Authors: Kelly Favor
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Women's Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Contemporary Fiction
Finally, the got to the stoop and Easton
used the handrail to assist
up the steps to
the front door.
They opened the door without the key,
just turned the knob and the door squeaked open.
“Sorry, I think we forgot to lock up when
we left,” Kennedy said.
“Great,” Easton chuckled as he limped
“We’ll probably get killed
by a couple of thieves now.
would be a perfect end to a perfect day.”
But when they got inside, there were no
thieves, and Easton dropped heavily onto the couch, lying back and resting his
His eyes were black and blue,
his lip swollen and split, dried blood around his nostrils.
Kennedy went to him, pulled his shoes
“What are you doing?” he said.
“Making you comfortable.”
“I don’t need you to undress me.
I’m an adult.
Getting my ass kicked didn’t turn me
into a child.”
“Let me help you, Easton.
Let me take care of you for once.”
He sighed and dropped an arm across his
“It’s too damn bright in
“Do you want to go up to the bedroom?”
“Oh, you’d love that, wouldn’t you?” he
“I’m just trying to help.”
“I guess you still haven’t learned your
He was being prickly and a little nasty,
although she couldn’t really blame him.
He’d been through hell.
“Are you thirsty?” she asked.
After a long pause, he nodded
“Water would be nice.”
Kennedy went to the kitchen and got him a
glass of water with ice, carried it over to the couch and handed it to him.
Easton sipped gingerly at the water,
wincing a little.
He reached his
fingers into his mouth and groaned.
His fingers came away dark with blood.
Just a loose tooth.
Fuckers were starting in on my teeth with
a pair of pliers when Kane Wright interrupted them to negotiate with Jimmy.”
She couldn’t believe her
sure that Easton must be joking.
They had me tied to a chair in some
dingy basement with old dried
And they were torturing
me for fun.
Jimmy DeLuca really
liked making me scream—he laughed like a hyena every time I yelled.”
Kennedy wanted to cover her own
Seeing Easton like this, his
large, muscular body draped on the couch, looking almost broken—it was
painful physically for her to witness it.
His suit was dirty and ripped, his face
was swollen, his voice hoarse and rasping.
“Thank God you lived,” she said finally,
tears streaming down her cheeks.
Easton finally took his arm away from his
face and blinked at her.
stayed,” he smiled, almost a grimace.
“You didn’t take the money and run.”
She shook her head.
“Of course not.”
“You’re the reason I’m alive, Kennedy.”
“That’s not true—“
“I know what I know.”
His voice grew suddenly louder,
forceful, and she realized that he wasn’t broken.
Not at all.
He was like a proud lion that had been
torn open in battle, but he wasn’t weak from it.
If anything, his true strength was
His eyes met hers
and she felt his power and strength and it was enough to melt all of her fear
and anxiety away.
“I would’ve done anything to bring you
back safe to me,” she admitted.
“You did do anything.
And you did everything.”
He reached out to her and she allowed
him to take her hand, pulling her slowly towards him.
“I don’t want to hurt you,” she said.
“Sit down,” he commanded, pulling harder.
She sat down on the couch, her hip
pressed against his lower abdomen as he turned slightly towards her.
His hand fell on her leg.
“You need to rest now,” she whispered,
caressing Easton’s hair, pushing it away from his forehead.
What I need to do,” he said, “is look at
your beautiful face.”
Tears started dripping down her cheeks
again as she laughed self-consciously, wiping them away.
“I was sure I’d lost you.”
“You’ll never lose me, Kennedy.”
“It’s a damn promise.”
His hand massaged her leg.
She felt her skin break into goose
As she looked at him lying
there, his eyes so calm and focused on her and her alone, she grew suddenly
“You don’t think Jimmy DeLuca’s going to
retaliate, do you?” she asked.
Easton shrugged almost
“I don’t know.
He’ll be licking his wounds for a while,
And besides, who knows
what Kane Wright decided to do with him.”
“You think…” Kennedy trailed off for a
“Would Kane Wright kill
“Maybe,” Easton said.
“Whatever DeLuca gets, he definitely has
Kennedy still couldn’t believe everything
had turned so violent and so ugly.
Images of the chaos and horror were still flashing through her mind.
The albino being stabbed in the chest.
Red choking that one mobster.
Easton punching Jimmy DeLuca over and
over, trying to crush his ribs.
The worst of it was
that man Trevor, and what had been done to him because of Kennedy’s
When they’d removed his
hood, he hadn’t even seemed to know or care where he was.
“Are you okay?” Easton asked.
“You look weird.”
“I’m…I’m not feeling so good.”
She felt her stomach lurch, and then she
was running to the bathroom and falling to her knees in front of the toilet as
the previous night’s food came out in a rush.
She flushed the toilet, her stomach
heaving again, but nothing came out this time.
Kennedy sat back, exhausted.
She got up and rinsed her mouth out with
mouthwash that was sitting on the sink ledge and then splashed some cold water
on her face.
When she emerged from the bathroom,
Easton was standing near the stairs.
He looked at her kindly.
“Come on,” he said.
need to go to bed.
I’m not the only
one who’s been through the ringer.”
“Are you sure?”
“Help me up there,” he said, nodding
toward the second floor.
When they got to the bedroom, Kennedy
“I’ll come back and check
on you later,” she said, turning to go to the room down the other end of the
“Where are you going?” he chuckled.
She stopped, her heart beating fast.
“I just assumed you’d want to sleep here
alone, like before.
And I’d sleep
in the other room.”
“You sleep with me,” he said.
“I need you with me.”
Those were the words she heard, the only
words that mattered.
Easton took her hand in his, and then he
led her into his bedroom.
dark inside, but he didn’t turn on the lights.
The only illumination came from the
hallway, the bedroom door standing partway open.
They moved slowly, since Easton was
limping and wounded.
sat heavily at the edge of his large bed.
Kennedy stood in front of him.
“Are you okay?
“Don’t be worried,” he told her.
Now he held both of her hands.
His touch was warm and soft and sensual,
arousing her instantaneously.
“How can I not be worried?” she
“I almost lost you.
I almost lost everything.”
The mere thought of it brought tears to
her eyes, but it was okay because the room was dark enough that Easton couldn’t
see her cry.
His voice softened.
“We’re here, now.
We’re not going to lose each other.”
“You can’t know that.
Something else could happen—“
“No,” he said, squeezing her hands.
“Nothing else will happen.
I won’t let it happen, Kennedy.
I’m going to keep you safe forever.”
She felt something inside her belly
release, like a fist unclenching.
Suddenly, she drew a deep breath, felt her lungs expand as if she was
taking her very first breath.
“I was so scared,” she cried out, and
then she was sobbing.
The sobs were
deep and uncontrollable, and she couldn’t stop herself from shaking and
It was as if everything she’d been
holding in, not just today, but her whole life, came rushing out in that
Because Easton had promised
to keep her safe, and that was the only thing she’d ever wanted.
He gently pulled her next to him on the
bed, and then he wrapped his arms around her and pressed her head against his
warm, strong chest.
into him, smelling his musky, masculine scent, and her muscles relaxed that
Her forehead was
lying against the crook of his neck and shoulder, and the pressure was so
comforting, almost like she was a baby again in her father’s arms.
But it wasn’t really like that, because
she’d never known her real father.
This was something else entirely.
Easton kissed the top of her head and
rubbed her back.
“Aren’t you the one who’s been hurt?” she
laughed, her tears starting to ebb now.
“And yet I’m the one freaking out.”
“I think it was harder being you,” Easton
She had to laugh at that.
“I’m not joking,” Easton said.
“I knew what was happening to me.
Yeah, it sucked getting beaten up, but I
didn’t have to sit and wonder what was going on.
If the situation had been reversed, I’d
have gone insane with worry.”
“I think I did go a little insane,” she
whispered, reveling in this feeling.
Easton was holding her in his arms,
They were finally
together, in a way that had never ever happened before.
She never would’ve even allowed herself
to dream that this could be a possibility for them.
Of course, she had dreamed about this
scenario, but it had always seemed far-fetched and ridiculous.
The notion that a man like Easton would
want her, want to be with her, to be in a relationship with her—it had
never made sense.
In a way, it still didn’t make
But she was beginning to
trust that these things had a way of working out that was beyond her comprehension.
She wasn’t in control of it anymore than
Something was bringing them
Something held them
together stronger than glue, and it was just so right.
Being in Easton’s arms was like coming
home to the home she’d never known.
But now that she was there, it felt
better than anything she could have thought up in her wildest fantasies.
Easton caressed her hair and then leaned in
to kiss her cheek.
As he leaned, he
groaned a little.
“Are you all right?” she gasped, sitting
up straight and looking at his face.
In the darkness, his face was in shadow
and it was hard to tell how much pain he was really in.
“I’m fine,” he said, but his voice had a
hitch in it.