Читать онлайн "Capital Risk" автора Grayson Lana - RuLit - Страница 2


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Darius Bennett patted Nicholas’s shoulder. His words slithered over me.

“Son, allow me this first dance with our beautiful little Sarah.”

I hadn’t answered, and Darius didn’t ask. He seized my hand and forced me onto the dance floor, snaking a cold arm around my waist—nearly too low for anything proper. The music swayed, and he tossed me off the beat.

He was lucky I didn’t knee him in the groin. He was more fortunate that Mike restrained Josiah.

Darius chuckled as I stiffly twirled under his hand. His words laced with poison.

“My dear, let me be the first to welcome you to our family.”

I shut the water off. The towel waited for me, flipped over the shower bar.

Just the brush of the cotton against my hands revolted me.

It was weird to hate terrycloth towels, but after the attack, even the simplest of memories manifested in strange ways. Darius groping me the day I swam with Reed was another moment when I might have prepared myself for the inevitable.

Darius didn’t just steal my dignity. He chipped it away, piece by piece, touch by touch.

Be a good girl, my dear

I wouldn’t drop the towel. For two months, I used the hairdryer to dry off instead of touching my own body. Not again. That freak-show ended now.

I wrapped myself in the towel, grating it against my flushed skin until the sandpaper fibers streaked my legs blotchy and red.

It sickened me, but I’d handle it. This was how I’d heal.

Breathless, I pitched the damn towel against the wall.

It shouldn’t have felt like a victory, but one fear was conquered. Only a few more to go.

For the first time in days, I could meet my gaze in the mirror. And the girl looking back? She’d been screaming at me for weeks to stop running and start fighting.

Two weeks ago I took a pregnancy test, and the results terrified me. But the pity and self-loathing ended now. My thoughts crept with disgusted memories and humiliated realizations, but hiding the truth made the pain worse.

I wasted too many seconds of my life living in fear of Darius Bennett. In my waking hours and trapped in nightmares, he lurked, pinning me in harsh, unfamiliar helplessness.

No more.

Shock was a powerful tool, but denial rent through every mental defense. The pained cramping of my stomach heaving in morning sickness forced me to confront the truth.

I was pregnant.

I had no idea who the father was.

But it wouldn’t make a difference. Darius Bennett took what he wanted, and his family achieved their monstrous ambitions. They stole me. Bred me. Hurt me.

He did as he said he would, and now I had nothing more to fear from him. I looked into the eyes of the devil, endured his vile and disgusting lust, and I survived.

He should have killed me. Instead, he underestimated me.

He’d regret that mistake.

First, I’d ruin the Bennett Corporation.

Then I’d take his family.

And after he was left crawling in the dirt in the remnants of his shattered pride? Only one of us would remain.

I had more than enough reason to live. I didn’t plan for it to happen, it shouldn’t have been possible, but I was pregnant, and the child was completely and utterly innocent of all the insanity.

No matter the father, I had to protect him. No one else deserved to be corrupted by this feud. But the only way to keep him safe would be to forever deny the Bennett blood in him. My son was an Atwood.

Darius would never, ever touch him.

And Nicholas?

I turned from the mirror.

Two months had passed since the night I spent in Nicholas’s arms, and I wished I could forget everything about those stolen moments. What should have been a beautiful, amazing, life-affirming passion was ruined. Stained. Lost in violence.

I ran, and I hadn’t contacted him since then. I didn’t know what to say, how to tell him what happened. Maybe Darius already revealed it, using my pain to break his eldest son.

Rage was an easy emotion and love far too complicated. It wasn’t the first time I wished for the simplicity of hate—Atwood against Bennett, prisoner against captor, woman against man.

Falling in love with Nicholas endangered all of us, especially me. Staying in love with him? That selfish, naïve longing would ultimately threaten my child.

And nothing would ever hurt my son.

If it was a son.

It had to be a boy, the male heir. I refused to think of any other possibility—not when the consequences and Darius’s retaliation were too horrible to imagine.

Which meant it was time for revenge.

For days I imagined my bloody retaliations, and the pure fantasy of hate kept me strong. Darius’s punishment wouldn’t be a slit to the throat or a bullet to the brain. That was a death far too easy for a demon like Darius. Too quick. Too impersonal.

Hamlet chewed through my second laptop charging cable—a difficult expense when I avoided my credit cards and forms of ID. My battery dipped below forty percent, but I had everything I needed.

Toxicology reports.

Hazardous material screenings.

Chemical compound listings. Material Safety Data Sheets. Environmental checklists.

With the click of a mouse, and the cooperation of my attorney with one thinly veiled request, I possessed all the information on the Bennett agrochemical products. I had the formulas, research, and trade secrets Nicholas hadn’t let me read while they held me captive.

I had more rights as stockholder than prisoner, and I realized that only hours after the attack. Once I managed to move, before I ran, before he came back, I emailed for the information.

But I hadn’t opened the reports yet. The emails sat in my inbox, unopened, for two months. At first, my denial convinced me to run instead of work, to hide from the panic and shame. I hid from everything to protect the fragile part of me flickering with the remnants of my courage.

That flicker burned just a bit hotter today.

I opened the email and read the message Anthony Delvannis enclosed with the attached reports. Even through email, he was a direct, assertive, protective asshole.

Where the hell are you? Call me immediately.

Women tended to obey Anthony—and, after my time spent under Max’s hand, I understood it more. Unfortunately, the damn auto-read receipt popped an alert to his office when I opened the email. His response pinged on my screen now that he knew I was at the computer.

Sarah, call me.

Oh, this wasn’t a conversation I wanted to have. Not with my damn attorney, and not with anyone else, including the man who deserved the truth.

I deleted the email and skimmed over a report—the chemical compositions of the Bennett pesticides which earned the family their first billion.

Anthony emailed again.

Sarah, if you’re reading this, tell me you’re all right.

Well, I wasn’t, but I wasn’t explaining why I went missing. The Bennetts probably covered up my disappearance on their own. Asthma. Illness. God only knew what other lies they’d spread from the darkness. I was just lucky neither Nicholas nor Darius had found me yet. Both would rip the sky from the ground and search through every hidden crack in the earth to find me.

I continued to parse the attachments, hesitating over the lone financial report tucked within the chemical breakdowns. My father refused to use Bennett chemicals, and our multi-billion dollar farm became the sole challenger to the Bennett Empire. My father took pleasure in watching as the Bennetts squirmed, trying to explain why one of the most powerful agricultural families in the United States rejected the offers from the largest agrochemical business in the world.

Now it was my turn to honor my father’s legacy and ruin the Bennett Corporation. But I wouldn’t do it by denying Darius Bennett. Their greatest achievement would be securing a claim over my farms.



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