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       Obligation, p.8

         Part #2 of Underground Kings series by Aurora Rose Reynolds
 
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  “We are, but there will be a photographer and I would like to have some pictures of you and Kai,” my mom says, making me feel guilty.

  I swallow down my own personal feelings and walk towards the woman. “Where would you like me?”

  “Here is just fine.” She stops in front of me, sizes me up, and then opens the garment bag, pulling out a white dress. “You’re much smaller than he normally likes,” she mutters to herself.

  I shake off the feeling I get from her words and look at my mom.

  “You’re going to look beautiful.” My mom smiles then begins talking to Kai’s mom and sister.

  Even though I’m in a room full of people, I feel alone. I close my eyes and wish that I were back in bed with Kai again.

  *

  “Makamae.”

  I lift my head and my eyes crash with Kai’s. His eyes run over my hair and body then land on my feet before meeting my gaze again. When I looked in the mirror after his sister and Marcy finished with me, I was shocked. I looked like a model—nothing like myself at all.

  My long, blond hair had been highlighted, with caramel lowlights added in too, and blown out completely straight so that it hangs down to the middle of my back. My skin, which has gotten darker from the Hawaiian sun, now glows from the lotion they used.

  The dress I have on shows off my figure and does this crazy lift to my breasts that makes them look like they are fake, and the heels I have on make my legs look a mile long. His eyes look me over again, and when they meet mine again, I can feel the heat in his eyes.

  I inhale a deep breath and take him in for the first time. His hair is back and his jaw is shadowed, making him look even more warrior-like than he normally does. His hands flex at his sides, and I notice he’s not wearing his typical suit, but a pair of light dress pants and a white button-down shirt with the top two buttons undone. His eyebrows pull together, and he walks towards me when he realizes I’m not coming to him.

  “What’s wrong?” he asks, stepping up to me.

  “I… Well…” I pause and look behind him at the closed door. When I decided to do this earlier, it seemed like an okay idea, but now that I’m in the moment, I’m not so sure.

  “If you don’t want to go, we can get undressed, put in a movie, lock the door, and put Aye and Pika on guard,” he says, looking concerned.

  I feel that feeling in my gut expanding further, making me warm all over. “You would do that, wouldn’t you?” I lean into him, place my hands on his chest, and look into his eyes.

  “Of course.”

  I swallow and let the feeling coursing through me settle in before I start to lean back.

  “Where are you going?” he questions, snaking one arm around me while his other hand cups my cheek and his thumb runs over my bottom lip.

  “You’ll mess up my lip gloss,” I complain.

  He smirks then lowers his mouth, kissing me wet and deep before pulling back slowly, leaving me panting.

  “Now, what were you going to say?” He leans back, and my fingers go to his mouth, where I wipe my lip gloss off his lips.

  “I…” I clear my throat, feeling nervous all of a sudden. “I have something for you,” I say, taking a step back, needing to have a little space between us. “I just want you to know you can always say no or that it’s stupid—”

  “Myla,” he cuts me off, pulling me closer. “What is it?”

  I bite my lip and step away from him again. This time, I go over to the dresser and open the top drawer, pulling out the small, black box I placed there earlier.

  I realized this morning that the ring Kai had given me tethered me to him. I had a constant reminder of him with me, and the more I thought about it, the more I wanted him to be tied to me in a way that could be seen by anyone who happened to be in his presence. I could lie and say that I wouldn’t be disappointed if he told me he wouldn’t wear the ring I was about to give to him, but I knew deep down that this was going to be one of the moments that defined us and where we were going.

  I turn towards him, and his eyes drop to the box in my hand. When his gaze comes back to mine, his eyes are filled with confusion. When I’m finally standing in front of him, I hand the box to him and he opens the lid.

  “It’s okay if you don’t wear it,” I whisper, unsure of what to say because I can’t read his face as he removes the ring from the confines of the box.

  “Put it on me,” he says, lifting his eyes to meet mine.

  I take a deep breath then take the ring from him, feeling the ridges from the design and the weight of the heavy metal between my fingers as I take his hand and slide the ring onto his finger.

  When the idea about getting Kai a ring came to me, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. I went to the jewelry store and was escorted to the gold wedding bands most men wear, but none of them seemed like Kai. I gave up and was leaving the store when I noticed a ring in one of the display cases that held some pieces of traditional Hawaiian jewelry. The large, silver band with a black design engraved into the metal looked like the tattoo on his arm, and I knew it was something I could see on him.

  I’m so caught up in my own head that I don’t realize I’m moving until the backs of my knees hit the bed and I’m lying down with Kai covering me.

  “You bought me a ring,” he growls.

  I can’t read the look on his face, so I just nod.

  “Thank you,” he whispers, kissing me on my lips then down my neck to the tops of my breasts.

  “Kai,” I whimper.

  “Yes, makamae?” He licks back up to my mouth, kissing me again.

  “The party,” I whisper as I feel myself falling deeper into the moment.

  “I’m going to make love to my wife,” he grunts, causing moisture to flood my center.

  “Okay,” I whisper then hear him chuckle as his hands go to the back of my dress.

  “Come out here right now!” is yelled as someone bangs on the bedroom door.

  “Fuck!” he roars.

  I hear giggling outside, and then Kai’s soft eyes look down at me.

  “After this, you’re mine,” he says quietly, placing a soft kiss on my jaw.

  “Yes,” I agree immediately.

  He smiles, gently kisses me, gets off the bed, and then pulls me up with him.

  “So, is the ring okay?” I ask him, looking at the ground, feeling unsure.

  His fingers go to my chin and he lifts my face towards his. “It’s perfect.” He kisses me again then searches my face. “You’re perfect.”

  I bite the inside of my cheek to avoid saying something stupid or pushing him back over to the bed. “I just need to fix my lip gloss,” I tell him, and a smile appears on his face.

  “It won’t last long.” He kisses me again, making me laugh.

  “Good thing I have a whole tube of it,” I say, stepping away from him and into the bathroom.

  I hear the door to our room open and his sister come in, and I smile and look at myself in the mirror, seeing a look of almost-blinding happiness in my eyes.

  “Ready?” Kai asks, walking into the bathroom after a moment.

  “Yep.” I smile as he takes my hand and leads me out of the room.

  When we make it down to the party, I’m astounded by the number of people who have shown up. One hundred and fifty people sounds like a lot, but seeing that many people is overwhelming.

  “We were wondering if you guys were going to show up,” my dad says, walking up to us, carrying a glass of wine in one hand and a beer in the other.

  “I don’t think Mom would let me skip this even if I wanted to.” I smile, taking the glass of wine he holds out to me. Then I give him a hug.

  “You look beautiful, honey.”

  “Thanks, Dad,” I whisper and then lean against Kai when he pulls me back into his side.

  “Kai.” My dad smiles, shakes Kai’s hand, and then hands him the beer. “You’re going to need that,” my dad tells him.

  Kai’s lips tilt up as he mutters,
“Thanks.”

  “I’m going to go find your mom. I’ll see you soon,” Dad says and walks off into the crowd.

  I take a sip of wine and look around then up at Kai. “It’s going to be a long night.”

  “Tell me about it,” he mumbles as his eyes drop to my breasts.

  I can’t help the laugh that escapes, and I lean up to kiss his cheek. It doesn’t take long after that for everyone to notice that we have arrived, and they begin to come up and offer congratulations to us. It feels like we stand in the same spot forever, only having a moment’s break when my mom brings the photographer over to snap a few pictures of us. When I notice a lull in the crowd and see that Kai is caught up talking with a group of people I don’t know, I tell that I’ll be back and make a quick escape to the bathroom. Inside the house, there are people everywhere, and there are long lines at both the bathrooms, so I make my way to our bedroom and quickly use the restroom there then head back outside.

  “Would you like a glass of wine?” one of the servers asks, stepping in front of me.

  I debate for a moment then decide yes and take the glass from his tray, giving him a quiet thank-you before I take a sip. I start back towards Kai then detour when I spot his mom, waiting until she is done talking to the person in front of her before telling her quietly, “Thank you for doing this for us.”

  She turns to face me and her eyes go soft as she runs her down my cheek. “I should be thanking you. As a mom, you always want what’s best for your kids, and I’ve been worried for a few years that Kai was not going to find someone worthy of him. I’m glad he found you,” she whispers, and I feel tears begin to fill my eyes. “No crying,” she chides, leaning forward and giving me a hug while accidently knocking the drink out of my hand.

  “It’s fine.” I smile as she apologizes.

  “Thank God I didn’t spill that on your dress.” she mumbles, picking up the plastic glass and handing it to a passing waiter. “You go find your husband while I go and get you another glass of wine.”

  “Maybe that was a sign that I shouldn’t have any more wine,” I laugh, and her face goes soft again.

  “You remind me so much of her,” she says faintly then looks around.

  I know this is making her uncomfortable, but I still have a lot of questions to ask her about my parents. Just…now isn’t the time or the place.

  “I’m going to go find Kai, but I would like for us to have lunch when my mom leaves. If that’s okay?” I question, placing a hand on my stomach when it begins to turn.

  “I would enjoy that. We’ll work out the details later. Just go enjoy your night.”

  “Thank you.”

  She smiles then walks off as a wave of dizziness hits me. I brush it off and take a deep breath then head towards Kai.

  When I reach his side, his eyes come to me and a small smile lights his face before he leans down and presses a kiss to my lips.

  “Missed you,” he mutters against my mouth.

  As I start to reply, I feel like I might faint.

  “What’s wrong?”

  I look up into his blurry face and everything tilts as I fall against his chest.

  “What the fuck?” he growls, and I feel myself being lifted then carried.

  I hear commotion going on around me, and I want to ask what happened, but everything goes black.

  *

  The sound of beeping off in the distance begins to grate on my nerves. When I finally get one eye open, I can tell I’m in Kai’s and my room.

  “Turn off the alarm,” I croak, and my hand goes to my throat when I feel it burn. I try to sit up, and suddenly, strong arms are stopping me.

  “Easy,” Kai’s rough voice commands.

  I look at him, and there are dark circles under his eyes and he looks like he hasn’t slept in days. My mind reels as I try to remember anything at all.

  “What happened?” I ask as he helps me sit back against the headboard before reaching across me and grabbing a glass of water from the bedside table. When I lift my hands to take the glass from him, I notice an IV.

  I look at Kai and try to understand what’s going on, and he just shakes his head and lifts the cup closer to my mouth. I feel tears sting my nose as I take the glass from him and hold it between my shaky hands. I slowly take a sip of water and look around the room. Everything looks the same, except there is now an IV stand and a large machine next to the bed, which I instantly recognize as where the beeping is coming from.

  “I’m sorry,” Kai says, and my gaze goes back to him.

  “What happened?” I repeat through the pain in my throat.

  “You were poisoned.” He rubs the back of his neck. “It was a small amount, but still enough to make you very sick.”

  “Oh, God,” I breathe.

  “They pumped your stomach. That’s why your throat is so sore. The doctor assured me it would get better after a few days.”

  “How?” I whisper, still in shock.

  “Mom said you had a glass of wine at the party, and it wasn’t one that anyone recalls giving you.” He rubs the bridge of his nose. “She said she accidently knocked it out of your hand when it was still full.”

  “I had a sip.”

  “That’s what we figured. Do you remember anything about the waiter who gave it to you?”

  “No.” I shake my head, not recalling anything about him. “There were so many people there.”

  “I know.” He sounds angry as he shakes his head.

  “Are you okay?” I whisper when he doesn’t look at me.

  “Fine. Just glad you’re awake.” He leans in and places a kiss on my cheek. “Why don’t you lie back down and I’ll get your parents.”

  “My parents?” I ask.

  “They’ve been worried they wouldn’t get to see you awake before they left, and I wanted to be able to talk to you, tell you what was going on before you had visitors,” he mutters, and I can tell from his demeanor and tone that he is exhausted.

  “You should lie down here with me. You look tired. They can wait a little longer,” I tell him, not liking the feeling in the pit of my stomach.

  He shakes his head and takes the water from my hand, setting it on the table next to me before helping me lie back down.

  “Kai,” I whisper, noticing he’s avoiding looking at me.

  His eyes come to mine and I see pain flash through them before it disappears, when his face lowers and he mutters, “I’m sorry,” against my mouth. He rests his forehead against mine for a moment. Then he gets up and leaves the room without looking back.

  I watch him go, and tears fill my eyes because I know that was the end of us.

  “Oh, honey, don’t cry,” my mom says when she finds me curled into a ball on my side, tears dripping onto the pillow, a few minutes later. She pushes my hair away from my face then hands me a tissue. “We’re so relieved you’re okay.”

  “Just a bad case of food poisoning.” I spit out yet another lie, knowing there is no way I can possibly tell my parents that someone tried to kill me.

  “Good thing your husband thinks fast on his toes,” Dad says.

  I tilt my head back to meet his eyes then nod in agreement.

  “Do you feel okay?” Mom questions, looking at the machine next to the bed.

  “Tired but fine,” I assure her.

  “We’re glad you woke up before we left.”

  “You’re leaving?”

  “We wish we could stay, but the bakery’s been busy and we don’t have a lot of help right now,” my dad mutters, looking guilty.

  “Of course,” I whisper, taking his hand. “I’ll come see you guys soon,” I promise him and actually mean it.

  “Maybe we will be back before that. Perhaps for a baby shower.” My mom smiles, and new tears begin to sting my nose, but I fight them back. “We love you, honey.”

  “Love you too, Mom,” I whisper as a lump of emotion clogs my throat.

  She moves out of the way, and my dad takes her place, lean
ing down and kissing my forehead.

  “Remember you always have a safe place to fall,” he tells me before kissing my forehead again and standing to his full height.

  “We’ll call as soon as we land in Nevada. Just make sure you rest and that your husband does as well.”

  “I will, Mom,” I reply and then kiss her cheek when she leans down to give me another hug.

  “Bye, honey,” my dad says as he takes my mom’s hand, and they leave the room.

  I stare at the closed door for a moment before turning onto my side and carefully pulling the covers up over my shoulder.

  *

  I wake up and the room is dark, but I feel the weight of Kai’s arm around me and his warmth at my back, so I push myself deeper into him. He tightens his hold on me as he whispers something I can’t understand. I try to pull myself out of my sleep-ridden state enough to ask what it means, but exhaustion takes me away before I ever get the chance.

  *

  I wake up with the sun shining on me and the bed behind me completely cold. I lift my hand, and the IV that was there is gone, along with the machines. I roll over and look at the clock—it’s after two in the afternoon. I almost think that yesterday was a bad dream, but then my eyes land on a folded piece of paper on the pillow next to me. I scoot up in bed, and with shaky hands, I unfold the note.

  I was wrong. I couldn’t keep you safe. My lawyer will be in touch with the divorce papers, and my men will take care of you until I know you’re safe to go home.

  XX Kai

  My lungs compress and I fight to take a breath, as it feels like my heart is being ripped from my chest. Even though I knew it was coming, it still kills me. I carefully sit on the side of the bed, and the door opens. I turn my head and my eyes collide with Pika’s.

  “Do you need help?” he asks softly.

  I want to scream at him to go away, but instead, I shake my head and stand slowly.

  “Let me help you,” he says, ignoring me and walking into the room.

  Tears begin to fall again and I swipe them away with the back of my hand.

  “It will be okay,” he consoles quietly.

  The pity I hear in his tone causes a ball of anger to build in my stomach. He wraps his arm around my shoulders, and I push him away, stumbling slightly.

 
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