Читать онлайн "Capital Risk" автора Grayson Lana - RuLit - Страница 8

 
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“Sure, but that’s the fun of it. It’s an adrenaline rush. Nothing like it.”

“Not my type of adrenaline rush.”

“What’s yours?”

It used to be nights spent passed between each of my step-brothers. Now it was just nights running in fear. I was tired of that particular rush.

Reed turned from the main drag and headed up a secondary road leading away from town to the quiet hills overlooking the ocean. It was a beautiful place—peaceful, but exciting. Very Reed.

“I’m surprised you left here to live at the estate,” I said.

His fingers tightened over the wheel. “Didn’t have a choice. When Dad says come home…”

I shivered. “Right.”

“Don’t worry. I’ve got security systems and everything working. It’s safer than Max’s penthouse.”

Nowhere was safe, but I appreciated his concern. We parked outside a beautiful, modern house, with more windows than walls. Hard angles and a classy, tight design blended it into the hill. The ocean was in clear view from a balcony stretching over the sloping hillside. The house rested in a forest of scrub and dark shadow.

I didn’t wait for him. I edged from the car and whistled for Hamlet. Reed followed with my bags.

“I won’t lie,” he said “They’re going to be upset.”

Not for long.

The front door creaked open. Hamlet burst inside as if he had lived there his whole life.

Max paced in the living room. Hamlet, of course, launched at his weak leg. The hulking, beast of a man crashed against the couch with a pained profanity. The fluffy goldendoodle gave him a sloppy lick.

Reed dropped my bags in the doorway. He pushed me in front of him.

Traitor.

“Look who I found,” he said.

“Jesus, fuck!” Max swore, rubbing the tension from his face with a thick hand. The muscles over his arm tensed, and the pattern of dark ink stretched tight. “Christ, am I glad to see you, baby.”

I didn’t answer.

The words refused to whisper.

He stood before the window overlooking the moon-kissed ocean, bathed in shadow and wrought with a strength I once thought would protect me from everything.

The golden halo of his eyes burned within the dimness of the house, captured in a moment’s rage and relief. The color dazzled, sharpened, and cracked as frustration trapped his expression. The rugged line of his jaw hardened, and the regal angles of his face encased him with a poised grace.

But beneath the edge of sophistication, I saw what I’d ignored for so long.

The thin curl of his lips.

The slope of his nose.

The angle of his brow, and the dark strength that held his body in perfect, disciplined ruthlessness.

Nicholas Bennett looked so much like his father.

And the words he uttered rasped with the same quick demands.

“Sarah.” He spoke my name with an unchallenged authority, as though I were just another of his billions of possessions. “Where—”

I didn’t let him finish.

I broke down and ran to him, beat against his chest. I blamed the hormones. I blamed the pregnancy. I blamed him.

For two months I fled from the secrets, the truth, and the pain.

In two seconds, I understood everything I needed to do.

Everything I had to lose, and what I had to protect.

My heart broke into pieces, a shard of regret for what I’d let happen and a splinter of what might have been.

For so long, I’d protected my captor and indulged the insanity. It was for nothing. My love for Nicholas existed in a moment of forsaken freedom. My kiss pardoned his crimes. My touch defended his abuse. And my submission damned us all.

I couldn’t imagine a life without Nicholas Bennett, but heartbreak was safer than the death throes of his ruthless family, betrayed and broken.

Nicholas held me. I savored his embrace.

It’d be the last time I let him so close.

“You know…” Reed dipped his chopsticks into my container of white rice. I slapped his hand away. “We all had our tonsils out as kids.”

Max chewed his lo mein. “What?”

“Just sayin’,” Reed shrugged at me. I smiled, but I was too exhausted to even eat, let alone decipher what the hell he was talking about. “If we’re all trying to make an heir, I mean…he’ll most likely have tonsillitis. And…” He nudged me. “Is asthma genetic?”

Probably, but I never had cause to worry about it. Now seemed an equally weird time to consider the possibilities. What I thought would be a night to celebrate my discovered inheritance of the Josmik Trust became the beginning of Nicholas’s rededicated plan to breed me.

So far, it had been a very fun plan.

Max hadn’t put a shirt on. They weren’t done with me yet. “I don’t think sore throats and inhalers are a major concern right now.”

My gaze flicked to Nicholas. He hadn’t spoken since offering me to his brothers. He simply…watched. The whole night. Enthralled. Obsessed. Unbelievably passionate when he seized me from Reed’s arms just to take me once more.

His golden eyes captured me, worshiped me, soothed me.

For the first time, my heart panged with regret for my infertility.

A baby might have inherited his eyes.

I wouldn’t let myself cry. I wouldn’t reveal what happened. Not to the men who still possessed an ounce of innocence despite their role in my captivity.

If they knew, I’d lose the calm, rational men who were capable of ending the nightmare. They’d act in bloody impulse and endanger themselves.

Max would consider it his failure to protect me.

Reed would forever view me as a victim he didn’t save.

And Nicholas?

If the baby wasn’t his…

No.

It had to be Nicholas’s.

It wasn’t time for tears. Strength was derived from opportunity. I couldn’t stop Darius when it happened, but we could end it now and save my child from a lifetime of shame.

First, I’d protect myself.

And after?

I pulled from Nicholas’s arms.

I’d learn to survive without them.

“Sarah.” Nicholas frowned as I stepped away. “What happened? Are you okay?”

A tangled chaos of pained words rose from my fluttering chest. Silence comforted me, but it challenged Nicholas—tempted him, angered him, exposed the desperation in his voice only I recognized.

“I told you to wait for me.” Those golden eyes weren’t beautiful now. They hardened in frustration. “Why didn’t you wait?”

I had begged him to stay. Why hadn’t he stayed?

“I didn’t know where you went,” he said. “I thought you were hurt!”

I was.

Max and Reed shared a wordless glance. I preferred their confusion. It was better than their pity. It was better than the helpless rage I suffered each night when the darkness pinned me against the bed without a chance to scratch or punch.

Reed cleared his throat. “Sarah, maybe you should sit down?”

No. Sitting would comfort me, and comfort would only encourage me back to Nicholas’s arms.

Nicholas’s stare tangled me in secrets, lies, and unspoken heartache. He waited, patiently, as though his presence would crack my silence and force me to speak, act, and beg.

Just like Darius.

But I was through submitting to him. To any of them.

My chest tightened.

Why didn’t he stay with me that night?

Nicholas’s voice rumbled in a hard authority. “You left as soon as you inherited the Josmik Trust. I made an agreement with our Board. They let you live if you sold the shares back!”

He thought it was a power play. It wasn’t. For those horrible hours just before dawn, I’d have given the Bennetts every last cent I owned. The farm. The ranches. Everything.

And, in the most shameful moment of my life, I had offered.

     

 

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