Home > Dominated (The Enforcers #2)(2)

Dominated (The Enforcers #2)(2)
Author: Maya Banks

Drake made a sound of impatience. Every moment they stood in his office talking was another moment Evangeline was God only knew where on the streets, alone, devastated, thinking he’d lied to her about everything.

“Make it quick,” Drake snapped. “While we stand here discussing her, she’s out there, cold, alone, hungry, with nothing.”

Grief swamped him all over again, and he was forced to sit down in the chair behind his desk or risk collapsing. He covered his face with his hands, missing the shocked looks of his closest men and the uneasy looks they exchanged.

“I think you’ve gone about this the wrong way,” Justice said quietly.

Drake’s head came up, his lips twisted in a snarl. His other men stared questioningly at Justice, wondering if the man had lost his mind by crossing Drake or questioning his judgment.

“Hear me out,” Justice repeated. “You’ve protected her at all turns, kept her secret, afraid she would be used against you. Which is why you had to do what you did when things changed and there was no other way to protect her.”

Silas’s brooding expression became one of distaste, letting Drake—and the others—know exactly what he thought of what “had” to be done to ensure her safety—her life.

“Instead of hiding her, keeping her secret, I think you should go public with her. Very public,” Justice said emphatically.

“Are you insane?” Drake asked hoarsely. “Are you just trying to get her raped, tortured, killed?”

Justice held up his hand in the same request for Drake to hear him out. The others also fell silent, suddenly very curious as to where on earth Justice was going with this.

“No, you don’t hide her,” Justice said quietly. “You make her your fucking queen. You let the goddamn world know she is yours and that you’ll kill anyone who so much as looks at her wrong, threatens her, tries to use her to get to you. Think about it, Drake. You are the most feared man in the city. Do you honestly think they would be fool enough to go after what you value the most?”

“He has a point,” Silas said quietly, surprising the others by speaking up. “We would double, even triple her security, but the thing that will protect her the most is your name. Think about it, Drake. When have you ever publicly laid claim to a woman or made it clear that anyone harming her will die a long, agonizing death?”

Drake growled impatiently. “Having a security detail, even as good as all of you are, won’t protect her from a sniper, a bomb or someone simply walking up to her and shooting her.”

Maddox swore and sent Drake a look of disgust and agitation. “You’ve lost all intelligence and rationality when it comes to Evangeline. Killing Evangeline does fuck-all for your enemies except piss you off and have you out for blood. Their blood. Something that no one wants, not even the most powerful of your enemies. They’d be stupid fucks who could kiss their lives and empires good-bye the minute they ordered Evangeline’s death. The only way Evangeline could be used to ‘get’ to you is if they take her alive and keep her alive to extort what they want from you in return for her release. And in order to get to her, they would have to go through her security detail and there’s no way in hell that’s ever going to happen.”

“We,” Justice interrupted, thumbing toward the other men gathered in the room, “would never allow someone to get close enough to Evangeline for someone to abduct her, and someone will be on her twenty-four-seven when she’s not in your place. And when you and Evangeline are out, a security detail protects you both and monitors your every movement.”

“Only in private will you not have the security team. Your apartment’s security system is top of the line. Better and more sophisticated than most classified security systems. At the push of a button the entire building goes into lockdown mode and you have a safe room that is impenetrable, even to explosives,” Silas interjected. “I know because I installed it myself.”

“I don’t want her to be a goddamn prisoner,” Drake said in an agonized voice.

“It won’t be any different than before,” Jax said, speaking up for the first time. “When did Evangeline go anywhere without one of us? She never seemed to mind. Hell, she liked us. Or at least she did . . .”

His voice trailed off in what sounded like regret and remorse, as if Drake’s actions would alienate her from them all. And judging by the looks on his men’s faces, it was something they’d all considered. And didn’t like very much at all.

His men adored her. They liked her when they truly liked no women. And now they were faced with losing her trust every bit as much as Drake was. He couldn’t find it in himself to be jealous. The only emotion he could conjure was guilt because through his actions, Evangeline would lose people who’d become important to her, people she’d taken under her protective wing, and she’d made them all feel as though they were important, that they mattered.

“I and only I bear the responsibility for what was done to Evangeline,” Drake said in a low voice. “And you know as well as I do that Evangeline doesn’t have a vengeful bone in her body. She’s sweet to the core and has the purest, most honest heart of anyone I’ve ever known. She won’t hate you. Only me. And that’s my cross to bear. None of you will suffer for my arrogance and stupidity.”

He paused, pondering the conversation, lowering his head in thought, so much rushing through his mind. God, had it been that simple? Had he been so stupid, so wrapped up in keeping Evangeline from the world out of fear? But no, that was only part of it. The selfish part of him hadn’t wanted to share her with anyone, not even his brothers, though it had been necessary.

“You’re right,” Drake said tiredly. “Goddamn it, you’re all right and it’s something I should have thought of.”

His tone was full of self-derision. He who was always in control of any situation. Every possibility accounted for. But Evangeline had turned his carefully ordered life upside down and when it came to her, he didn’t think clearly, rationally, and if he didn’t get his head back in the game, it would get them both killed. His brothers too.

Silas cleared his throat and once again, heads turned in surprise. He’d already broken his characteristic silence once, and now it appeared he had more to say.

“There’s more you’ve done . . . not right,” he said, amending what he had been going to say, but the words floated in the room as if they had indeed been spoken.

There’s more you’ve done wrong.

His gaze met Drake’s unflinchingly. Silas was not afraid of Drake. Drake considered him an equal in every sense of the word. Every bit as lethal, if not more. No, Silas didn’t fear Drake, and Drake respected him for that.

There was a pronounced hush over the room as everyone waited in anticipation of what Silas was daring to do. Suggest that Drake had been wrong about many things. Not even some of his closest dared what Silas dared.

“You never made her secure about her place in your world—your life,” Silas said in his quiet tone.

“The hell I didn’t,” Drake said savagely, but he didn’t like the undertone of defensiveness in his own voice. Guilt. Because Silas had struck a chord.

“You come to her after work and you leave before she awakens. You send one of us to take her where she needs to go, to see to her needs. That’s your job, Drake. She’s your woman and you’ve given her no reason to believe she matters as more than a body to warm your bed, a submissive to your dominance. She exists solely for your convenience.”

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