Dominated, p.24
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       Dominated, p.24

         Part #2 of The Enforcers series by Maya Banks
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  Maddox sighed and continued on. “It wasn’t pretty. He wooed and courted the girl for months. Made it all out to be a modern-day telling of Romeo and Juliet. Two people, forbidden from one another by rival families. Told her all kinds of shit, about how he was in love with her, wanted to marry her and how he’d take her away from both families so they could live a happy life. He has money of his own. Told her she’d never want for anything he could give her and their children.

  “She resisted at first. Wanted to finish school and get her degree, but the bastard was persistent. She finally agreed, left her parents a note outlining the entire sordid tale and went to meet her boyfriend.”

  Maddox shook his head. “I’m sure you can guess the rest. He raped her. Let his men take turns. Recorded the entire disgusting thing, and in the end, he killed her then sent the video to the elder Luconi with a message saying no Luconi was safe, man, woman or child. Luconi has declared war, and he was extremely eager to count you as an ally. It surprised him at first that you were trying to get Evangeline back, since he believed your show that she meant nothing to you, but when I told him they kidnapped a pregnant woman, it actually pissed him off. It’s a well-known fact that the old man has a soft spot a mile wide for pregnant women. He hates Charlie McDuff. Said he was a bad seed. Had too much liking for violence and he hates women. Given the Luconi sentiment toward their women, I can well imagine why he didn’t last long working for them. The old man told me he was already on the chopping block, but then he tried to corner the old man’s sixteen-year-old granddaughter. I’m surprised Charlie isn’t six feet under, to be honest. I think only because the Luconis didn’t want to risk outright war with the McDuffs, given their imminent war with the Vanuccis, did Charlie live. But the way I hear it, he wasn’t seen in public for months after the beatdown he got when they pulled him off the granddaughter.”

  Drake’s mouth twisted in disgust. “Jesus,” he whispered. “And Evangeline is right in the middle of this giant clusterfuck. An innocent pulled between warring factions, and she’s in McDuff’s hands even as we speak!”

  He pounded the dashboard with his hand, a sense of wretched helplessness tearing him apart.

  “What are we waiting for?” he seethed. “Every minute we sit on our goddamn hands is another minute she’s in his.”

  “Keep a cool head,” Silas murmured. “You know this has to be done by the book, man. One mistake and Evangeline pays with her life. McDuff is batshit crazy and highly unstable. If he even thinks things aren’t going the way he planned, he’ll kill her. At this point he has nothing to lose.”

  Drake’s phone rang and he tensed. They’d been expecting Charlie to call. Drake had expected to hear from him hours ago with his demands. Every minute that had ticked by that Drake hadn’t heard made his heart die a little more. Why had he waited? Had he taken his time, abusing Evangeline before he called Drake with his demands?

  Drake didn’t recognize the number, and typically he let such calls go to voice mail and either called back later or not at all. But he answered it on the second ring with a terse “Donovan.”

  “Drake Donovan,” Charlie McDuff drawled smugly. “I believe I have something that belongs to you.”

  “Yes, you do at that,” Drake said softly. Dangerously soft.

  Charlie obviously picked up on that note in Drake’s voice because he didn’t sound nearly as smug or confident when he spoke next. There was a distinct edge to his voice and he sounded rattled. And unstable, and that worried Drake. It scared the fuck out of him and he knew he had to tread very carefully and give the man no reason to hurt or kill Evangeline.

  “If you ever want to see her alive again, you’ll do exactly as I say. You have two hours to complete the transaction and not a minute longer.”

  “What do you want?” Drake snapped.

  “Twenty million should be nothing for a man of your means,” Charlie said, some of the nervousness gone at the mention of the amount. “I’m being very generous. I know you could afford more without even noticing it was gone. But I can be reasonable. I’m going to text you the wiring instructions and the account numbers. As I said, if the funds aren’t in my account and verified in the next two hours? Your lady is dead. But not before I enjoy a taste of her. She is rather beautiful, but then I’d expect nothing less from you, Donovan.”

  “Let me be clear on something, Charlie,” Drake said, making no effort to disguise his loathing for the little worm. “You know my reputation. You know I don’t fuck around. You know that if I make a vow, I’ll die before breaking it. So know this. If you touch Evangeline, if you hurt her, if you frighten her, if there is so much as a bruise or scratch on her when she is returned to me? You’re a dead man. Take that to the bank.”

  There was a long pause. “Just make sure the money is wired and you won’t have to worry about the condition of your woman.”

  Then the line went silent. Mere seconds after the call ended, a beep alerted Drake to the incoming text with the account number.

  He wanted McDuff’s blood. The man was going to die, even though Drake had made it sound as if McDuff would walk away if Evangeline was returned safely. The minute he touched what belonged to Drake, he’d signed his own death warrant.

  “We now have two hours, but I don’t trust that little bastard,” Drake said behind clenched teeth. “I refuse to leave her there a minute longer. He doesn’t know we’re here. He thinks I’m chasing my tail in the city and nowhere near Brooklyn or his fucking butchery. I’m not waiting one goddamn second longer. With or without you, I’m going in.”

  “And get Evangeline killed?” Silas’s slashing gaze pierced through Drake. His enforcer was smoldering with rage, every muscle in his body coiled like a deadly snake ready to strike.

  “We’re almost in position,” Maddox said, holding his hand over his earpiece to hear more clearly. “Let’s go. We need to find the best way in from this side. The others are taking their spots now. Jax did recon so we’d know what we’re up against.”

  “Did he get a bead on Evangeline?” Drake demanded. “Did he see her? Is she all right?”

  “McDuff has her tied to a chair in the room where the beef is hung in the back. He said she looked okay, just scared to death and freezing her ass off. Motherfucker has her in the cooler and keeps telling her he brought her there because with the bone grinders no one will ever find any sign of her body. That he’ll chop her into tiny pieces and feed her to the buzzards.”

  “He dies,” Drake said in a voice almost too quiet to be heard.

  “Oh yeah,” Maddox vowed.

  The men scrambled out of the car. Drake was thankful for the cover of night as they darted into the shadows cast by the building. There was a window that, if their scan of the building specs was correct, was closed off from the cooler where sides of beef hung. And where Evangeline was being kept.

  Silas took a step back and then ran up the wall, hooking his fingers on the ledge of the window before expertly swinging himself up so he clung to the window frame. He worked with the window a few moments before it slid upward with a noisy creak.

  He froze, as did Maddox and Drake, and waited several long seconds to see if their cover was blown. When no one appeared, they breathed a collective sigh of relief. Maddox spoke softly into the mic, telling the others they were going in and for them to do the same.

  The idea was to surround the cooler and plan the best method of attack, one that ensured that no harm came to Evangeline and that she wouldn’t be caught in the crossfire.

  Silas eased inside the building, took a few moments to ensure that they were undetected and then leaned out the window and motioned Drake and Maddox up.

  “Here,” Maddox said, making a step for Drake with his hands. “I’ll give you a boost up.”

  Drake put his foot into Maddox’s hand and on the count of three he jumped, along with Maddox’s forceful push, and it propelled him up the brick wall to grasp the ledge with his fingers.

  He swung himsel
f up and then he and Silas leaned as far as they could out the window, hands extended to grab on to Maddox’s. Seconds later, they pulled him through the window and shut it firmly behind them.

  Now that they were in the same building where Evangeline was being held, it was all Drake could do not to charge into the other room and take out every single one of the bastards. Every nerve in his body was firing. At the moment, he could take on thirty men and rip every single one of them apart with his bare hands.

  They crept into the hallway, on alert for any movement, anything that would betray their presence. Drake had confidence in all his men. He trusted them with his life. But the stakes had never been this high before. They were all fighting, not just for Drake’s safety and his life. They were fighting for his entire world.

  Evangeline.

  At the end of the hall where Silas had crept on stealthy feet, there was a muffled sound and then a body hit the floor without a shot being fired. Silas motioned to Maddox, and Maddox dragged the body into the room where they had entered through the window.

  “Let’s go,” Maddox said grimly. “Justice said things are getting heated inside the cooler. McDuff is pissed.”

  Drake’s heart lurched, and they turned and ran.

  There were four possible entrances to the cooler, and after taking down the guards circling those entrances, Drake and his men crouched at the doors, surveying the number of heavily armed men.

  Drake cursed to himself when he saw that every single gun was trained on Evangeline. McDuff stood in front of Evangeline, taunting her. She wouldn’t even meet his gaze. She was pale. Too pale. Her hair was tangled and he saw the red streaks on the side of her head, bold against the golden blond color.

  Her head was bowed, her hair falling over her cheeks, and she sagged in the chair. Her chin rested against her chest and it felt as though someone had just driven a knife through Drake’s heart when he saw the damp trails of tears down her pale flesh.

  “I’ve got Drake by the balls now,” McDuff crowed. “He’s a stupid man for believing I’d let him off for twenty mil.”

  For the first time that he’d seen, Evangeline lifted her head, though her stare was unfocused and bleary looking as she looked in McDuff’s general direction.

  “You’re the stupid one,” she said in a monotone, without a trace of emotion. She spoke to McDuff like he was a complete simpleton. And then Drake’s heart nearly stopped when she said the rest. “He cares nothing about me,” she said in a dull voice. “He won’t do anything to rescue me. He won’t give you what you want. He won’t give in to blackmail. When has he ever given in to blackmail? You’re dumber than I thought if you think you’re going to bring him to his knees over one of his whores he already tossed out and made clear he wanted nothing more to do with. Or didn’t you get that memo?” Sarcasm laced the last of her statement, and she stared defiantly at McDuff as if daring him to do his worst because the worst had already been done.

  Drake wanted to weep for the hopelessness he heard—felt—in her every word and action.

  Uncertainty flashed over McDuff’s face, followed closely by rage. He lashed out, slapping Evangeline’s unprotected face, whipping her head back. Her hair was in disarray all over her head, but Drake saw the blood at her nose and mouth and he surged forward.

  Silas and Maddox both jumped on him and held him to the floor. “Stop!” Silas hissed in his ear. “The rest of us want to kill the little bastard for touching her as well, but we have to play this just right and stick to the plan or the asshole will kill Evangeline on the spot. Get it together, man. Think, for God’s sake. Think!”

  Drake slowly shook them off, but he was bristling with fury like he’d never known. Waiting the final few minutes for his men to carefully circle and cut off all escape routes and ensure Evangeline’s safety was hell. If that bastard inflicted a single injury, Drake would kill him. Fuck that. Evangeline had been injured. Physically and emotionally. The bastard had hit her, drawn blood, not once, but twice now. And God only knew what she’d been subjected to before he and his men arrived. Drake had to turn it off and stop torturing himself with all that his angel had endured or he’d go insane.

  Maddox held up his hand, listened to the receiver a moment and then turned to look at Drake, his eyes flashing, his entire body tense and radiating fearsome rage.

  “It’s go time.”

  32

  Evangeline slouched uncomfortably in the chair, ropes digging into her wrists and ankles. Her face was buzzing with pain and heat from when the man had lashed out and struck her, but her head was what ached the most. She’d taken a brutal hit that rendered her unconscious when she’d struggled and fought back against the man trying to get her into his car.

  She was going to die. Grief overwhelmed her because it wasn’t just her who would die. Her precious unborn baby would die with her. Drake would never come for her, would never give a hundred dollars for her, much less twenty million or however much the creep had mentioned.

  And since she knew she was going to die, she had no desire to prolong her grief and agony. At first she’d thought only to do whatever it took to stay alive. To fight for her child if for no one else. But realization had sunk in when the man had brought her here, to a place that smelled of blood and death, and smugly informed her that he was going to chop her into tiny pieces so that no one had any hope of ever finding her body, much less identifying it, if Drake didn’t come through with the first wire transfer.

  “He threw me out, or didn’t you know that?” she mocked through swollen, throbbing lips. “He thinks I betrayed him and his men by giving the cops information. Now, you tell me. What do you think Drake would do in that situation? Do you honestly think he’d hand over twenty million dollars to someone demanding it in order to spare my life? You’ll probably get a thank-you card from him after I’m dead.”

  “Shut up!” he raged, turning to backhand her again.

  But something caught his hand. And then the entire room erupted in violence. Gunfire. Cries of pain. Savage curses. She closed her eyes, praying her death would be quick and merciful. Oh, Drake, I loved you so much. I would have never betrayed you. Why couldn’t you believe in me? You’ll never even know of your child.

  Sorrow was thick and suffocating, tears burning her swollen, throbbing eye. She closed her eyes and lowered her head in defeat as the world went mad around her.

  She flinched and stiffened when hands glanced over her bonds. Then a man’s voice sounded in her ear.

  “Don’t fight me, Evangeline. I need you to cooperate fully and do exactly as I tell you. Got me?”

  Adrenaline surged in her veins. Her eyes flew open and to her astonishment, she saw Drake’s men. Everywhere. She looked in absolute bewilderment to see them fighting savagely, murderous expressions on their faces. To her further shock, she saw . . . Drake. He was ruthlessly working his way through two gunmen who posed no obstacle to him and his fury.

  What was he doing here? And why? Maybe she had finally lost the remaining vestiges of sanity she’d clung to the entire day. Or maybe she’d died and this was some sort of dying fantasy. But she felt no pain even as she made no move to struggle against Silas’s gentle touch as he cut through the ropes binding her.

  “Get Evangeline out of here!” Drake barked without looking in her direction. “Make sure she’s safe and get her to help. This bastard is mine.”

  His words sent a chill down Evangeline’s spine as she stared dispassionately as Drake circled the man who’d abducted her. Then she was swung into familiar arms and closed her eyes, blocking the horrific reality that Drake could die, and she drifted off, retreating to a place where she no longer felt pain, or grief. Nothing. She welcomed oblivion and surrendered to the dark void enfolding her in its soothing embrace.

  • • •

  Silas swiftly carried Evangeline from the room, flanked by Maddox and Justice, who stared down at her, worry in their eyes.

  “Stay with Drake,” Silas commanded. “Cover
him. Have his back. Make damn sure he’s safe at all times.”

  “I’m staying with you,” Maddox said stubbornly. “With the help of Luconi’s men, we’ve already taken down any threat. All that’s left is McDuff, and the others are keeping close watch. But Drake made it clear that McDuff is his.”

  Silas carried Evangeline to the waiting car and slid into the backseat; she now had her eyes closed, whether out of self-protection or true unconsciousness, he wasn’t sure.

  He examined her carefully, looking for injury, but all he saw was the drying blood on the side of her head, the vivid handprint on her face and the blood at her nose and mouth from where the little fucker had struck her. He was gripped by rage and fury to the point that he nearly defied Drake and went after McDuff himself, and damn Drake’s orders.

  It should be Silas. Not Drake. He was Drake’s cleanup man. His enforcer. His sole duty was to protect Drake and ensure that nothing threatened Drake’s business interests, a vast empire Drake shared with his brothers. He was always the one to take out any threat. It was who he was. What he did. And now, more than ever, this was personal to him when so many other times it was cold and impersonal. Just a job. Nothing more. A necessary evil to protect Drake’s empire and the men he called brothers.

  But . . . Evangeline needed him more right now. And if she were his woman, he too would want to be the one to take out the man responsible for terrorizing her, threatening her and putting his hands to her.

  “Get me to Drake’s clinic,” Silas instructed the driver.

  • • •

  Drake stared at the pathetic piece of shit he held up by the collar of his shirt. McDuff’s face was swollen and bloodied, and the knowledge of his imminent death was in his eyes. He didn’t deserve a quick, merciful death. What he deserved was to suffer, knowing his fate. But Drake didn’t have the time or the desire. His only priority was in avenging Evangeline and then getting to her as quickly as possible.

  He’d been so overwhelmed by rage and his desire to make her tormentor pay with his blood that everything else had been forced from his mind, but now he felt regret because he should have been the one to take Evangeline from this place. To offer her comfort, see to her needs, instead of one of his men. Would she see that as yet another rejection? More evidence in her eyes that she didn’t matter to him?

  “Please,” McDuff said, slurring his words. “I’ll do anything. Just don’t kill me.”

  “Is that what my woman said to you? Did she beg you not to kill her and my child?”

  Horror reflected in McDuff’s eyes, and the sniffling coward began to cry. The acrid smell of ammonia rose, and Drake and his men looked at McDuff in disgust. He was pissing himself.

  “I didn’t know she was pregnant!” McDuff shrieked. “I swear to you. I didn’t know! I didn’t hurt her.”

  “Oh?” Drake asked in a deadly voice. “You didn’t hit her in the head with the butt of your gun when you yanked her off the street? I didn’t just see you slap her in the face?”

  McDuff was crying and babbling in earnest now, and as much as Drake wanted to prolong the little bastard’s agony, Drake only wanted to get to Evangeline so he could reassure himself that she—and their child—were all right.

  With a twist of his hands, it was finished. McDuff sagged and Drake dropped him to the floor, turning away immediately to bark orders at his men.

  He found Justice and lifted his eyebrows in silent question.

  “Silas and Maddox took her to the clinic. Go to her, Drake. The rest of us will make sure the scene is secure and everything is wiped down.”

  Zander was waiting to drive him when he strode out of the building, but Drake held his hands out for the keys. “You stay here and help Justice oversee cleanup. I’ll drive.”

  Zander cocked his head and studied Drake for a long moment. “You going to be okay to drive, man? You’ve been dealt some pretty heavy shit today.”

  “Not nearly as much as she has,” he snapped. “Give me the fucking keys.”

  Zander handed them over with no further comment.

  But when he was about to get in the car, Zander’s question stopped him in his tracks.

  “Are you happy about it? No one asked. But are you happy about the baby?”

  There was an underlying warning in Zander’s question. One that said if Drake so much as hinted he wasn’t happy about Evangeline’s pregnancy, any number of his men would step up to take care of both Evangeline and his child.

  Over his dead body.

  “I’m happier than you could possibly imagine,” Drake said in an even tone. “But my first priority is Evangeline and making sure she isn’t hurt. And hope that she’ll forgive the unforgivable.”

  Zander winced and nodded. “She’s a good woman, Drake. The best.”

  “Yeah, I know,” he returned softly.

  • • •

  When Drake arrived at the clinic, he found Maddox and Silas pacing outside the exam room. When they saw him, they both stopped and waited for him to approach.

  “How is she?” Drake demanded, his pulse racing with fear and worry.

  Silas shrugged. “Don’t know yet. She was out of it the entire way. She opened her eyes when the doctor came in, but it was like . . . I dunno, man. She was here but she wasn’t here. She wasn’t aware of anything or anyone. If she knew who we were, she didn’t acknowledge us. She hasn’t said a single word since we left the butchery to bring her here.”

  “Christ,” Drake said, ramming his fist into the wall. “Any idea if the baby is okay?”

  “No, sorry,” Maddox said quietly. “We told the doc and he said he’d do some blood work, check her HCG levels and confirm that there is a pregnancy, since all we have to go on is a fading store-bought pregnancy test.”

  Drake went still. It hadn’t occurred to him that she might not be pregnant. As soon as he’d seen the test, their child had become all too real to him. The idea of losing their baby or Evangeline was more than he could bear. If she lost their baby, she’d never forgive him. She might not forgive him regardless of whether there was a child, and who could blame her?

  “How long has she been back?” Drake croaked out. “I need to see her.”

  “Don’t know why you couldn’t go in,” Silas offered. “Maddox and I were just
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