- Meet The Girls
- Meet The Guys
- Chapter One
- Chapter Two
- Chapter Three
- Chapter Four
- Chapter Five
- Chapter Six
- Chapter Seven
- Chapter Eight
- Chapter Nine
- Chapter Ten
- Chapter Eleven
- Chapter Twelve
- Chapter Thirteen
This story is rated Mature for adult language, sexual content, references to graphic violence, drug, and substance abuse. This means that this is intended for audiences 18 and up.
There are no trigger warnings for the chapter this week!
Much to her surprise, Landyn was quite gentle in the way he led her back to the car. Anxiety quickened her heart rate. The last thing she needed was for the others to think she was soft.
There were already eyes on her because of her relation to Landyn. Outsiders were treated with wariness and distrust. And for good reason. It didn’t take much to sway loyalties – a thicker wallet, more powder to go up their noses, promises of fortunes and power. If she was seen as weak, it wouldn’t be too far of a jump to conclude that she would sing.
If there was one thing that was never tolerated in these circles, it was snitches.
Eli sat quietly in her seat, too aware of how Landyn’s gaze bored holes in her skull. Was he wondering if she could be trusted? Was he thinking of the many ways he could get rid of her without anyone ever finding her body? Her skin pebbled at the thought, a sweat-shiver racing its way up her spine. Self-consciously, she wiped her mouth with the back of her hand.
What excuse could she give him? That she was under the weather? Werewolves weren’t exactly known to get stomach bugs. The stench of alcohol left on her from the night before was pungent, but he knew how far she could go without suffering a hangover.
“How long?” Landyn asked, his tone implacable.
“How far along are you?”
Her head whipped to face him so quickly it was a miracle her neck didn’t snap. “I’m sorry?”
“Elizaveta,” he said, her name a purr on his lips as he reached for her hands. “My love, you don’t have to hide it from me,” he smiled too brightly. Her stomach twisted. “You’re pregnant, aren’t you?”
She blinked at him, her cheeks turning a vivid shade of red.
“You can tell me. I’m… happy,” he grinned, his hands closing around hers. He brought her fingers to his lips, pressing sweet, adoring kisses to her knuckles.
“I’m,” she frowned, shaking her head from side to side.
“You don’t have to hide it,” he repeated. “This is our dream, Eli. To have a family of our own. To pass on my legacy.”
“Why do you think I am?”
He pinned her with a look, his brow lifting in his bemusement. “Do I need to remind you of what happened in the warehouse?”
“No,” she stared down at her shoes, mortification flaring to life on her cheeks.
“How far along?”
“I don’t… know.” The denial was there. The urge to tell him that she wasn’t pregnant. But her mind went ahead of her, telling her that so long as he thought she was carrying his child, he wouldn’t lay his hands on her. It bought her some time – safety.
“We will have to get you to the doctor,” he smoothed his fingers through her hair, his forehead braced against hers. For a heartbeat, she saw the man she had fallen in love with – smiling so brightly, filled with so much pride. She was reminded of how, once upon a time, she had wanted to give that to him. And more. Everything she had to offer would have been his. Desires that had deadened over time. Withered away and decayed, left until there was nothing but molded remains of what she had believed was her greatest love. She mourned for them, then. For herself. For the lie she had lived.
He tilted his mouth toward hers, claiming her lips in a sweet, loving kiss. She damned her heart for the somersault it twisted in. Damned herself for longing for a love that had never existed.
She had only ever been his possession. One who he now believed would continue the legacy of blood and damnation.
Their lips parted, his hand found the non-existent swell of her stomach. His palm braced there as if expecting to feel their non-existent child start kicking.
“Soon, Elizaveta, we will have everything we’ve ever wanted.”
“Yes,” she agreed. “Soon.”
The city lights flooded through the window of her apartment. If she had her way, she’d be surrounded by pitch black, sans the soft, blue glow of her alarm clock. Vegas never slept, though, ensuring that she could never drift to the bottom of the sea. She could never surround herself in swathes of night and sleep until the sun finally chased away the dark. She clutched her drink in her hand, nails scraping over the sweating glass. It had been too quiet, too dark since she came back. Her only interest had been in the now half-drunk bottle at her side.
The door clicked open, and her gaze flitted to the clock. It was late. About two o’clock in the morning – not that she could tell, given how Vegas’ streets called from below like a siren’s song.
“Are you alright?” Damien asked, closing the distance with a few long strides. He settled in the seat opposite her, his expression betraying his concern. His worry.
“Why wouldn’t I be?”
He grimaced. “You’re in a mood.”
“A mood, huh?” Her jaw worked, her gaze darting to meet his, albeit temporarily. “You can tell all of that from out in the hallway.”
“And how you were when you came up.”
“And…” he trailed off, his gaze flickering out toward the strip. “Rumors.”
“What rumors are those?” She knew the answer before he could even get it past his lips.
“That you’re pregnant.”
She let out a small huff of laughter. Her grin was lopsided as she lifted her glass to him in a silent toast. “Oh, am I now?”
He grimaced, his gaze falling to the bottle beside her. “Eli—”
“Relax,” she drawled, too aware of how the words sat strangely on her whiskey-drenched tongue. “I’m not fucking knocked up. I’ve been taking care of that since…” she gestured vaguely.
“Right,” he swallowed hard, powerless to hide his relief.
She couldn’t help but wonder how Damien would react if she were pregnant. The part of her that desperately clung to his goodness wanted to believe he would accept the child as his own. That he would see the danger she was in and carry her bridal style over the threshold of her apartment into a new life. A simpler one.
No one could save her. That was up to her. And not even she had figured out how.
“So what… If you’re not pregnant, what has you in a mood?” He reached for her – his movements slow and cautious as if reaching into a lion’s cage.
Softening in the wake of his trepidation, she took his hand in hers. “I can’t do this anymore,” she said, after a long moment’s silence. “They’re… Fucking selling kids now, Damien.”
His expression went steely. His jaw locked. There were no words given, nor questions asked. Instead, he offered a low, primal growl. “Then we’ll get out of here,” he said, squeezing her hand. “We’ll find a way out of this.”
“I can’t let this go on,” she said, shaking her head from side to side. “It was hard enough to look past selling women, but kids?”
Damien drew in a sharp breath. He swallowed hard. “Are you… thinking about?”
“Going to the Feds?” She said bluntly. “Yeah.”
He nodded as he laced their fingers, taking a moment to collect his thoughts. “That’s the right thing to do,” he said in such a way that left her wondering if he was merely being objective. “I think… you should. But it’s just scary,” he confessed. “What if Nex and Omnus find out?”
She shrugged her shoulders. “At this point, I don’t care. I’m dead already.”
He frowned at her. “How do you mean?”
“When that pregnancy test comes back negative, it’s going to raise some questions about why I was sick. They’re going to know that I’m soft. I’m made now, Damien.”
“No,” he said, shaking his head from side to side. “Don’t talk like that.”
“It’s true,” she looked at him over her shoulder, her teeth grinding together. “Unless I manage to get out of here, which,” she gestured at the door, where he was usually stationed. “Will be next to impossible.”
He continued to shake his head, though the words seemed to struggle to spill out. “No.”
She sighed, torn between finding his refusal to believe her reality endearing and frustrating. Slowly, she lifted his hand to her mouth, her lips gently brushing over his knuckles. “It is what it is, Damien.”
“No,” he protested. “I have an idea.”
Eli’s head quirked curiously to the side, her brows lifting in silent invitation for him to continue.
“The pregnancy thing,” he gestured vaguely. “We can get that figured out pretty easily.”
“What, are you going to fuck a baby into me?”
He snorted, his smile igniting something too hopeful in her stomach. A want that hurt her down to the marrow of her bones. A yearning for a life they both knew could never be.
“No,” he said, shaking his head from side to side. “Not yet, anyway.” He squeezed her hand, and she felt her insides erupt with butterflies.
“You act like there isn’t a market of pregnant women that will be happy to pee on a stick for enough money.”
“But what about the blood test?”
She squinted at him, the corners of her mouth lifting in a suspicious smile. “I’m a little worried that you know this.”
He laughed outright and gently tugged at her wrist. She allowed herself to be pulled into his lap, finding comfort in the way her body molded to his torso.
“Alright, so,” she rested her cheek against the top of his head, her arms looping around his shoulders. “We find a pregnant woman who’s willing to help us fudge the test results. Then what do we do? Fill my sheets with pillows.”
“Well, no,” he weathered his lip between his teeth. “That’s when the count down to get you out of here begins.”
Eli pulled back, her brow furrowing as she inspected him. “What do you mean?”
“We will get you out of here. You and me. We’re gonna run away.”
“No,” he shushed her, his hand lifting to rest against her cheek. “You’re not going to talk me out of this. We both need to get out. You in particular,” his thumb traced along the line of her jaw, his mouth tilting toward hers to steal a lingering kiss. She felt her insides erupt, fireworks alight in her breast as she leaned into it, welcoming the sweet invasion of his tongue. A soft whimper escaped her when his fingers tangled in her hair. He was not possessive. He was not rough. He was tender, adoring, and she was more than willing to be the temple in which he was a supplicant.
Breathless, they parted, her eyes locked on his.
“You’re sure about this?”
“I’ve never been more sure of anything in my life.”
She nodded slowly. “We have to get Yuina out, too.”
He watched her for a long moment, his eyes locked on hers, but still distant as he tried to figure out how they were going to manage it. “We can always send for her—”
“No. With us,” she protested quietly. “We’re not going anywhere without her.”
“Okay,” he agreed hesitantly. “Then I will… Start looking for a way to make it happen.”
“Which means we have… how many weeks? Before I’m supposed to start showing?”
“Sixteen to twenty weeks.”
Eli laughed, her head cocked unnaturally to the side. “And you just know this off the top of your head.”
“My sister is pregnant,” he explained, smiling sheepishly. “She talks to me all the time about that stuff.”
She couldn’t help but smile, her gaze affectionate as it roamed over him. “You’re a real family guy, aren’t you, Damien?”
“Yeah,” he agreed, smoothing his hand along her spine. “I guess that’s part of what got me into this mess. The money was too good.”
“But money isn’t everything, is it?”
“I’ve learned that.”
“Yeah. Me too.”
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