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Silent Vows: Chapter 20


Just when you think you know someone, they go and surprise you.

I would have bet money my father would have charged into my room the second Conner and Keir were gone and demanded I fake an illness to prevent me from going the following morning. I debated whether to mention how suspicious it might look if I canceled and if I should remind him how we wouldn’t want to offend the Byrne family.

I waited. And waited.

My father never appeared, but my mental energies weren’t wasted because I still had a fight in store.

Minutes after I turned the light off in my room, a phone began to chime. My eyes shot open, staring into the dark.

It wasn’t my phone, or at least not a ring I was familiar with, but it was definitely coming from somewhere in my room. I scrambled from my bed and turned on my bedside lamp before honing in on the sound. A cheap prepaid phone I’d never seen before sat on my dresser, buzzing with an unknown number.

Where the hell had it come from? How long had it been sitting there?

I shook off my confusion and pressed the answer button. It was the quickest way to silence the damn thing without searching for the volume. Once quiet had returned, I stared at the device, unsure what to do. Without knowing who was on the other end, I couldn’t speak. It was too risky. Gingerly, I lifted the phone to my ear.

“Noemi, this is your last warning.” Conner’s voice wrapped around me like a hot breeze before a summer storm. “Do not go with Keir in the morning.”

I should have known. He wasn’t the type of man to stay quiet, nor was he the type to allow his private conversations to be overheard. He’d correctly surmised that my phone wasn’t secure and had provided an alternative. Had he simply used it to ensure my safety, the phone would have been a kind gesture. Considering the threatening tone in his voice, his interference felt more like a leash than a lifeline.

“What makes you think I’m still going?” I whispered, worried someone might hear me.

“Because I know you.”

“Know me?” I scoffed. “We only met a week ago.”

“Then tell me I’m wrong. Tell me you weren’t planning to go.” His voice caressed and coaxed as though goading me into defiance. Like he wanted me to resist him.

Uncertainty silenced me.

I was a bird in a cage, desperate to break free. Every demand was another collar around my neck. If it wasn’t my father, then Conner was prodding me in one direction or another, each misstep potentially deadly.

I shook my head even though he couldn’t see me, needing to escape my invisible bindings.

“No. I won’t do anything inappropriate with Keir,” I said in a rush. “You’ll just have to learn to trust me.” If I let this man control and doubt me, I’d forever be his captive rather than his wife. I couldn’t let that happen. And besides, Keir’s impressive resistance to my father’s bullying gave me hope that maybe he might be willing to help me. As the son of Jimmy Byrne, he’d certainly be in the position to make such a decision. I had to do this for multiple reasons, regardless of my fiancé’s fragile ego.

Unwilling to entertain his arguments and threats, I ended the call and flopped back on my bed. I didn’t like to be difficult, but I couldn’t afford to let Conner control me. If I gave him an inch, he’d take everything, my heart included.

For long minutes, I lay tense, fully expecting him to call back. But for the second time in one night, a man had surprised me with his silence. The phone never rang again. No texts lit the screen.

Assuring myself I’d made the right decision and my rising anxiety was unwarranted, I buried the phone under my mattress and turned off the light. Sleep wouldn’t come easily, but I had to at least try. I had a big day ahead.

I felt like I’d only just closed my eyes when a sense of awareness tugged me awake. My clock read 2:00 a.m., and the house was silent, but the thudding of my heart echoed in my ears. Something wasn’t right.

My gaze lifted to scan the room, locking on the silhouette of a man leaning against my bedroom wall. The large figure was illuminated by the moonlight filtering through the open window. I didn’t have to see his face to recognize the form. Conner was here. In my bedroom.

Had he been planning this all night? He had to have unlocked the window when he’d been in my room earlier. Had he been so sure I’d refuse him? What exactly did he plan to do about it? Tie me to my bed to keep me from going?

I started to scoot up my bed and away from him, but Conner pushed off the wall. His movement stilled me. I watched raptly as he closed the distance between us. My chest rose and fell on shuddered breaths, goose bumps racing down the length of my arms.

“What are you doing here?” I finally asked, not sure I wanted his answer.

“I warned you, Noemi.” His dark murmur sucked the breath straight from my lips.

I shivered. “But I haven’t even gone yet.”

He yanked down the covers, exposing my legs. After drinking in the sight, his dark gaze, inscrutable in the moonlight, lifted to mine.

“It’s time to face the consequences.”

“What—” I barely had time to panic before his arms caged me in, his lips seizing mine. He was a raging current, and no matter how hard I fought, he carried me away on his rising waters. I didn’t want to want him, but he felt so damn good. The press of his body. The pull of his ravenous desire. I was helpless against him.

A masculine noise of satisfaction drifted between us when his commanding touch wrenched an unbidden moan from deep in my throat.

“You feel like a fucking dream,” he rasped, lips drifting to my jaw and down to my throat.

A growing pressure began to pulse between my legs. I rolled my hips, desperately needing to ease the ache mounting inside me. The clawing need. It felt so incredibly good, and I couldn’t remember the last time I’d felt pleasure—pure joy or happiness. The dopamine drugged me, erasing all thoughts of self-preservation or strategy.

If this was my punishment, I’d happily accept.

None of it made sense, but I didn’t care. I just wanted more.

When he lifted my thin pajama top and his mouth closed over my breast, I thought the world might stop turning. It would have explained the dizziness. I felt like I was free-falling with no clue which way was up or down.

How far was he planning to take this? Did I care?

No. Not really. He was my fiancé, right? And it felt so good. Wasn’t I allowed to feel good for a change?

Conner rested beside me, one large hand drifting down my ribs, over my hip, then to my thigh where he coaxed my legs apart. I didn’t fight him, but my heart began to jackhammer in my chest. A part of my body that no man had ever touched was now open to him, only shielded by a thin layer of cotton fabric.

His gaze remained locked on where he touched me, his hand slowly caressing the inside of my thigh higher and higher but stopping just short of where my body screamed for his touch.

“Tell me this is mine.” He slid one finger beneath the elastic edge of my panties. “Tell me no other man has touched you here.” His voice was jagged as a cliff’s edge, raw and unguarded. When his eyes finally drifted back to mine, I gasped at the violent need staring back at me. Like the last vestiges of his humanity clung by a thread.

Mesmerized by my effect on him, I nodded. “No other … only you,” I whispered.

Fear suddenly spiked my veins with an icy-cold current.

I didn’t worry that he’d hurt me—not physically, anyway. It was my heart that concerned me. How could I possibly keep my emotions out of the mix when Conner’s presence was so consuming? Nothing with him was simple, least of all sex.

My lips parted on an objection, but his hand came to rest over my mouth, his head slowly turning side to side as a devious smile perched on his lips.

Then my brain short-circuited when his other hand slid fully beneath my panties and cupped my sex. I didn’t remember my own name, let alone what I’d planned to say. Not when one long, scalding finger dipped inside me, then spread my arousal up to my clit and back down. I’d already been writhing with more electric need than I’d ever felt before. The addition of his touch nearly made me see stars.

One hand still pressed to my mouth, Conner fingered me with lavish, seductive strokes, building and teasing my restless flesh. My body arched and pleaded with his movements. When my chest pressed outward, lifting my back clean off the bed, he used his teeth to graze over my nipple. The sting sent an electric pulse directly to my clit like a flame devouring a fuse. When the spark reached my core, my body ignited with blinding pleasure.

Just as the liquid elation devoured me, Conner lifted his hand away from my mouth at precisely the right moment to allow a primal cry of release to burst past my lips. It was as though the energy inside me was too great to contain and had escaped in the form of sound, and Conner had set it all into motion, knowing exactly what would happen.

The cry echoed in my head, drowning out even my ragged breaths and racing heart.

Realization and panic chased away the remnants of my orgasm like angry dogs scenting a hare.

“What have you done?” I breathed, my eyes going wide.

Sante’s room was right next to mine. Was there any chance he could have slept through my cry?

I held perfectly still, my lungs not even daring to draw breath.

A door squeaked in the hall. Sante.

I launched into motion, shoving Conner off me. “You have to get out. You have to leave!” I hissed, succumbing to the panic clawing at my insides. My eyes darted wildly to my closed bedroom door before cutting back to Conner when I realized he was refusing to budge.

“Promise me you won’t go tomorrow,” he demanded, no trace of remorse.

Had I not been so overwhelmed with distress about Sante hearing me, I would have been furious, but my thoughts were too scattered for the emotion to take purchase.

“You need to go, now!” I slammed my hands against his chest, tears burning the backs of my eyes.

“Em? Was that you?” Sante called softly through the door.

My chest hitched on a sob, frustration like a vise tight around my chest. “Okay, you win. I won’t go, just leave. Please.” This time, he allowed me to shove him toward the window, his brows knitting tight in growing confusion as though he meant to manipulate me but hadn’t counted on such a visceral reaction on my part.

I didn’t care what he thought. I just had to get him out of my house.

A gentle knock sounded at the door as I ushered Conner out the window. As I raised my hands to close the window, all signs of victory in Conner’s stare bled to murderous rage. I lifted my gaze to see what he’d spotted and realized the moonlight had slanted over my arms to illuminate the ugly purple ring around my wrist.

Our stares collided, but I didn’t have time for this. I forced the window shut, then yanked my curtains closed, all thoughts of Conner pushed aside as I readied myself to deal with the fallout of his actions.

My bedroom door swung open until Sante’s wide-eyed stare met mine.

“Em?” he said with such heartbreaking tenderness and hope that my heart cracked straight down the middle.

I put a hand on my throat, knowing the ruse was over. “It was a nightmare,” I rasped. My scream gave my voice the appropriate scratchiness to disguise the lie, making me sound as though I hadn’t spoken in months. “It gave me my voice back.” I infused my voice with as much enthusiasm as I could muster past the foreboding looming over me.

Sante rushed at me, lifting me against him in a crushing hug. A genuine smile tugged at my lips to witness his joy. He swung me around in a circle like we’d just been reunited after years apart.

“This is incredible! I can’t wait to tell everyone.” He set me back on my feet and kissed my forehead affectionately. “You don’t know what a relief it is to hear your voice. I’ve missed that so damn much.”

I grinned. “You sure? Now I can boss you around again.”

“I’d like to see you try, little big.” His smile turned the room from night to day because it was so bright.

“Oh, I will. Like now—you need to get back to bed. It’s still the middle of the night.”

Sante tweaked my chin between two of his knuckles. “I’ll let you have that one, for old time’s sake.” He gave me one more quick hug, then retreated to the door. “Night, Em. Love you.”

“Love you, too, Sante,” I replied, emotions squeezing my throat tight.

Once the door closed, I was again alone in the darkness of my bedroom as I’d been when I’d gone to sleep hours earlier, yet nothing was the same. Come morning, Dad would know about my miraculous recovery, and I had no idea what that might mean for me.


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