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Bound by him, p.4
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       Bound by Him, p.4

           Red Garnier
 
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  He remembered how she’d cried in his arms when he asked her what had happened. In the middle of the street, right there, as soon as she told him she fell, Andrew hadn’t bought it. Feeling a chill along his spine, he asked, “Did someone put his hands on you, Whitney?”

  She’d dropped her head, and he heard her catch her breath, which only made his gut clench tighter.

  “Please tell me,” he urged, taking her by the shoulders and gently squeezing, his insides a roiling hot mess.

  “W-why?” she asked, looking up at him.

  “Because I want to help you. Because I . . .” He hesitated, then leaned in, caught her scent, and before he could stop himself, he turned his head and softly kissed her ear and said, “Because I want you for myself. And I won’t have anyone hurting you.”

  His heart still caved in on itself at the way she’d sort of . . . fallen into his arms . . . fallen, like her legs gave out . . . and started crying with him. Feeling murderous, he’d tucked her into his car and drove her to his father’s house, merely because it was closest, and talked to her for hours. He’d promised her nobody would ever touch her again and threw himself into the task of freeing her from that pedophile rapist that very day.

  He’d put the best lawyers on the case, and the court revoked the man’s guardianship a few months before Whitney turned eighteen. She’d been sleeping at his father’s place, in Andrew’s old room, but on her eighteenth birthday, Andrew asked her if she’d like to come live with him. “I need a roommate,” he said to her, but the truth was, he just wanted to be as close to her as possible.

  She excitedly spent the day packing up her old place. Officially, she was to become his “roommate,” but that evening her uncle Harry had stopped by for an unexpected visit. Andrew should’ve known the man would be angry. Along with his guardianship being revoked, the money he’d been receiving for his role had been withdrawn. Hell, Andrew shouldn’t have even let her go home alone. His heart pounded as he remembered that day, almost five years ago.

  “He’s at the door!”

  “Bitch . . . bitch . . . open up you fucking bitch!”

  The fear in Whitney’s voice coming through the telephone, joined with the muffled curses in the background, had sent Andrew’s every alarm instinct into overdrive.

  She didn’t need to tell him who “he” was. He was the damned uncle Andrew had fought, tooth and bone, to remove her guardianship from. “Don’t open it! I’ll be right there, call nine-one-one.”

  Andrew arrived at the Donahue townhome before the authorities did and instantly spotted Whitney, a little trembling ball of fear at the bottom of the staircase. Her dress was soaked in blood, and sobs wrenched her small form as she cradled herself. Her uncle’s beefy, thick, prostrate form lay sprawled, facedown, on the floor beside her.

  “Please tell me you’re all right!” Charging forward, he fell to her side and frantically searched her. “Are you bleeding? Is this your blood?” He ran his hands over the blood on her chest, trying to be careful but too desperate to find the source of that blood to be slow.

  “It’s his b-b-blood. Oh, God, I th-think I . . .” She was blinking fast, too fast, blinking back tears, or memories, as she stared straight ahead. “I th-think he’s d-d-dead. Oh, my G-G-God, I—”

  On his knees, Andrew turned to the figure’s side and felt for a pulse. There was none.

  A flicker of apprehension coursed through him.

  He’d never seen so much blood. It was soaking his pants from where he’d dropped at her side.

  “What happened, baby?” he asked gently.

  “Andrew, I-I just g-g-grabbed a k-kitchen knife to protect m-myself and h-he kicked the d-door open and when h-he c-came in I-I fell, and h-he fell on me—h-he just th-threw himself on me. The knife w-went in, it j-j-just went in by itself!”

  “Shh. It’s all right, it was an accident. In self-defense.”

  But no.

  Fear, stark and vivid, curled around his heart as an icy chill spread around his being.

  Whitney was eighteen now. No longer a child. They could claim carrying that knife would signal intent to use it. Second-degree murder could carry from sixteen years to life. She could be sent to a women’s penitentiary. Endure a trial. Be questioned about her relationship with the man. They’d bring back all the times she’d been touched by that man . . . her worst nightmares and the darkest moments of her life scrutinized by the public and a jury . . .

  No way in hell was Andrew going to risk it. Not even a hair on her head.

  He imagined Whitney, the love of his fucking life, the woman he wanted to marry, and he pictured her in court. Self-defense, his ass. People got sued in this country by thieves who fell inside their fucking homes while trying to steal them blind.

  “Whitney,” he said softly, lifting her to her feet. “Close your dress, baby, and go outside with Jerry, he’ll take you to my home. I’m going to pack your things.”

  She wanted to protest, shook her head. “I-It w-was n-not m-my f-fault, Andrew.”

  “Yes, I understand,” he said. But they might not.

  The man had not had a weapon that he could see, but Whitney had used her kitchen knife. It was crazy to think there wouldn’t be repercussions. Whitney would be asked all those questions she dreaded about the rapes, and her soul would be torn apart and inspected. She would be asked about her panic attacks, and how sane she was . . .

  “Go now, hurry,” he said, kissing her lips fiercely. “Do it for me.”

  She did as he instructed, and he watched as Jerry quickly ushered her into the car and drove off. Andrew had to face the music and plead guilty straight away, if he wanted no investigation. Otherwise they’d search and search . . . see the footprints . . . the blood dripping . . . ask who else had been here. And why.

  Andrew got a wet rag and reached under the man’s chest, to the protruding end of the knife, right over his heart. He wiped it as best as he could, then he grabbed the knife in his hand so that every one of his fucking fingerprints was on there.

  When he went to wash the rag of blood, he smashed his head into the refrigerator.

  By the time the police sirens screamed in the distance, easily ten more minutes later, his face was black and blue from his own beating, and Andrew had already called his father to let him know he’d better start calling the FBI.

  He’d just killed a man.

  That night, Whitney had been desperate for comfort. Barely eighteen, she was six years younger than Andrew. Still. He was in love with her. And she’d been scared when he’d been detained for questioning for hours.

  He’d gotten home almost at midnight, and went straight to his room to bathe and change, his clothes still bloodied and plastered with his own sweat. His gaze snagged on her small figure when he emerged from the bathroom in a towel. She stood in his bedroom door. Naked. Beautifully, perfectly, lusciously naked. Every curve of her up on display for him. The need to possess her knifed through him, his cock swelling up instantly. For months he’d waited for her to come of age, and seeing every luscious inch of her exposed to him wrecked all his control.

  He could barely speak, his throat felt so tight. “You don’t need to do this,” he’d said thickly, quickly grabbing a dry towel and throwing it over her shoulders.

  “Please, don’t turn me away. Please.” Her voice shook with need as she wound her arms around him, dropping the towel at her feet. “I want you. I need you. What if they . . . because of what I . . . Will we get in trouble?”

  “Shh. You were never there, all right? And I’m a Fairchild.” He stroked her jaw with four fingers and then pulled her hard against his diaphragm, the swells of her breasts tight and snug against his body. Her fingers sliding up his throat, into his hair. Killing him. Obliterating any defense he might have against her. Any resistance.

  “But it’s my fault, Andrew. I’m the one who did it,” she whispered up at him, tears in her voice.

  He hugged her tighter, his wet, semi-naked body feeling e
very inch of her silken nude curves. “Whitney, nothing is your fault. It was his fault. Only his.”

  “I’m going to hell,” she said brokenly, sobbing in his arms.

  “No, baby, angels belong in heaven.”

  Later, she’d cried after he made love to her. She called them tears of joy, but they still got to him. She’d been just a baby. An eighteen-year-old baby. But she was his. And he’d protected her for as long as he could. Their lives transformed when they were together, their love so powerful it consumed them, day and night. It made them strong, it helped them cope, it enabled them to survive. Andrew had to keep her from knowing what had happened in the years that followed.

  She’d endured too much, was slowly, slowly, recovering from her past abuse.

  She’d never know the deal he and his family had made.

  Andrew would never have willingly taken a goddamned plane out of his country, his sole company the air marshal summoned to escort him to the penitentiary. He’d never have left the woman he loved behind, alone and barely learning to make it on her own. But he’d done it for her.

  The inside story would run like this: Harry Donahue, divorced brother to Whitney’s father, had entered his niece’s home to attack her. She had just left, but Andrew was there, and the man attacked him, so Andrew killed him in self-defense.

  Even with that story, he knew there would be a price to pay for the blood on that floor. But the one to pay would not be Whitney.

  Not as long as Andrew still lived.

  It took almost a year to discuss the terms with the government, negotiate the Fairchilds’ requests and propositions, until they finally settled on supporting the president’s reelection campaign with a hefty eight-figure sum, with Andrew serving three years in their island penitentiary, one of several which served special purposes like this.

  His criminal record would be clean, and the DA would not press charges based on insufficient evidence.

  As part of the deal, Andrew had requested another year before serving, merely to organize his businesses and his life. More than that, he just wanted to make sure Whitney would do well by herself.

  He’d arranged everything so that she would. Checking accounts, chauffeurs, his family was to treat her like more than his wife. Like she was Andrew’s very life.

  “She's my soul, if she's all right then so am I,” he’d told his father. “But whatever happens, she's not to know where I am.”

  No. She’d been too young, too hurt back then.

  But the girl he’d left behind was gone, and he’d come back to a fully grown woman. Stubborn as hell. Passionate. Feisty. Holy God, he was still reeling from the way she’d responded to his touch. To him.

  He wondered what he could say to her now, to restore her trust in him once more. He’d promised he’d always protect her, always love her, and he hadn’t broken his promise.

  But what he’d had to do to keep it had broken her heart.

  He ached for her to look at him the way she used to, like he’d been the man to save her from pain, instead of the one who’d inflicted it on her. He ached for her touch, her smiles, to make her happy again. He could feel a rift between them, he could feel her jamming a knife in there and spreading it open even as he made love to her; he’d felt her pain. Her anger.

  Goddammit, no.

  He wouldn’t let this tear them apart.

  Her pride was wounded because he wouldn’t explain, couldn’t explain, and he understood that. He needed a better excuse, but he just didn’t know how to keep lying to her anymore.

  When considering his options, he’d thought it was best she imagine he’d been working and, perhaps, been stupidly neglectful, rather than having her know he’d been locked up in little more than a cage, sweating for human contact and hungering for her. She’d blame herself. Fuck. It was he who’d gone through hell for both of them—he wouldn’t allow her to go through it, as well.

  But would this Whitney be content with whatever version he could come up with?

  Frowning at the thought, he tucked her deeper into his arms and buried his face in her fragrant hair.

  She stirred in his arms, her face peaceful in sleep. He stared into her face. A part of him doubted himself, his eyes, the feeling of her in his arms. But she was no dream, God, she wasn’t a dream. And he drank up the sight of her like a thirsting desert survivor.

  “You’ve grown so beautiful, Whitney,” he said in a barely audible rasp. “You’ve filled out and feel so good and womanly in my arms . . .”

  He stroked her cheeks, adoring the bones of her face, the feel of her skin. “I love you, you know that, right?” He kissed her lips, knowing he’d do anything, anything, to hear her say I love you back.

  He laced their hands together and looked at her tattoos, just to remind himself that he still owned her, remind himself she was still his . . .

  And he told himself that he hadn’t lost her while trying to save them both.

  Chapter Three

  Hands on her ankles, pulling her down . . .

  “No!” Whitney screamed, but a hand that smelled of cigarettes grabbed her and cut off her air, her breathing.

  “You’re a dirty little girl, if you don’t stay still you’ll never go out of this house again, do you hear me? Do you want me to punish you?”

  She went utterly still, thinking, Please don’t hit me . . .

  But he still hit her.

  A fist smacked across her temple and pain exploded in her head, leaving her dazed and frightened, whimpering softly, helplessly, as he pulled down her panties, then pushed up her nightgown, and took her in her own bed, in her own home, while Whitney stared up at the ceiling, thinking of the dark-haired young man she’d seen at Chloe Lexington’s home . . . and how he’d smiled at her . . . and how that smile had made her feel . . .

  She woke up crying, alone in bed, and for an instant, she felt as lonely and miserable as she’d been every night that man had come to her bed.

  She curled into a ball, but the scent of roses suffused her nostrils, and the confusion cut off her sobs. A lone red rose lay on one of the pillows, and Whitney’s memory of last night came crashing down on her.

  Andrew.

  Andrew was home.

  Excitement barraged through her at the realization. She sat up, and with a frantic tapping on the Creston screen sitting on the nightstand, the drapes rolled open.

  Her gaze darted across the room for evidence, and her spirit soared when she saw a half-full glass of water on his nightstand, his shoes of yesterday scattered on the floor. Her stomach fluttered uncontrollably as yesterday replayed itself in her head, and for a moment she lay back on the pillow and lovingly surveyed both her wrists, as had become habit.

  She closed her eyes and kissed each one, her lips lingering on his name, then she sighed as she remembered yesterday, their desperate lovemaking, how good it felt to sleep next to him. Her body felt sore in all of her most sensitive places. Deliciously sore. Impulsively, she bent to smell his pillow, and her pussy watered.

  But her heart.

  God, her heart was breaking.

  She just couldn’t do this to herself.

  Act like three years hadn’t happened.

  Pick up where they left off.

  She was too vulnerable with him. Too hurt.

  A heaviness settled in her chest as a vivid recollection of the past three years without him swept through her, then she realized the shower water had just shut off. Her pulse fluttered as the significance of that sunk in.

  She jerked up in the bed as the door rolled open and quickly clutched the sheet to her chest, her heart sinking.

  Oh no.

  The sunlight only made him look darker.

  Sinfully. Sensually. Darker.

  It was a struggle to contain her response to him when he spotted her on the bed, with her hair undone and falling past her shoulders, and those liquid oil-field eyes acquired a mysterious new shine while his lips pulled sensually at the corners.

 
How could she ever protect herself from him when he was so close again?

  His torso gleamed from his shower. With his wet, dark hair slicked back from his smooth forehead, his manly features sharpened to levels that surpassed the sexiest centerfold. Every pore and inch of his body was hard and rugged, and the white towel draped around his hips was a stark contrast to his hard muscles and deep tan.

  Her body came alive with a vengeance. She wanted to take off that towel and take him in her hands, her mouth, her body again. She wanted to feel his piercing rasping against her sheath and know that she hadn’t made him up. Suddenly she knew, without even the tiniest hesitation, that she would never willingly let this man go without a fight first.

  Never.

  No man in the world would ever make her respond like this. No hands would know her body, pleasure her, tame and control her passions, like he did. No one would ever own her heart when she had never been able to take it back from him. She had been waiting three years. For this man.

  No. She wasn’t going to let him go.

  But she wasn’t going to make it easy, either.

  She’d endured too much, had come too far along to hand her heart over as if she was worth nothing.

  “You have no idea,” she began, because he really didn’t, and couldn’t know, how much she had missed and ached for him daily, “how glad I am that you’re back.”

  The tenderness that warmed his dark eyes crammed her chest with emotion. “And you have no idea,” he answered, and meaningfully added, “how good it is to be back. With you.”

  Smiling softly, she tugged the sheet from the bed corners and started wrapping it around herself. “Andrew, I really need to make sure we’re clear on what happened last night.”

  Propping a shoulder on the threshold, he crossed his arms as he watched her. “I’m all yours,” he said, looking very much like he was thoroughly enjoying the sight of her in his bed.

 
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