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Stolen By A Sinner: Chapter 18


Guilt creeps into my chest as I walk away from Lara’s bedroom. She probably got sick because I scared the living shit out of her.

I’ve never second-guessed my actions until two days ago when I lost my temper with Lara. I regret how I handled the situation, and since then, it’s clear Lara’s frightened of her own shadow again.

I hate how she flinches and cowers away from me. It makes me feel like shit.

Ignoring the guilt, I head to the east wing. When I enter my grandmother’s private sitting room, she tells me, “I’m going to teach Lara how to knit.”

I drop down in one of the plush armchairs and meet her eyes. “I think it’s too early for you to interact with her.”

Allah Allah,” she huffs. “She’s been here a month, Gabriel! I’m tired of staying in the east wing, and Nisa loves her. You and Emre are in and out all day, busy with work. You know I get lonely, right? I need fresh company. Lara doesn’t look like she could hurt a fly. Don’t make the poor young woman pay for Mazur’s sins. Nisa tells me Lara has suffered a great deal.”

Christ, give me strength.

“I don’t trust her,” I voice my opinion.

At least, not entirely. I’m not as guarded after having her in my house for a month, and my gut still tells me she’s being truthful about everything. The woman is too scared to lie to me. She’d offer Mazur up on a fucking platter to save herself.

Letting out a sigh, I mutter, “But if it pleases you, I’ll allow her to have access to the east wing.”

I’ll never win when it comes to the women in this house. They have me wrapped around their little fingers.

After giving my approval, my grandmother leans forward, an eager expression lighting up her face. “Now that Lara’s no longer banned from the east wing, there’s so much I can teach her, seeing as you and Emre refuse to get married and give me great-grandchildren. I wonder if she loves gardening?”

“I wouldn’t know,” I say as I get up from the chair. I don’t want to spend the rest of my evening talking about Lara. “I’m heading to bed. Don’t stay up too late.” Walking to my grandmother’s chair, I press a kiss on her temple.

Iyi geceler,” she wishes me a good night. “Gözümün nuru.” Hearing her call me the light of her eye, the corner of my mouth lifts as I leave the sitting room.

On my way to my own bedroom, my thoughts turn to Lara and how quickly Nisa accepted her and how eager my grandmother is to get to know the woman.

Stopping by Murat’s bedroom, I knock on the door.

Evet?” he calls out.

I let myself in. Murat turns down the volume on his TV. “Something wrong?”

I shake my head. “You’ve been guarding Lara since she got here. What do you think of her?”

His eyebrows draw together. “Boss?”

“Do you get along with her?”

He shrugs. “She’s a good person. Hard-working, as well.” One of his eyebrows darts into his hairline, then he rambles, “I just think she’s a nice person. There are no feelings. Nothing like that.”

I let out a sigh. “Relax. I just want to know if you get along with her, seeing as she has Nisa and my grandmother in love with her.”

“Lara is always respectful. I have no reason to dislike her.”

Nodding, I open the door again. “I’ll let you rest.”

When I leave the room, I start to think the problem lies with me. If everyone in my household gets along with Lara and practically embraces her as part of the family, maybe I should ease down on the suspicion and give the woman a chance.

She’s given me no reason not to trust her since she started working for me.

Then why did Mazur want to know whether she’s alive?

While thoughts of Lara and Mazur fill my mind, I shower and prepare for bed. When I’m dressed in a pair of sweatpants, I stand in front of the window and stare out over the yard, the outdoor lights illuminating the garden my grandmother loves so much.

My thoughts turn to the fever Lara had when I made her get in bed.

Is she sick because of the worry I’m causing her?

Again the guilt creeps to the surface.

I let out a disgruntled sigh, then decide to check on her before I turn in for the night. Walking into my closet, I grab a white t-shirt and pull it over my head.

Barefoot, I take the stairs down to the ground floor, and not wanting to wake Lara, I slowly push her bedroom door open. The bedside lamp is still on, giving me a clear view of her sweat-drenched face and hair. Her lashes lift, and with feverish eyes, she stares at me, looking like a lost puppy.


I step inside and shut the door behind me. I don’t even make it halfway to the bed before Lara tries to get out from under the covers. “I’m sorry,” she starts pleading as if I’m holding a gun to her head, then she drops to the carpet, hacking up half a lung from a tight cough that sounds painful as fuck.

I dart forward, and slip my arms beneath her. Picking her up, I place her back on the bed. “You’re fucking sick,” I state the obvious, sounding like I’m about to rain hell-fire down on her.

“I can work,” she protests weakly. “I can still work.”

The beating organ in my chest that’s been threatening to soften with compassion and guilt gives up the fight and aches for this woman. Even feverish and clearly sick, she’ll probably clean the whole fucking house if I give her half a chance.

‘It’s not right for someone to live in so much fear,’ I remember Nisa’s words.

“I can work,” she mumbles half deliriously.

I pull the covers over her trembling body, and sitting down on the side of the bed, I place my hand over her forehead.

She’s burning up something fierce.

“I can…” her breath hitches in her throat, then she’s overwhelmed by another painful coughing fit that shakes her entire body.

I quickly pull her up until she’s convulsing against my chest and pat her back, hoping it will help loosen the tightness in her lungs.

When the coughing fit passes, Lara slumps against me, wheezing as she sucks in deep breaths.

I’m tempted to wake Nisa so she can watch over Lara but decide against it. If Lara doesn’t get better before morning, Nisa will need to take care of her.

I help Lara lie back down, saying, “I’m going to get more medicine. Don’t you dare get out of this bed while I’m gone.”

“I’m sorry,” she whimpers, her face contorting as if she might cry, but no tears fall.

Picking up the tray I used earlier, I hurry out of the room. I get a bowl of boiling water from the kitchen, putting in a couple of eucalyptus oil drops. Nisa makes us inhale it whenever we’re sick, and it always helps.

I also grab cold medicine and a bottle of water from the fridge, not wanting Lara to dehydrate from the fever.

When I walk back into the room, the woman looks sick as fuck, and I wonder if it won’t be better to take her to the emergency room.

It’s probably just the flu. Don’t fucking overreact.

I pull the table closer to the bed and set everything down. Reaching for Lara’s shoulders, I help her sit up and pull her closer. “Position your face over the bowl and take a couple of deep breaths.”

The moment she does as she’s told, she starts coughing again. I wince at how painful it sounds and begin to rub a hand over her back. With each cough, Lara leans closer to me until I’m all that’s keeping her upright. I wrap an arm around her and reach for the bottle of water. “Take a couple of sips.”

She tries to nod, strands of hair plastered to her clammy skin. When she’s done taking a couple of gulps, I set the bottle down and pour cough syrup onto a tablespoon. Lara takes the medicine, some strength returning to her body.

Once I’ve helped her lie down again, I walk to the bathroom and wet a facecloth under the cold water. The moment I enter the bedroom again, her eyes lock on me.

I sit down on the side of the bed and gently wipe the cool cloth over her heated face. “Since when have you been feeling sick?”

She clears her throat before she whispers, “This morning.” She takes a breath, then quickly adds, “I’m sorry.”

“Stop apologizing,” I mutter. “You can’t help that you got sick.”

The stress I put you under probably didn’t help as well.

I pick up the electronic thermometer to check her temperature. The gadget reads one hundred and three.

“Fuck,” I mutter. I grab two Tylenol and help Lara sit up again so she can take them. “Maybe I should take you to the hospital.”

She starts to shake her head, panic flashing over her face. “I’m fine. I can still work. I promise.”

What the ever-loving fuck?

“Stop saying you can work. You’re sick.”

Her features crumble into a pleading expression, intense panic making her look even more feverish. It has me reaching for the thermometer just to make sure her fever hasn’t gone up more.

“Please,” she begs, her eyes shining with unshed tears, “I’ll get better.”

I stare at Lara, taking in her fear and panic, then realizing she’s fucking terrified I’ll no longer have a use for her.

“Did Mazur kill employees when they couldn’t work any longer?”

Lara nods, the pleading look still etched into her features. “That’s how my mom died. She kept coughing until she couldn’t breathe, and once she left for the hospital, she never returned.”

Her words hit me unexpectedly hard, and for a moment, I can only stare at Lara.

“Jesus,” I mutter. Shaking my head, I say, “You’re not going to die. It’s just the flu. But you need to rest so you can get better.”

“I can rest?” she asks, her eyes burning on me.

My heart constricts as I nod. “I want you to rest, Lara.” I pull the bowl of steaming water closer. “Take another couple of breaths to loosen your chest.”

She seems to relax a little.

After she inhales the steam, I do my best to help her through the coughing fit. When she slumps against me, I can’t stop myself from wrapping my arms around her.

“Shh,” I try to pacify her the way Nisa comforted us whenever we didn’t feel well. “You’ll be better soon.”

“You’re not angry?” Lara asks, her voice filled with a world of vulnerability.

“No, I’m not angry.”

I rub a hand up and down her back, keeping my other arm wrapped around her shoulders. Lara sits dead still, and minutes later, when I think she’s fallen asleep, I start to lay her down on the pillows, only to see she’s wide awake.

“You can sleep,” I murmur as I get up so I can fetch more boiling water.

“Gabriel Bey,” she whispers, once again looking at me like I gave her the world, “thank you.”

“Rest, Lara,” I say before I leave her bedroom. It’s only when I reach the kitchen, and I have the pot boiling on the stove, that I pay attention to the weird sensation in my chest.

Compassion. That’s what it must be.

When I return to the bedroom, Lara’s finally asleep. I rinse the facecloth beneath the cold water, and taking a seat on the side of the bed again, I gently wipe the strands of hair away from her skin.

I stare down at the woman everyone seems to love so much, and as the minutes tick over, I let the compassion I feel for her surface.

I take in her parted lips, her breaths shallow with a slight wheezing sound on every exhale. It has me standing up and heading back to the kitchen to look for one of the humidifiers my grandmother likes to use when the air is dry.

Rummaging through the cupboards, I finally find one and spend ten minutes trying to figure out how the thing works. When steam eventually spirals from it, I grin and head back to Lara’s bedroom. I plug the device in next to her bed and position it, so the steam wafts in her direction.

Hopefully, it will help.

I check her temperature again, and seeing it’s come down to a hundred, I take a seat on the armchair and rest my feet on the side of the bed.

Crossing my arms over my chest, my eyes settle on her sleeping face. She manages to rest for an hour before a coughing fit wakes her. I quickly get up and help her to sit so she can breathe easier.

Lara seems dazed, and as she leans against me, she makes a whimpering sound that tears right through the middle of my heart. Instinctively, I wrap my arms around her and hold her while she struggles through the painful coughs.

Long after she’s fallen asleep again, I lay her back onto the pillows and move to the armchair to try and get some sleep myself.

I only manage to get thirty minutes, here and there, woken by Lara coughing up a lung throughout the night. By the time Nisa comes into the room, I’m dead on my feet.

“What happened?” Nisa asks, her eyes wide between a sleeping Lara and me.

“She’s sick. I think it’s the flu. It’s your turn to watch over her.” I walk to the door then add, “She had Tylenol and the cough mixture two hours ago. The eucalyptus oil in boiling water helps to open her chest.”

As I walk out of the room, I hear Nisa exclaiming, “Allah Allah, my poor baby.”

An eyebrow lifts as I head down the hallway because it’s clear Nisa’s practically adopted Lara as her own.


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