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Maya Banks

  utterly vulnerable to whatever he wanted to do with her.

  Once she was exactly as he wanted her, he walked around to the other side of the bed, where her legs were splayed wide, and then he crawled onto the bed between her thighs and leaned forward, planting his hands down on either side of her head.

  “Now, we’re going to have a conversation all about the honesty you’re so fond of. I’m going to ask you questions and all I require is a simple yes or no. Nothing more. You with me, princess?”

  “Y-Yes, Silas.”

  His eyes gleamed with satisfaction. He leaned down, adjusting his body lower down hers, and sucked one taut nipple into his mouth and kept suckling until she was gasping and writhing beneath him.

  “Do you want to be with me?” he asked in a silky voice.

  Frantic need registered in her eyes when his mouth let go of her nipple and he stared expectantly, waiting for her answer.

  “Yes,” she breathed.

  He let out a growl of appreciation and levered his mouth to the sensitive skin of her neck, nuzzling and sucking, leaving his mark on her fair skin. He worked his way down her body, pressing gentle kisses to her bandaged wound before moving even lower between her thighs, and he nipped the inside of one hard enough to elicit a moan as she began to thrash beneath him again.

  “Be still,” he said harshly, issuing a light slap to her clit that caused her body to go rigid, but she became still once more. “That’s better,” he praised. “I don’t want you hurting yourself, my beautiful girl. Now tell me, is this your home?”

  “Yesss,” she said in a long, harsh hiss.

  He delved between the succulent lips of her pussy and lapped greedily at her entrance, pushing his tongue inward as more sounds of sweet agony rose from her.

  “Am I your home, Hayley?”

  “Yes!” she said desperately.

  Once again, he feasted on her, sucking and lapping at her like a man starved. She began trembling, her legs quivering uncontrollably as she hovered precariously close to her climax. She let out a wail of protest when he lifted his head abruptly, and he saw the harsh lines of need engraved on her face and knew she was right there. One more touch was all she needed.

  He continued to survey her calmly, soaking up the sight of her below him, hands cuffed over her head, willing and submissive to his every desire. Captive to whatever he chose to do to her.

  “Promise me you’ll never try to take what is mine, what I own, from me again,” he said in a biting voice full of dominance and absolute possessiveness.

  “I promise!” she said in a strangled voice. “Please, Silas,” she begged. “Finish it. I need this . . . you . . . so much.”

  At the thickening of her voice, so close to tears, he could no longer bear to delay her ultimate pleasure any longer. He was satisfied that she knew exactly who she belonged to and that he’d removed any ridiculous notion she had of ever trying to protect him when she was his to cherish and protect.

  He lowered his mouth and began delicately eating at her throbbing, pulsing flesh, adoring her with every lick, suck and nip of his teeth. After a few seconds of working her slowly back up again, he registered the signs of her impending climax once more and this time he didn’t stop.

  He began sucking at her clit while using his fingers to plunge deeply inside her. He pushed his finger over the rougher part of her canal where her G-spot rested and he was instantly bathed in her silken heat.

  “Give it to me,” he growled. “Right now. All over my mouth, princess. Give me what is mine to take.”

  He sucked hard, stabbing his tongue repeatedly over her pulsing clit, and added a second finger inside her pussy, stroking fast and hard. She let out an unintelligible sound that was garbled and then she screamed his name as he slid his mouth down to her entrance and thrust his tongue into her, over and over, coating it with her heated honey. He let out another growl and clamped both of his hands around her hips, holding her in place as he continued eating her mercilessly.

  As quickly as one orgasm overtook her, he could already feel the telltale convulsive tightening that signaled another rapidly consuming her. He drew back and she threw him a desperate, pleading look, begging him with her eyes not to leave her hanging.

  “Shhh, my princess,” he soothed as he positioned his dick at the mouth of her entrance.

  He pushed in with one thrust, burying himself deeply into her swollen channel. He closed his eyes as he reached total depth and then he locked himself there, remaining utterly still.

  “Silas, please, please move,” she pleaded. “I’m burning up!”

  “Look at me,” he commanded. “Eyes on me, my sweet girl. Do you trust me? Do you know that I’ll always, always see to your pleasure above all else? Do you remember your promise that you would willingly give yourself into my absolute care and keeping, my ownership of your body, your heart, your soul?”

  Tears glittered in her eyes as they softened with love and complete, unconditional acceptance.

  “Yes, Silas. Always.”

  “I need you to be very still. You’re still healing and I will not do anything to cause you pain or to damage your recovery. Lie as still as possible while I take care of my princess.”

  Slowly she relaxed around him until he could feel the throbbing pulse of his dick embedded deeply within her body. His hips were flush against hers, and no part of his erection remained unengulfed by her sweetness.

  Then he began rubbing his thumb over her clit in a firm circle. Her pussy clenched and spasmed around him, nearly squeezing the head of his dick right off. He closed his eyes and concentrated on breathing through the need to empty himself inside her.

  He increased the pressure and the speed of his manipulation of her clit, finding just the perfect rhythm that had her gasping and clutching at him like a greedy fist. Her eyes widened and then blanked, a startled “Oh” spilling from her lips.

  “That’s my girl,” he purred. “Come for me now, Hayley. Let go. I’ve got you, sweet girl. Let yourself go.”

  He never left her clit, milking every bit of her orgasm until she lay utterly spent on the bed, her eyes closed, a light sheen of sweat covering her body. Gritting his teeth, he eased out of her and then began pumping hard at his erection, aiming his release onto her pussy and then her belly, watching in satisfaction as it splattered over her skin, marking her in a carnal, primitive manner.

  “Who owns you, princess?” he asked in a silky voice.

  “You do, Silas,” she said in a sleepy, sated voice.

  He lowered himself to her uninjured side, gathering her into his arms as he reached up to unfasten the cuffs around her wrists. He made no move to clean her up. Not this time. It suited him perfectly for her to rest with his brand of possession all over her.

  “Never try to leave me for my own good again, my sweet girl. Next time I won’t be so lenient in my punishment.”

  She cuddled against his chest like a contented kitten and sent him a sleepy smile.

  “Got news for you, honey. If this is your idea of punishment, then you’re a walking advertisement for willful disobedience.”

  “Don’t get any ideas,” he warned.

  “Oh, but I do love your punishments,” she said dreamily.


  “I need everything you’ve got,” Silas said quietly into the phone. “Shit’s about to get deep, Ghost. You’ve been buried in the Vanucci shithole for too long. It’s time for you to come home. Do this for me, get every piece of information they have on us, especially any hits they’re planning, and I’ll get you the fuck out of there.”

  “I’m doing my best, Sye,” Ghost said in a weary voice. “You know this takes time. If I raise any eyebrows, if I give the Vanuccis any reason to question my loyalty to them, then I fuck us all. You know that.”

  “Call me the minute you have anything,” Silas said. “I won’t have anyone else in this family hurt and especially not killed. If I have to take out every last one of the Vanucci scum, I will.�

  “Not without me,” Ghost said in a tone that suggested no argument. “You’re not going on some fucking suicide mission, Sye.”

  Silas nearly smiled at the adamancy in his brother’s voice. It pained him that Ghost had spent the last fucking three years living in filth and being a diligent general in the Vanucci army. All to keep his brothers safe. It was time for him to come home. Ghost was every bit as stubborn and devoted to his cause as Silas was, and he was the only one who dared to ever argue with Silas, something Drake didn’t even do.

  “Just make sure it doesn’t have to come to that,” Silas said, before ending the connection.

  He turned to see if Drake was finished with his phone call yet. Maddox was working on one of the desktops that had three twenty-six-inch monitors, giving him as many vantage points as possible as his fingers flew over the keyboard. Thane was slouched on the couch, a weary look on his face. He’d spent the last night at the hospital, sitting on Zander and making sure he didn’t walk out of the hospital before the doctors thought he was ready. Hartley had relieved him first thing this morning and Justice had been assigned to Evangeline. Everyone else was gathered in Drake’s offices waiting to hear any incoming news and awaiting the time when they would hit back at the Vanuccis.

  “The Luconis are scared shitless that it’s only a matter of time before the Vanuccis go after them. They believe the hit on Zander is nothing more than a distraction so the Luconis will relax their guard, thinking that the bigger threat exists to us. Whatever information they glean from their informants and the people they have on the streets, they’ll pass along immediately to me.”

  Thane sat up straight on the couch, fully awake now. “You trust them?”

  “On this? Yeah,” Drake said indifferently. “They want their families safe and they know we can make that happen. For now they aren’t going to do anything to piss us off, which means we can expect their full cooperation. One of the cops who raided Impulse New Year’s Eve was found dead in an alley this morning. Makes me believe even more that the Vanuccis had dirty cops on their payroll and those dirty cops went after Evangeline, and they’re also the ones who got to Hatcher and got him to turn.”

  “The dead cop one of the dirty cops? Or is it a good cop who saw or heard the wrong things in his department?” Silas asked. Unsaid was the fact that if the cop was dirty, the likelihood he was on Vanucci’s payroll was good and Silas could possibly pin his murder on them. Killing a cop, even a dirty one, would bring down a hell of a lot of heat on the Vanuccis’ empire. If they had cops crawling up their asses at every turn, it wouldn’t leave them any time to perform hits on Silas’s brothers or the people they cared about.

  “I’ll get on that,” Maddox said. “I’ll see what I can dig up and get back to you in a few hours.”

  From the corner of his eye, Silas saw Jax lean in, staring hard at one of the security screens he was monitoring, a scowl on his face.

  “Yo,” Jax called. “I got something here. Black car with tinted windows has passed the back lot three times in the last half hour and now they’re fucking pulling in.”

  Everyone hurried over to look over Jax’s shoulder. But he suddenly shot out of his chair, a grim look on his face.

  “Fuck! They just tossed out a body!”

  Silas hit the stairs, not daring to wait for the elevator. His brothers pounded behind him, their guns drawn, as was Silas’s.

  Fucking Vanuccis. What had they done now? More importantly, who was the body?

  Fear was stark in his chest. Sweat beaded his forehead and he realized he was holding his breath as he stopped just outside the door leading to the employee parking lot. He kicked the door open and stepped out, Maddox at his side, their guns trained in opposite directions as Jax went low, taking the middle.

  “Clear,” Silas barked. “Car is long gone. Anyone see the body?”

  He eased out, making sure he was first. Always first. The enforcer. Ultimate protector for Drake and all of his other brothers. It was who and what he was. He’d give his life for any one of them. Just as he would for his princess.

  When he caught sight of the huddled female figure, her face completely hidden by a veil of long dark hair, his stomach bottomed out and he broke into a run just as a tortured cry erupted behind him and Thane burst by him like a demon from hell.

  “Gia!” Thane cried out in agony, his voice breaking under the weight of more emotion than Silas had ever heard in the man’s voice.

  He and the rest of his brothers stood a few feet away, staring in shock as Thane dropped to his knees and gently cradled the broken woman into his arms and held her close against his chest. Thane buried his face in the woman’s hair, his shattered moans making every man present wince and flinch at the terrible sound and the appalling sight of the bruised and bloodied woman.

  “I’ve fucking had it with the goddamn scum-sucking, bottom-feeding Vanuccis and their propensity to beat up defenseless women because they’re too fucking cowardly to take us on face-to-face,” Maddox said, fury replacing his usual absolute stoicism.

  Maddox definitely had a tender spot for Evangeline and now Hayley as well, and he demonstrated extreme gentleness and care with both women, but otherwise, he was always reserved, emotionless, and if he had ever been remotely involved with a woman for any length of time, no one, not even those closest to him, knew about it.

  But the sentiment he expressed was equally shared among them all. Especially Drake and Silas, since both their women had been victims of the pansy-ass motherfuckers. Expressions of rage and also hardened resolve shone on every single one of his brothers’ faces.

  “It’s time for us to stop sitting on our asses worrying about their next move,” Jax growled. “I vote we take the fight to their front door and wipe the earth with their sorry asses. We’d be doing the city a service. Trust me, no one, not even their wives or children, would shed a tear at their fucking funerals.”

  Drake held up his hand to stanch the rebellion before it got out of hand, but no one looked happy with his silent dictate. Including Silas, who much preferred straightforward action over plotting in office chairs and playing a goddamn chess match with their opponent. He sent a meaningful look in Jax’s direction and Jax nodded in satisfaction, understanding what Silas was telling him. Even Drake didn’t dare to presume to tell Silas what or what not to do. Silas was absolutely loyal to Drake and his brothers, but he was a lone wolf and when he decided on a course of action, Drake wasn’t stupid enough to think he would hold any sway over his enforcer.

  Silas dropped to one knee beside Thane, nearly looking away at the terrible grief in his brother’s eyes. His gaze drifted over the unconscious woman and rage built even higher within him when he took in her battered features and the fact that there didn’t seem to be a place on her body that wasn’t bruised or bloodied. He reached between her body and Thane’s to gently press his fingers into her neck, feeling for her pulse. He breathed a sigh of relief when he felt the faint patter in return.

  “Bring a car around,” he called back to no one in particular. “We need to get her to Drake’s clinic so the doctor can treat her off the books.”

  Then he turned his attention back to Thane, who was still holding her solidly against his chest, rocking her back and forth as he whispered urgently into her ear.

  “Thane,” he said in a low voice. “Who is she?”

  Thane lifted his head just enough to look at Silas, and Silas was shocked at the tears shimmering in his brother’s eyes.

  “She’s mine,” he said hoarsely. “My family. She’s all I have left.”

  Silas glanced sharply up at Drake to see that Drake was as stunned as Silas and the rest of their brothers were. Thane had no family. Or so he’d claimed. No one had ever questioned him further on the matter. All of their pasts weren’t pretty, and only peripheral details about anyone’s had ever been discussed.

  Jax knelt on the other side of Gia and brushed her hair away from her face, baring the damage. “O
ne of the club’s security guys is getting the car now, brother. We’ll get her taken care of. You have my word.” He paused a moment and then carefully wiped the blood from one of her eyes before glancing inquiringly back up at Thane. “Where did she come from? You said you didn’t have any family.”

  A shudder shook the big man’s body and more agony creased his face. “She’s my stepsister. When she was just a kid, she followed me around everywhere. She was the sweetest little girl I’d ever known. I kept her safe from my bastard father, making sure he never put a hand on her, but just before I turned eighteen, the abusive son of a bitch finally pissed off the wrong person and ate a bullet that took off half his face. After that I left because she and her mom would be much better off without me around as a constant reminder of my old man. But I always made sure they had what they needed. Sent them money and checked in when I could.”

  He broke off, his hands trembling as he closed his eyes in a visible effort to maintain his control.

  “Two years ago, Gia’s mom passed away and she had no one. No money for college and no job options that I would ever entertain her having. She’s better than that and I was determined she would have better. So I brought her to the city. Told no one. Set her up in a nice place, made sure she was enrolled in college and put enough money in a bank account for her so she’d never have to worry about working and she could focus on school and living her life. I was such a fool,” he whispered, his pain and guilt shaking Silas’s entire foundation.

  “She’s perfect and innocent and so fucking beautiful and smart. I didn’t want to expose her to my life or put a target on her by anyone ever knowing of my connection to her. I wanted her to be happy, to have all the goodness in life she deserved and not the shit we live every goddamn day. Look at Evangeline.”

  Drake immediately bristled, a low growl sounding from deep within his throat as he stepped forward. Thane ignored him and continued his bitter diatribe.

  “Evangeline lives in complete isolation. She has no friends in the city. Her only family lives hours away and she rarely gets to see them. She can’t even go for a fucking walk because we’re too terrified someone will put a bullet in her. She doesn’t go anywhere. She stays all day in that fucking apartment and never complains, and the only people she ever sees or interacts with are us. And she and the rest of us will live in fear every single goddamn day, especially after she has her baby, that something will happen to her, and so we put a shorter and tighter leash on her all the time, and that’s a hell of a way for a woman to live just because she fell in love with one of us. I never wanted that for Gia, and in my arrogance I thought I could be careful enough and give her all the things I wanted her to have and let her live close enough that I could see her from time to time, take her to lunch or simply sit with her at her place and talk and see her smile, and now she’s the one who’s paying for my stupidity and my inability to keep her safe. We have no business bringing women into our world, no matter how much they love us or we love them,” he bit out. “Because if we loved them, really loved them and weren’t so damn selfish, we’d put them as far away from us as possible so they don’t live every single day in fear of being beaten, raped or killed. No one we love or care about will ever be safe, and you’re deluding yourselves if you ever think otherwise.”

  The car roared up, cutting off Thane’s bitter words, and without another glance in his brothers’ direction, Thane lifted Gia into his arms and hurried to the waiting car. He got into the backseat, cradling Gia in his lap, and as soon as he was settled, the car tore off again, heading toward the clinic.

  The others silently filed back into the club, tension so thick in the air that it was stifling.

  “This means fucking war,” Jax ground out as soon as they were back in Drake’s office.

  He stared at his three remaining brothers as if daring them to argue.

  Silas merely nodded his agreement, too numb and devastated by the painful truth that Thane had leveled at all of them. But especially Silas.

  “As soon as we know how Gia’s doing, I’ll go over what security measures Thane had in place for her and then figure out a way to beef things up so this shit doesn’t happen again,” Maddox said in a surly, pissed-off voice. “But he’s a paranoid bastard. No fucking way he just left her in the wind without adequate protection. Hell, none of us even had the slightest fucking clue about her, so how the fuck did the Vanuccis tag her when we didn’t even know about her?”

  Drake’s face was so rigid a rock would break if it hit him in the face. “One moment of inattention. That’s all it takes. Evangeline is going nowhere until she has our baby and then I’m taking her away on an extended vacation so she can get out and be a normal human being. She’s going to hate having her freedom taken until our child is born, but she’ll understand. She’d never do anything to put our child at risk. I won’t give them another chance at her.”

  “Fuck,” Maddox said in a weary voice. “We’re stretched too goddamn thin! With Zander in the hospital we can’t afford to leave him vulnerable. We have to have men on Evangeline at all times and now we have to protect Gia. Silas, what about Hayley and her classes? How long before she finishes this semester? She can’t go out every day without as much protection as we can throw at her. Fuck it all, we don’t have enough men to put on Zander and the women, and I don’t want any of us going anywhere alone, for that matter.”

  “I’m pulling Ghost as soon as he gets his hands on information pertaining to the Vanuccis’ planned hits,” Silas said tightly. “He has two men loyal to him in the Vanucci organization as well who will come with him. He’s very good and he’ll be useful in pulling a security detail. We’ll manage. We always do.”

  “And what about Hayley?” Maddox persisted.

  Silas curled his fingers into tight fists at his side. “I’ll handle things with Hayley. I know what has to be done.”

  “I’m heading home and sending Justice back to you, Silas,” Drake said. “Jax, can you go relieve Hartley at the hospital and fill him in on what’s going on? Have him report in with Silas and tell him and Zander to be on alert at all times. That goes for all of you.”

  Drake left, Jax on his heels, leaving Maddox and Silas alone in the office. Maddox turned and stared at Silas, his gaze peeling back Silas’s skin until he felt completely dissected and scrutinized.

  “I don’t like the way you said you were handling things with Hayley and that you knew what had to be done,” Maddox said in a low voice. “Don’t be stupid, Silas. Don’t do something you’ll regret for the rest of your fucking life.”

  Silas turned his back, effectively shutting his brother out, then pulled out his phone and put it to his ear. “I have a phone call to make,” he clipped out, effectively dismissing Maddox.