Dominated, p.20Part #2 of The Enforcers series by Maya Banks
“Jesus. I didn’t exactly intend for you to wear the dress here,” he choked out.
She turned in a slow circle, her hands out, palms up. “You don’t like it?” she asked.
“You know damn well I like it,” he growled. “What I don’t like is all of my men seeing you in the damn thing.”
“We’ll suffer through it somehow,” Justice drawled from behind him.
“Oh, I’m sure you will,” Drake muttered.
Then he dropped a kiss on Evangeline’s lips. “I missed you,” he said where only she could hear.
Delight fizzed in her veins like a shaken-up soda.
“I missed you too,” she said huskily.
Then she turned to the others. “Where’s the champagne? Surely you can’t have a New Year’s Eve party without champagne?”
“Allow me,” Jax said, stepping up with a fluted glass of bubbly champagne.
Drake guided her back to his desk, where he sat in his chair and then promptly pulled her down to sit in his lap. She relaxed against him and sipped at the delicious drink.
“So who’s going to dance with me tonight?” she asked mischievously.
Drake’s hand tightened at her waist. “I’ll be the only damn man you dance with.”
“Oh, come on, Drake,” she pouted. “Surely you’ll let them all have a dance with me at our wedding.”
His gaze softened even as fire ignited in his eyes. “They get one minute apiece at the reception.”
“You’re so generous, man,” Zander drawled. “You’re taking the prettiest and sweetest woman in the entire damn city off the market and you give us one minute to dance with her. Nice.”
“Shut up or you lose her cooking as well,” Drake said with a scowl.
“Consider me shutting up right now,” Zander said, holding his hands up in surrender.
For the next few hours, the office held a festive air as they refilled Evangeline’s champagne glass until she had a full-out buzz going. She laughed, smiled and made jokes over the stupidest stuff, but the men didn’t seem to mind at all. Drake grinned the entire time, even going as far as to tell her what a cute drunk she was.
“I am not drunk!” she gasped.
Maddox snickered. “Don’t bet on that, sweetheart. You’re buzzing pretty good right now, I’d say.”
Her eyes narrowed but the problem was, when she did so, Maddox sprouted into three of him. Deciding not to share that particular piece of information with him, she instead ignored him.
“Hey, countdown is on,” Hartley announced. “Thirty seconds to midnight.”
Evangeline seized Drake’s hand and sent him a dazzling smile. “This is going to be the best year ever,” she whispered.
His eyes glittered and he cupped her face, drawing her down into a long, deep kiss.
Behind them, the guys started counting. “Eight, seven, six, five . . .”
They got all the way down to one and the dance floor below them erupted at the precise moment the doors to Drake’s office exploded inward and men carrying assault rifles, yelling for everyone to get down, poured through the entrance.
Drake surged up from his chair, pushing Evangeline behind him just as two guns were pointed at his head.
“Get down!” one of the men barked. “NYPD! We have a warrant to search the premises.”
“What the fuck?” Drake snarled.
Evangeline had to clamp a hand over her mouth to keep from screaming, but when two of the men went for Drake, who hadn’t obeyed their command to get down, she launched herself at them, spitting fury.
“You stay away from him!” she shrieked. “What are you doing to him? You can’t barge onto his private property, point guns at him and then manhandle him like this!”
Silas and Maddox were both being subdued but not easily. And when one of the cops went for Evangeline, Drake erupted in fury, but it was another cop, the apparent leader, who halted everyone in their tracks.
“Leave her alone,” the cop barked. “She’s with us. She’s legit. Leave her and take care of the rest.”
The cop let go of Evangeline’s arm, causing her to stumble back, her alcohol-fuzzed brain trying to make sense of what the cop had just said. Dear God, he made it sound like . . . Oh God, he’d actually implied . . . No. She would not allow this to happen. She would not let Drake ever think she had any part in this.
She watched in horror as each of his men was cuffed and made to lie facedown on the floor while she just stood there, untouched or bothered by any of the officers. What the hell did they think they were doing? Was this her payback for refusing to help them bring Drake down? They implicated her anyway? Why? What purpose could they possibly have for fucking her over so horribly? Did they hate Drake that much? That they’d seek to take everything he cared about away from him?
No, Drake would never believe them. He wouldn’t. He believed in her. But one pleading look in his direction found his gaze on her, smoldering with rage and betrayal. He looked right through her, like she was nothing. Like she was the worst sort of person in the world.
In her fury, she launched herself at the nearest officer. “Stop this!” she screamed. “Get out! I’m calling his lawyer right now. Swear to God we’ll sue your asses. Every single goddamn one of you!”
“Back off,” one of the cops told her in an icy voice. “We have a legal warrant to search the Impulse offices of one Drake Donovan and to confiscate anything we feel may aid us in our investigation.”
“Bullshit!” she yelled. “I’ll have your fucking badge!”
She was so furious that she was screaming words that would have her mother washing her mouth out with soap for a year. But she didn’t care. She was fighting for her life here. Oh God, Drake hated her. It was there for everyone to see in his eyes as he coldly stared her down.
For an excruciating hour, they tossed the entire contents of Drake’s office while Evangeline stood there sobbing. She’d never felt so helpless in her life as she stood there watching her life slowly drain away.
Evidently frustrated with their efforts to find whatever it was they were looking for, the lead officer called a halt to the search. They uncuffed Drake and all his men and then advised Drake not to leave the city any time in the next several days and that they would be contacting him for further questioning once they’d analyzed all the evidence against him.
That was the most ridiculous, trumped-up thing Evangeline had ever heard of. She might not have a law degree, but this wasn’t the way the police conducted an investigation. They didn’t barge in with a search warrant and then tip their hand when they found nothing and basically tell Drake exactly what their plans were. Did they think he was stupid? Unless . . . it was all a plan to get Drake to do something stupid. Like panic and make a mistake and lead them right to whatever it was they were searching for.
If that was the best plan they could come up with to take Drake down, they were incompetent idiots. He would never fall for something this absurd. It was like freaking amateur hour. And she was supposed to feel safe with guys like these protecting the city she lived in?
As the police filed out the door, leaving the shattered remnants of it behind, Evangeline launched herself across the room and against Drake’s chest, horrified at the humiliating treatment he’d been subjected to at their hands.
Tears streamed down her face as she stared up into Drake’s cold one. “Oh my God, Drake, what did they want?”
“You tell me,” he said in a frigid tone.
He roughly shoved her away from him, causing her to trip and stumble in the heels she wore. She would have gone down, but Silas caught her. He steadied her on her feet, a look of grave concern on his face.
“Are you all right, Evangeline?” he asked, worry evident in his tone.
Silas’s actions served to only piss Drake off even further.
“Get out,” Drake said flatly. “Get the hell out. So help me God, if I ever see your face again, I’ll have you thrown out and I’ll serve a restraini
“Drake!” she cried, numbness invading her. Coldness overtaking her skin, her blood, her heart. “Oh God, Drake, don’t do this. Please. You have to listen to me. I know you’re upset right now, but you have to see this whole thing was a ridiculous setup. Can’t you see that?”
“Setup? Yes, I suppose you could say that’s exactly what it was,” he said bitterly. “You played the part very well, Evangeline. You’re to be congratulated. Did it give you an extra sense of victory to know you’d gotten further than any woman ever had before?”
“That’s enough, goddamn it, Drake,” Maddox swore violently.
Drake turned on his man. “You stay the fuck out of this. All of you.” Then he turned back to Evangeline, so much hatred shining in his eyes that she realized the futility of her ever thinking he could love her. “The price of betrayal is everything,” he said, his voice growing colder with every single word. “I want you out and I don’t ever want you near my apartment, the club, any of my businesses, and Evangeline, you don’t want to know what happens to people who don’t heed my instructions.”
His voice had dropped to a dangerously low level, but she was beyond caring, beyond pride. If she lost him, she lost everything anyway. What did it matter if she had nothing else?
She went to her knees in front of him, her eyes begging him to listen to her. To believe in her.
“Drake, please, you have to listen to me. I have never betrayed you,” she said softly, painfully. “Not once. I have always had faith in you. I’ve always believed in you. I’ve never questioned you. And now I’m asking for the same from you. I’m begging you to trust me. To believe in me until I have a chance to prove I had nothing to do with this.”
Drake flinched. Silas and Maddox winced, their eyes brimming with sympathy—and anger, fully directed at Drake.
“I’m on my knees, Drake, and I swore to never allow myself the humiliation I felt the night you degraded me in our apartment, but right now, I have no pride. I have nothing if you don’t believe in me. Please say you’ll believe in me. Just this once, Drake. I swear you’ll never have cause to question me again.”
For a moment, she thought she might have gotten through to him. She couldn’t bear to look at all his other men. They’d just been harassed and embarrassed and inconvenienced for over an hour and if they, like Drake, blamed her, then she’d find no safe harbor in their eyes.
So far, she’d only borne witness to Silas’s and Maddox’s reactions, and at least they seemed inclined to give her the benefit of the doubt.
“Listen to her, Drake. Don’t be stupid,” Silas said with a curse. “Look at her, for God’s sake. She’s on her knees begging you. Is that what you really want from the woman you’re going to marry?”
His words had a whiplike effect on Drake. His eyes grew ruthless and ice encompassed him to the point where she no longer recognized the man standing above her, looking down at her like she was nothing but trash.
“No,” Drake bit out, a lethal edge to his voice. “You’re right. She isn’t at all what I want in the woman I marry. I expect my wife to have utmost loyalty to me and to my men. Not seduce me with lies in order to give information to undercover cops.”
All the blood left Evangeline’s face. All the life left her body and she sagged downward, her knees no longer able to support her. She listened dully as Drake, seemingly miles away, barked an order to someone—Who?—to get her the hell away from him. To throw her out. Anywhere but here, but get her out of his face and his life forever.
“See her out, Hatcher, Jax,” he said in a harsh tone. “Since Silas and Maddox seem to have difficulty heeding my orders.”
“You touch her and you die.” Silas’s voice hissed into the silence, his voice sounding like the harbinger of death. “Get away from her. Now,” he barked.
Then, as if he hadn’t just threatened to kill one of his own brothers, Silas very gently helped her to her feet, another savage curse spewing from his lips when she stumbled and couldn’t get her legs underneath her.
He half picked her up, tucking her underneath his shoulder, and walked toward the elevator, her silent sobs racking her entire body, her head hung in defeat, her shoulders as bowed as her head.
He turned at the elevator and directed his cold, unforgiving stare at Drake. “See what you’ve done, Drake. Take a long, hard look at what you’ve destroyed. I’d tell you to have a nice life, but you’ve fucked up any chance you ever had of that.”
Maddox strode to the elevator, holding his hand to prevent the doors from shutting. “Make sure she’s safe and cared for,” Maddox said to Silas in a low voice. “I’m going to stay here until I find out what the fuck is going on and who betrayed us. This whole thing stinks to high heaven.”
Evangeline lifted her head and stared blankly at Maddox. He flinched when he met her gaze, and blind fury welled in his eyes.
“You heard Drake,” she said in a vacant tone. “I betrayed you. Him.”
“That’s fucking bullshit and you and I both know it,” Maddox exploded.
“But he doesn’t,” she said, tears running down her cheeks, her voice cracking under the weight of her grief. “And now he never will.”
“Look at me, Evangeline,” Maddox said, in a tone he’d never before used with her. It was like a thread of steel, unbending, dominant, forceful. She was helpless to do anything but obey. “He will know it wasn’t you. But I’m afraid it’s too late for him now. He didn’t believe you when it mattered. When I bring him irrefutable evidence that proves your innocence, he’ll know he made the biggest fucking mistake of his life. And then he’ll have to live with the consequences for the rest of it.”
“Take care of him, Maddox. Please. For me. Someone is out to hurt him. To destroy his life—and yours. Don’t let them get away with it. They lied about me to him. They aren’t honorable or noble police. They won’t use the law to get to Drake. They’ll go around it. So please keep him safe.”
“Son of a bitch,” Silas said, fury emanating from him in waves. “I can’t stomach this another goddamn minute. Let us go, Maddox. Before I go in there and take Drake down myself so the cops have one less thing to worry about. That son of a bitch just cut her down as cruelly and as viciously as a man could ever cut down another woman, much less one he’d asked to marry him. And yet here she stands begging us to take care of him and keep him safe? I’d like to kill the bastard with my own hands.”
“He’s your brother, Silas. Please. Just let me go. You’re needed here. Just . . .”
She broke down into another torrent of tears. Maddox reached out to touch her hair and for the briefest of seconds, she could have sworn she saw moisture welling in Maddox’s eyes. But no, that was merely her own tears.
“Be well, Evangeline. Until we meet again. And we will meet again. You have my number. If there is anything you need, anything at all, I expect you to call me. If I find out you were in need and you didn’t call me, I’m going to be one seriously pissed-off son of a bitch. You get me?”
She nodded, her misery making her increasingly numb to anything else but the overwhelming pain and despair welling from the deepest part of her soul.
“Take care of her, Silas,” Maddox ordered softly.
“You know I will. Watch your six,” Silas said, his tone growing more rigid and furious with every passing second. “Until we know where the leak is, watch your six.”
“Watch yours—and hers,” Maddox said pointedly. “She’s a vulnerable target, at least until it gets out that Drake is flying solo, and it would be a good idea if we sped up that particular bit of news leaking, if it protects her.”
Evangeline flinched and went utterly still against Silas. How much longer could she simply stand there and hold it together when her entire life had just fallen apart around her, and now Silas and Maddox, no matter how well-meaning, stood blithely talking about leaking the news of her and Drake’s breakup as if it
Maddox cast her one last sorrowful look of apology and then leaned in to kiss her gently on the cheek.
“I’ll see you soon, sweetheart. Bet on that. I’ll come check on you as soon as I can.”
She didn’t respond, neither confirming nor denying his statement. He acted on the assumption that she had somewhere to go. That it was as simple as getting a hotel somewhere or finding another apartment on the spot to rent. Kind of hard to do either when she had no money, no job and no hope of either.
The elevator doors opened and she realized that she hadn’t even registered them closing or the downward slide to the bottom floor. The club was empty, cleared, no doubt, by the police raid. Confetti and an assortment of litter, drink cups, noisemakers, party hats and other random paraphernalia lay scattered over the floor. It looked as though a bomb had gone off. Appropriate, since the dance floor looked just like she felt.
Silas was on the phone with someone giving instructions, but she tuned out everything as the yawning, gaping hole in her heart opened wider, inch by inch, forming an abyss that would soon suck her straight down. How she longed for the welcoming veil of blackness, of unawareness to overtake her. Somewhere she couldn’t think, couldn’t feel and didn’t have to see Drake denouncing her in front of all his men, over and over and over again until she wanted to scream for it all to stop.
Silas escorted her into the back lot that was now mostly empty except for Drake’s car and one or two that belonged to some of his men. A car pulled up, the headlights bouncing over Evangeline, whose gaze was still focused on some distant point as a result of the shock and overwhelming numbness that had slowly invaded her body.
Surely it wouldn’t be too much longer before it finally overtook her and she could escape to oblivion for at least a while. It didn’t matter if it was cold and she had no place to go, no place to stay and no money to obtain one. Things like that only mattered to people who had . . . hope. A future or at least hope for one. As she’d had with Drake. For the span of a few precious months, she’d known what it was like to touch the sun. For that period of time, she’d looked forward to a future filled with everything she’d ever dreamed of. She should have known that at some point in time it would all be cruelly snatched away from her. But she’d refused to believe anything but Drake’s promise to her. A promise he’d broken not once, but twice, in the cruelest way possible.
“Evangeline,” Silas said, gently pulling her from the yawning hole in her mind that threatened to envelop her at any moment.
She slowly moved her unfocused stare to him and blinked at the very real worry in his eyes. And the savage fury swirling like a hurricane.
“I’m having my driver take you away from here. Where would you like to go?”
A hoarse sob broke free from her throat and it was a horrible, animalistic sound. Tears ran in never-ending rivulets down her cheeks. She wanted to laugh but she knew if she gave in, she’d never stop. She’d be in complete hysterics with no hope of ever pulling herself together.
Silas cupped her cheek, his eyes dripping with sadness. And pity. God, that was the worst. The one or two of his men who didn’t think she’d betrayed them, who weren’t pissed at her and didn’t hate her, pitied her instead. She didn’t know which was worse.
“Evangeline, listen to me, honey. Drake was wrong. Very wrong. I, along with the rest of Drake’s men, don’t believe for one minute that you betrayed us. And when he’s had time to calm down and think about it, he’ll know it too.”
“It’s too late,” she said, utterly broken. Utterly defeated, so much despair in her voice that even she couldn’t detect any sign of life in it. “He made it very obvious he has no caring, no feelings for me. That I’m merely an object, his toy to take out and play with when he’s bored. He doesn’t trust me even when I came to him and told him about the cop talking to me in the restaurant and even after I told him I would never betray him.”
She closed her eyes for a moment against the now-physical pain as the headache that had been brewing ever since the police had burst inside Drake’s office blazed through her head like wildfire. She put her hand to her forehead with a soft moan, her eyes still closed as she continued to vent everything she wanted to scream at Drake right now.
“I can’t live with a man who not only doesn’t trust me but has such a lack of regard and respect for me. Someone who would embarrass and humiliate me in front of all his men and reduce me to begging on my knees and refuse to listen to anything I had to say. I’d rather die than ever be back with him. He’s reduced me to nothing and I was a fool for allowing it to happen. A fool for loving him and thinking that my love was enough for us both or that he would one day love me.
“He has no heart. No capacity for love. His callous disregard for me and the fact that he wouldn’t even listen to what I had to say, wouldn’t allow me to defend myself, proved beyond a shadow of doubt that he does not and will not ever love me.”
She stared into Silas’s eyes for the first time, her anger yanking her from the numbness for a brief moment. His jaw was clenched tight as he absorbed every single part of her impassioned outcry.
“Any woman could fill the role I have in his life,” she said bitterly. “Because no woman will ever have the only thing that truly matters. His heart. His love. His trust. Maybe his wealth and power will be enough for other women. But not for me,” she whispered. “Never for me.”
The pain in her head was making her sick. And Silas was still standing there as she poured out her broken heart, waiting for her to tell him where she wanted to go. To hell. She was already there.
“I hate his money. I hate his power. And I hate that he’s always believed himself to be such a monster, and before today, I would not have believed it or allowed anyone else to believe it either. But what he just did . . .”
She took a long, steadying breath as more tears flooded her aching eyes.
“What he just did not only proved that he has no faith or trust or love in me. He proved that I was wrong about him. That I can’t trust him. That I never should have trusted him with the only things I have to give. My heart. My love. My trust. And my loyalty. I gave that all to him when I’ve never given it to another man. And it meant nothing to him.”
She broke down into horrific sobs, her hands flying up to cover her face. The pain sent nausea roiling through her stomach, and she gagged, desperately trying to keep the now-sour champagne from coming up.
Dominated by Maya Banks / Romance & Love have rating 4.1 out of 5 / Based on45 votes