Dominated, p.22
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       Dominated, p.22
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         Part #2 of The Enforcers series by Maya Banks

  Silas had bought groceries when he’d gone out to get clothing for Evangeline, but the thought of food made her stomach twist into knots and promptly rebel. So maybe ignoring the possibility wasn’t the best idea, though that’s precisely what she had done for the last two days. She had to know—needed to know. It was far better to get it over with so she’d know exactly what she was up against.

  With icy fingers of dread clutching at her heart, she picked up the bag like it was an offending object that would bite her and walked slowly to the bathroom. She took out the home pregnancy test from its package and scanned the instructions. It seemed simple enough. Pee on the stick and then wait a few minutes for the results.

  After complying with the instructions, she washed her hands and laid the stick on the counter and then stared at her reflection in the mirror. She didn’t look pregnant, but then did anyone so early in the game? For that matter, she didn’t know how far along she was, if she was even pregnant at all. Obviously she couldn’t be more than three months along because she hadn’t been with Drake for longer than that.

  But her periods had never been regular, so she never really knew when to expect her next one. And if that was the case, why was she standing in here like an idiot taking a home pregnancy test when she would likely start within the next week? Wishful thinking? Was that what she was experiencing? After the devastating loss of Drake, was she clinging to any sort of hope of having some part of him? A baby? Their child?

  The very last thing she needed was to be pregnant, but at the same time, hope was so keen, so desperate inside her that she realized now that if she wasn’t pregnant, she would grieve not only the loss of Drake but of a child who never existed either. Talk about signing up for self-torture.

  She closed her eyes and reached for the stick and took in a long, steadying breath through her nose. Finally she worked up enough courage to open her eyes and look at the results.

  It took a few moments to blink away the tears and the fuzziness in her vision but then she saw it. Staring her right in the face was a vibrant pink plus sign.

  Her legs wobbled and she staggered, almost collapsing in a heap on the floor of the bathroom. Her heart exploded with joy even as an overwhelming surge of grief nearly flattened her.

  She eased down on the floor, no longer trusting her legs to hold her, and she drew her knees in to her chest, wrapping her arms around them tightly as she hugged herself fiercely, rocking back and forth. Tears, this time a mixture of grief and unfettered joy, spilled down her cheeks and she actually smiled.

  A baby.

  Drake’s son or daughter.

  A small piece of him who would live on through her. His legacy.

  Almost as soon as the calming, joyful thoughts took over her battered mind, reality crept in and with it, heartbreak and desperation. She no longer had any reason to be here in the city. The one good thing Drake had done was to deposit a large sum of money into her parents’ account as well as buy them a mortgage-free house and a new vehicle, effectively rendering them debt free with plenty of money on reserve to live comfortably for the rest of their lives.

  Which meant that she no longer needed to worry about working to support her beloved mother and father. She could go to school, like she’d always wanted. Get an education. Earn a degree and be able to support herself and her child.

  She could go home and have the support of the two people who loved her the most in this world. They would help her and after the baby was born, Evangeline could enroll in school and enlist the aid of her parents in caring for the baby while she was in class.

  They would never be ashamed of her, especially if they knew the truth, but she would never tell them what caused her and Drake to break up. If she told them, then there would be inevitable questions that would lead them to arrive at suspicious conclusions. No matter what Drake had done, that he hadn’t loved or trusted her, she wouldn’t brand him a criminal in her parents’ eyes. For that matter, she had no idea what he dealt in, so she couldn’t be sure if he had illegal dealings or not. And now it no longer mattered because she was no longer in the picture.

  Guilt and shame surged to life inside her even as she chastised herself for feeling either. Under any other circumstances she would never dream of keeping her child’s presence from his or her father. But Drake scared her. His power and his wealth and his connections frightened her in a way nothing else did. Because she knew, because of his own upbringing, just how adamant he would be that he be in their child’s life. If that was all he demanded, she’d go face him down tomorrow and tell him the news of his impending fatherhood.

  But the fear that because he hated her so much, he would simply take her child from her, prevented her from ever going to him with her secret.

  She had decisions to make and they had to be made soon. Closing her eyes, she pressed her forehead to her drawn-up knees and savored a quiet, private moment with her child, whispering promises to always keep the baby safe. Telling her child how very much he or she was already loved.

  She rocked in silence with no idea of the passing time. The realization of what she was doing, what she was allowing, was sharp and unforgiving. Once again, she was being kept by a man. The only difference now was that she wasn’t in a relationship with Silas. In some ways that made it worse, because she was taking advantage of his generosity without giving him anything in return.

  She reached for her phone lying on the counter next to the sink and pulled it down to her. She opened a browser and typed in the URL for an airline she knew that flew into the medium-sized city just thirty miles from her small town.

  The ticket was expensive, given it was a short-notice departure, but oh well. She would use one of the credit cards Drake had given her. The least he could do was get her home. It would be the best five hundred dollars he’d ever spent because it would also get her forever out of his life.

  She checked the time and then calculated how long she needed to get to the airport—again, she could use the credit card for the cab fare—in time to check in and board and realized that if she booked the flight and left within the next half hour, she could get out tonight on one of the evening nonstop flights.

  She dug around in her purse for the credit card and punched in the number before finishing the transaction. After checking her e-mail for the confirmation and flight number and arrival time, she called her mother next.

  There was little point in trying to hide anything from her mother. It wasn’t as if she’d be clued in when Evangeline told her she would be arriving that night. She just hadn’t planned on sobbing all over her mother over the phone. As a result, it took the better part of twenty minutes for Evangeline to explain the situation. By the time she hung up, she had only ten minutes to get on the road. Then she laughed. It wasn’t as though she had anything to pack. She’d take the jeans and shirts Silas had bought for her. Those could be packed in a carry-on bag.

  After dropping the pregnancy test into the trash by the toilet, she hastily stuffed what clothing she could into a gym bag she found in the closet. Then because Silas—and Maddox—had been so sweet and kind to her, she wrote a note addressed to them both, thanking them profusely for their friendship and their caring. She explained that it was best if she moved on and left New York, and she closed the note by saying that they were her two best memories of the city.

  Sad that after living here for as long as she had, the best she could come up with for the entirety of her life here was Silas’s and Maddox’s friendship.

  With a long sigh, she went to the door and then stood on the other side, glancing back as though ensuring she wasn’t forgetting anything. She almost laughed, and would have if her heart hadn’t been in little pieces all over the floor.

  That was the only thing she’d leave behind in this city.

  Her heart.

  It would always be wherever Drake Donovan was, and she didn’t try to fool herself into thinking otherwise.

  28

  For three days, Dra
ke had barely left the solitude of his office at the club, choosing even to sleep there at night. It wasn’t as though he was sleeping anyway. He lay awake, long after the club had shut down, into the early hours of the morning, thinking . . . dreaming . . . about an angel. His angel.

  Everyone steered clear of him, for varying reasons. His club employees avoided him like the plague because he bit the head off anyone daring to venture into his lair. And it did resemble somewhat of a lair with the lights dimmed to nearly nothing, the couch rumpled from him tossing and turning on it in an attempt to sleep.

  He just couldn’t make himself go back home. He couldn’t even think about sleeping in the bed he’d shared with Evangeline. The idea of being without her, in the place she’d lovingly called home and made into a home, was repugnant and offensive.

  Even as he reminded himself over and over that she deserved none of the respect he was affording her, or rather the memory of her, he couldn’t do anything other than what he was currently doing. Living. Breathing. Existing. Minute to minute. Hour to hour. Day to day. One day at a time.

  It was a miserable existence he wouldn’t wish on his worst enemy, and yet that damn voice that mocked him and whispered to him until he was dangerously close to losing his mind constantly reminded him that it had been his choice. That he had driven Evangeline away. He could have listened. Could have given her a chance to explain.

  But he’d done none of those things, and it was a miserable price to pay.

  His door opened and he turned, a torrent of blood-scorching expletives poised to let fly, when he saw it was Silas, whom he hadn’t so much as seen, much less heard from since the night he’d taken Evangeline from the club—at Drake’s orders.

  His lips burned with the need to ask Silas how she was doing. What she was doing. Where she was. Was she all right?

  Silas’s jaw was locked, a sure sign he was pissed, but his eyes were glacial, submerged in ice, fixed on Drake so that he could almost feel the chill from Silas’s stare over his skin.

  “Silas,” he acknowledged in a clipped voice.

  Silas sent him a look of disgust. “Still holed up in here clinging to that lame-ass story you’ve talked yourself into believing, I see.”

  “Don’t start with me,” Drake warned. “I am not in the mood for anyone to start shit with me. Especially not something you can’t finish.”

  “Only because I know that when the truth comes out, you’re going to be crawling on your fucking belly begging everyone’s forgiveness, will I allow you to slide. But my patience is wearing very, very thin. Don’t push me, Drake. Swear to God, I could kill you for what you did to Evangeline New Year’s Eve alone.”

  Drake snarled, his lips curling so his teeth were bared like an angry predator. “You’re so sure she didn’t sell us out. I wonder why? Maybe because then the rest of you will have to admit what I’ve already admitted? That I got my ass handed to me by an innocent-looking, beautiful woman with big blue eyes that make her appear every bit the angel she was?”

  Silas shook his head in disgust. “You make me sick to my stomach. And you’re talking out of your ass, so just shut the fuck up. I’m telling you, Drake. You will regret your actions and your words. If you had any sense, you’d be on your fucking knees begging her for forgiveness before the truth comes out, because then she won’t give a fuck because you didn’t trust her when it mattered.”

  Alarm splintered up Drake’s spine. Silas’s words were laced with conviction, and he was one of the most suspicious bastards Drake had ever met in his life. And he wasn’t the only one. If Silas were the only one charging to Evangeline’s defense, he could blow it off. But every single one of his men?

  He was gutted and racked with indecision, something he wasn’t accustomed to feeling. He was decisive in all matters, never questioning his actions, and yet everything about this whole thing felt wrong. He sank down into his chair, grief consuming him for all he’d had, and lost, just three short days—a lifetime—ago.

  Even if Evangeline had betrayed him, could he really blame her? The cops had filled her head with God only knew what kind of shit, and he was sure they’d spared no detail, even embellishing his sins—while he’d been closed-mouthed, refusing to give her anything, to trust her, instead asking her to ignore it and look the other way. She would have imagined all manner of horrific crimes, aided by his own secrecy and the fact that he dodged the issue at every turn.

  Being someone who stood in the light, standing for what was right, Evangeline might not have been able, in good conscience, to allow Drake to go unpunished for his deeds. And wasn’t her innate goodness, her sweetness, what he adored most about her? What had drawn her to him in the first place? And now he was punishing her for those very qualities.

  Silas swore viciously. “Jesus Christ, Drake. You’re fucking miserable. She’s fucking miserable. Why the hell are you doing this to both of you? Is it pride? Because if so, I’m calling bullshit right now. Evangeline sure as hell didn’t let pride stop her when she was on her knees begging you to believe in her.”

  Every word was like a poisoned dart aimed with precision and accuracy. His lips parted, the question hovering on his lips, begging to be asked, to be set free. He could feel his will crumbling, his pride preparing to take a beating.

  “Do you really think she had nothing to do with it?” Drake asked, for the first time allowing doubt to creep into his voice.

  Before Silas could respond, his doors burst open and his men swarmed in, their expressions thunderous. Fury coiled, whipping and snapping like an electrical charge surging through the air.

  “Not now, goddamn it!” Drake roared, unleashing his pent-up rage and sense of helplessness at them. “Get the fuck out of my office and don’t return until I’ve damn well called for you.”

  Not now. Not when he needed answers from Silas. Cold logic, unimpeded by emotion. He looked to Silas for understanding and backup, but he got neither from his enforcer.

  A man—Hatcher?—was shoved forward, causing him to stumble and fall to his knees. He had a bruise already forming around one eye, his lips were split and bloody and his nose looked like it had been pulverized.

  “Here is your traitor,” Maddox said icily, his voice filled with loathing, his eyes flashing with anger. “Not Evangeline. It was never Evangeline. We all knew it,” he said, jabbing his thumb in the direction of the others. “Never doubted her, even for a second. Why can’t you, her dominant, the man she trusted without reservation and loved in spite of your sins, the man she was going to marry, say the same?”

  Drake’s eyes narrowed and a loud roar began in his ears. His heart was hammering in his chest with enough force to make him light-headed.

  “Someone mind telling me what the fuck is going on here? Why is Hatcher on the floor of my office being called a traitor?”

  Justice looked at Drake in disgust, a look that was shared by Thane, Maddox, Hartley, Zander, Jax and Silas. “You question whether he’s guilty, one of your men, someone you employ, and yet you played judge and jury and hung the woman who loves you out to dry, refusing to hear any explanation or defense whatsoever. What the fuck is wrong with you, man?”

  “Quit fucking around and just tell me what the hell is going on!” Drake exploded.

  “Hatcher was the informant,” Thane said coldly. “He was with us the day we took Evangeline to lunch, remember? Consequently, he was also the one to call and tell you that Evangeline was talking to a cop in a hush-hush manner. Interesting coincidence, don’t you think? He set the entire thing up. He fed Evangeline to the wolves, and when she basically spit in the cop’s face and refused to give him shit on you, then they went with plan B.”

  Drake’s stomach was churning violently. Sweat broke out on his forehead and he wiped his palms on his pants repeatedly. Oh dear God. What had he done, what had he done?

  “Plan B,” Zander drawled, “was for Hatcher to continue feeding the cops intel while setting up a sting operation so they could implicate Evangel
ine in order for Hatcher to be able to continue feeding them information without suspicion. Tell me, Drake. Assholes or not, dirty or clean, how many cops would have fingered an informant like that in a fucking raid? And leave her to certain death with the people she betrayed? Jesus Christ, man, use your goddamn brain. That whole night stunk to high heaven and you were the only one who didn’t see it.”

  Drake shot to his feet, standing over the desk, his gaze boring into Hatcher, who was still on his knees in front of Drake’s desk.

  “You set Evangeline up, you worthless piece of shit?”

  Hatcher remained stonily silent, his gaze averted and focused on some distant object, his jaw clenched, his features brooding.

  The blood drained out of Drake’s face as he remembered someone else on her knees just four nights ago. Evangeline. Her sobs. Her begging. Her pleading with him to listen. To give her a chance. To please believe in her. That she’d always believed in him so could he now do the same for her?

  Oh God, he’d failed her at the very first opportunity that presented itself after she’d forgiven him for the unspeakable things he’d done to her that horrific night in their apartment.

  His knees buckled as grief consumed him. Regret, so much regret filled him, until he was drowning in it. He collapsed back into his chair and then buried his face in his hands.

  “What have I done? Oh God, what have I done?” he asked in a raw, tortured voice filled with aching emotion. His throat throbbed with it. His heart was ravaged by it.

  All he could see was Evangeline on her knees in this same room, begging him over and over.

  Please listen to me.

  “She’ll never forgive me, and it’s no less than I deserve,” he said in a voice ravaged by grief and . . . guilt.

  “What do you want done with this piece of shit?” Maddox asked quietly.

  Drake focused on the traitor. But worse than betraying his own brothers, the men he worked with and had pledged loyalty to, the bastard had betrayed Drake’s woman. Evangeline, who was completely innocent, the only innocent one of all of them. And Hatcher had ruthlessly used her to further his own greed and ambition. Drake didn’t really give a shit what his motives were. Not now. Not ever.

  “Get rid of him,” he directed at Silas. “Make sure he gets the message loud and clear about what we do with traitors.”

  For the first time, Hatcher looked scared shitless, and Drake couldn’t really blame him. Silas was one scary, badass motherfucker on his best day. But he and Evangeline were tight. Silas held a very soft place in his heart for her, and he wouldn’t have much mercy in the message he’d send to Hatcher—and to anyone else thinking to turn on his brother.

  “Get him out of here,” Drake said, motioning for Maddox to take care of the matter. “I need to speak with Silas first.”

  “What about Evangeline?” Justice asked, his arms crossed over his chest. “Swear to God, Drake, you fuck this up with her and I’m moving in. You left her with nothing, but I’ll step in and treat her with the respect she deserves and she’ll never have to worry about a goddamn thing for the rest of her life.”

  Drake sighed wearily. “I understand, Justice. All too well. Believe me, I get it. I fucked up. I was already well on my way to figuring that out before you came through my door with that piece of shit Hatcher. Another five minutes and you wouldn’t have found me here because I would have been gone to find her. I know I was an asshole and I know you all had her back when I didn’t. I’m sorrier than you’ll ever know. This is something I’ll pay for for the rest of my fucking life.”

  “Save it, man,” Maddox said stiffly. “You’re apologizing to the wrong people. None of us are Evangeline, and she’s the one you need to be on your knees in front of begging her for forgiveness.”

  Drake swallowed. “If that’s what it takes to get her back, then I’ll stay on my fucking knees forever.”

  “Now that I’d pay money to see,” Zander drawled. “Come on, Maddox. Let’s take the trash out while the boss man talks to Silas, although I’d pay money to see this heart-to-heart too. Imagine, our man Silas acting as a relationship therapist.”

  If looks could have killed, Zander would have died on the spot under the heat of Silas’s intimidating scowl. Grown men had been known to piss their pants when Silas was in their faces.

  “I suggest you get the fuck out before I change my mind about who the recipient of my message is,” Silas said in a frigid tone designed to freeze a man’s balls. Judging by the discomfort on the faces of his men, Drake thought that look had more than hit its mark.

  As soon as the others departed, Drake turned desperately to Silas, his eyes as vacant as his heart, surely.

  “I have to find her, Silas. You and I both know I don’t deserve a third chance with her. Not after fucking things up with her twice now, but I have to try. I won’t just walk away or let her walk away, even though I threw her out.”

  Acid was burning a trail down his throat and into his stomach, searing a trail through his vital organs all the way down to his blackened, lost soul.

  “I can’t live without her,” Drake said bleakly. “The last three days have been hell. This morning I told myself I didn’t even give a shit if she had betrayed me or not. I was willing to do anything to have her back and promise her anything to make that happen. Even if it meant going straight.”

  Silas seemed to wrestle with himself for several long moments. A lifetime for Drake, who stood there, barely able to breathe for the pain choking him.

  Finally, Silas leveled a stare at him that Drake couldn’t possibly mistake. It was Silas’s most grave, most serious expression, the one that said he meant business and would fuck you up if you didn’t heed his words.

  “You mess up again, Drake, and it won’t be you or Justice who steps in to take care of Evangeline. Get me? I’ll be there for her in whatever capacity she needs for as long as she needs me, and I’ll give her the fucking moon. I shouldn’t tell you shit. I sure as hell shouldn’t help you. And if it weren’t for the fact that Evangeline is hurting every bit as much as you are, I’d say fuck you and leave you to rot in your self-made misery.”

  His words scored a direct hit, making Drake wince with each and every one.

  “She’s in the apartment next to mine,” Silas finally said. “The one on the right. Don’t fuck this up again, Drake. That’s the only warning you’re going to get.”

  “I appreciate it. I appreciate you being there for Evangeline and for taking care of her after I ripped her apart. She needs people like you in her life. To save her from people like me,” he said bleakly.

  “Here’s the extra key,” Silas said, tossing it over the desk to Drake. “I’ll expect to be your best man, provided she agrees to marry you still.”

  “I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Drake said softly. “Neither would she.”

  Silas offered a faint smile as he headed toward the elevator. “Be good to her.”

  “I will,” Drake murmured, closing his eyes.

  God, just give me one more chance to make her happy and I swear I’ll never let her down again.

 
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