Black Wings & Stolen Things: Chapter 10

RIONACH

I had no expectations for how our night together would end, but Emeric offering me his button-down and ushering me out of the birdcage not even a minute after he came on my lower back was the last thing I anticipated.

He didn’t say a word to me, just led me by my upper arm to the glass elevator and kissed me on the forehead before pushing the button for the main floor. He stood on the other side of the glass door, stormy eyes watching me as I was lifted away from him. I’m not sure which sensation I focused on more during the short ride up. The lingering feeling of his lips on my skin, or his cum dripping down my ass cheek.

At the time, I was too dazed and confused to feel anything but those two emotions, but after this past week, I’m pissed. Not necessarily at him, but at myself for letting myself get hooked on something that was never going to be more than a one-time thing. I was right when I guessed that everything after Emeric was going to be dull. Colorless. Lifeless.

Since that night, I’ve teetered on balconies and stood dangerously close to the ledge in the subway as the train barreled toward the platform, but nothing makes the adrenaline rush in my veins like it did when Emeric Banes touched me.

He used me and I used him, and I’m angry that I still want more. Like a virus, he’s worked himself under my skin and into my bloodstream.

There’s a knock at my closed bedroom door. The person behind it doesn’t wait for an answer before it opens. My brother steps into my bedroom—my sanctuary—and just like that, my day is ruined. After graduating college, I was forced to move out of my rented apartment near campus and back home to my parents’ New York estate. It’s my childhood home and yet I have very few warm and fuzzy memories within these four walls. Coming back here meant giving up my indolence and privacy. It also meant being thrust back into Tiernan’s direct path.

Through the vanity mirror in front of me, I flick my eyes to him before continuing to do my morning skincare routine. After his impromptu trip to New Jersey last week, he’s had an extra pep in his step and to say it’s concerning is an understatement. The gleam in his brown eyes doesn’t exactly bring me comfort. It does quite the opposite. It’s the same look a rabid dog gets when it finds something yummy to sink its teeth into. The little voice in my head tells me to run, but the logical side of me knows that would only excite him further.

He leans against my doorframe, his beefy arms crossing in front of his wide chest. He’s not what I’d call buff. Big-boned is a term people use, right? That’s how I’d describe my brother. Big-boned and big-headed.

“You’re too pretty to be married off to one of them,” he finally says after another tense moment of examining me.

My fingers freeze in their task of rubbing in my moisturizer. “One of them?” I repeat. “I’m not sure what you mean by that, Tiernan.” I also don’t think my looks have anything to do with my impending arranged nuptials. Pretty sure that’s my uterus’s fault, but I digress.

Them. The Italians, Albanians, Serbians, or even the goddamn Russians. The ones who aren’t our blood. The non-Irish. They don’t deserve you. Father is making a mistake selling you off to them like you’re fucking chattel.” The gleam in his eyes fades as it’s replaced with something darker. “Marrying outside our heritage is what’s weakened our bloodline.”

Arguing with him would be a mistake of epic proportions, even if I want to demand what the hell he’s rambling about. He sounds like one of the conspiracy theorists screaming their nonsense on street corners in the city. I found them amusing, but I find Tiernan worrisome.

“It’s out of my hands. It always has been.” I keep my tone neutral to avoid provoking him further. “You know this. Dad will marry me to the person that best helps strengthen the family.”

It’s a task to force myself to not look away from where his eyes hold mine in the mirror. How is it that I can face Emeric Banes without flinching, but my own brother has all kinds of alarm bells going off?

He releases a long breath through his nose with such force, I swear he momentarily resembles a pissed-off cartoon bull. “He’s making a mistake.”

“I’m not the one to have this conversation with.”

In a move I find truly out of character for my brother, he nods his head once and seemingly moves on from this current topic. “Dad and I have to go into the city. We’ll be gone until tomorrow afternoon, I think. We have a couple meetings we have to attend.”

Not sure why you’re letting me know, dude. I’m not the keeper of your schedule and it’s not like you’re going to be missed.

He walks across my room, further tainting my space with his crazy vibes, and puts his hands on my shoulders. Bending, he keeps his eyes on mine through the mirror as he kisses the top of my head. I want to growl and scratch at him like a feral animal until he learns to stop touching me, but instead all I do is sit pretty in my seat. Like I always do.

“See you tomorrow, little sister.” He pauses like he’s waiting for me to say something back. When I don’t, his entire round face tightens. “Aren’t you going to tell me to be safe?”

Don’t make him mad, Rio. It’s not worth it.

“Please be careful, Tiernan,” I tell him in my well-practiced and disgustingly placating voice. “Mom would be absolutely devastated if something happened to her boy.”

I don’t feel like I can breathe until my door closes behind him. Sitting frozen in my seat, my fingers like a vise around the bottle of moisturizer, I wait for my heartbeat to return to its normal rhythm.


“IS THE TABLE SET?” my mother asks behind me, her three-inch heels clicking against the tiled floor of the great room.

She refuses to wear anything else, even when she’s home. A lady doesn’t wear flats, Rionach. Well, this lady is wearing her favorite pair of black boots today and she’s pleased as punch about it.

I keep my back to her as I continue to look out the large paned window. The backyard of my parents’ Upstate New York home is covered in a fresh blanket of snow. There isn’t a footprint or a single sign of life out there. A fitting visual for the coldness that wraps around this house and its tenants.

“Yes. I put it all out a little while ago,” I answer, still not looking in her direction.

She’d left the expensive china and crystal with the gold accents out for me, a silent instruction to make the dining room table all pretty for today’s family lunch.

“Good.”

There’s the telltale sound of glasses clinking together as she adjusts and fixes my work, because like everything else, nothing I do will ever be to her standards.

“I want everything ready and perfect for when they get home. Your father called, said your poor brother hasn’t slept since he left yesterday. He’ll be exhausted and famished when he gets here.”

If my eyes rolled any harder in their sockets, they would fall out of my face. “Well, we definitely wouldn’t want that. Should I make him a cheese and meat platter, perhaps have a glass of sparkling water waiting for him?”

She’s so oblivious to everything when it comes to me that she fails to pick up on my obvious sarcasm. “Would you? I’m sure he’d really appreciate it.”

I could argue this or even flat-out laugh at the absurdity of it, but instead I decide to not waste my time or breath. With my teeth biting down on my tongue to keep it quiet and my hands balled into tight fists, I leave the cold woman to fuss over her dining table.

But I don’t escape more than five feet away from her when the windows I’d just been in front of explode and glass rains down on me in little sharp pieces. That adrenaline I’ve been searching in vain for barrels into me as my mother’s shrill screams fill my ears.

In slow motion, I watch as men wearing head-to-toe black come through the now open windows. Their faces are hidden by black masks and there’s a gun in each of their hands. My first guess is the government has finally caught up with my father and they’re coming for him, but that theory is put to bed when one of them wickedly laughs at my mom’s fear.

Nope, definitely not the government.

This is the doing of someone much more sinister. This thought has my skin prickling—not in fear, but from something else entirely.

My mom tries to run, but she’s wearing those damn shoes and doesn’t stand a chance against the gun-wielding men. Like a football player taking down his opponent, the laughing intruder tackles her to the ground. This causes the screams to grow even more irritating and high pitched.

When one of them moves in my direction with their handgun pointed at my chest, I stand perfectly still and raise my hands. There’s no way I’m about to dash off screaming like a banshee like my mother just did. That was embarrassing for both of us to watch.

My brow quirks at the mystery man. What now?

While there might not be a single shred of evidence pointing to who’s behind this theatrical show, I know in my gut who the mastermind is.

“Rionach! Riona!” my mother cries, but I’m not so mindless to believe she’s screaming with worry for my safety. The use of my childhood nickname won’t fool me.

No, even with a gun pointed at me and my life on the line, she’s begging me to save her. If I didn’t have said gun in my face, I may have lost it and laughed at this.

There’s a crashing bang at the front door as more people enter the house. This time it isn’t just masked goons. Standing in the forefront of the new group is a stunning woman in a well-tailored burgundy pantsuit. She’s probably in her late thirties with shoulder-length dark hair. She might have a pretty face, but it doesn’t conceal the “fuck around and find out” aura clinging to her.

I like it.

“What are you doing here?” my mother demands as she’s hauled off the ground from under her arms. Her narrow wrists are now sporting a set of zip ties and the perfectly curled hairstyle she’d previously had is a wild disarray of red strands. I don’t think in my twenty-four years of life I’ve ever seen her look so… unkempt. “Do you know whose fucking house this is?”

“Of course we do. We don’t barge into just anyone’s house like this, Mrs. Moran,” the woman responds, face and tone conveying just how unimpressed she is. “Get her in the car. We’re on a schedule.”

The man holding my mom follows these instructions without hesitation. He produces a black cloth bag from his vest and yanks it down over her head before leading her out the door.

I watch, not making any move to help or stop them from separating us. When my mom is out the front door and out of sight, I look to the woman who’s clearly in charge of this shit show.

“Where are you taking us?”

“To church,” is all the information she offers. “Now, will you walk out of this gaudy-as-hell house on your own two feet, or do we need to sedate you? The boss would prefer we didn’t have to do that, but he said to get you there by any means necessary…”

She trails off, leaving how the rest of this interaction goes up to me.

“I can walk.”

“Great.” She offers me a smile that doesn’t reach her eyes. “Now, let’s get moving.”

I don’t know what the hell Emeric Banes is up to, but something in my gut tells me I’m not going to like what happens next.

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