Obligation, p.4
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       Obligation, p.4
 

         Part #2 of Underground Kings series by Aurora Rose Reynolds
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  “Myla.” Kai says my name and the woman’s face lights up again.

  She catches me off guard when she steps away from Kai and throws her arms around me. My hands go out to my sides, and I stand there awkwardly, not knowing what I should do.

  “I’m so happy to finally meet you,” the woman tells me as she releases me and steps back to stand near Kai.

  “I—” I look at Kai when I have no idea what I should say or who this woman is.

  “Meka,” Kai says warningly, grabbing my hand again and pulling me closer to his side.

  The woman looks up at him, and I realize she is not quite as old as I first thought she was. And she has the same lips and eyes as Kai.

  “Myla, this runt here is my sister, Meka. Meka, my wife, Myla,” Kai says, making me feel instantly nauseated.

  I didn’t realize I would be meeting his family, let alone meeting them as his wife. I can’t imagine that this will be easy to explain or easy to undo when the time comes, and having other people involved will only make it that much more difficult.

  “It’s nice to meet you, Meka,” I finally get out.

  Another smile lights Meka’s pretty face up as she looks at her brother then back at me and shakes her head. “You said she was pretty, but you didn’t tell me how pretty,” Meka says, making butterflies erupt in my stomach as Kai’s fingers flex around my hand. She takes a step back then holds up her hands in front of her, forming a box with her fingers before squinting and closing one eye. “You guys look perfect together—her with all that blond hair and you with that long, womanly, dark hair.” She giggles, and I cover my mouth when an unexpected laugh explodes from it.

  “Don’t encourage her,” Kai grumbles from my side, but I can see the side of his mouth tip up slightly in a smile.

  “Seriously, you guys look good together,” she says as she looks at her brother, her eyes going soft.

  “All right, kid, If you’re done annoying me, tell me where Kale is.”

  “You’re never any fun.” She pouts, putting her hands on her hips.

  “And you’re always a brat,” he tells her, but his tone is loving.

  I have seen Kai be soft before, but I have never seen him the way he is with her.

  “He was near the barbeque pit the last time I saw him.” She shrugs then waves off in the distance when someone calls her name.

  “Thanks, runt.”

  “Anything you want to know, Myla, you call me. I know all of his dirty secrets,” Meka says, making me smile before she walks off towards the water.

  “I might do that,” I say under my breath as Kai begins walking again. “I didn’t know I was going to meet your family,” I tell Kai as my feet move double time to keep up with him through the thick sand.

  “It’s not a big deal.” He shrugs.

  I can feel myself frown at his words. I have no idea how he can say that it’s not a big deal when, to me, it’s huge.

  “They know we’re married. We’re not staying married, so I think it is a big deal,” I say, tugging his hand and forcing him to stop.

  “Myla, I’ve told you from the beginning that I wouldn’t let anything happen to you. I know what I’m doing.”

  “This isn’t about you keeping me safe, Kai. This is about you lying to your family.”

  “My family knows me. They trust me to always make the right decisions. So, no, it won’t be easy, but in the end, everyone will know I did what I had to do,” he says adamantly.

  “Why don’t you just tell them the truth now? Be honest about it. That way, they’re not surprised.”

  “I can’t. If that information falls into the wrong hands, then this whole thing was for nothing. Our marriage needs to seem as real as possible. Only my closest men know the truth,” he informs me.

  “But it’s your family. Don’t you trust them?” I ask, feeling my eyebrows pull together in confusion.

  “I do, but I also know they are not my employees. I can’t kill them if they disobey me.”

  I feel my eyes widen and my mouth drop open with shock at his words.

  “I’m kidding, Myla.” He shakes his head.

  I search his face, but he doesn’t appear to be joking, and all of a sudden, I feel like Alice when she fell down the rabbit hole.

  “All you need to know is you’re safe. Trust me to keep you that way.”

  “Alrighty,” I mutter, rolling my eyes.

  “Are we done?” he asks impatiently, but I can tell that, if I wanted to talk, more he would put off whatever he needs to do and take some time to talk to me. I would be lying if I didn’t admit that that makes my heart lighten towards him.

  “Well, it’s your soul, so sure.” I shrug.

  His lips twitch, and I notice a small scar that slices through the middle of his full bottom lip. I also notice how his lips look so smooth. I have never been one who really enjoyed kissing, but I could imagine myself really enjoying kissing him.

  “Myla?” he rumbles.

  My eyes lift to his, seeing that they have darkened. I swallow and take a step back, needing to put some space between us. He clears his throat and lifts his hand to the top of his head, pulling his sunglasses down over his eyes, and I immediately feel like I have been blocked out.

  Without another word, he takes my hand again and begins to lead me across the beach. This time, his pace is slower, like he’s more aware of me. As soon as we reach the bonfire, he pauses and begins to look around. I don’t know who he’s looking for, but my body is wound tight and the butterflies that erupted in my stomach earlier have not lessened. Plus, it’s not helping that his thumb is continuously moving in circles over my skin, causing my awareness of him to never calm.

  “Kale!” Kai shouts, and I follow the direction of his gaze.

  My eyes land on a man with short hair who is almost as handsome as Kai. He’s wearing a pair of swim trunks printed with large Hawaiian flowers on them. He starts towards us, his eyes locking on our entwined hands, and I can see trepidation in his gaze as he comes to stand in front of us.

  “Mom and Dad are here,” the guy named Kale says.

  I feel my body freeze, and I begin to look around, trying to pick people who also could be related to Kai out of the crowd.

  “I thought they weren’t going to be home for another week,” Kai mumbles, holding my hand a little tighter.

  “Did you really believe you could call Mom with news that you got married and she wouldn’t rush home to meet her new daughter?” The guy scoffs like Kai’s an idiot, and I’m beginning to believe that that might be the case.

  “They were in Australia,” Kai says.

  I twist my hand slightly to pinch his skin between my fingers as hard as I can, needing to get some of my frustration out. If I could knee him in the nuts without causing a scene, I would do it without a second thought.

  “You got married,” Kale repeats.

  I stop pinching and begin digging my nails into Kai’s palm. I’m so angry that I could spit fire. I can’t believe he brought me here knowing his family would be here, and I really can’t believe he at least didn’t tell me that he’d told his family we got married.

  “Where are they now?” Kai asks, forcing me to move in front of him, wrapping his arms around me, and causing me to become immobile.

  I try to wiggle away, but Kale looks between us, frowning, so I instantly wrap my arms around Kai, making it look like we’re embracing.

  “I’m not sure,” he mutters, looking around, and I do the same even though I have no idea what his mom and dad look like.

  “Well, before they get here, let me introduce you to my wife,” Kai says as I return my gaze to Kale.

  “Nice to meet you,” I tell him softly.

  “You too,” he grunts then glances behind us, a smirk appearing on his face. “Good luck. You’re going to need it,” he says, looking at Kai before disappearing.

  I’m just about to open my mouth and yell at Kai about how giant of an idiot he is when I hear someone t
ake a sharp inhale. I turn my head to look over my shoulder and see an older woman who’s wearing a swimsuit with a sarong tied around her waist and a handsome older man wearing a linen shirt and shorts.

  “Fuck,” Kai groans under his breath while turning me in his arms and wrapping his hands around my waist.

  “Svezda,” the woman whispers, looking at me. Then confusion fills her eyes as she looks at Kai.

  “Mom, I would like you to meet Myla. Myla, my mother and father, Leia and Bane Jr.”

  Kai’s mother’s eyes travel from Kai to me then back again, and I can see hurt in her eyes, which I don’t understand.

  “Nice to meet you,” I tell her, putting my hand out in front of me.

  Her eyes drop to my hand then lift to meet mine again. “Bane?” she gasps quietly, looking from my hand to her husband.

  I take my eyes off her and look at him just as he’s pulling his eyes off me, but I still catch the look of sadness in his gaze.

  “Kai?” I ask as his father tucks his wife into his chest when she begins to sob.

  “My mom and yours were very good friends,” he tells me softly in my ear, “and you look a lot like her, so I think it’s just a shock for her to see you here.”

  “My mom?” I whisper back.

  I don’t have any pictures of my family. I remember my mom having long, blond hair, but that’s all I can recall about her appearance. So thinking about the fact that I might have been seeing my mother every day when I looked in the mirror is shocking.

  It takes a moment for Kai’s mom to pull herself together, but when she does, her head turns towards me, and she takes a deep breath before stepping away from her husband and coming to stand in front of me. Her hand lifts and she cups my cheek as tears fill her eyes.

  “I didn’t know.” She inhales and closes her eyes when her gaze meets mine again.

  I’m confused by the look on her face until she speaks.

  “Your mother would have been thrilled. We would joke often when you were young that you and Kai would get married. At the time, it was just wishful thinking, but seeing that her wish has come true, I know she is still watching over you.” She whispers the last part, and I hate myself a little more.

  I swallow over the sudden lump in my throat and notice that Kai’s hands have tightened around me so much that I can feel every one of his muscles against my back. I try to speak, but there are no words to describe the emotions I’m feeling right now. I can’t believe that his mother and mine were friends, and I can’t believe he knew the kind of effect this situation would have on everyone yet still followed through with it. He never even gave me a choice in the matter, and I feel worse now than I ever did.

  “You knew my parents?” is the first thing that comes out of my mouth, and then I feel horrible when silent tears begin to fall from her eyes.

  “I did. We did. I thought…” She pauses and looks over her shoulder at her husband then brings her gaze back to me. “I believed you were dead. If I had known, I would ha—”

  “Leia,” Kai’s father says, cutting her off, and comes to stand next to her. “Maxim didn’t want that.”

  “But—” she tries to argue.

  “No, love. It wouldn’t have been safe,” Bane says firmly, and Leia dips her chin then looks up at Kai through her long lashes.

  “How did you know?” she asks him quietly.

  I tilt my head back to look at Kai. His sunglasses are now sitting on top of his head again, his eyes focused on his mother.

  “We always knew,” Kai tells her.

  I instantly wonder what else he could be keeping from me. I first believed he was doing this to help me, but a nagging feeling in the pit of my stomach is leading me to believe that this has more to do with him than me. I just can’t figure out why.

  “I know you have a lot of questions, but let’s put them off for another time. Myla hasn’t eaten.”

  “I’m fine,” I tell him, hoping he will relent. I have a lot of questions of my own, and maybe his mom will be able to answer them for me.

  “You need to eat,” he tells me on a squeeze.

  “He’s right, honey. And we’ll have plenty of time to talk when we’re planning your real wedding.”

  At her words, the nausea I was feeling earlier comes back in full force, making it hard to breathe.

  “That’s not necessary,” I wheeze out.

  “Of course it is. I don’t understand kids these days, all of you in such a hurry to get things done that you forget you need to remember the little moments. Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy you have fallen in love with my son, but as a friend of your mother’s, I know she would have wanted a big wedding, with you in a dress. I want to make that happen for her.”

  I nod because I can’t say anything.

  “We should find your sister. I know she will be excited to meet Myla,” Kai’s mom mutters, looking around.

  “She met her earlier,” Kai states, wrapping an arm around my shoulders.

  Her eyes come back to us and go soft when she sees Kai press a kiss to the side of my head, which I stupidly feel all the way down to my toes.

  “We’re both glad you’re here, Myla,” Bane says, looking between Kai and me. “I’m sure we will be seeing a lot of each other.”

  “We will,” I agree, and he puts his arm around his wife.

  “I’m glad you’re here, Myla. I will come over soon and visit with you,” Leia promises.

  “I would enjoy that very much,” I tell her, feeling my face brighten.

  Without thinking, I take a step towards her and give her a hug. When her arms close around me, I feel like she is somehow a link to my parents, and I will be able to find out whatever it is I need to know. That feeling alone is worth whatever messed-up crap is going to happen.

  “Do you have any photos of my mom?” I quietly ask her when I pull away.

  Her face goes soft again, and she gently slides her finger across my forehead, moving a piece of my hair. “I do. I’ll bring them when I come visit you.” She smiles slightly then looks at Kai. “Take care of her.”

  “You know I will,” he tells her, and I can hear the sincerity in his tone. “Are you guys going to stick around for a while?”

  “Yes. Your uncle Frank is here,” his mom says.

  Kai mutters, “great,” under his breath.

  “I heard that,” she scolds then looks at me. “You’ll like Frank.” She smiles. “Your mom loved him. He’s funny.”

  “No one thinks Frank is as funny as Frank thinks he is,” Kai’s dad says, shaking his head.

  “He’s funny,” his mom tells me with a wink. “We will see you guys before we head home.”

  “Sure,” I concur, watching them walk away. Once they are out of earshot, I turn in Kai’s arms, get up on my tiptoes, and pull his head down so I can whisper in his ear, “You have a lot of explaining to do.”

  He leans his head back and looks down at me. His arms wrap around my waist, and he hauls me flush against him, making me inhale sharply at the feeling he ignites between my legs.

  “You told me you would trust me.”

  “You keep making that task very difficult,” I tell him honestly.

  “Sometimes, the things that seem the most difficult end up being the most extraordinary,” he tells me quietly, dipping his face and running his nose across mine.

  My breath pauses as his lips barely skim mine. “Please stop,” I murmur, dropping my forehead to his chest.

  He is making it so difficult to separate real from fake, and I cannot let myself be pulled down any further than I already have been. Regardless of how much I want to get lost in this thing with him, I know I can’t.

  “Myla?”

  “No, Kai, please. This is already hard enough.”

  “All right, makamae,” he says gently, letting me go, but not before I can feel his arousal against my belly, which makes my stomach dip.

  “What does makamae mean?” I question as he takes my hand again, making a t
ingling sensation shoot up my arm.

  “One day, I’ll tell you,” he says, leading me through the sand back towards the fire pit.

  “Why not now?”

  “Now, you need to eat,” he says, giving my hand a tug when my feet stop moving, because in front of me, on a table, is a pig that looks like it has been cooked whole. The outside is golden and glossy, and in its mouth is a bright-red apple.

  “I’m not hungry,” I tell him immediately.

  I love meat; hell, I love bacon as much as the next person. But seeing a pig whole like the one sitting in front of me makes my stomach turn over.

  “You need to try it.”

  “I can’t,” I whimper.

  “I know you eat meat. I’ve seen you eat meat, including bacon.”

  “I know,” I swallow as saliva fills my mouth.

  “I’m going to make a plate for myself and one for you without the kalua, and if you feel like it, you can have some of mine,” he tells me, which makes my body relax. I don’t want anyone to think I’m being disrespectful of their culture, but I cannot imagine myself eating that.

  After making our plates, he leads me a little ways down the beach, away from most of the crowd. He takes a seat in the sand, and I follow his lead, slipping my sandals off before sitting down next to him. Once I’m situated, he hands me my plate and I begin to eat, enjoying everything he chose for me.

  “It’s really beautiful,” I say, looking out at the ocean.

  “It is,” he agrees.

  I turn my head and see that he’s not looking at the water, but at me, and there is a dark look in his eyes that makes my pulse speed up.

  “Would you try something with me?”

  “Like what?” I ask, turning slightly towards him.

  “I want you to close your eyes and I’m going to feed you.”

  “Kai.” I shake my head but then realize this might be the perfect opportunity for me to get some answers. “If I do this, then you have to do something for me,” I tell him.

 
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