Black Wings & Stolen Things: Chapter 12


The only person who made a peep on the drive was my mother.

She begged and bargained for our captors to let her go. Even cried to really lay it on thick. I would have taken a picture if my hands weren’t bound. Or if I still had my cell phone… that had been promptly confiscated before we were put in the back of the SUV. When tears didn’t work in her favor, she reverted back to threatening them. Had we been in Ireland, and she was threatening them with the wrath of her father, her intimidations may have held more weight. The name Niall Moran doesn’t carry the kind of fear required to make our kidnappers shake. I’m assuming they’re all probably desensitized to shit because of who their psycho-as-hell boss is. All of Mom’s attempts fell on truly unimpressed ears.

“Get out,” the masked man who’d been driving us commands as he opens the door for my mother. When she refuses to move an inch, he sighs. Turns out the half an hour of her nonstop yapping has worn on his patience. “Lady, you either climb out on your own or I drag you out. From there, I will drag you through the fucking mud until we get to the building. Now, I know a pretentious woman like you would hate to get your clothes dirty like that. Decide.”

The man shoots me a look when Mom turns in her seat and tries her best to gracefully exit the car. My eye roll could be seen from space. Of course, the threat to her designer clothes is what got her moving. The look on the man’s face tells me he’s thinking the same thing. The second her heels hit the unpaved and uneven ground, he grabs her by her upper arm and yanks her toward the building.

Turns out the lady from the house wasn’t kidding about us going to church. We are in fact parked in front of a really old, abandoned church with a steeple. From the looks of it, the only thing that accompanies the dated structure out here is the graveyard to the left. I have no idea how far away we are from the nearest town, but knowing Mr. Banes, he chose this location for that very reason. Debauchery is best done in private.

My attention is pulled away from the scenery when my door opens.

“Your turn.” The woman looks as composed as she was back at the house. Like what is happening here is just another Tuesday for her. “We need to make you presentable.”

My gaze flicks to the white oversized sweater and dark jeans I’d put on this morning when I thought my biggest problem for the day was going to be my family’s luncheon. “What? Am I not dressed appropriately for church?” I point at the building covered in white chipped paint. “Doesn’t exactly look like this place has a dress code.”

“But you’re not appropriately dressed for a wedding.” She steps back, motioning for me to get out and follow her.

A wedding?” I repeat, doing a superb impression of a dumb parrot. “Who the hell is getting married?”

“I AM NOT GETTING MARRIED,” I growl at the team of people around me for the seventieth time since I was brought into this tiny office. Once upon a time I’m sure it belonged to a preacher, but right now it’s been made into a makeshift dressing room. “And I’m sure as hell not marrying him.”

I don’t understand.

Any of it.

Emeric wanting to marry me doesn’t make any sense. Him wanting to marry anyone doesn’t make sense. He doesn’t exactly seem like a man who wants to be locked down and wifed up. He has a wild and untamable soul, one that calls to mine, but is that reason enough for him to want to marry me? What could he possibly get out of that? Out of me being his wife? He’s not doing this without some sort of angle, but I’m at a loss for what that could possibly be. From my experience, men like Emeric Banes want young naïve virgins. Seeing as he locked me in a cage and fucked me so hard I’m still sporting bruises a week later, he’s well aware I’m not a virgin.

He doesn’t need to marry for power or for alliances. A bride sporting the last name Moran won’t strengthen his social standing.

“We’re just doing our job, miss,” says the middle-aged woman who stands behind me, lacing up the corset-style closure of the black lace dress I was all but forced into the second I stepped foot in here. “Now, please hold still so Monica can finish up with your makeup.”

Monica offers me a small smile when I cut my glare to her.

“I’m almost finished,” she whispers, but still, she avoids my stare. Good, at least someone in this room realizes how wrong this all is. “Just need to touch up your eyeliner. It got a little smudged when you…”

When I freaked the ever-loving fuck out and tried to escape. I was promptly halted by the men standing guard before I reached the door. I’d attempt it again if I thought there was any way I’d be successful at it. My best bet is to wait until I’m out of this shoebox of a room and try then.

And then what, Rio? Where are you going to go? Who’s going to help you?

Mom and I were separated when we entered the back entrance to the building. I only bothered asking once where she was, but the woman in charge—whose name I now know is Giuliana—simply said, “She’s fine,” before going back to typing away on her phone. Business as usual.

“I. Am. Not. Marrying. Emeric. Fucking. Banes,” I all but yell at the group surrounding me, and I might even stomp my foot, but you’ll never hear me admit to it.

Giuliana sighs, finally looking away from the emails or whatever the fuck is so important on her phone. “You say that like you have a choice in the matter.”

“I should!”

“Have you ever been offered a choice about who you were going to marry, Miss Moran?” Her words aren’t malicious or meant to hurt, but still they cut deep. Painfully so because what she says is the truth.

Whatever I’m about to say is cut off when the sound of screaming cuts through the thick wooden door of the office. I whip away from Monica and her pestering eyeshadow brushes and turn toward the exit. The men standing guard don’t seem fazed by the sudden commotion. All they offer are bored looks over their shoulders at the closed door.

“Who was that? What is going on out there?”

“Everything will be explained to you in due time, Rionach. Now, please, stand still so these ladies can finish their work. The faster that happens, the sooner you will get your answers.”

I basically growl like an animal at the woman sitting so nonchalantly in her chair but end up doing as she says. What else am I supposed to do? There are five people in this room with me, I can’t exactly fight them all.

The entire time they put their finishing touches on my makeup, hair, and outfit, I fidget. Occasionally, more shouting comes from outside the door and at one point, I swear I hear my mother’s bloodcurdling scream. This only makes me shift anxiously back and forth in the expensive heels they’ve instructed me to wear.

While I’d never admit it to them, I can’t deny that they’ve made me look… beautiful. The dress alone is a piece of art. The sleeves and bodice are made of intricately woven lace and the tulle A-line skirt flows weightlessly down my legs. It’s several feet longer in the back, creating a train. My dark red hair has been curled and it falls down to the curve of my back in perfect waves. My makeup… part of me wants to ask Monica what she used on my eyes because my irises have never looked brighter. The rich green color is all but glowing now because of the smokey shadow and liner. Deep red, almost the same color as my hair, has been painted onto my lips, making them appear fuller than they are.

I look amazing and it only pisses me off more. I don’t want to look amazing when I’m being forced to walk down the aisle to him. A burlap sack and Crocs seem much more appropriate for this sham of a wedding.

Wedding… my wedding.

Oh, God. I’m going to throw up.

“This cannot be happening,” I whisper to myself while staring at my reflection in the antique mirror hanging on the wood paneled wall.

Giuliana, who had stepped out of the room a moment ago, returns and nods her head at the two guards. “It’s time.”

In perfect cadence, they turn to me and each take hold of one of my arms. The second we’re out of the office and stepping through the back doors of the church, I thrash against their hold, fighting with everything I have to get away. Maybe I can make it to the main road and flag someone down to help me, I think, knowing already that doing so would just be putting an innocent life in danger. Nope, that’s a bad plan.

“Miss Moran, please stop,” one of the guards pleads, as they lead me around the building. It’s the first time this one’s said a word all day. Glad to know he’s finally found his voice. “We’ve been ordered to deliver you unharmed. Fighting us will only result in bruises to your arms. Our boss wouldn’t be thrilled with us if that were to happen.”

Oh, so Emeric is the only one allowed to leave bruises on my body now. Got it.

I scoff at this and glare at the guard. “I’m so terribly sorry I’m making your job and your day difficult. For shits and giggles, should we review how difficult my day has been?”

“We’re just doing our job,” the other guard pipes up.

“If one more person tells me they’re just doing their job,” I repeat the sentiment mockingly, not bothering to hide the bite in my tone, “I’m going to run them over with a car, and then I’m going to reverse.”

I don’t miss the way the two men glance at each other.

“I get it now,” the previously quiet one mumbles just as we reach the paint-chipped double doors at the front of the church.

“You get what?” I seethe, but I never get my answer because like a grand prize being revealed to the lucky winner, they’re pushing the two doors open in front of me with a flourish.

Still simmering with anger, I lift my head defiantly and scowl at what waits for me inside. My rage quickly turns into shock when I look at the raised dais at the end of the aisle. Nothing could have prepared me for what lies before me. Someone could have told me exactly what I’d find in here, and I probably would have thought they were lying.

In a choked gasp, I manage to get out, “What the fuck?”


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