Black Wings & Stolen Things: Chapter 26


They played rock music at such a deafening volume the entire drive that I could hardly hear my own heartbeat let alone my thoughts. I did my best to work through the possible scenarios I could find myself in once the van stops. It all comes down to who will be standing on the other side of the door when it opens.

If it’s my dad or brother, as depressing as it sounds, trying to appeal to the fact I’m still their blood will more than likely be my only option. That, and getting on my knees and begging for their forgiveness even though I haven’t done anything wrong. If it’s Bogdan and Igor, I really don’t know what my play will be. Just like I did with the men who grabbed me, not allowing myself to show them any kind of fear is vital. If it’s all four of them… I’ll need to come up with a plan C on the spot.

Either way, I will just have to hang on long enough for Emeric to show up. I can do that.

I can be strong until then.

The van bounces and sways as we drive over uneven terrain. The sound of rocks and dirt crunching beneath the tires tells me we’re no longer on a paved road and we’re not in the city. A window in the front slides down when we come to a stop. The scent of fresh earthy air tickles my nose.

Cerberus, I don’t think we’re in the overpopulated and smog-filled city anymore.

My parents’ estate sits on a good-sized lot with many trees for privacy. While I have no way of knowing if that’s where they’ve brought me, something in my gut tells me it’s not. The drive was too long, and we didn’t hit much traffic on the way here. Unless they took the scenic route?

Finally, the music is turned off just as someone outside the van asks, “How’d it go?”

I listen closely for any hints of Russian or Irish accents. The only person so far who has the slightest hint of an accent is this newcomer, and I can’t place his. Maybe Spanish or Portuguese? Meaning he’s definitely not an employee of my father’s then.

The driver laughs. “The bitch sunk her teeth into Yates and made him scream like a pussy, and the dog took a chunk out of Westin.”

Someone in the van coughs and awkwardly clears his throat. “I wouldn’t call her that if I were you, man.”

“She bit you,” the driver argues.

“I’m just saying, I don’t think it’s wise,” the mystery man, who I’m now assuming is called Yates, explains.

An awkward silence falls over the inside of the vehicle for a drawn-out moment before the man with the accent grumbles, “Get moving. He’s waiting for you down at the tree line.”

He. That doesn’t exactly help me narrow down my choices for who’s behind this mess.

The sound of metal screeching and grinding fills the air. It’s not until it ceases does the van start moving forward once more. A gate. We’re driving through a gate. Now I know we’re not at my parents’ place. The gate in front of their home doesn’t make much of any noise when it opens. If it did, I wouldn’t have been as successful at sneaking out as I was on those rare occasions.

The dirt road turns into gravel once we’re past the gate, and the only sound inside the van at this point is the sound of it beneath the tires. Now that I can hear my erratic heartbeat, I find myself wishing they’d turn the god-awful music back on. The frenzied pounding in my chest and ears is only making my anxiety climb. I tug on the metal wrapped around my wrists knowing full well it’s not going to budge. The fifty other times I tried on the drive here already proved that. At this point, I’m just hurting myself. The way the metal bites into my skin makes me appreciate the leather ones Emeric used on our wedding night more.

The car comes to a stop again, but this time on uneven ground that makes me feel unbalanced in my seat, and the parking brake grinds into place. The engine turning off completely has the hair rising on the back of my neck as I brace myself to face whatever—and whoever—is waiting for me outside.

Cerberus moves restlessly in the wire cage next to me and emits a low growl when the men sitting in the back of the van with me move closer. Gloved hands grip my upper arms and pull me up into an awkward standing position just as the door slides open.

This time there’s no threats about getting out of the car of my own volition or being forced from it. Everyone is deathly silent. I’m doing my best to do the same by clenching my teeth together and slowly forcing oxygen out of my lungs in slow measured breaths. If I let myself, my breathing would be nothing but ragged panting sounds as dread claws at my throat. The worst-case scenario here is that I’m about to come face to face with my—unbeknownst to me—previously arranged fiancé. The pictures Emeric provided at the church of the atrocities Bogdan instilled on women flash in my head like a horror-filled slideshow.

I will not become one of them.

I will not become one of them.

I will not become one of them.

My silent mantra is repeated over and over as I’m escorted out of the back of the car. I promised myself I wouldn’t show the Koslovs any fear and I will do everything in my power to remain true to that, but I will also fight like hell if it comes to it. I refuse to make it easy for Bogdan. Or his father. The odds will be against me, but I won’t let them win so easily.

With my new resolve strengthening me, I keep my shoulders back and my head held high despite the black fabric still concealing me.

But that all goes to shit when the handcuffs are removed from my wrists and the bag is lifted from my head.

I have no idea where I am, and I don’t bother looking around for clues because my focus is locked on the man standing in front of me with a furious lightning storm flashing in his eyes.

In a single heartbeat, my terror and dread morph into white-hot rage.

“You motherfucker!” I shout, completely forgoing my detached mask and not caring that his men are witnessing my meltdown.

“Hello, princess.”

Fueled by anger and the fear-induced adrenaline still pumping in my veins, I do something that would result in an immediate death sentence for anyone else.

I lunge at my husband and slap him across the face. The men—Emeric’s men—standing around us all suck in a collective breath and then hold it as they wait to see how he will react, but I don’t allow him time to do so. With my palm still stringing, I slam my hands into his hard chest and push him with every ounce of my strength.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” I seethe, shoving him again because to my annoyance, he barely moved an inch the first time. “Do you have any idea how fucking scared I was, you deranged psychopath?”

Just for good measure, I slap my palms against his black Henley-covered chest and push again. This time, though, he doesn’t let me pull them away. In the blink of an eye, Emeric has my wrists captured in his hands and we’re stumbling backward at a pace my shorter legs can’t keep up with.

My spine slams into the paneling of the van with such force, the air is knocked out of my lungs. I’ve just barely managed to suck in a rush of oxygen when his hand slips around my throat in a domineering hold. He’s done this before, but in the past, it’s been in a sensual way. A way that made my toes curl and a thrill flash through me.

This time, he’s not teasing or taunting me with the promise of pleasure, he wants to punish me.

“I know exactly how scared you were, Rionach.” his words come out as a raspy growl that rattles his chest. He’s pissed, I knew he would be, but there’s something else—some other emotion mingled with his ire I’ve never heard come from him. “Because if you were half as scared as I was when I learned what you had done, then I know you felt like your heart was going to beat out of your goddamn chest as terror ripped you to fucking shreds.”


That’s the other emotion in Emeric’s dark, sinister voice.

Oh, God. What have I done?


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