Black Wings & Stolen Things: Chapter 31


“I’m still trying to understand why you thought it would be a wise decision to get married, Emeric,” Astor repeats for the third time since I finally answered his phone call on the drive home.

Just like the rest of the people in our social circle, he saw the marriage announcement that went out over a month ago and I’ve been avoiding his calls like a bad case of herpes since. I might be the head of this family now, but Astor is still my big brother, and he thinks that title grants him the right to scold and lecture me.

After I plunged the knife into Ambrose’s gut, Astor became my legal guardian until I turned eighteen. He was in the middle of leaving a terrible marriage and being the father of a little boy he wasn’t ready to have. It wasn’t easy on him, and I sure as fuck didn’t help. I wasn’t exactly a walk in the park after I returned home from Igor’s, but he took me and my bullshit on along with everything else. At that time, he was running the business basically alone since Ledger had mostly checked out at this point. To this day, I don’t know how Astor managed everything and I owe him a lot for keeping me out of the deep end.

That being said, I don’t have any interest in listening to him question my decision to get married. Nothing he could say is going to make me change my mind about my bride or make me give her up. The only thing he’ll succeed at doing is pissing me off, and I would prefer to skip that step.

“You married your son’s ex-girlfriend,” I retort as I step into the elevator of my building. The watch on my wrist tells me that I’m home twenty minutes later than I told her I would be. Hopefully, Rionach is almost finished getting ready so we can leave as soon as I change into my tux. “I don’t know if you should be questioning me and my relationship choices when you don’t exactly have the moral high ground on the topic.”

A desk chair squeaks on his end of the line. I can picture him sitting at his desk in his home office that overlooks Lake Washington. That stern look, the one I’m fairly certain he was born wearing, firmly in place.

“That was different. I loved her.”

Yup, I can hear the scowl in his tone.

“Exactly. You loved her and you wanted her, so you claimed her as your own. You weren’t going to allow something as trivial as morals to get in the way of you obtaining what you need. I understand that now.”

There’s a long pause before he asks in a voice that is surprisingly gentle for Astor, “Is that why you did it? You need her?”

“Like oxygen,” the wholly honest answer slips from my lips before my brain has a chance to catch up. “You can tell me it’s a bad idea or believe it’s a mistake—though, I’d strongly advice you against saying those things to my face—but nothing, and I mean nothing, is going to make me give her up. It’s done. She’s mine.”

“Okay,” Astor agrees without argument. “I hear you and I understand.”

I know he does because my big brother is just as possessive as I am, and his very heart now beats for the woman he stole from his son.

The shiny elevator doors open, and I step into my silent and still home. My dog, who is usually quick to greet arrivals at the door is nowhere to be seen, an occurrence that has become more frequent as of late. Instead of guarding the property like he was trained to do, he’s taken to guarding my wife. Where I find Rionach is where I’ll also find Cerberus. I can’t bring myself to be irritated at him for deviating from his intended job. Keeping Rionach safe is far more important to me these days.

“I figured you would,” I tell my brother as I start walking up the winding staircase in search of my bride.

“Indie has never been to New York. I’ve been thinking about bringing her out there for a weekend trip when she has her next break from classes.”

I bark out a laugh. “Oh, what a marvelous family reunion that will be. I’m sure your son would love to see you and his new stepmother.”

“You’re an ass,” Astor grumbles.

“Stop flattering me, Astor. It’s going to go straight to my head,” I mockingly chastise. “I would hate for my ego to inflate. Can you imagine how utterly unbearable I’d be?”

The only light in our bedroom comes from behind the cracked en-suite door where the shower is still running. I guess she isn’t, in fact, dressed and ready to leave. We’re definitely going to be late to Senator Holloway’s presidential campaign fundraiser.

Cerberus lies with his head on his front feet beside the doorway, vigilant eyes watching my every move as I walk toward him.

“Oh, because you’re so tolerable now?” he scoffs, “Goodbye, Emeric.”

The line goes dead.

I’m laughing at the fact my grumpy big brother didn’t bother waiting for me to say my own farewell before he ended the call when I enter the steamy bathroom. Rionach, with her long hair piled on top of her head, is stepping out of the shower at the same time. She reaches for one of the oversized black towels hanging on the towel rack, but I beat her to it. Towel in hand, I step behind her dripping wet, lithe body and wrap her in the soft fabric. Unable to stop myself, I press my lips to her shoulder speckled in water droplets before I do the same to her sensitive neck. She tremors as I take in a deep, greedy lungful of her citrus-smelling bodywash.

“Who were you talking to?” she asks.

“My brother,” I answer against her throat.

“Astor, I’m assuming?” She leans her damp back into my chest. “I know you said you haven’t heard from Ledger in a while…”

If “in a while” is synonymous with nearly twenty years, then yes, it’s been a while. “The night before he left to join the Navy was the last time I spoke to Ledger in person. The last form of communication I had with my brother was when he sent a letter years later when he became a Navy Seal.”

Ledger wanted nothing to do with the world we were brought up in or the empire we were destined to inherit. The second he saw a chance at a life away from the bullshit, he took it. It was less than six months after Ambrose died that he went to bootcamp and never came back.

Ledger was always the best of us. He smiled easier and he laughed louder. Something changed in him after his initiation. His smile faded and his laugh went silent. Both Astor and I tried to get him to tell us the specifics of what happened that night, but he was vague and never gave us a real answer.

When he got out and found freedom, I was happy for him. Some of us just aren’t meant for this life, and it’s better to learn that early on than to discover it later when you’re in too deep.

“Have you tried to find him?” Rionach asks, twisting in my arms so she can rest her chin on my chest and wrap her arms around me. I plan on changing in a minute but even if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t mind the water from her damp body seeping into my clothes.

“I have on many occasions. With all my resources and connections, I still couldn’t find him. So, what does that tell you?”

“He doesn’t want to be found.”

Or he’s dead, I think but don’t say aloud. Both Astor and I have thought the same thing over the years, but neither of us has dared speak it into existence. Ledger was smart, maybe the smartest one out of all of us, and he was observant. He could have used the skills he was taught in the first eighteen years of his life to disappear.

Just like Nova did after his stint in the military, Ledger could be hiding out in some off-the-grid cabin in Alaska, for all I know. What I do know is if Ledger wanted us to know where he is, he would make his location known. If he’s alive, he’s staying an untraceable ghost by choice.

“No, he doesn’t.” That doesn’t mean I’m going to stop my yearly searches. I need to know one way or another if my brother is alive or not. I lean back so I can see the entirety of her bare face. She looks much younger without any makeup on but just as beautiful. “You were supposed to be dressed and ready to leave so we can go to the senator’s event.”

Her nose wrinkles as she pulls away from me and moves to stand in front of the vanity where all her products now sit. She leans her back against the marble counter and crosses her arms over her towel-covered chest. “Do I really have to go with you?”

“You’re my wife. I told you that you’d have to attend some events with me,” I say, positioning myself in front of her. “Why don’t you want to go?”

“I don’t really feel well,” she explains with a forced nonchalant shrug.

“What’s wrong? Do I need to call the doctor?” My hand instantly reaches out to touch her forehead, but she bats it away before I can see if she’s running a fever.

She doesn’t look pale or like she’s on the verge of tossing up her cookies. I never saw myself as the compassionate type of person who would hold a woman’s hair back while she was sick, but for Rionach, I know I’d happily do it.

Which is funny in an ironic kind of way because I once put a knife through a man’s cheek when he barfed on my Italian leather shoes. In his defense, he was on hour sixteen of being tortured for information and was feeling a bit queasy. Long story short, he didn’t live long after that. My shoes were burned along with his corpse.

What? No, you don’t have to call a doctor. While it’s adorable to see you fussing like this, it’s nothing that serious.” She brushes away my hand again when I reach for her, which causes me to snarl at her and try again. “Will you stop? I’m fine. I started my period this morning and now I’m crampy and bloated. I feel like I look gross, and the idea of shoving myself into a long and tight formal gown sounds about as appealing as a Pap smear. Or eating gas station sushi.”

My concern for her health seamlessly transitions into disappointment. It’s been well over a month since we were first married—since the first night I filled her with my cum. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve spilled my seed inside her. With our new sleeping arrangements, more times than not, my cock remains buried in her after I come. This ensures not a single drop escapes.

I knew this is what I wanted, but learning I’ve failed to put my baby in her hits me harder than I could have predicted.

Rionach’s eyebrows scrunch when I pick her up and place her on the countertop in front of me. Her confusion only grows when I step between her spread knees and trail my hand up her soft and warn inner thigh.

“What are you—” Her question is cut off by a stunned gasp as two of my fingers dip inside her. She shoves at my hands, horror reflected in her eyes. “Stop. The blood…”

My eyes stare at the crimson-painted digits when I pull them from her heat.

“Emeric?” My name on her lips is a barely audible exhale of air.

It’s only been a month. This can take time. You have to be patient.

“This could have been… I wanted this to be my baby.” The disappointment in my tone is obvious to my own ears, and I have no doubt Rionach is also picking up on it. That primal urge that roared to life the first time I came inside of her is clawing at me as my head fills with visions of her stomach swelling with the life I will put in her. A life that is the perfect combination of both of us.

“Your baby,” she repeats slowly, like she’s struggling to wrap her mouth around the two words. For a moment, in complete stunned silence, Rionach joins me in staring at the streaks of blood on my fingers. The second she comes out of her disbelief-induced fog, her palms slap against my chest and she shoves me backward. “Emeric fucking Banes, are you trying to knock me up?”

“You’re my wife. Would that be so wrong of me?” I retort after I reclaim the space she just tried to force between us.

The pink flush that has been sitting on her cheeks from her hot shower has deepened and her glaring eyes are glistening green flames.

“Yes!” she all but screeches. “We’ve been married for a little over a month. We can’t have a baby now.” A shadowy look falls over her face as she quickly adds, “Or maybe ever.”

An emotion I can’t place seizes my chest hearing her say this. Jaw muscle clenching, I place my hands on either side of her on the black stone countertops and cage her in.

“You don’t want to have my babies, Rionach?” A fleeting look of sadness joins the shadowed expression marring her lovely features. It’s gone in the span of one breath. “I want you to have my babies, I want to watch your stomach grow with our child. My dick is hard just thinking about how beautiful you’ll be.”

She rolls her eyes at this and shoves at my chest again. I don’t budge an inch. “Your horny dick is not a good enough reason to have a fucking baby.”

I dip my head and run my tongue along her bottom lip before whispering, “It’s going to happen one day, princess. Sooner or later, my seed will take root in your womb, and you will bring our baby into this world.”

“You really think so?” The overly confident and knowing look that flashes in her eyes has an alarm bell ringing in the back of my head. “I guess we’ll have to wait and see about that.”

Well before she came to my club and ended up in the cage with me, I had Nova gather all the information he could on her. From the name of her first-grade teacher to her most played song on her preferred streaming platform to the number of times she had strep throat as a child, I know everything about her.

You didn’t know she was a skilled pickpocket, so maybe you don’t know everything, the taunting voice in my head says.

“Are you keeping secrets from me, dear wife?” I ask, trailing my lips along her jaw and down to her throat.

“I wouldn’t dream of it.” Her fingers twist into the fabric of my shirt and tug me closer. “Do we still have to attend the fundraiser?”

“Unfortunately, but since we’re already going to be more than fashionably late…” I tear away from her and grip her hips. She yelps when I yank her nearly to the edge of the counter. Her confusion morphs into unease when I drop to my knees between her spread thighs. “I read once that orgasms help with menstrual cramps. If I’m going to make you join me tonight, making you feel better is the least I can do.”

I tear away the black towel so her perfect pussy is fully on display to me.

“You—” She jerks in place when I kiss the place where her thigh and hip meet. “You can’t do this. Not right now. You’ll get blood⁠—”

I silence her with a quick nip of my teeth. “If you think I’m going to be bothered by a little blood, princess, you haven’t been paying attention.”

All reservation and fight leave her at the first swipe of my tongue through her sweet pussy.


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