Kept, p.7
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       Kept, p.7
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         Part #3 of The Enforcers series by Maya Banks

  “I’ll only be in the next room a few moments while the doctor finishes his exam. There are matters I have to take care of, but I’ll be back very quickly, my sweet girl. I won’t leave you.”

  She seemed to relax, her eyes glazed and dull with pain and the effects of the pain medication Silas had given her. Before he did something stupid like settle into the bed beside her and remain at her side, he swiftly exited the room, knowing his brothers had no clue why they’d been summoned to his apartment, a place others rarely encroached upon.

  With no preamble and no explanation as to Hayley’s place in his life or how or why he had known she was in trouble, he quickly ran down the events of the night. By the time he’d finished, Maddox, Justice and Zander looked absolutely murderous, their expressions black and filled with rage.

  “Son of a bitch,” Maddox swore. “I hope to fuck you killed the bastards.”

  Silas shrugged. “My main concern was for Hayley and her well-being. You called in a cleanup crew? I wasn’t exactly . . . careful.”

  As Drake’s primary enforcer, it was Silas’s job to always be careful and thorough. The fact that he was openly admitting he’d been none of those things tonight told his brothers far more than he wanted them to know.

  “Thane, Jax and Hartley are on it,” Justice said grimly. “Though I think I’ll place a call and tell them to finish the job and then dump the bodies in the Hudson. I doubt scum like them are going to be missed.”

  Silas only nodded. Then he glanced up at the only people he trusted in the world. “I have a . . . personal . . . favor to ask. I want a man on Hayley at all times when I can’t be with her or looking out for her. My loyalty is to Drake and to see to Evangeline’s protection. I can’t be in two places at once, and so I need someone on her when I can’t be there. And keep her out of sight as much as possible, your connection to her unknown. I can’t afford to make her a target. Ensure you never take the same route, never take her to any of the places we primarily frequent. No one can know about her,” he said with urgency, knowing full well the consequences were their enemies ever to learn of her existence. Or of her importance to . . . him.

  “No problem,” Maddox said matter-of-factly. “We’ll rotate. Whoever isn’t assigned to Evangeline will be assigned to Hayley so that both women are covered twenty-four-seven.”

  “Thank you,” Silas said. “I don’t want what happened tonight to ever happen to her again.” He paused before saying the next, making the sudden, impulsive decision even as he’d known precisely his course of action the moment he’d learned the reason for Hayley’s heartbreaking distress. In a quieter tone, he put forward his request. “I will have to be away for a day, two at the most, as soon as I know Hayley will be all right. It’s imperative she be protected while I’m gone, and kept tightly under wraps.”

  Zander lifted an eyebrow. “Anything you need help with? You know we’ll do anything we can.”

  “It’s a personal matter,” Silas said, his expression darkening. “Though you can do something for me that will make my job easier.”

  His brothers looked expectantly at him, waiting for his request.

  “I need you to find the whereabouts of the bottom-feeding son of a bitch who fucked over Hayley and her dad when he refused to pay Hayley the benefit from her father’s life insurance policy, one he was charged exorbitant amounts for. As a result, she’s dirt poor, struggling to make ends meet, only attending school part-time because she has to work multiple jobs just so she can eat and pursue her dream.”

  He saw the question in their eyes and answered before it could be vocalized.

  “I set her up in the apartment next to mine. The one Evangeline used for a few days.”

  “But hadn’t you already made it all into one big apartment?” Justice asked.

  Silas nodded. “She doesn’t know anything about that. I had my manager offer the place at a ridiculously low amount of rent and had a crew reconstruct the walls and furnish the place so she could move in. Otherwise she would have been homeless in a matter of days.”

  Maddox scowled and then swore. “Fuck. She’s had a hell of a time. She gives ‘down on one’s luck’ a whole new meaning.”

  “Exactly why I couldn’t turn my back on someone so obviously in need,” Silas agreed.

  “She wouldn’t happen to be young, gorgeous and single, would she?” Zander asked in a sly, hopeful tone.

  Silas’s features turned to ice. “You stay the fuck away from her, and don’t you fucking touch her. Your only job is to make sure no one else harms her. If something happens to her on your watch, I’ll have your head.”

  Zander only looked amused by Silas’s threat. He exchanged knowing glances with Maddox and Justice, which only pissed Silas off even more. Was he that goddamn transparent? Hell, he’d practically pissed all over her and marked his territory.

  “Work out a schedule and then run it by me,” Silas said to Maddox. “I’ll be with Hayley for the next day or two at least before I go after the bastard who fleeced her father and refused to pay Hayley what was rightfully owed her.”

  “You got it,” Maddox said, rising from his seat, knowing the meeting had come to an end.

  The three men filed out as silently as they’d come in, and then Silas was alone except for the doctor and Hayley just a room away.

  13

  Silas met the doctor as he walked back into the room. He opened his mouth to demand to know what Hayley’s condition was, but the doctor motioned him outside the bedroom door and into the living room. Reluctant to leave her alone for a moment longer, he cast one more glance in her direction before finally conceding to the doctor’s request.

  “She’s resting comfortably now,” the doctor assured him. “I gave her an injection of pain medication, so she should sleep through the night. I’ve also left prepared syringes of pain medication as well as prescriptions made out in your name that you’ll need to have filled quickly.”

  “How is she? What was done to her?” Silas demanded, impatiently cutting the doctor off.

  The doctor grimaced. “The young lady will be fine, but she underwent quite a trauma. You were correct in your assessment. She has two broken ribs, but they’re lower and won’t cause any internal damage. I don’t think they need to be wrapped, but she’ll need to rest and stay off her feet for the next several days to give them time to heal.”

  “She won’t move,” Silas vowed.

  “Her face is bruised and swollen, but it looks worse than it is. There is no fracture to her nose or jaw. Just bloodied. Her lip is split and her nose took quite a hit, but tomorrow if it pains her, keep ice on it to reduce the swelling. I cleaned all the blood and disinfected the cuts and scrapes to her face, hands and knees.”

  “Will she be able to play her violin?”

  “I don’t see why not. Give her a few days to rest and then I see no issue with her continuing her lessons. But she doesn’t need to overdo it.”

  “I’ll personally make sure she doesn’t,” Silas said grimly.

  “If you need me, don’t hesitate to call,” the doctor said. “I’ll stop by day after tomorrow unless you call before and check her over to see how well she’s healing and take a look at those ribs. If at any point she has any difficulty breathing or her condition changes for the worse, call me at once. If there hasn’t been any improvement in her condition or she experiences a worsening of her pain or symptoms, you’ll need to bring her into the clinic so I can take X-rays and perform further diagnostic tests.”

  “Thank you, Doctor,” Silas said gruffly.

  The doctor nodded and then let himself out of the apartment, leaving Silas free to return to his bedroom.

  To his surprise, Hayley was awake and lying on her side, her eyes shiny with tears. He hurried forward, sitting gingerly on the edge of the bed, and touched the uninjured side of her face.

  “What is it, sweet girl?” he asked.

  Her gaze flashed to his and he saw relief swell in her moisture-filled eyes.<
br />
  “I thought you’d left,” she choked out. “Oh God, I was so scared, Silas. Please don’t leave me.”

  He was baffled by her response and discomfited by the need so clearly outlined on her face.

  “Shhh, princess. I told you I wouldn’t be far away. Are you still in pain?”

  She slowly shook her head. Then her expression turned pleading. “Please stay with me, Silas. I’m so scared. Please don’t leave me again.”

  “I won’t leave you,” he said soothingly. “You need to rest now, Hayley. You’ve been hurt very badly.”

  “Will you . . . will you . . .” She bit into her damaged lip, wincing.

  He gently thumbed her swollen lip from her teeth and brushed the pad of his thumb over the torn skin.

  “What is it you want, princess? You have to know I’ll do anything for you.”

  Worry filled her beautiful eyes, and fear of . . . rejection?

  “Will you hold me?” she whispered. “While I sleep so I know no one can hurt me? I know I’m safe with you, Silas.”

  He was stunned by the trust she displayed. God, when he was the very last man she should ever trust. He had no heart, no soul, and for the first time he damned that fact, because if he possessed either, he knew she’d own them.

  He hadn’t realized he’d stiffened until her face fell and embarrassment crawled over her face. She turned her head away, hiding her humiliation in the pillow.

  “I’m sorry. I had no right. You’ve already done so much.”

  The words were laced with hurt and each one was a tiny dagger to the heart he had sworn he didn’t possess.

  “Of course I’ll hold you, sweet girl,” he said, not recognizing the husky timbre of his own voice. “I don’t want to hurt you, though.”

  “You’d never hurt me,” she denied.

  He kicked off his shoes, hastily stripped out of his shirt—which was still stained with her blood—and let it fall to the floor. Then he removed his pants, leaving his boxers on, before he slid into the bed next to her, carefully arranging himself around her and pulling her into his arms while trying his best not to cause her more suffering.

  She let out a contented sigh and almost before he could blink, her eyelids fluttered closed. She snuggled tightly to his body and burrowed her head into his chest, almost as if she couldn’t get close enough to him. And then she was simply asleep, her soft breaths feathering over his skin.

  Dear God, he wasn’t a saint, and having Hayley cuddled against him like a trusting kitten was surely going to send him straight to hell. In no way did he deserve this—her. To have such a perfect, beautiful, sweet and innocent woman in his bed and his arms. But hell if he wasn’t going to enjoy their forbidden night and remember every single moment of it for an eternity.

  14

  Silas awoke to none of his usual alert awareness. He rarely slept deeply at all, and it took very little to awaken him. But this morning fog surrounded his mind as well as a contentment he could never remember feeling. It confused him so much that he almost bolted upright, and then the warm, sweet weight against his body finally registered. Hayley.

  As carefully as possible, he rolled her to her side so he could get a closer look at her face. As soon as he did, rage filled him again. The entire right side of her face was swollen badly and covered in colorful bruises. Though he knew those bastards were likely on the bottom of the river by now, he wanted to kill them again. Slower. More painfully. Inflict every injury that they’d left on his princess back on them tenfold. A quick death was too easy for them.

  Silas reached for the control that was second nature. He didn’t want to risk waking Hayley when the doctor had recommended rest. He moved slowly again until he was standing by the bed, feeling an inexplicable loss when she was no longer in his arms. He wasn’t sure where these feelings were coming from and was undecided what to do about it. He had promised her he wouldn’t leave, but he had some things that needed to be handled before she woke. Maybe he should . . .

  He shook his head, equal parts amused and disgusted at himself. He’d never been indecisive, yet here he was almost spinning in circles over the feelings of the sleeping waif in his bed. Determination flattened both the amusement and disgust as he left his room to find her something to eat and look up some information online. He considered letting himself into her apartment to grab her some clean clothes but decided his large shirts would be easier for her to put on. He ignored the part of him that felt satisfaction at the idea of covering her in things that belonged to him. Marking her his possession. It was an idea he liked too much.

  As he rummaged through his kitchen cabinets he considered what she might like to eat and what would be easiest to manage without causing her pain. He finally settled on oatmeal and some fresh fruit, setting the ingredients aside until she woke. He then went to his monitors and did the repeated scans of the footage from the previous night. No one had been on his floor since Maddox and the other guys left, and he relaxed a little more.

  Opening his laptop, he started his search on violins, what were the best brands and who would deliver one to his apartment building. Her talent deserved the best, and he would be damned before he saw that talent wasted on anything less.

  * * *

  Hayley opened her eyes, immediately bereft of the warmth and comfort of Silas’s presence. She emitted a low moan when she attempted the simple task of turning over. She stared out the bedroom window, trying to work up the courage to move. Judging by the throbbing already happening in her body, this was going to be excruciating, but her bladder was leaving her little choice. Gritting her teeth and bracing herself for the inevitable agony, Hayley carefully pushed the covers aside and tried to shift toward the edge of the bed. Fire shot through her rib cage and she tried not to cry out. Before she could blink the tears from her vision, Silas was leaning over her.

  “What are you doing? The doctor said you needed to rest,” he clipped out as he tried to settle the covers over her once more.

  Though his words were sharp, there was a distinct edge of worry in his voice.

  She closed her eyes. God, could she be any more pathetic?

  “Bathroom,” she whispered in embarrassment. To be this helpless in front of this gorgeous man, especially after crying all over him the night before, was mortifying. Worse, she’d begged him not to leave her. She’d given him no choice but to sleep in his bed with her.

  Seemingly unbothered by her awkward embarrassment, he gently gathered her in his arms, his eyes brimming with apology when she let out one small squeak of pain. He carried her to the bathroom door and slowly lowered her to her feet, holding her arm the entire time to steady her and make certain she didn’t do a face-plant.

  “Will you be okay in there alone?” he questioned, concern clearly written on his face. “I can—”

  “No,” she said hastily. “I’ll be fine. Thank you,” she said in a more steady tone.

  Looking unconvinced, he still gave her a nod. “I’ll wait here for you. If you need anything, just call out, okay, princess?”

  She nodded back, then ducked her head and shuffled into the bathroom as fast as her aching body would allow. After taking care of the most pressing issue, she washed her hands and drew some deep breaths as she contemplated her dilemma. She was alone in an apartment with a man she barely knew but felt totally safe with, even though she’d seen the violent side of him when he swooped in like an avenging warrior to save her. She knew she should report to the police what those men had done to her, but she was worried about Silas. He had hurt them; the crack of breaking bones and thuds of flesh meeting flesh had been hard to miss. If she reported it, would he be in trouble? She couldn’t allow him to go to jail because of her.

  Pulling open the door, she almost ran nose-first into Silas’s chest. A solid, firm chest. Wow, he really had waited right there. That was a bit disconcerting. And comforting, she allowed herself to admit. Not to mention very, very . . . sexy, she thought as she eyed his bare chest. Sure, s
he’d dated boys in high school, but those had been boys and Silas was all man. Once her father became sick, the little time she’d had for dating had evaporated and she hadn’t had the time or energy to focus on guys. Now, even battered and a little broken, she found she was focusing just fine. She nearly sighed. Timing had never been one of her strong points for sure.

  Once again, without asking, he scooped her up and deposited her back into bed. After ensuring her comfort, he took a step back, his sharp gaze looking for any sign of pain.

  “I’ll get you some breakfast and your medication. I gave you another shot during the night because you looked like you were in pain, but that should be wearing off. Do you want another shot now or would you like to try oral?”

  Hayley felt the heat climb up her chest at the word oral, and she couldn’t form a word to save her life.

  “Hayley? Are you okay?” He bent closer to her and she could count the thick lashes around his deep green eyes. “If you don’t feel up to swallowing a pill yet, I can give you another injection of pain meds.”

  In an attempt to rid herself of completely inappropriate thoughts, she forced herself to meet his gaze. “A pill will be fine, I think. And there’s no need to trouble yourself with breakfast. I can go home and fix something.”

  An uncompromising look settled over his face. “No, you won’t. Stay there and I’ll be back soon with your food and meds. Don’t move.”

  Without another word, he turned and walked away. Hayley watched those thick, sexy thighs carry him out of the room and wondered if she’d lost her mind overnight.

  * * *

  Silas sat on the edge of the bed and watched closely as Hayley slowly ate the bowl of oatmeal and tried to figure out her odd behavior from earlier. If he didn’t know better he’d swear that was desire he’d seen in her eyes as he brought her back to bed. But he did know better. An innocent woman like Hayley would want nothing to do with a man like him. She was too smart for that. What he’d glimpsed was likely gratitude and perhaps a little embarrassment, though there was no reason for her to feel either. Not with him. Not ever with him. If he’d listened to his gut and gotten to her sooner, she wouldn’t be in this position.

  As soon as she set the mostly empty bowl aside, he held out the pills the doctor had prescribed. Dutifully, she swallowed them down with the remainder of her orange juice. An awkward silence fell as Silas watched her, trying to decide what he should do next, since taking her in his arms and holding her now that she was conscious was out of the question, and she stared back, probably wondering how soon she could get away from him. Thankfully, his buzzer sounded and Silas excused himself.

  After telling his manager to bring up the delivery, he quickly flipped through all his locks and waited impatiently for him to arrive. Hayley had put on such a brave face today, but he could see shadows lingering in her eyes. He hoped that this delivery would lift at least some of them.

  Mr. Carver looked surprised to see him at the door and rushed forward, holding the package as carefully as he would a newborn baby. Silas took it from him and strode back inside, going through the ritual of setting his locks. Once that was finished, he made his way to the bedroom, hoping he’d made the correct choice.

  Hayley was still sitting where he’d left her, though she looked more relaxed. Silas suspected the medication was starting to kick in and was grateful to see it. She appeared lost in thought, so he cleared his throat to let her know she was no longer alone. She blinked and aimed a sweet smile in his direction before noticing the case in his hand.

  “What is that?” she asked in confusion.

  He crossed to the opposite side of the bed, set the case on the bed and opened it. “I know it’s not the one your father gave you, and I’m sorrier than I can say about that, but I will not allow your dreams to go unfulfilled.” He extended the violin to Hayley, taking extreme care in his handling of it.

  Hayley stared at him in shock, then slowly lifted the violin from its case and placed it on her lap. “Silas, I-I don’t know . . .” She ran her delicate fingers reverently over the wood. “It’s beautiful, but I can’t . . .” As her words choked off, she raised her face and Silas could see the tears shimmering in her eyes. “I can’t take this.”

  His brow wrinkled with confusion. Had he gotten it all wrong? Damn it, he shouldn’t have even attempted to make it a surprise. He should have allowed her to choose which instrument she wanted instead of him being so presumptive.

  “Why can’t you accept it, princess? Did I get the wrong one? I’ll get you whatever you want. Just tell me what to get.”

  “It’s the most perfect thing I’ve ever touched in my life,” she said softly, still gently tracing the sides.

  “Then why can’t you take it?” he persisted.

  “Silas, it’s too expensive. I can’t even imagine how much it cost.” Earnestness shone in her eyes.

  The feeling he refused to acknowledge as disappointment loosened in his chest. She wasn’t refusing his gift, nor had he fucked it up.

  He gently put his hand to her bruised and swollen jaw, cupping it while making certain he didn’t hurt her.

  “My gift to you isn’t entirely selfless. I can’t describe the peace you bring to me when I hear you play. You need to share that with the world. And some punk-ass thugs will not take that away from you,” he said tenderly.

  He saw her sudden indecision and shamelessly used her sweet and giving heart against her. “Please don’t take that from me. Giving this to you would make me so very happy, sweet girl.”

  The tears that had gathered in her eyes slid down her cheeks as she carefully set the violin back in its case and closed it. When she raised her face, a smile
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