Читать онлайн "Capital Risk" автора Grayson Lana - RuLit - Страница 7

 
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He didn’t release me, and I tolerated the touch, if only because the last time he held me was in a brief, horrible goodbye after my step-brothers secured a chartered flight to escape from Darius. Reed gave me five thousand dollars and broke down because he could do nothing else.

Nothing to make up for how they hurt me.

But it wasn’t his fault. Not when the gun was pointed at my head, and the bullets etched with their names. I didn’t blame them. It was all Darius. Every time. Every moment.

But even Reed’s embrace was too much, too confining. I escaped from his pinning hug. He patted Hamlet behind the ears.

“You okay?” Reed brushed my cheek.

I flinched, and he immediately apologized. The guilt and shame flushed my cheeks.

I dreaded what he’d say next. The pity. The remorse.

Instead he smiled, his dimple so teasing and playful. “Enjoying your whirlwind vacation?”

I…hadn’t expected that.

“Vacation?”

He winked. “I figured you’d get tired of us sooner or later.”

“Tired of you?”

“Nick’s been so worried, holy Christ. You ran with all those shares. Max thought you’d sell and buy a one-way ticket to some tropical island paradise.” Reed grinned. “I told him you’d use it for startup capital to develop some sort of genetically modified monster corn.”

My stomach rolled. I pushed further from Reed.

“You thought I left with the stock from the Josmik Trust,” I said. “You thought I…”

Betrayed them.

Oh, God.

They didn’t know.

Nicholas didn’t know.

Darius’s attack wasn’t the only nightmare that haunted me. I dreaded how he’d gloat, what he’d say, how he’d utterly destroy my step-brothers when he revealed just how easily he…

They didn’t know their father raped me.

My stomach heaved.

“Hold on…” I clapped a hand over my mouth and rushed to the bathroom, slamming the door as I landed on my knees.

They didn’t know.

The relief expelled every awful memory, the lingering fear, the imaginary hands gripping my hips.

Darius didn’t tell them.

And neither would I.

I had an opportunity to end the reign of a monster. If we killed Darius, they would never know, and I would be safe from harm and humiliation.

Reed rapped on the door. “Hey, Typhoid Mary. I’m glad you called, but if you get me sick…”

I washed my face. “You won’t catch it.”

“Better not.”

I edged from the bathroom with a shrug. His eyebrow rose as he cuddled with Hamlet.

“You okay?” His smile faded.

No. “Yeah.”

“You don’t look good.” He gestured around the hotel room. “And you can afford better digs.”

Not if I wanted to hide in one of the thousands of indistinguishable hotels where a billionaire would never think to search.

“It’s been fine,” I said.

Reed didn’t believe me, but he nodded. “I’m glad you’re coming back.”

He wouldn’t be, not once he learned the reasons why. He hopped from the bed to take the bag I lifted. The strap caught on the table and jostled the zipper.

The rattling bottle bounced against the floor. I dove for it, but Reed seized it first, handing it to me.

“Almost dropped your—”

The bottle clenched in his hand. He read the label. I froze.

Prenatal vitamins.

His expression shifted—a momentary confusion that cleared quickly, as if I struck him against the temple with the bottle. I met his gaze.

And pleaded in silence.

I wasn’t ready to say it.

Not yet. Not aloud. Not to anyone but Hamlet and the compassionate nurse practitioner at the free clinic who offered to help even when I wouldn’t give her my name.

I’d carried the secret for two months, and the only man who deserved to hear it was the one I was too terrified to call.

I stilled. Reed stared at me, and three, four, five agonizing seconds of silence transformed his confused frown to wide-eyed shock.

He offered to run with me once, but I thought I’d control my own fate and end it before anyone got hurt. One fluttering heartbeat changed everything.

I took the vitamins from Reed’s hand.

He exhaled. His eyebrow twitched, but whatever he prepared to say silenced between clenched teeth. Reed was as good a brother as Josiah or Mike. He nodded and clipped the leash on Hamlet.

“Ready to go?” he asked.

I would have thanked him, but it wasn’t necessary. He’d do anything for me. Reed shouldered my book bag too.

“Does he know I’m coming?” I couldn’t say his name.

“I kept it on the DL. I’ll Nick them from the airport and tell him to meet us at my house.”

“And it’s…” I hated the tremble in my voice. “It’ll be safe there?”

His expression darkened. Reed clenched his jaw.

“Nothing’s gonna happen to you.” He handed me Hamlet’s leash. “Come on. Tonight was a bad night to be wrangling you.”

“Why?”

“Just a lot happening. Don’t worry about it. We’ll take care of you.”

Take care of me? They had their chance to take care of me. That time had come, gone, and was lost in blood and bruises.

Now they had one job. One promise they could finally keep, and then I’d leave forever.

Darius Bennett would die.

And my child would be safe.

“You should eat, Ms. Atwood.”

Nicholas dared to speak to me. He offered a sandwich, a bottle of water, and an apple. It wasn’t a kindness, not when he unlocked my bedroom door from the outside to deliver my first meal within the Bennett Estate.

“Go on,” he said. “It isn’t poisoned.”

As if that would reassure me, as if the trauma from a kidnapping and imprisonment would be alleviated because Nicholas Bennett offered me a ham sandwich.

“If you want your vengeance, you’ll need your strength,” he teased. The plate clattered on the nightstand. “I want a fair fight, Ms. Atwood.”

“Nothing’s fair about this.”

“No, it’s not.”

I didn’t move. Nicholas existed in a perfect, intimidating stillness, but I refused to let it frighten me.

“You haven’t won yet,” I said. “You’ve only just started a war. Whatever insanity existed between our fathers is done and buried. You’ve instigated something far worse.”

“Ms. Atwood—”

“You should consider the consequences of this kidnapping. If you succeed and a child is born?” I whispered the threat. “I will burn this prison to the ground and scorch my enemies into ash before I let you become a father to my son.”

Reed crowded my bags and dog into his rental car. I’d traveled from the Poconos west, running from Pennsylvania to Minnesota. We had to take a private plane to California.

I tried not to think of Josiah and Mike. Tried not to remember the footage of their plane crash Darius forced me to watch.

It didn’t work. Weepy and sick and exhausted, I collapsed in my seat. Reed said nothing as I darted to the bathroom twice. I curled up beside him and let the hours pass with inoffensive small-talk about Hamlet.

I couldn’t ask about Nicholas.

The plane descended into a tiny airport off the California coast. Reed lived West of San Jose, in a little ocean town known for the surfing community. He loaded me into a private car and pointed out his favorite board shop, coffee house, and the road he took to get to the Mavericks, a crazy surfing spot half a mile out into the ocean.

Reed rubbed the scar on his cheek. “You think that’s bad, you should see a twenty foot wave crashing over your head.”

Yeah, not something I would have done even before I landed in my current condition. “Isn’t it dangerous?”

     

 

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