Dominated, p.9
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       Dominated, p.9

         Part #2 of The Enforcers series by Maya Banks
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  He’d promised her that he would protect her with his life. That his men would protect her with their lives and that no part of his business dealings would touch her or affect her. And she believed him.

  Because she loved him.

  12

  Evangeline came slowly awake and realized she was sprawled atop Drake, stark naked and weak as a kitten from all the times he’d made love to her through the night. She let out a contented sigh and his response was to rub his hand up her spine and then down her arm.

  “Is my angel all right?”

  She rubbed her face against his chest and thought if it were possible she’d be purring right now. “Mmm-hmm.”

  His chest vibrated with his chuckle and then he tilted her head back and kissed her warmly.

  “I have to get into the shower, baby. I’m late and I have an important meeting. Maddox has already called to say he’ll be over in an hour to take you shopping.”

  “I love waking up to you,” she murmured.

  “I’m glad, since you’re going to be doing it every single day,” he said with an affectionate tweak to her nose.

  He sat up but urged her to get comfortable again in the blankets that he tucked around her. He stared down at her for a moment and to her surprise he looked uncomfortable. Then she realized he was trying to say something to her.

  “What do you think about flying your parents here for Thanksgiving?” he asked in a low voice. “Would you like that? Do you think they would like that?”

  She sat straight up in bed, her mouth wide open in shock. Then she launched herself at Drake, squealing with excitement the entire way. She hit him square in the chest and knocked him over. He laughingly hugged her to him as she peppered his entire face with kisses.

  “Is that a yes?” he asked between her kisses.

  “Oh my God, yes! Yes, yes, yes! Oh, Drake, do you mean it?”

  She stared down at him, silently pleading for him to have meant it.

  “I would never tease you over something I know is that important to you,” he reproached. “You miss them. I see how you light up when they call and also how sad you are when you speak of them. I have the means to bring them to visit you, and I wouldn’t be much of a man if I didn’t do everything in my power to make my woman happy.”

  “Oh, Drake. You’re so wonderful to me,” she said, on the verge of tears. “I can’t thank you enough for this. You’ll never know how much it means to me to be able to see them again. You’ve done so much for them already and now this.”

  She lost the battle to keep the tears at bay and they slid freely down her cheeks. Drake gently thumbed them away and then pulled her into his arms, cradling her against his chest.

  “I want to meet the people who mean so much to you that you’d put your entire life on hold in order to support them. They must be pretty special to you. And as you are special to me, then I think your parents and I will have at least one thing in common.”

  She buried her face in his chest to stifle her sobs, but her shoulders shook, betraying her emotion. She curled her arms around his neck and hugged him tightly.

  “You are the most wonderful man in the world, Drake Donovan,” she choked out.

  “No, I’m not,” he said in a hard tone. “Never forget that, Angel. I’m not a good man at all. I’m selfish and possessive and I’ll do whatever it takes to keep you happy so that you stay with me. That doesn’t make me good. It makes me a self-serving bastard.”

  She smiled at him through her tears, utterly unfooled by his gruffness.

  “Oh, I can’t wait to tell them the news! Can we call them tonight after you get home?”

  He smiled at her excitement and then kissed her before tucking her back into bed again.

  “Enjoy your day shopping. I’ll take you out to dinner tonight and we’ll call your parents afterward if you like. I’ll make arrangements for their transportation to the airport and have my plane fly them to the city. I’ll have Silas and Maddox pick them up from the airport and I’ll put them up in a hotel in Times Square. Unless you’d prefer they stay here with us?”

  He looked questioningly down at her as he said the last, and she realized just what he was doing for her. He had no desire to have his privacy encroached on by two strangers, and yet he was going to great effort to give her and her parents a Thanksgiving holiday to remember.

  “I think they’d love to experience Times Square,” Evangeline replied casually. “We can always have them over for dinner and I can spend the day with them while you’re at work.”

  There was a flicker of relief in his eyes, replaced quickly by warmth and approval. He kissed her one last time before heading to the shower.

  “I’ll have the arrangements made. No expense will be spared in ensuring their absolute comfort,” he assured Evangeline.

  Evangeline lay back on the pillow and closed her eyes, savoring the moment. Everything was so utterly perfect. Tears pricked her eyes again when she thought about seeing her parents for the first time in two long years.

  They would absolutely love Drake. How could they not when he went to such great lengths to make their daughter happy?

  She hugged herself and dozed, waking only when Drake leaned over to kiss her good-bye and to let her know that Maddox would arrive in half an hour.

  She leaned up, the sheet falling to her waist as she hooked her arm around his neck and kissed him back.

  “Ah, Angel, how you tempt me to stay home and let business go to hell,” he said, sounding aggrieved.

  “Thank you so much, Drake. This is the best gift anyone has ever given me,” she said earnestly.

  “You have until tonight to think of creative ways to express your gratitude,” he said in a teasing tone.

  Her eyes narrowed and she cracked an evil smile. “Oh, don’t think I won’t be very, very creative.”

  “I can’t wait,” he murmured, kissing her one last time. Then he patted her affectionately on the ass and said, “Better get out of bed so Maddox doesn’t see what only I get to see.”

  “As if you have anything to worry about there,” she said, rolling her eyes.

  “You don’t think every single man who works for me wouldn’t give his right nut to see you naked?” he asked incredulously.

  She groaned and buried her burning face in the pillow. “Oh God, Drake. Stop! I’ll never be able to look them in the face now.”

  With a chuckle, he walked out of the bedroom, saying he’d see her later in the day.

  Evangeline lay there only a few moments longer, savoring her excitement and the acknowledgment that she was in love with Drake. Looking back, she realized she’d fallen in love with him from the very first. It was why she’d been so devastated the night she’d left him.

  Refusing to spend another moment reliving the most horrific night of her life, she slipped out of bed and took a quick shower. She dressed casually in jeans and an oversized sweater and quickly brushed out her hair to let it air-dry while she waited for Maddox to arrive.

  She realized she was ravenous after spending the entire night making love to Drake. Hopefully Maddox and whoever else he brought with him on shopping duty wouldn’t be in a huge hurry. Or maybe she could bribe them with breakfast.

  Confident that she could win them over with a home-cooked breakfast, she began pulling out the ingredients and in just a few minutes was manning several skillets.

  Fifteen minutes later, Edward buzzed to let her know Maddox was on his way up. A short time after, Maddox stuck his head into the kitchen.

  “Oh my God, please tell me there’s enough for me,” Maddox said with a mock groan.

  “Forget him,” Justice said, walking by Maddox with a shove. “I love you more, so I should get fed.”

  Evangeline laughed and shook her head. “Sit down. All of you. Who else is here or is it just the two of you?”

  “Jax and Hartley are downstairs keeping an eye on things,” Maddox said.

  “Do we have time to eat, then?” she ask
ed anxiously.

  “Sugar, if you made enough for us, you can take as long as you want to,” Justice declared.

  She grinned. “Give me five minutes and I’ll serve it up.”

  Both men plopped onto stools at the bar with such eager looks that she had to laugh. She shook her head as she began dishing up the omelettes, hash browns and fried ham and bacon. After plating everything, she opened the oven to check on the homemade biscuits and decided they were just perfectly done.

  She pulled them out of the oven and then dished up several biscuits onto plates for Justice and Maddox. She placed a plate in front of each and smiled at their reactions.

  “I’ve died and gone to heaven,” Maddox breathed.

  Evangeline settled into a stool across from Maddox and picked at the food on her plate. It was the first time she’d seen Maddox since that night and she realized she had no idea if he’d gotten into trouble because she’d given him the slip at her girlfriends’ apartment.

  Suddenly she wasn’t as hungry as she’d been just earlier, and she pushed her food around with her fork while she waited for the two men to finish.

  “Evangeline, what’s wrong?” Maddox asked quietly.

  She jumped, startled by his perceptiveness. Then she glanced quickly at Justice, blushing at the thought of having to air this out in front of him. He surprised her, however, by picking up his empty plate and making his way to the sink. Then he sauntered back toward the living room, saying he’d wait for them there.

  She glanced nervously in Maddox’s direction, hoping he’d accept her muttered “nothing” as answer enough.

  No such luck.

  He frowned at her and then to her dismay he walked around to her side of the bar and took her hand.

  “What’s bothering you?” he asked bluntly.

  He frowned again when he realized how hard she was shaking.

  “I’m sorry,” she blurted out. And then she hung her head, no longer able to hold his gaze.

  “What the fuck for?”

  She flinched at his explosive outburst and tried to pull away, but he gripped her hand tighter and then gently touched her cheek, forcing her to look once more at him.

  “Evangeline? What in the hell do you have to be sorry for?”

  There was genuine shock and dismay in both his tone and expression.

  Her face was on fire and she could have stabbed herself for even bringing the matter up when apparently there had been no need.

  She sucked in a deep breath and focused her stare at the area over his right shoulder.

  “I’m sorry for sneaking out on you the way I did that . . . night,” she whispered. “I hope you’ll forgive me and I hope you didn’t get into trouble because of what I did.”

  His mouth fell open in sheer astonishment, and then his gaze became stormy and black with rage. She shrank back but he pressed more firmly into her space and grasped both her shoulders in his hands.

  “Look at me, Evangeline,” he ordered fiercely. He waited until her gaze slowly swung back to him and then his eyes softened. “You have nothing to apologize for, for fuck’s sake. Christ, tell me you haven’t been avoiding me all this time because you were worried I was angry with you.”

  She shrugged. “I wasn’t sure. I mean, I didn’t know. It was horrible. I wish that night had never happened.”

  To her further dismay, tears slid down her cheeks, leaving a hot trail over her skin. Maddox moved his hands from her shoulders to cup her cheeks, using his thumbs to gently wipe the moisture away from her face.

  “Listen to me, sweetheart. No one and I mean not a single one of us is angry with you. We were pissed as hell at Drake for what he did, even though we understand why he did it. But never once did we think any less of you. In no way did you deserve what happened that night, and no one knows that more than Drake. He was unbearable until he found you again and brought you back home. But, honey, listen to me. If he hadn’t gone after you, if he hadn’t decided to close ranks around you and make the threat known that if anyone tried to hurt you in any way, they’d be one dead motherfucker, then one of us would have. Do you understand that? We will never let anything happen to you.”

  She gave him a look of complete shock and bewilderment. “But, Maddox, you barely know me! I’m not worth ruining your relationship with Drake over.”

  “Bullshit,” he said rudely. “You’re everything to Drake but apart from that? You’re important to us. You’re important to me. I’ve never had a sister and I won’t lie to you and say I view you solely as a little sister because I’m pretty sure my thoughts could never be considered brotherly and I doubt they’re legal in most states between siblings. But if I ever had a little sister, I’d like to think she’d be just like you.”

  His face swam in and tears clouded her vision once more. Then she threw herself into his arms and hugged him tightly.

  “Thank you,” she whispered in a choked voice. “You have no idea how much that means to me. I’ve never had anyone but my parents and then my girlfriends here, and now . . . well, I don’t even have them.”

  Her mouth turned down and her lips trembled as she said the last.

  “You have us, Evangeline,” Maddox said gently. “And I’m pretty sure Silas squared away whatever shit you have twisted up in that head of yours yesterday.”

  He was looking pointedly at her and she flushed again. “You know what he said to me?” she squeaked.

  He chuckled. “Well, not in exact words. He didn’t give us a play-by-play. That’s just not Silas’s style. He’s not much on words. I believe his exact statement was, ‘I’ll let her know whatever fucked-up shit she has going on in her head is just that. Shit.’”

  Evangeline groaned.

  “He’s right, babe,” Maddox said pointedly. “You were thinking some fucked-up shit and that’s not cool. So I want us to come to an agreement that whatever fucked-up shit you’ve been thinking ends now. You get me?”

  She sighed. “Yeah, I get you.”

  He gave her an approving smile. “That’s my girl. Now, you ready to go do some shopping?”

  “Oh my God,” she said in panic. “I have no idea what I’m supposed to get! Drake is taking me to some policemen’s benefit at Carnegie Hall. He said he’d wear a black tuxedo and I could wear whatever, but I don’t want to screw this up, Maddox.”

  She sent him a pleading look.

  “He never goes to these things. He told me that himself. But now he not only wants to attend, he wants me to go with him. What if I embarrass him?”

  “Whoa, honey,” Maddox said. “First of all, you will never embarrass him. Drake doesn’t give one fuck about what anyone thinks about him, and trust me, if anyone tried to say anything bad about you in his hearing, he’d take apart the asshole with his bare hands. Provided he could get to them before I did. Secondly, I happen to have excellent taste in women’s clothing and know what looks good on a beautiful woman such as yourself. I won’t let you buy anything that doesn’t make you look like a million dollars. Deal?”

  She hugged him again and squeezed him tightly. “You’re the best, Maddox. I never had a brother but if I did, I’d want him to be just like you.”

  He kissed the top of her head and rubbed his hand lightly down her back. “You’re killing my ego, babe. Just saying. You’re supposed to say that if Drake ever fell out of the picture, you’d be all over me like white on rice.”

  She laughed and then punched him in the gut.

  “Are we going shopping or are we standing around gabbing all morning?” Justice called from the living room.

  “Guess that’s our cue,” Maddox grumbled. “Get a coat, babe, okay? It’s chilly out today.”

  Evangeline hurried to the hall closet just next to the elevator doors and pulled one of the casual coats off the hanger. Justice took it from her and held it up so she could slide her arms into the sleeves when the intercom buzzed. She frowned and glanced at Maddox and Justice.

  “Are you two expecting anyone else?
” she asked.

  “I take it you aren’t expecting anyone, then?” Maddox asked, his stance immediately alert.

  She shook her head and pushed the button to answer the call.

  “Evangeline, you have visitors,” Edward said over the intercom.

  “Who is it?” Evangeline asked, casting a nervous glance in Maddox’s direction.

  “Their names are Lana, Nikki and Steph,” Edward said, his tone growing uncomfortable. “They said they are friends of yours. Shall I send them up or tell them you aren’t available at the moment?”

  Her mouth fell open and she stared in shock at Maddox, a clear plea in her expression about what she should do.

  Maddox’s expression became one of fury. “They the bitches who used to be your friends?” he bit out.

  Wordlessly she nodded. What were they doing here? Why had they come? Lana had made it quite evident that Steph wasn’t the only one with reason to be unhappy with Evangeline.

  “Do you want to see them, Evangeline?” Justice asked gently. “If you don’t, say the word and Maddox and I will get rid of them. You won’t have to see them. I swear.”

  She twisted her hands and then wrung them in agitation. “I don’t know,” she whispered.

  “It’s your call,” Maddox said quietly. “Justice and I will be here the entire time. You won’t have to face them alone. And at any time, we can get rid of them. You say the word and we’ll make it happen.”

  Swallowing hard, she punched the button again and hesitated, looking once more at Maddox for reassurance. Then she said, “Send them up, Edward.”

  Maddox swore and then reached for Evangeline’s hand. “I don’t like seeing you so pale and afraid of these bitches, babe. You go sit down in the living room and get comfortable. Justice and I will let them in and have a little understanding with them.”

  “Don’t frighten them,” she said quietly.

  “You mean like they’re frightening you?” Justice said bluntly. “You don’t owe them a goddamn thing after they shit on you the way they did.”

  She bit her bottom lip and turned unhappily toward the living room. She let Maddox help her into one of the chairs, and then he grasped her shoulders in his hands and looked her in the eye.

  “They say one wrong word to you and their asses are out with instructions not to ever return.”

  She nodded and then clenched her hands together in her lap as she tried to compose herself for the confrontation ahead.

  Maddox walked away and she waited tensely for the sound of the elevator. A few moments later she heard it arrive, and then she heard Justice and Maddox speaking in low tones but she couldn’t make out what they were saying. Finally the wait became too much and she bolted out of her chair and turned toward the foyer, where she saw her friends standing looking with openmouthed astonishment at Justice and Maddox, who both wore black expressions.

  “Evangeline?” Steph asked as she stepped forward.

  The two women stared at one another for a long moment, and then Steph let out a cry and ran toward Evangeline. A second later Evangeline found herself in Steph’s embrace as Steph noisily sobbed on Evangeline’s shoulder.

  “I’m so sorry, Vangie,” Steph said over and over. “I was such a bitch to you. Please forgive me.”

  And then Lana and Nikki both pushed in, pulling Evangeline into a group hug. Evangeline stared at Justice and Maddox over their shoulders, her eyes huge with bewilderment.

  She gave them what couldn’t possibly be misconstrued as anything but a plea for help as her three friends continued to hug and cry all over her. Finally Maddox waded in and gently took Nikki’s and Lana’s arms while Justice collected Steph, and the two men herded the women into the living room to seat them.

  “Not leaving you, babe, so don’t get any ideas,” Maddox said in a low voice as he passed Evangeline en route to the kitchen.

  Justice stood in the middle of the living room, his arms folded over his broad chest, looking every bit the part of a surly bodyguard while Maddox acted the consummate host and poured drinks for everyone. Then he sat down right next to Evangeline and directed his gaze to the women in the living room.

  “Evangeline?” Lana whispered. “What happened with Drake? Are you still with
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