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Silent Vows: Chapter 39

Noemi

My knees gave out first. Then the sobs took over before I melted to the ground.

What had I done? I’d been trying to tell him that I cared for him—that I’d chosen him over my family—but it had all come out wrong. I did know him. And what I said was true, wasn’t it? His oath to the Byrne brothers would trump all others because that was how it worked with men in that line of work.

Right?

A terrifying uncertainty filled my insides like an icy fog until my bones rattled and shook.

Had I unjustifiably condemned Conner? He’d agreed to a marriage for the benefit of his organization. That seemed to be a telling indicator of what he valued most—that he’d be willing to set aside his chance at love for an alliance. But did his willingness to agree to the arrangement necessarily preclude the possibility that he would value love over duty?

I thought back to the ways he’d subtly or overtly confronted my father. Each of those actions undermined the purpose of the alliance and put the Irish-Italian relationship at risk. But he’d done those things anyway. For me.

He’d been showing me the whole time that he valued me beyond a simple contract, but I’d been too scared to see it. Too terrified of being hurt to admit that Conner could never be like my father. I’d seen what I wanted to see in order to protect myself, and in doing so, I’d hurt the man who’d stood loyally at my side. The man who kept his birth mother’s rosary beads on his dresser and knew his grandmother’s favorite candy treat. If I’d looked closely, I would have seen that the duty he felt was purely by virtue of the family he worked with. The people, not the organization, were important to him.

What have I done?

I had to fix it, but how? I wiped away the salty remnants of my tears and looked around the empty apartment. I needed to talk to Conner and apologize. He wouldn’t want me to leave, so I’d have to call him and hope he answered.

Grabbing the phone he’d given me, I dialed my husband’s number. The alcohol had long since leached from my system, and in its place was a blossoming sense of determination.

“Yes.” His voice was as hard as polished steel, yet my eyes drifted shut at the relief that he’d taken my call.

“I wasn’t supposed to be with her that day,” I began, deciding to give him everything I had and hope it was enough. “I had vocal coaching on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but she’d asked me to go with her to visit Uncle Agostino. I could tell she seemed anxious, so I agreed. As soon as we were in the car, she began to tell me how she’d overheard my dad plotting to kill my uncle. How Dad had been furious for years that Agostino outmaneuvered Dad for the role of boss. Dad was outraged when Renzo was promoted to underboss last year at only twenty-seven years old. He felt it was his due, and from that day on, he began to plot his takeover. I could tell Mom was terrified. She told me that she had to warn her brother, but every muscle in her body was tense from the fear of the repercussions. I remember it like it was yesterday,” I whispered, my mind replaying the scene in vivid detail as tears trailed down my cheeks.

“I don’t know how he knew she’d be in the car that day or how he made it happen, but once we were on the freeway, her foot started pounding on the brake pedal. Nothing happened. We kept going faster and faster. She had to weave around cars, the whole time chanting, ‘Oh God. He knows.’ The crash happened in slow motion. Someone didn’t see us speeding up and moved into our lane. Mom swerved, lost control, and we spun. And spun. Until the car wrapped around a light pole on the driver’s side.” I had to pause for air. I couldn’t seem to get enough air. “There was so much blood. She’d never had a chance.” My eyes closed to shut out the gruesome sight, and when they opened again, Conner was there, standing in the entry.

“You came back,” I breathed, the phone slowly falling away from my ear.

“I never made it past the lobby. I didn’t want to leave you alone.” He was here, but his face was still set in harsh angles, his body rigid with restraint.

“You were right. My dad has hurt me and used threats of hurting Sante to control me. Every day since my mom died has been a nightmare. I’m so sorry I didn’t tell you before. I was scared that if you knew, you’d put yourself in danger, and I’d already lost …” My breath hitched. I swallowed back the emotion and pushed myself to continue. “I’d already lost one person I cared deeply about. I couldn’t lose another.” I stood but didn’t approach him. “I’d never been close to my father, but what he did was such a betrayal. I never imagined he was capable of hurting us like that. It made me scared—of him and of being hurt like that again. But you were right; you’re not like him. I never would have given myself to you if, deep down, I’d ever believed you were. You would never hurt me,” I whispered. “And I’m so sorry I hurt you.” I held out my arms at my sides, my face stained with tears. “So here I am, giving you everything. This is me. All of me. No more secrets.”

Time stood still.

Conner’s eyes burned with intensity.

“Take off your clothes.” His voice was devoid of emotion, but I wasn’t scared. I would do anything he asked to repair what I’d broken.

I lifted my shirt over my head and dropped it to the floor. Then my bra, jeans, and panties. Until I stood naked before him. No doubts. No reservations.

“On your knees.” His black command licked down my spine.

I obeyed without hesitation.

“Now close your eyes.” This time softer. Almost hypnotic.

My lids dropped shut as my ears pricked at the sound of him finally coming closer until he was there, sinister and seething like an angry viper.

“Why did your father volunteer you for the alliance?”

The question surprised me, but I didn’t show it. I simply gave what he asked. “I think because he wants the connection to help him solidify his role as a boss once he kills my uncle and cousin. He doesn’t want to risk the capos supporting anyone else.”

“Is he still plotting to kill the Donatis?” The question was cold and detached.

“I think so. I talked to Sante, and he seemed worried. He wouldn’t say why, but I think my dad has started making plans again. He had to put everything on hold after Mom died so he didn’t raise suspicions.”

Silence nipped at me from all directions. A primal instinct within writhed at the vulnerability and pleaded for me to take a small peek at my surroundings, but I paid it no heed.

“Stand up,” Conner finally instructed from nearby, slowly circling around me.

I rose to my feet, swaying the tiniest bit from the headiness of the situation.

“Had you been kissed before me?”

“Yes,” I whispered, not holding back like I’d done the first time he’d asked.

“How many?”

“Two.”

“Did they touch you here?”

I gasped when his warm palm cupped my sex. I turned my head side to side. His hand drifted up my body, his other joining at my breasts, where they cupped my heavy flesh and pinched my nipples.

“And these?” His voice was frayed at the edges.

I desperately wanted to open my eyes and see him—to verify my sense that his anger was fading—but it was more important that I bridged the chasm that had opened up between us. “Yes.”

“How many?” he bit out.

“Just one.”

A grunt sounded in response. “Turn around.” He was close enough to touch if I could just reach out, but I did as he instructed and turned my back to him. He moved closer until the heat from his body became an intoxicating lure, begging me to step back and seize what was just out of my reach. “I need your trust, Noemi. Show me that I can trust you.” The gravelly murmur caressed my skin, drawing out a legion of goose bumps down my arms and legs.

I nodded again, ready to give him anything.

His body slowly pressed against mine, his front to my back. “Keep your eyes closed.” His hands reached around to take mine, his body coaxing mine forward one small step at a time toward what my mind’s eye knew was the wall of windows.

My breathing grew jagged and shallow with uncertainty. It was broad daylight out, and though the windows were tinted, we could be seen if someone was looking.

And in the city, there was always someone looking. Waiting. Watching.

Conner pressed my palms flat against the warm glass and used his foot to command my legs apart.

I felt so open and exposed. My nipples pebbled excruciatingly tight under the imagined spotlight of an audience. My body responded to the erotic nature of my situation, whether I wanted to put on a show or not, and I preferred not to. I wasn’t an exhibitionist by nature, but I wanted to prove myself to Conner. He’d asked for my trust, and I was desperate to give him what he wanted.

The clink of his belt buckle sounded behind me, along with the rustle of fabric. When his hands finally came back to me, they were commanding yet gentle. He placed a hand at my belly, tugging my ass backward while his other hand cupped the back of my neck, keeping my face close to the glass. My inner muscles clenched and ached when the soft skin of his cock drifted against my folds.

“You sure you trust me, even if I fuck you up against the glass where the world can see?” His harsh words held the last vestiges of his anger, worn ragged and roughed by desperation.

“Yes, Conner. I trust you.”

“Then open your eyes.” He released the words on a breath a second before pressing himself deep into my entrance.

My eyes burst open, bemused wonder and heady relief stealing my breath as I took in the sight of the now frosted glass before me. I wasn’t sure how he’d done it, but the entire wall of windows had turned opaque.

He’d never risked exposing me. It had all been a ploy.

I turned my face to see him just as he thrust again, drawing a moan past my lips. Conner cupped my throat and brought our mouths together in a kiss so moving it could have ended wars and toppled kingdoms.

“I will never endanger you, body or soul. You understand?” he asked, an urgency to his voice.

“Yes,” I breathed, aching for more of him.

“Then hold on, baby, ’cause I need to fuck you fast and hard.” He returned his hands to my hips and began plowing into me. Hungry for his touch, I pushed back into his thrusts, reveling in the feel of our bodies connecting.

I felt as though we were weaving a spell—something profound and monumental that would bind us far more than any oaths or vows.

Conner suddenly stopped, spinning me around to face him, then lifted me in his arms. “I need to see you.”

I wrapped my legs around his waist as his lips molded against mine, and his cock found its way back into the welcoming embrace of my weeping core.

While my back was pressed to the glass, Conner fucked me with abandon. The whole time, his eyes never left mine. Our bodies were positioned just right for my nipples and clit to rub against him with every bounce of my body onto his throbbing cock. When his fingers beneath me edged closer to tease at the forbidden pucker of my backside, the erotic rush of it all was too much.

Conner,” I whimpered, my body erupting in a cascading avalanche of pleasure.

“That’s it, Emy,” he growled. “Fucking come for me.” He briefly doubled his efforts before roaring with his release, gripping me tightly against him as his body pulsed with pleasure.

My head spun in the wake of the thundering orgasm. When Conner moved to walk us away from the window, I shuddered from the stimulation of my over-sensitized flesh.

“I can walk,” I murmured, knowing his legs had to be tired.

Conner only grunted.

“Stubborn.” I grinned against his skin. “Where are you taking me?”

“The shower. First, I’m going to watch my cum drip down your thigh, then I’m going to wash it away and replace it with more until you start to understand that you’re mine.”

I slowly eased back to see his face, and he could see the sincerity on mine as I whispered, “I’m getting there.”


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