A Safe Surrender: A Donnelley Brother's Novel (Donnelley Brothers Book 2) (17 page)

BOOK: A Safe Surrender: A Donnelley Brother's Novel (Donnelley Brothers Book 2)
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I couldn’t stop comparing Kyle to Rhett. Was his wanting to make our relationship public knowledge the same thing as Rhett wanting to mark my skin with his hickies? I know he’d said he wanted to make me his, but I didn’t feel the same kind of possession radiating from Kyle as I did when Rhett had spoken the words. Was I just blind? Did I attract men who wanted to hurt others - hurt me?

I shook my head, frustrated with myself for my fears. Kyle wasn’t that man - he wasn’t Rhett. Lumping him in the same toxic bucket would do no good for anyone. If I wanted this to work with Kyle, I had to stop comparing him to Rhett.

“Looking good today, Kami.” My eyes flickered up to catch sight of a man leaning over the counter, grinning at me. “Whatcha thinking about?”

“Pardon?” I blinked.

“You had that lost in space look.” He cocked his head. “I tried to get your attention a few times.”

“Oh,” I flushed. “I’m sorry, what can I do for you?”

“The usual.” He straightened, laughing loudly and catching Kyle’s attention.

The customer continued talking as my heart raced and panic soared through my chest, burning in my throat as Kyle glanced between me and the man leaning against the counter. Would he be mad? Would he come over here in a rage and accuse him of flirting with me - or me with him?

By the time Kyle winked at me and turned around to continue his instruction, I’d worked myself into such a panic, I would have bet money I was pale.

“Hey, Kami?” The man’s voice brought me back to the present and I sucked in a deep breath. “Are you alright? You’re pale - and you’re shaking.” He leaned in closer and I stepped back, covering my rolling stomach with my hand.

“I’m sorry,” Tears blurred my vision and my throat felt tight - almost closed.

“Hey,” the man called out. “Can I get some help here?”

Through the haze of my vision, I saw Kyle’s eyes dart to me before he yelled for Collin to take his place. Then he was jogging toward me. His eyes were filled with worry.

Large strong hands settled on the side of my face and through the rapid beating of my heart, I felt calm settle through me. “Kami, talk to me, sweetheart.”

I shook my head. “I’m sorry,” My hands trembled as they lifted to cover his hands on my face. “I need - to,” I stuttered. “I need to go.”

He nodded, glancing over his shoulder at Collin. I watched as Collin gave a sharp chin nod - communicating with Kyle silently - before Kyle dropped his hands from the side of my face, steering me to the door. “We’re going home, love.” He cooed. “I’m taking you home.”

Kyle steered me toward his truck, completely bypassing the Jeep I’d driven this morning to the gym despite the fact that we’d left from his house together and were planning on returning to the same place. Driving in my own vehicle (even though technically it was Kyle’s) gave me a sense of independence I desperately needed - but right now, the only thing I needed was to get out of here.

I hadn’t had an anxiety attack in years. The attacks had ended when I first met Rhett four years after I’d found myself in the foster system. He’d been a safe place for me - a constant in the chaos after my mother’s death. I’d needed a constant so desperately that I would have accepted almost anything. Looking back, I see that now. Rhett gave me something I hadn’t had since my mother’s death and I’d needed it. He gave me something that hadn’t changed. After my mother had been murdered by an obsessive customer at the strip club she’d been working in - tossing me into a whirlwind that still hadn’t settled - I’d found myself in foster home after foster home. My life was in a constant state of change, and then I’d found Rhett - or, he’d found me. He’d given me a steadiness, something I’d ached for after losing my mother and the only home I’d ever truly known.

My mother might not have been everything the conventional mother is - but she was still mine. She had loved me with more love than many mothers display toward their children. She was my best friend, my confidant, and my caregiver. The fact that she was a stripper had never mattered to me. My mother had never brought work home with her and the only time her unconventional job had ever really touched my life was the night I found out she’d been murdered in the parking lot on her way to her car.

To this day, I still didn’t know the details of her murder. I didn’t know if she’d been raped, beaten or simply killed quickly. It all hurt the same. At the tender age of eleven, I’d lost my mother to a man consumed by anger and lust. I still didn’t know the details of her death. I knew I could ask now, and be told. Unlike the innocent eleven year old girl I once was - I was old enough. However, I didn’t want to know. It was selfish, but I needed to believe that her death had been a quick one.

Kyle pulled the truck to a stop, snapping me from my thoughts. Killing the rumbling of the engine he exited the cab and rounded to my side. He swung open the door and stared inquisitively at me through narrowed, dark eyes. I feared he’d ask me what happened, demanding an answer I simply couldn’t give, but he didn’t.

Instead, his hands reached up to unbuckle me from my seat before he pulled my body tight against his chest. And that’s when I knew that Kyle was different.

The first time I’d met Kyle, I’d sensed he was safe. The first time he’d touched me, I knew deep in the marrow of my bones, that, in him, I’d found my haven. Unlike some, Kyle would never force me to do or be anything that I wasn’t. All that he wanted was me. It was simple. Finally, I understood this.

Wrapping my arms around his neck, I allowed Kyle to carry me bridal style into the house. His breaths were deep and his movements were precise. I knew when he laid me on the couch, eyeing me carefully before moving to the fireplace, that he was worried. I sensed he wanted to question me, but he didn’t. It shocked me that he could be so consumed by questions and still hold his silence - for me.

I watched him as he built a warm fire in the stone of the fireplace before turning back to gaze intensely at me. In the depths of his eyes, I saw nothing but worry and patience. I didn’t want him to worry about me, and I was so very grateful for his patience.

Pushing myself into a sitting position on the couch, I watched as Kyle moved to sit on the edge of the coffee table directly in front of me. Still, he didn’t ask what happened. He merely waited for me to speak and again, I found myself grateful for his astounding patience.

“I’m sorry,” I glanced down to where my hands were knotted in my lap.

“Don’t be sorry, Kami.” He said gruffly, his voice was so thick with emotion and concern. “Never be sorry.”

“I guess,” I stuttered.

“Take your time, love.” He spoke gently. His words gave me the courage I needed to be open and honest with him.

“I had an anxiety attack.” I stated, unable to look up into his unwavering eyes. “I used to get them a lot when,” I croaked, emotion cracking my voice.

“When?” He prompted tenderly. “You can trust me, sweetheart.”

Blinking, I looked up into his eyes. “I know I can. It just - it doesn’t make it easier.”

“You don’t have to tell me yet, Kami, if you’re not ready.” He assured. “I’m not walking away from you. I’ll help you through whatever it is in the only way I know how - by being here.”

“Thank you,” I whispered. “But you deserve to know.”

“Whenever you’re ready.”

Taking in a deep breath, I spoke. “The attacks started when I was eleven. My mom was a stripper for a flashy club in downtown Edmonton.” I peaked up at him, noting his surprise, but surprisingly, there was no judgment in his eyes. Finding the courage to go on, I spoke. “I can’t imagine what you’re thinking about her - but I want to make it clear that she was a good mother. We always had food on the table and I always had clothes on my back. She worked hard to ensure I went on all the fieldtrips my classmates, with parents who could afford to pay for the trips, went on.”

Kyle’s hand covered mine in my lap, his fingers squeezing gently. “She sounds like a good mother, Kami.”

Tears misted my eyes. “She was.” I closed my eyes and dragged a deep breath through my burning lungs. “When I was eleven, she was murdered.”

Kyle hissed in a breath and my eyes shot open to see a horrified expression of angry agony cross his face. His hands tightened around mine. “Sweetheart,”

I interrupted him. “I don’t know the details and I don’t want to know, but he man is in prison. He’d been a customer at the club, and for some reason, my mother had caught his eye.” I pulled in another breath. “I didn’t have anyone but my mom. After she died, I had nowhere to go but into foster care.”

“Fuck,” Kyle groaned under his breath and I hated the pain I heard in his voice.

“It wasn’t as bad as it could have been. I lived with a few different families. Some were good and some weren’t so good. It was through a foster sister, that I met Rhett.”

I felt Kyle tense, the air shifting around us - thickening. “What triggered your attack today?”

I didn’t answer his question. I needed him to understand and the only way he ever would, was if I was brutally honest with him. “I was living with a family, the Preston’s, when I met Rhett. Mrs. Preston was a lovely, caring woman with an enormous heart and a blind eye. Mr. Preston was rumored to take more than just a fatherly interest in the females under his care.”

“No!” Kyle stood, dragging a hand through his hair. “Fuck, Kami, no!”

I stood with him, feeling nerves jumping in my belly. “Never me.” I swore. “He never took an interest in me.”

His eyes connected with mine and there was so much agony inside their depths that I longed, for a moment, to take away everything I’d told him. I didn’t want my pain to be his pain. “He never touched you?”

“No.” I offered a small smile. “Jana, my foster sister made sure I was never alone in the house.” I shrugged. “I don’t really know why she did that for me - she wasn’t all that much older than me, and she didn’t even seem to like me per say - but she protected me in the only way she knew how.”


“She took me with her everywhere she went.” I answered calmly, sitting back down on the couch as Kyle continued to pace the floor. I watched him as he seemed to register that I was sitting and came to sit beside me. His hand found mine and he weaved his fingers through mine.

I continued. “Everywhere Jana went pretty much consisted of illegal parties. So through her, I met Rhett.”

“How old were you when you met him?”

“Fifteen.” I answered simply. “He was seventeen.”

“Too old for you.”

“You’re older than he is.” I scoffed.

“But I wasn’t pursuing you when I was almost eighteen and you were a minor.”

I shrugged, moving on. “I’ll admit I was too young for a relationship like the one I had with Rhett. I didn’t know who I was as a person and he never really allowed me the space to learn or develop.”

“Why were you with him?”

“He romanced me.” I replied honestly. “I felt so alone and Rhett was paying me all this wonderful and exciting attention. Again, I was young and far too innocent. Looking back, I see all the signs of a dangerous relationship were there. I was just remembering my earlier days with him when the attack happened. Rhett used to say he wanted me to belong to him and I suppose I was afraid that your wanting everyone to know we were an item was the same as him wanting to mark me with his hickies.” I shrugged, feeling ashamed. “I kept thinking of this horrible party where I refused to let him mark me and then a guy started talking to me - he wasn’t hitting on me - just talking - but Rhett freaked. He beat the guy up and then blamed me. He said it was because I didn’t let him mark me that the guy thought I was available. I was afraid when you looked back and saw that guy,”

Kyle’s eyes widened. “You thought I would beat up someone just cause they were talking to you?”

“Well, no,”

“Kami,” Kyle sighed, “Please tell me you know I’m not that guy?”

“I know. I just worry.”

He released my hand to catch my chin between his gentle, but firm, fingertips. “I would never do anything to harm you. I’ll admit, I’m a jealous guy every now and again, but I’ll never allow my jealousy to hurt you or someone else.”

“I know.” I whispered, ashamed for my panic attack. “I’m sorry.”

“Please, Kami, stop saying you’re sorry.” He pulled me into his lap before settling into the back of the couch. I couldn’t help but cuddle against him. There was just something about Kyle’s warmth - his solid arms - that made me feel at peace in a stressful situation.

“Thank you for listening and not being angry with me.”

He pressed his lips to my temple. “I love you, Kami.” His voice was thick with emotion. “All I want to do is take away your pain - all of your pain. If I could, I would gladly take the weight of your pain onto my heart.”

Wrapping my arms around his waist, I sighed. “I think I know that too.”

“I love you.” He said again. His words were a declaration and a plea at the same time. I couldn’t help but smile at where I was in life from where I’d been, with a man who I could trust so completely. It was a blessing and for the first time in a long time, I felt that there was really someone watching out for me.

“I love you too.”

Chapter 17

“I don’t know what to wear!” Reese whined as she plucked through the rack of clothing in the cute little boutique in Calgary. “My stomach is starting to show already.”

“I thought you couldn’t wait to be showing?” I smirked, holding up a shimmery blue halter-top dress.

“I couldn’t. But it’s too soon. I swear, this baby is going to be huge.”

“Just like daddy.” I grinned, winking at her.

She narrowed her eyes. “I seriously need to figure out the sex.”

“What do you want?”

“A boy,” she sighed, rubbing her belly. “But I’d be happy either way.”


She snapped her fingers, pointing to the dress I was holding. “I like that. You should try it on.” She pouted. “Unlike me, you’ve got a flat belly and can wear something all clingy like that.”

I shrugged as I gazed down at the dress uncertainly. “I don’t know,”

“Well, I’ll tell you what I know,” she waggled her brows at me. “Kyle won’t be able to keep his hands off you.”

BOOK: A Safe Surrender: A Donnelley Brother's Novel (Donnelley Brothers Book 2)
6.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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