Читать онлайн "Capital Risk" автора Grayson Lana - RuLit - Страница 9

 
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Darius declined.

But what was done, was done. I wouldn’t ever beg. I’d never let them see me cry.

And I would never again surrender to anything Darius or the Board willed. I’d have them suffer instead.

“Sarah,” Nicholas said. I flinched as he reached for me. “For Christ’s sake, I had no idea what happened to you.”

Because he didn’t stay with me.

“You didn’t call. You didn’t answer your emails.”

Did he want an apology?

“I thought my father had you killed.”

It wouldn’t have been that simple.

Max exhaled, drawing Nicholas’s attention and breaking the intensity of his demands.

“Baby, you feeling all right?” he eyed Nicholas. “You don’t look so good.”

The understatement of the night. The tightness in my chest hadn’t alleviated, and Nicholas’s crushing interrogation did nothing to ease my queasy stomach.

“Come on.” Reed reached for my hand. I pulled away. “It’s okay. Just sit and rest for a second.”

I didn’t need to rest. The words I longed to say choked over the confession I refused to give. I looked away. Nicholas wasn’t done yet.

“Jesus Christ.” Nicholas’s stillness broke with a frustrated grunt and hand through his hair. His voice turned harsh, the crystalline edge of glass ready to shatter and shred. “I had no fucking idea if you were alive or dead, if you planned to sell the stock and destroy the company, if you left me, if you hated me, if something terrible had happened.”

I said nothing.

“Sarah, I held you in my arms. You said you loved me. I promised I’d be back for you.”

And I asked him not to leave. We both made mistakes. Some hurt more than others.

“Was it a lie?” he didn’t look away. “Don’t pretend you don’t care about me. Don’t act like that night meant nothing to you. I was there. I took you. I felt every goddamned word you said to me, so don’t stand there in goddamned silence like you don’t fucking care—”

“Nick, I’m pregnant.”

Chilled, piercing truth layered me in a quick sweat.

Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry.

My step-brothers were threatened with a gun held against my temple. They were forced to hurt me, to kidnap me, to punish me. They suffered through a childhood of abuses at the hands of a monster who raised them to harbor his same cruelties and aggressions.

And yet one word broke them.

One word crippled our fragile alliance.

One single, life-changing word presented Nicholas with everything he once planned to lie, steal, and destroy to acquire for his own.

My life twisted when the test revealed the double lines. I’d have no baby showers and well-wishers, no excited family or darling nurseries.

It wasn’t pregnancy. It was war.

If I wanted to protect myself, my farm, and my child, the truth would follow Darius to his grave. The rape would be forgotten. I carried Nicholas’s son.

And I’d never reveal otherwise.

“You’re…” Nicholas stared. Max hadn’t moved. Reed averted his eyes. “You’re pregnant.

I nodded.

His breath shuddered. “That night…when you inherited the shares...”

“Yes.”

“That was two months ago. You’re…two months pregnant,” he said.

I nodded. “But the doctors count it like ten weeks because of my cycle.”

Reed counted on his fingers. Max paled. But Nicholas recovered with grace. Then again, he had imagined this moment for so long, months of attempts and plans, fertility drugs and dark hope. Of course he could face it so easily.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” he asked.

A crack formed in my heart. I felt it, bound it tight, and collected every flaking fragment before I lost what precious devotion it beat for Nicholas.

“Why would I?”

His mocha voice smoothed, too patronizing for little more than a sticky layer of authority over me. He beckoned me forward. Like he wanted me to fall into his embrace, like he’d make everything all right.

I wasn’t that weak.

“You’re scared,” he said. “I understand. I just…we didn’t think it was possible.”

“Bullshit.”

“Sarah—”

“You always planned for this to happen. All of you. Every minute of every day, each of you wanted this to happen.”

The harshness of my tone shocked everyone.

Max folded his arms behind his head, eager to witness how his brother would resolve this. He always treated me like a problem to be handled. Or worse. He used me against Nicholas in a relentless sibling rivalry that sacrificed my body as a battlefield. They thought I never noticed.

Reed extended a hand. I’d break it before I let him touch me.

“Just stay calm,” Reed said.

I was beyond calm.

The nausea, exhaustion, and terror spoke for me. Each word sharper, more frustrated than the last.

“You kidnapped me. Fucked me. Held me down and laughed about rutting me until the seed took. You meant for me to get pregnant. And don’t you deny it, Nicholas Bennett. You told me each and every time you fucked me that you intended for it to happen. This—” I gestured to my tummy, flat with the secret it cradled. “—was always what you wanted.”

Nicholas nodded. “You understood that. You agreed to it.”

“Because it was never supposed to happen!” The words punished me with idiocy. “It was supposed to be impossible. I was infertile!”

Max hid a twisted smile. “Apparently not.”

No, apparently not. Apparently I was just fertile enough to get impregnated by either the man I loved or his demented father. I’d forever be remembered as a whore for my step-brother or a victim of my step-father, and both options suffocated me in panic and rage.

I had an opportunity to end the crisis before it got worse, but I left that information at the clinic.

I was an Atwood. For as much as the Bennetts desired their heir, my family line, my blood, was too good for that end.

Nicholas silenced his brother with a glance. “You’re upset.”

“Upset?” I laughed. “I’m not upset.”

My step-brothers disagreed but had the sense to stay silent. I stared at each of them, catching Nicholas’s possessive gaze, Max’s challenging smirk, and Reed’s gentle support.

“This was the plan, right? Capture the girl. Imprison her. Rape her if she was unwilling or seduce her so she’d willingly spread her legs.”

They called to me. I didn’t let them speak.

“Each of you planned to impregnate me and steal my farm and fortune. You’d use the child as leverage to eliminate the threat against the Bennett Corporation.” I lowered my voice. “You all wanted this. You all needed this. You did as Daddy ordered and now…?”

I held my arms out. Shrugged. Gritted my teeth.

“You bred me like a fucking animal. Congratulations.”

Nicholas stepped forward. I batted his arm away, but the motion blurred in the haze of blinded vision. I gasped for a breath that never came and damned the constant threat that bound me in more danger than anything Darius planned.

“Sarah, sit,” he said. “Where’s your inhaler?”

“You don’t get it, do you?”

“You’re having an asthma attack.”

Of course I was. “That thought never crossed your mind, did it?”

Reed tossed Nicholas my purse. I refused the inhaler.

“You didn’t think about me. Not in any of this.”

“I always thought about you,” Nicholas said. “Every second since you came to the estate.”

“I don’t believe you.”

“Sarah, I’m in love with you.”

“If you really loved me,” I spat the word, “you never would have abducted a twenty year old. You wouldn’t have tied me to that bed and stolen my virginity.”

He stiffened, but I didn’t stop. I ripped the inhaler from his hand only to wag it in front of his face.

     

 

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