Black Wings & Stolen Things: Chapter 22

RIONACH

When my paternal grandfather was still alive, the whole family—all my aunts, uncles, and cousins included—would go to The Irish Wife Pub on Sundays after church. This was during a different era of the Moran family when things weren’t as cold as they are now. The dynamics and relationships changed when my grandfather passed away and Dad took over as head of the family. My memories of this now deteriorating bar were relatively fond ones, but after the events of tonight, those childhood recollections are now overshadowed.

There’s a lot to unpack about what happened here tonight between my father’s bitter ill will toward me now being fully in the open and my grandfather’s surprising attendance. Not to mention the little glimpses of Emeric’s less-than-pretty past. I have questions I want to ask about his father as well as his time with the Koslovs. One thing I know for certain is, whatever scar Igor left on Emeric’s back must be covered by the black wings I saw earlier tonight.

The late winter air wraps around us in a bitter wind as we push through the creaking wooden doors. Despite the adrenaline still soaring through me from the chaos that was that so-called “meeting”, I move toward the large black SUV in an almost floaty sense of autopilot. Emeric’s hand, which has been holding mine captive since we left Pop inside, pulls me to a stop before I can reach the back passenger door.

Over my shoulder, I regard him with a questioning look.

“We’re not taking a car home,” Emeric explains.

I’m even more at a loss now. “You don’t seem like the cab or subway type.”

I have no idea what the full extent of Emeric’s net worth is. Between the vast generational wealth he was born into and the way both his legal and illegal businesses have grown over the past decade and a half, I know his pockets are deep. It goes without saying I’m a fan of the subway myself but riding the subway with a hundred other civilians seems like something he might view as beneath him.

“I’m not,” he says, confirming my slightly snobbish assumptions. But then again, do we really think it’s wise to trap a poor cabby or a crowd of unsuspecting people in a tight space with Emeric? In hindsight, his fancy—private—car service is probably for the best. He leads me past the line of three matching SUVs and stops when we reach a sleek-looking black motorcycle with Ducati written across the side in bright white lettering. “I am, however, the fast car and faster bike type.”

Staring at the high-powered machine in front of me, I discover it fits his personality to a T with its dark and powerful design. Where it came from or who brought it here for Emeric is a mystery, but asking these kinds of questions when it comes to my new husband seems like a waste of time and energy. At any given time, I know this man is pulling more strings than most people know exist. He’s the puppeteer and we’re just along for the ride.

“Why does that not surprise me?”

“Have you ever been on a motorcycle before?”

“No,” I answer, head shaking. “I’ve always wanted to, though. It seems dangerous but exhilarating.”

“Your favorite combination,” he muses, tipping my chin up. The amber light from streetlamps casts shadows across his face, making the angles of his bone structure appear sharper and his gray eyes darker than they truly are. The way his turbulent gaze is examining me now makes it seem as though he’s trying to deconstruct and see past the mask I’d felt slip firmly into place the second I saw my father sitting at that table. I must be doing a bang-up job keeping my external emotions in check because he asks, “Tell me what you’re feeling right now, princess.”

“Everything,” I tell him honestly. “And nothing.”

It’s such a weird place to be in mentally. I’m numb but there’s also a kaleidoscope of emotions wreaking havoc inside of me. It’s like feeling hot and cold at the same time. Hot because watching Emeric exude that kind of power is alluring in a way it shouldn’t be and cold because I’m mourning a family who didn’t value or cherish my existence.

I’m angry and I’m heartbroken because of it.

My head and my heart are in very different places at the moment.

It’s one thing to assume what your father—the man who is supposed to love and protect you—truly thinks about you; it’s another thing entirely to actually hear him say it out loud with unbridled disgust and hatred.

Do you know why I sold her to the Koslovs? They’re the only ones who were willing to pay good money for a bitch they knew wouldn’t bleed.

When that bullet had pierced through Dad’s hand, tearing it apart in the process, something I’ve never felt before blazed through me. It was dark—inky black—and unholy. It had a malicious grin threatening to spread across my lips and a matching laugh bubbling in my chest. I would have called the gunshot divine retribution if I hadn’t been standing in the king of the underworld’s embrace. There is nothing divine about him or his actions.

The cynical side of me whispers Emeric orchestrated it because having his new bride be called a whore reflects negatively on him. The other side—the side I really want to believe—insists he ordered that shot on my behalf because he wanted to defend me.

“Do you want to feel more or feel less?” Emeric asks, his unwavering attention locked on me and any miniscule emotions he can see reflected back at him. I’m quickly learning that this position, my face held captive in his hands and our focus solely on each other, is one of his favorites. “Or do you want to feel something else entirely?”

My response is immediate.

“Something else.”

“Glad to hear you say that because if I keep feeling what I’m feeling, I’m going to hunt down Niall and force him to eat those gold bars your grandfather just kindly gifted me.” Releasing me, he reaches for the leather jacket laid over the seat of the expensive-looking motorcycle and hands it to me. “Put this on.”

No sooner have I complied with his order and pulled on the oversized jacket that smells like him does he hold a full-face helmet out. Knowing I have no interest in painting the pavement with my brain matter, I allow him to help me pull it over my head. He does the same with a matching one but keeps the reflective visor up so I can still see his eyes. Gracefully, he swings a long powerful leg over the machine before holding a hand out for me.

“Come here, wife.” I don’t have to see his mouth to know he’s smirking. I can hear it. “I want to feel that body of yours pressed against mine while I show you just how fast this thing can go.”

Between my shorter legs and the tight skirt restricting my flexibility, my movements aren’t as smooth as his were when I climb on behind him. His hands remain on the sides of either of my thighs until he knows I’m settled and balanced. Emeric hasn’t yet started the engine, and I’m already humming with a newfound and different kind of adrenaline rush than the one I had inside the pub.

He only lets go of my legs so he can capture my wrists and circle my arms around his solid middle. The heat that radiates from his body is delightful and a stark contrast to the cool winter air still nipping at my skin. Had I known we’d be going on this joyride, I would have worn pants.

“Are you okay?” he asks, looking at me over his shoulder while giving my wrists a quick squeeze.

“I think so.”

“Good,” he says with a nod. “Don’t let go of me. If you want me to stop or slow down, just tap my chest.”

This has me smiling. I won’t want either of those things. “And if I want you to go faster?”

Emeric’s eyes glow with a mischievousness I know means trouble is coming. “That’s my girl.”

His girl. His wife. It still doesn’t feel real.

Squeezing my wrists one last time, he lays my palms flat to his chest and turns on the bike. The loud and rumbling sound of the engine matches the chaotic rush starting to build in my veins.

“Ready?” he hollers over the purring roar.

I open my mouth to tell him yes, but instead what comes out is, “Why did you bring me here tonight, Emeric?”

He stares at me intently for a moment. “They don’t deserve you. I needed you to see that.”

I think the little girl who was constantly cast aside and overlooked held on to a sliver of hope that one day they’d open their eyes and realize I’m worthy of their devotion too. Tonight, hearing the pure vitriol in my father’s words and seeing the repulsed look in his eyes burned away the remaining fragment. My grandfather told me tonight I’m no longer a Moran, but after what my dad said about me, I wonder if I ever truly was.

“And what about you, Emeric Banes? Do you deserve me?”

He doesn’t take a second to ponder his response. It’s immediate and there’s a rawness to it that tells me he’s speaking nothing but the truth. “No, I don’t, but I made you mine anyway.” Not waiting for a reply from me, he slides his visor down and orders one last time, “Hold on tight, princess.”

With that, like a bullet exiting the chamber, Emeric revs the engine and we take off down the dark street.


HE TOOK the long way back to the skyscraper I now call home. Through busy and empty streets alike, Emeric sped through the city, and I clung to him—feeling alive and blissfully out of control—as the buildings we passed turned into fleeting blurs. Car horns blared at us and pedestrians yelled their displeasure, but he didn’t stop and he didn’t dare slow down. I’ve lived here my entire life and never has the bustling city ever felt more electric than it did while speeding through it.

At one point as we soared between two lines of traffic, the euphoric paradise I’d plummeted into was interrupted when red and blue lights erupted behind us. My heart plummeted into my stomach and the man I was wrapped around like a backpack didn’t so much as flinch. For ten blocks, the police car wailed and raced after us, and still Emeric’s speed never faltered. Just as another cop car had joined the chase, the sirens went silent, and the flashing lights ceased. The two blue-and-white cars simply turned down another street. My confusion only lasted another block before the realization hit me. Emeric has every powerful government office in this city in his pocket. Those cops would have made a grave mistake had they succeeded in pulling him over.

Emeric rumbled with his own chuckle when I couldn’t help but release an exhilarated laugh of my own. For only a second, he’d released one of the handlebars to gather my hand in his and give it a quick squeeze as well. Something about that simple move had butterflies swirling in my chest cavity. From the outside looking in, one could assume that his world looked similar to the one I grew up in, but Emeric Banes is in a playing field of his own. He’s managed to make himself untouchable. Godlike, even.

Now, rounding the street that will lead us to the underground parking garage, Emeric slows his pace just enough that I can let go of his torso and spread my arms out wide at my sides. It’s the same thing I do when I stand on the ledges of high places and want to feel the wind whip around me. It’s like free falling without the crash.

Unable and unwilling to stop myself, I tilt my head back as far as the helmet will allow and let a delighted cheer out. It’s mostly lost between the reverberation of the engine and the commotion that always accompanies these streets, but Emeric can hear it. He glances at me over his shoulder, making me wish we didn’t have visors so I could see his face.

The guard sitting in the little office next to the security gate recognizes Emeric immediately and presses the button that allows us to drive through. At a much safer speed, we drive through the main level of the garage before entering a private area that is a level lower that I learned is reserved solely for Emeric and his many vehicles. One of his men, I think I heard someone call him Camden earlier, is already standing there with the secondary gate open for us. The younger man nods his head in greeting at us as we pass.

Two other men, looking like soldiers with their hands clasped behind their stick-straight backs and black tactical pants, are standing at the glossy silver elevator doors. They give the same nod as Camden. From what I’ve seen—and granted, it hasn’t been much—Emeric’s men respect him. The way they move and operate as a well-oiled and deadly machine is exactly what I would expect of men on Emeric’s payroll. Organized, efficient, and lethal.

Just like him.

Emeric pulls into a spot next to an expensive-looking matte black sports car. I’m sure the price of that thing would make most of the world sick to their stomachs and it’s not even close to the only one he owns. I did a quick count when we were leaving the building earlier and between the caravan of black Escalades, there’s five other cars varying in size and shades of black and gray. Their sizes range from a small two-door Audi R8 to a large Mercedes-Benz G-Class.

Cutting the engine, he holds his hand out to assist in my less-than-elegant dismount. Between the adrenaline rush and never having been on a bike before, my legs are slightly shaky once both my feet are on the ground. Emeric follows me off and removes his helmet. His dark hair is more mused than I’ve ever seen it and the sight of it has a smile tilting my lips upward.

He removes mine and places both helmets on the top of the black coupe behind him. I try to bite my lip to hide my grin, but I know I’m failing miserably when his stormy eyes lock on my mouth.

“What’s this for?” he questions, tapping under my chin once.

“Your hair.”

This has his brows pulling together. “What about it?”

I surprise him and myself when I reach up and brush my fingers through the slightly wavy and awry strands. I’m pretty sure this is the first time I’ve initiated physical contact. In the past it’s always been him, and I’ve been okay with that thus far. Until now, regardless of the fact that I’m now married to him, it’s felt wrong to touch him first. Just like it’s not a wise idea to go around petting random dogs, you don’t just go around touching men like Emeric. That seems like a surefire way to get bit.

“It’s messy,” I explain, taking my sweet time fixing his hair. I’m not so worried about getting bit now, and besides, I’m quickly learning I quite enjoy his mouth on me. “It makes you look younger—boyish—and maybe just a tad bit less scary.”

“You think I’m scary?” The subtle change in his voice has my body reacting immediately. Legs already trembling, I have to lock my knees so I don’t flat-out stumble into him.

“Terrifying.”

He captures my hand and brings it down to his mouth where he then presses a kiss to the center of my palm. “It’s a good thing you get off on fear then.”

I don’t know when I’ll get used to him talking about my darkest secret so freely and without judgment. It’s such a stark contrast to the internal struggle I’ve had around it for so many years. With him, it’s no longer about achieving a simple rush during those stolen moments when I sought out fear. Emeric’s elevated it into something darker and sexual. And I can’t get enough.

He drops my hand and prowls closer to me until my butt hits the back of the Ducati. In a smooth but predatory movement, he rests his hands on the motorcycle’s seat on either side of me. Caging me in. I lift my chin and stare into his face that is only mere inches from mine now.

It would be so easy to just lift on my toes and kiss him, but I stop myself.

“You shot my dad tonight,” I tell him.

As expected, there isn’t a single flicker of remorse in those turbulent eyes of his. “Yes, I did,” Emeric confirms just as his lips skim across my cheekbone and then my jaw. Heat and desire begin to swirl in my lower stomach. “He disrespected my wife. No man, not even the clown who raised you, is permitted to do that. Not unless they want to end up hanging from my ceiling while I get creative with my knife.”

Without my permission, my head tilts to the side as his barely-there kisses evolve into more passionate ones as he begins to move to my neck. Eyes fluttering shut, I relish in the feeling of his lips against my now thundering pulse point.

“You’re a confusing man,” I tell him on a long exhale.

“I’m not,” he insists against the skin of my throat. “Everything boils down to me protecting what is mine or what will be mine. My methods may seem a bit more… innovative than what most have deemed socially acceptable, but I don’t care how much blood paints my hands.” His teeth nip my earlobe and pulls on the small silver loop there before whispering darkly, “I will always win, and I always get my way.”

“It didn’t seem like you got your way tonight when you let my dad live,” I counter, my fingers trailing up the buttons of his shirt. The itch to grab the fabric and tear it open so I can feel his bare chest is palpable.

“My business with your father is far from over. There’s still plenty of time for me to get my way.”

He takes hold of the leather jacket that’s three sizes too big for me and pulls it from my frame. Without care, he tosses it off to the side in the parking garage. He lifts his chin at the guards who I’d completely forgotten about that are still standing by the elevator. His mouth has a way of making my mind go blissfully empty. My blazer and tank top go next, joining the jacket on the pavement.

In nothing but a see-through lace bra, short skirt, and sheer tights, I should be freezing but instead I’m on fire. For him. Watching him unleash his viciousness back at the pub had ignited something inside of me and he knew it. How could he not know the effect he was having on me when I’d been unconsciously grinding against his lap? There’s a time and place to get turned on and watching your new husband threaten the patriarchs of your family is not an appropriate time. In my mind I knew this, but my body wasn’t listening. It was basically humming with greedy need as Emeric went from cool and collected to dark and commanding. It’s as if a switch had been flipped in him when he’d completely dropped the facade.

That coupled with the uninhibited and fast-paced motorcycle ride home, it feels like he’s pumped me full of lightning. My bloodstream is electric. The open-mouthed hot kisses to my face and neck have only made me feel more charged. If he doesn’t put his hands on me soon, I swear I’m going to burn up.

I don’t believe in God, but I find myself sending up a thankful prayer when Emeric’s hands land on my hips and my world spins. In the span of a single breath, I’m leaning over the seat of the expensive motorcycle and Emeric is on his knees behind me.

“I want you to keep your hands right where they are, princess. Don’t move,” he orders just as my skirt is shoved up my hips. His instruction doesn’t sound difficult to follow until the unmistakable sound of a switchblade flicking open echoes through the concrete space. Instinctually, I begin to turn around, but his palm coming down in a punishing slap on my left ass cheek has me yelping in surprise and halting. “What did I just say?”

“Don’t move.”

“Correct.” For a moment his hand slides over the spot he’d just slapped and soothes away the sting. The sensation of his warm palm is replaced by a blade running ever so lightly down the vertebra of my exposed spine. “We don’t want to make you bleed, now do we?”

My brain screams no, my now throbbing pussy begs for it, and my lips? My lips say, “Why not? What’s a little blood?”

If it weren’t for the delicious-sounding moan that emits from him and makes my skin tingle, I may have momentarily regretted those unfiltered but amazingly honest words.

“You’re perfect for me, Rionach Banes, and you don’t even know it yet,” he groans, his mouth pressing briefly to the curve of my ass. I’ve just relaxed into that light touch when the blade catches the fabric of my tights. The sound of them ripping coupled with the sudden cool air on my sensitive hot flesh has me gasping. Methodically, he cuts the sheer material until the only thing covering my ass is my dark green barely-there thong.

“Hey!” I scold when the lace is also sliced from my body. “This was a matching set.”

“They were in my way,” Emeric says as way of explanation. “I’ll buy you a goddamn lingerie store if it means I can cut as many pairs of lacy thongs from your body as I please.”

“I’m going to hold you to—” My snarky reply is violently cut off when there’s an unexpected and distinctive sensation of cool metal sliding through my pussy lips. I’m torn between pulling away or leaning into the dangerous position he’s just now put me in. One wrong move and that sharp blade could nick something important. Instead of doing either of those things, I turn into a piece of stone and freeze. I don’t even dare breathe.

His movements are slow and so very careful. I remind myself that Emeric plays with knives often. He’s skilled and precise when he’s dismembering someone, and in an incredibly odd sort of way, that knowledge allows me to relax enough to exhale. The blade moves backward, grazing between my butt cheeks until he reaches my tailbone and pulls away. Gliding it a few inches to the right, he trails it over my cheek and when he reaches the roundest point of my ass, that’s when the sharp tip of the knife slices through my skin. It’s a quick and sharp kind of pain that has me sucking in a breath. It burns more than anything, but his tongue swiping over the small wound sooths it away until I feel nothing but warm.

The fact that at any given moment he could hurt me if he wanted to has my knees trembling, my heart racing, and my pussy dripping. I’m so far past feeling any shame for my body’s reaction. When you’re playing chicken with a train, your life is in your own hands, but right now, I’ve handed it all over to Emeric, and that is a different kind of fear entirely.

“And Niall said you wouldn’t bleed,” Emeric remarks sinisterly. “Your bright red blood against your pale skin is beautiful, princess.”

“Oh God…” I can’t stop the moan that escapes my throat as I drop my head to hang between my shoulders, but when his lips once again touch the place he cut at the same time I feel something foreign at my entrance, my neck snaps straight back up. “What⁠—”

“Shh… you’re being such a good girl,” he soothes, his free hand trailing from my hip to my thigh. I’m back to not breathing when he pushes the cool metal inside just an inch before retracting. He does this a couple times. It’s not till the fifth time do I figure out he’s not teasing me with the blade, but with the handle. The second I relax, he pushes it deeper until I gasp. “You look so beautiful dripping all over my knife.”

He fucks me with the knife handle in slow and measured thrusts, and I about come out of my skin when his other hand wraps around my body and finds my clit. The combination of both has me nearing that idyllic pinnacle within minutes. Fully aware there’s still a sharp as hell and exposed blade between my thighs, my muscles begin to lock in preparation of my impending climax. I don’t want to thrash about or move too much and end up causing the blade to unintentionally slice me.

While I’m making plans for staying as still as possible as I fall over the edge, Emeric has his own. I’m mere seconds away from toppling over when the handle is pulled out and he’s now standing behind me. There’s the telltale sound of his zipper lowering and the shuffling of fabric before the thick head of his cock is at my entrance.

The hand with the blade comes to rest against my sternum, the point of the knife now just inches below my chin at the same time he slices into me in one fluid but volatile thrust.

With a knife at my throat and Emeric buried inside me so deep I know I’ll be feeling him for days to come, I ignite.

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