered, determined to get it all out and then deal with the consequences.

  “When I bit him, he hit me so hard I almost passed out. Then he pulled a gun I hadn’t even noticed he had on him and put it to my head. He gave me two choices.”

  The shame was suddenly as sharp as it had been that night, and Silas couldn’t go on. His throat was closing in on him, rendering him incapable of speech. Then Hayley leaned forward, burying her face in his neck, the warmth of her tears on his skin as she pressed soothing kisses against the side of his neck. Feeding on her strength and loving support, he sucked in several breaths to steady his frayed nerves and forged ahead, knowing it was best to get it over with and not delay the inevitable.

  “He told me I could suck him off or he’d blow my fucking brains out.”

  “Oh Silas, no!” Hayley said in a stricken voice as she lifted her head from his neck.

  He closed his eyes, too ashamed to look at her when he made his humiliating, cowardly confession.

  “God help me, I thought about it. I knelt there on my goddamn knees in that filthy fucking house and contemplated refusing just so he would shoot me and end my miserable existence. I wanted to die. I saw it as a way of finally escaping. Then he laughed at me and tossed his gun on the bed and to my everlasting shame, I panicked, because I’d taken too long. I hadn’t been man enough to just tell him to do it. So I begged him to kill me. I called him every name I’d ever heard my parents call me, trying to piss him off enough to shoot me in his rage. And the son of a bitch laughed, and he kept laughing the entire time he forced his cock down my throat. If I hadn’t been such a fucking coward I would have gotten the escape I had fantasized about every waking minute of every day,” he said bitterly.

  “You are not a coward,” Hayley hissed fiercely, tears running openly down her face. “I will not sit here and have you think it or say it.”

  Silas attempted a halfhearted smile at her staunch defense but failed miserably.

  “After he came all over my face and forced me to lick him clean, my mother and father stumbled into the room, as usual high as kites and drunk off their asses. To this day I don’t know why but for one second I actually had hope that they’d help me. That they’d be pissed that this fucking stranger just sexually assaulted their child. It was a stupid thought because they’d never done a damn thing to help me before. But worse than the fact that they stood there laughing—they actually laughed!—was the sudden spark of excitement and . . . greed . . . in my old man’s eyes. I knew then that I had fucked up by not having made the man shoot me and that I’d regret that decision for the rest of my life. Because now my parents had a new source for the money they coveted but refused to get off their lazy asses for. They began prostituting me out to men who didn’t give a shit about the age or sex of the person sucking their cock.”

  “I hate them!” Hayley said viciously, tears still running in never-ending streams down her beautiful face. “God, I wish I had killed them. They deserved to die.”

  She leaned forward again and wrapped her arms around him, holding him with all her strength as she laid her head on his shoulder, but he was so numb and frozen and lost in the past that he didn’t feel her reassuring heat or the comfort she offered.

  “For two years, I endured the worst. Forced to blow anyone who forked over enough cash. Then one night when I was eleven, my dear old mom and dad came home from a meeting with a prospective ‘client.’ They calmly informed me that I could make them more money by doing more than suck cock and that they had several clients interested in fucking a young boy. To this day I still don’t know what happened. Something inside me just broke loose and it was like I was no longer in my body but outside it, passively observing as, for the first time, I openly defied them. I told them to go to hell.

  “My parents lost their shit. They beat me over and over with their hands, fists, belts, a pool cue, whatever they could grab on to, and the detached part of me accepted it, that I was finally going to die, and I embraced it. All I could think was that I would finally be free and at peace.

  “But then I seemed to step back into my body and I couldn’t even feel the horrific pain that I’d felt just seconds before. I didn’t feel anything at all except overwhelming, horrible rage. I took them both apart with my bare hands. All the pent-up fury, pain and grief that I lived with ever since I could remember erupted, and I was utterly unstoppable.”

  He stared down at his open hands, now so much larger than those that had ravaged two adults, and he could still see the bright red blood staining them. He curled them into fists, refusing to feel remorse for killing two soulless monsters.

  “The cops showed up just seconds after I killed them. Found out later an elderly neighbor had watched the whole thing, since my dumb-fuck parents didn’t bother to close the door. He was disabled and couldn’t help me, but he did call the police. I can still see the look on those cops’ faces. They were horrified. Not by what I’d been through, but by what I’d done.”

  His jaw clenched as he remembered one of the cops whispering to his partner. He has death in his eyes. Poor kid never had a chance. They’ve turned him into a monster and now it looks like what they ended up with is a savage killing machine. They weren’t wrong. He was a monster. There was no fighting genetics.

  “They knew it was self-defense, without a doubt. That was obvious. But they’d seen what I was capable of, even at such a young age, so I was deemed a threat. Instead of being sent into the foster system, I was placed in a juvenile detention center to keep me out of trouble and to protect the public. They thought it would curb my ‘violent tendencies.’ They were wrong, but I did learn how to work the system. By the time I turned eighteen, I’d learned everything necessary to create and live the life I wanted.”

  He shrugged indifferently, but on the inside his heart was hammering so hard he felt dizzy.

  “So you see, Hayley, the man you gave your innocence to is a remorseless killer who gets sick to his stomach if a woman goes near his dick with her mouth. Quite a winner you chose.”

  He continued to stare at the wall, not wanting to see the disgust that was surely on Hayley’s face.

  She raised her head
from his shoulder, and he waited for the inevitable judgment.

  “Are you fucking kidding me?” she shouted.

  Despite his determination not to, he glanced at her, taken aback by her vehemence.

  There was no disgust, pity or condemnation on her face. Just pure, unadulterated . . . rage. For him, not at him.

  For a moment he couldn’t breathe for the hope that welled unbidden from the depths of the soul he hadn’t thought he’d possessed anymore.

  “What was wrong with those people? What kind of an asshole sees a horrifically abused child and puts him in juvenile detention instead of getting him the help he deserves? What the fuck, Silas?”

  Bewildered by her adamant defense of him and not at all certain what to do with the woman who’d shed tears for him, had held and supported him while he confessed his sins and then damn near screamed her outrage loud enough for the people one floor down to hear, he brushed at her still-damp face with shaking fingers, clueless as to how to respond. This was the very last thing he’d expected.

  “Baby, I was a danger to society,” he said in a low voice.

  She snorted and then fixed him with a ferocious glare. “Danger to society, my ass. Quite frankly the world needs more people like you.” Her tone gentled as she wrapped her arms around him. “Protectors. People who care and who stand for what’s right when no one else will. You saved me, Silas. My own guardian angel.”

  Silas held her tight and dragged her down to the bed, an unfamiliar burning at the edges of his eyes. What was he supposed to do with her? In no way did he deserve this precious woman who was so pissed over the cards he’d been dealt as a child. He’d never tell her this, but for the first time, he had no regret for his tormented past, because everything he’d endured, all the ugliness and violence, had led him to her so many years later. And any amount of torment was worth it if the end result was her in his arms right now.

  He hugged her even more fiercely, overcome and humbled by her passionate defense. He buried his face in her hair because he didn’t trust himself to look at her without succumbing to the tears that burned like acid in his eyes.

  26

  Hayley spent a sleepless night nestled tightly in Silas’s arms. His grip around her had been fierce and he never once loosened his hold on her, almost as if he were afraid that he’d awake and she would be gone. It devastated her that he had looked at her with dull eyes, hopelessness etched like stone on his face as he’d bared his most horrifying secrets, just waiting, expecting her to condemn him and walk away.

  The rest of the night, what he’d told her weighed heavily on her mind as she battled indecision over an idea that had formed and taken root. She was awake when he first stirred, but she closed her eyes and adopted the peaceful look of sleep, not wanting him to know she’d lain awake in his arms agonizing over whether to act on her idea.

  So much rode on her successfully pulling it off. This was one case where it would have been far better to have left things alone and not ever have attempted it than to go ahead with it and have it backfire in her face. She had so much to gain . . . and everything to lose.

  She felt lips on her forehead and then her cheeks and finally her lips. She allowed her eyelashes to flutter open and smiled up at Silas.

  “Good morning, princess.”

  Instead of answering, she lifted the upper half of her body and rotated over him, kissing him hotly as she pressed him back onto the pillows.

  His eyes gleamed with amusement and a smile curved the hard features of his mouth.

  “What’s this?” he murmured.

  She put her hand on his chest to make known her desire for him to stay exactly where she positioned him.

  “Just let me,” she whispered against his mouth as her tongue delved inward to explore every inch of his mouth.

  “Never let it be said I denied my sweet girl anything. Especially when she says good morning like this.”

  She continued her gentle exploration of his mouth and face, leaving no part of his skin untouched. Finally, she drew away, staring earnestly down at him as she gathered her courage for the risk she was about to take.

  “Do you trust me, Silas?”

  He frowned at that, obviously surprised by the question. “Of course I do, princess. Apart from my brothers, you are the only person in the world I trust without reservation.”

  He seemed startled by his own admission and wonder crossed his face, almost as if he hadn’t considered the matter before and his answer had been automatic but now he realized it was true. A strong sense of satisfaction sizzled through her veins, but still, she had to make absolutely certain.

  “No, Silas, I mean do you really trust me,” she said with complete seriousness.

  His brow furrowed and he slid his hands over her hips and up her sides before pulling her down over him so their faces were mere inches apart.

  “What’s wrong, Hayley? What has you so worried and uncertain? And the answer is yes. I trust you in a way I’ve never trusted another, including my brothers. How could I not when I told you my most shameful secrets, things I haven’t even shared with my brothers much less another living soul, and you never once judged me or condemned me? Hell, you wanted to go kick everyone’s asses, from my parents, to the degenerate child molester, to the cops who tossed me in juvie. You make me whole, my darling girl. You’ve given me something I’ve long lived without. Hope.”

  Tears blurred her vision and her breath hiccupped from her mouth as her chest worked up and down with the effort of trying to calm her breathing. And her nerves.

  “I need you to trust me now,” she said, touching her fingers to his cheekbone. “I lay awake all night thinking about what happened to you, and as a result of such terrible abuse you not being able to bear the thought of someone performing oral sex on you. And I understand. Believe me, I understand. I can’t imagine anyone in your situation who wouldn’t react in exactly the same manner.”

  His expression was still puzzled as he stared at her, discomfort evident in his eyes.

  “Just tell me what’s on your mind,” he said quietly.

  She took a deep breath. “Your only experience with oral sex was abhorrent, humiliating and degrading. But no one has ever touched you that way with . . . love. All they’ve done is taken from you. Let me show you the difference, Silas. Let me show you my love. Let me give that to you. If at any time you’re uncomfortable or if it brings back too many painful memories, I’ll stop immediately. I would never force you to do anything that caused you pain. But let me try. Let me show you the difference between someone who is only forcing and degrading you and someone who only wants to love you.”

  He was silent for so long that she thought she’d made a huge mistake. His expression was brooding, his eyes distant and seemingly a million miles away. She averted her gaze, biting her lip to keep her tears at bay.

  Silas cupped her chin in his large palm and rubbed his thumb over her cheek in the softest of caresses.