Chapter 6

Bourbon

I wanted her.

I wanted her almost as bad as I'd wanted Lily, from the very moment Rose stepped into the room.

For a brief, insane moment, I thought she was Lily, back from the dead. Come to punish me for all the ways I didn't protect her like I should've.

Come to reveal the truth, the truth I could never reveal, even if my very life depended on it.

I could tell by the look on Coulter's face that he thought he had me.

I hardened my gaze, and his confidence began to falter. To any other person, including his closest friends, he would still seem so self assured. But I know my brother more than any other person alive, and I saw the slight hesitation in his eyes.

Good.

Because he couldn’t know how badly I wanted this girl.

I couldn’t believe his arrogance. He’d never worked as hard as I had for this company. This family. I'd done all the hard shit because I wanted to protect him. And now, he had no idea what he’d just done.

If the Bratvas were to ever discover the truth, this would start the war of all wars. It would negate everything I'd done to set this deal in place.

I'd given up a lot to even get the Bratvas to the table.

I'd killed to keep them at the table.

I wasn’t a good man. I'd become the very devil to keep my family safe, and now, with one spontaneous, idiotic decision, Coulter had ruined it all.

Because he never fucking thought, except for what was best for him and his stupid dick.

Before I could answer him, before I could berate him for ruining all my hard work, there was a shaking at the door. It was Rose, and she was trying to get out. She’d grown quiet in the past minute but now she’d renewed her struggle with vehemence.

We turned and stared at it in horror, both of us wanting to keep her in as badly as we wanted her out.

When the handle didn’t work, she slammed her fist against the wood, screaming out her frustration.

And the sound sent a thrill through me.

God I wanted her.

I wanted to watch her writhe under me. To feel my cock sliding through her wet cunt. To see her surrender herself to me, in every possible way.

Unlike Coulter, if I fucked her, she would be mine.

I didn’t just want one night.

And that's why I couldn’t do it.

And even though the sounds of her pleading made my dick hard, I had to refuse this offer. Because if I fucked her, I would be hers, just as much as she would be mine. I would never let her go.

I steeled myself, giving Coulter a glare. "Get the fucking key. We're taking her back. Now."

"What?!" He gave me a disbelieving look. He thought he'd convinced me.

I stepped closer to him, pointing my finger right into his chest. "Give me the fucking key. if I take her back now, I can fix this."

He shook his head. "No."

I froze. Coulter rarely stood up to me. Not like this, when it was something important. He knew that I always did what was best for the family. He trusted me.

But with this one word, he drew a line in the sand.

He was going to choose his cock over his family.

I gave him one more chance and tilted my head to the side, studying him with an intensity that I knew he’d understand. I lowered my voice, giving him my most deadly tone. "You're saying no? To this?"

He hesitated for only a second, but then he straightened, his gaze blazing into mine. "Yes."

I didn’t get angry. I didn’t yell or scream or throw anything.

No. I was calm.

He’d just declared war between us, because of this woman? She was everything to Dimitri. I didn’t know why, but that was one thing I'd discovered when I did my research on him. The contract for her revealed more than he thought it would ever reveal.

He cared more about her than anything else in this world, and he would kill everyone and everything in his path to get her back.

Even though Coulter didn’t know it, because he chose to be a lazy prick and not get involved like he should.

And yet, that shouldn’t matter.

He knew how serious I was, and he was choosing keeping her over the family.

The selfish, arrogant prick.

I took in a deep breath, steeling myself for what was to come.

Because now, with this decision, war was coming.

No. Death was coming.

And I would do anything to protect Coulter from that asshole, because I considered him to be the only family I'd ever have. I'd promised to protect him when I was a kid, and it was a promise I'd never broken.

It was also a promise I wouldn’t break today, even though Coulter had just done the most selfish thing he’d ever done.

I would keep him alive until Dimitri was dead.

Then I might just kill him myself.

My gaze bore into his, and he met my stare with a steely one of his own. “You will live to regret this,” was the only warning I gave him before I turned, and calmly strode towards the door.

As soon as I was outside, I took in a deep breath. The air was stifling in this god forsaken heat, but I needed to calm myself.

I hated being in that house, with all the memories that it brought.

Coulter thought it only had special meaning to him, but that place had been as comforting to me as it had been for him, except more.

Coulter didn't go there often, so what he didn’t know, what he’d never know, is that I'd been there all the time.

All the times when Coulter thought I was alone in my room, I was here, with her.

I'd sneak out in the evenings, after dinner with the family or even late at night, after I’d returned from work.

Lily’s mother, Angela, would hug me, then welcome me into her home, as if I was her own son. In a lot ways, she’d become like a mother to me. We’d often talk, the three of us, until late into the night.

They were the family I'd always wanted, and even though they never had money, their love was better than anything my father had ever given me.

He may have given me anything materialistic I'd ever wanted but the other side of that was only ever pain.

All the rage I felt inside was caused by his hands, as he took every opportunity to teach me how to be tough enough to live in our world. And when my father was done pounding my face in, this was the place I would come.

Angela would dote on me, muttering soothing words of comfort, trying to heal the cuts and bruises, the broken bones. She’d even learned how to dig out a bullet and sew me up, out of necessity.

And then, after she would go to bed, it would just be me and Lily.

We didn't even have sex, not for a long time.

We talked.

And touched.

I held her at night, the nights she wasn't with Coulter.

And then, the simple caresses became longer ones. I grew to intimately know every inch of her body before I ever knew what it was like to be inside her.

I knew the shape of her breasts, the way her nipples responded to my caresses, the way her stomach muscles would clench as my lips suckled and licked over them.

And when she finally opened up to me, I knew the taste of her pussy on my tongue long before I ever knew what it felt like to have her warm, wet cunt wrapped around my dick.

She was my salvation and my destruction, because her death destroyed me in ways that no one would ever know.

And the sight of Rose brought all those feelings back in one rush, making me ache to be with her. To know if her body would respond to mine the same way Lily's had.

Would she fall apart at a more tender touch? Or did she like it rough and hard? Did pain turn her on, like it did Lily?

Would she beg me to hurt her? To take away all her control?

Would I come undone for her? Grow to care for her?

Would she see through the broken man I'd become, and learn to love me as I was?

I wanted all this and more.

I did want one more night. And another and another, until the days blended into months and then years. I wanted it all, for the rest of my short life.

And now, I had to clench my hands into fists to keep myself from turning back around and going to her. From giving in to Coulter's pleas.

To take her and fuck her.

And then kill her, just to get rid of the torment.

The prickling sensation on my neck alerted me to eyes on my back, and I knew that Dante was watching me from the window.

The man saw everything, and he was super protective over Coulter. Even though Coulter trusted me, Dante didn't.

Which was good, because Coulter would need someone at his back when I tried to kill him for what he did here tonight.

I pulled my phone out of my pocket and, finding the number I needed, pressed send.

My feet automatically found the path I'd taken thousands of times before, the path that led from Lily's house to mine.

Grant answered immediately. “Yes, boss.”

"I need you."

“You got it."

"Meet me in my office in fifteen minutes." I hung up, then walked away, turning my back on the only chance I'd ever have to find happiness in this life because I knew I would never deserve it.

Chapter 7

Rose

Escape had been so close, I could sense it. Feel it.

The scratch at my door, the jingle of a doorknob. The low rasp of his voice told me it was Bourbon, and I just knew he’d come to rescue me.

My heart pounded, electricity tingling under my fingers as I waited in anticipation. I chewed on my nails, staring at the door, needing to pee but holding it in because if the door opened, I wanted to be ready for action, even if I ended up peeing all over myself. I would do anything to get out of here.

Then my heart dropped as the fighting began. Loud voices and banging against the walls. It didn’t last long before it stopped and, heart racing, I pressed my ear to the wood, trying to hear what was happening.

It was too thick to make out what they were saying but I could hear enough to know that they were still arguing.

Satisfaction strummed through me, a wickedness that came from knowing they were fighting about me.

I wanted them to fight, because maybe then one of them would free me.

And then…quiet.

A silence that stretched on for too long, making my ears ring and my chest deflate with hopelessness.

No. Fucking no. This couldn’t be happening. I slammed my fist against the door, trying to open it again but it didn’t budge.

Somehow, Coulter convinced Bourbon to let him keep me, and Bourbon. Left. Me. Here.

Anger fueled me and I was back to banging the chair against the window. Over and over, I slammed it against the glass until the chair cracked, splintering into big plastic chunks as I took out my frustration on the window.

I threw it to the ground, then raced over to the desk. Using all my energy, I pushed it towards the window.

Crap. It was heavy. It didn’t budge an inch.

Shit. My eyes darted everywhere but there was nothing. Shit!

Grabbing the black shirt I’d tossed earlier, I pulled it over my head. Then I fell to my ass, wrapping it over my bare knees as I heaved, trying to figure out what to do. The room was decently large, larger than the one I grew up in anyways, or even my dorm room that I shared, for that matter.

Besides the light violet coloring of the walls, there were dusty pieces of tape still stuck to it where, no doubt, posters had hung.

This was a girl’s room. At the thought, my heart clenched.

Was it someone they'd kept in the past to entertain them? Were they in the habit of keeping girls locked up here for long periods of time?

From what I'd heard of the Kings, it was entirely possible.

I jumped to my feet and yanked open the drawers to the desk. Scouring through every space possible, I only found a few paperclips and a rubber band. There was a stubby pencil with a barely there nub of lead.

Well. It was something.

I grabbed everything and slid it in between the mattresses, deciding I would figure out a way to use them to get out of this room. I'd been taken from one prison to another, and I wanted to scream.

What kind of men were these, that treated women like objects they could steal and use?

Mafioso men, that's who.

Arrogant assholes who loved to steal and kill, despite their sexy, cultured exterior.

There was a bathroom off of the bedroom, with a large tub and a small shower that looked like it hadn't been cleaned in years. I squatted down next to a spiderweb to stare at the daddy long leg in the corner.

"Are you trapped in here like me?" I asked it. God, I was going crazy already. It didn't answer but crawled into the corner. "Yeah, me too, Fred."

With no response from the spider, of course, I kept on, finishing up my exploration. There was a sliver of soap in the shower and a tampon in the bathroom drawers, plus one forgotten roll of toilet paper, something I was grateful for because I seriously had to pee.

After relieving myself, I rinsed off my hands, deciding to only use the soap when I was desperate. Who knows how long I could be here?

If these guys were anything like Dimitri, they'd have guards stationed at my door and all the entrances to the building.

I couldn't see out the frosted glass window well enough to tell exactly where I was, but the sound of a car starting earlier let me know that I was close enough to the ground. Possibly on the ground floor, though I couldn't be sure.

The sound of the doorknob rattled again and I shot from the bathroom, running towards it.

I saw Coulter's face before I launched into the air, aiming straight for him.

I tackled him with as much energy as I could muster but I only ended up jumping into his arms, wrapping my legs around his hips.

He immediately dropped me, and my feet hit the ground with a harsh thud. Grabbing ahold of me, he quickly turned me around, then shoved my face into the wall. He stepped up to me, pressing his chest into my back. His hand gripped the back of my neck, holding me there, while his other hand kept my wrists tight behind my back.

"Do not try to escape, or I will tie you up." His voice was a dark rumble against my ear. "Is that understood?"

I wiggled uncomfortably, not liking how even his voice made my breath hitch and my skin flush. “Oooo, I hope you’re a master shibari. Do I get to come first?”

He chuckled, his breath washing over my neck, making goosebumps prickle down my spine. “Do you want to come first?”

Oh God. I checked my feelings and found myself lacking, like an idiot. With his firm chest pressed against me, his legs crowding my hips, and his cheek inches from mine, my body responded to his. Heat pooled in my belly and my heart began to race. I felt the irrational desire to know what it would be like if he went that inch closer, brushing his lips to the skin of my cheek.

Pressing soft kisses down my neck, my spine…

I held my breath, imagining punching him in the face to remind myself how much I hated him.

Finally pulling myself together, after way too long of a hesitation, I bit out my response. “You wish."

He suddenly let me go, taking a step backwards, and I swiveled to stare at him. His dark gaze burned into me, giving me a look filled with rage and loathing.

What the hell? Was he pissed at me?

Out of the corner of my eye, I could see that his two goons were covering the doorway. I knew that I couldn’t make a run for it. So instead of trying, I folded my arms across my chest and stared Coulter down. "What are you so pissed at, Goldie Locks?”

His eyebrows furrowed in confusion for a moment, then his face smoothed again, giving me an impassive look. "I brought you clothes and some food."

He held his hand out and one of his goons, the red-haired one, handed over two white shopping bags, trimmed in gold ‘Forum Shops’ lettering, and my eyes about bugged out of my head. I'd very much expected Walmart.

I grabbed one of them to peer inside, then pulled out a shirt. It was a plain white t-shirt, made from the softest material I'd ever felt, like it was made from clouds or cotton candy. I schooled my face to look unimpressed.

Saint Laurent jeans came next, suspiciously in my exact size, and I narrowed my eyes at Coulter, resisting the temptation to stroke the soft decadent material in front of him. He might get the wrong idea and think that I actually was grateful for anything he was doing for me.

"What? Couldn't afford the nice stuff?"

He scowled, turning to his red-haired goon. "What the fuck, Knight?"

Wow, even this king had his own knight. How cliché.

Knight threw up his hands. "I went to their private boutique. I had to bribe Janeal with a date to erase me from the their video footage.” The responding smirk on Coulter's face told me that he was really amused about this, which made Knight's scowl grow deeper. "Or maybe I'll tell her you're showing up instead."

"You do that and I'll cut off your dick. Slowly." Coulter responded, and Knight paled.

"Fuck, I was just kidding." Knight looked away.

I sighed loudly. "If you're done giving each other goo-goo eyes, I'll just get dressed." I was tired of feeling so vulnerable in only this long shirt.

Coulter rolled his eyes. "A homophobe joke. How very eighties."

Grabbing his shoulder, I pushed him towards the doorway. If they weren't going to let me go, then at least they could give me privacy to change. "Oh that wasn't a joke. You two are seconds away from making out in the back closet."

At this comment, they scoffed, but I prodded them until they were all at the doorway, then slammed the door in their surprised faces.

Ha. That'll teach them.

The honest truth was, I was a little bit relieved to be here.

I would never tell them this but being out of Dimitri's control was a relief. He was cruel and an all-around asshole. So far, none of these guys had hit or raped me, so in my book, this was a win. It was a sad triumph, but one all the same.

Now that they were gone, I rubbed my cheek against the material of the shirt. It was really soft.

Then, Coulter barked some command to his goons and I threw off the shirt, realizing with an annoyed disappointment that the idiot goon forgot to bring me clean underwear. After I zipped up the jeans, a car started back up.

I raced to the window, squinting to see through the frosted glass, but all I could make out was the flash of something moving by.

Combined with the sound of the engine, I could guess that someone had left, though I wasn't sure how many of them.

The house grew quiet, and very quickly, I grew to regret shoving the guys out of the room because the day slowly passed into night.

After a few hours, Knight, the redhead, brought me Chinese take out, placing it on the floor by the door and disappearing as quickly as he’d arrived.

Starving, I inhaled the food and bottled water, then placed the trash by the door in the hopes that they’d step on it when they came back in. After several long hours of sitting on the edge of the bed, nerves churning, waiting for something bad to happen, I laid on my back, unable to keep my eyes open any longer.

I woke the next day, with the bright sun shining through the window.

The empty containers were gone, replaced with bags of snack food.

One day became two. Then three and four. Every day was the fucking same. I never saw a soul and, after the second day, scoured the room for hidden cameras, as they seemed to know when I was faking sleep. From then on out, I only changed in the bathroom, though the thought gave me little comfort, as they could’ve easily hidden cameras in the shower, for all I knew.

Hell, they might be disgusting enough to have one in the toilet.

I wouldn’t put it past any mafioso.

I quickly grew bored, attempting anything to keep my mind busy.

I tried meditation, then exercising, trying to get myself in shape for my ongoing plot to escape but there was only so much a girl could do every day. I made up stories in my head, all of them ending with these guys dying a horrific and terrible death. I even tried to remember some math facts from school. Anything to keep myself occupied.

I used the stubby pencil to keep track of the time passing, promising myself that I would use it to stab the next person to enter the room.

The problem was, for days on end, I saw no one.

Every time I woke up, there would be a pile of junk food and bottled water by the door. Whoever brought in the food also cleaned out the broken chair, my discarded wrappers, and any empty plastic water bottles. They'd also placed some luxurious shampoo, conditioner, and soap in the bathroom, along with a toothbrush and toothpaste.

No razor though, and I suddenly felt grateful that Dimitri had had me waxed only a few days before these goons took me.

As the days stretched into more than a week, I grew increasingly bored. It was super nice to not be tossed around and hit but it would be even better if I had someone to talk to. Or a book to read.

Fred was a good friend but I think even he was getting tired of listening to me.

No one ever answered my pounding on the door, and the window was relentlessly strong. Stupid window.

After wanting to blow my brains out in boredom, I made a decision. I was going to use my pencil. They obviously somehow knew when I was actually sleeping, not pretending, and were too cowardly to show up when I was awake, so stabbing them in the eye with it was not an option.

I began to draw on the wall, deciding that if I went mad from boredom before someone finally came for me, having the pencil to use as a knife would be pointless without my sharp and stunning brain.

I began to doodle the shape of a face, and after several hours, came to the shameful realization that I was drawing Coulter. I'd managed to get his golden eyes down just right, much to my disappointment.

Scowling, I drew a devilishly clever mustache, complete with curled ends. Then stood back with a satisfied smirk.

There.

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