Traded(9)By: Rebecca Brooke
Standing in the foyer with her bag in my hand, I offered to show her to her room and her body locked tight, her eyes like saucers.
“How long do I have before you want me naked?”
I spun around to face her. “Excuse me.”
Her cheeks were flushed bright pink, her eyes to the floor. “Naked. Dominic said to have sex with you.”
Slipping my fingers under her chin, I lifted her eyes to mine. “Elena, you are not going to pay off the debt by fucking me because Dominic told you to. Any woman in my bed is there willingly. Do you understand?”
She nodded, but the second I moved my hand her eyes were on the floor again. There were a lot of things I’d been forced to do since taking over this side of the business for my dad—things I’d wanted no part of. I’d hoped to never be part of it, but that didn’t matter anymore. I was in too deep.
But fucking a woman to cancel out a debt? That was a line I would never cross, no matter the circumstances.
With a sigh, I made my way up the stairs to the guest bedroom. Swinging the door open, I flipped on the light and gestured inside.
“This will be your room. Make yourself at home.” I set the bag on the chair next to the door. “I’ll leave you alone to get settled and I’ll see you in the morning. We have a lot we need to talk about.”
I stepped to the side, allowing her to walk by me. Just as our bodies drew level, I heard her say quietly, “Thank you for dinner,” and then she walked into the room without another word, closing the door behind her.
I needed a drink. And a plan.
The first thing I needed to do was get in touch with my assistant and get everything set for tomorrow. I might have been in charge of the loans for my dad, but I still had businesses of my own to attend to. Heading back down to the den, I pulled my phone from my pocket and dialed Joanne, who promised to have everything set up and sent to me in the morning. She didn’t press for more information. I paid her enough to not ask any questions.
Once most of the phone calls were out of the way—I still had to call Dad, but that could wait until the morning—I kicked my shoes off and sat on the couch with another glass of scotch. A clear head while I processed the whole mess would probably be preferable, but I needed liquor to help me understand the last three hours.
And what the fuck I was going to do about all of it.
The second the door closed behind me I fell into the chair, on top of my bag. How the hell had I ended up in this situation? Dominic is supposed to take care of me, I thought, but how can that be when his idea of doing that is to send me to live with another man, telling him he can have sex with me anytime he wants?
Tears burned the back of my eyes and I went straight for the bed, burying my head in the soft pillow. I had no idea where Ashton, that was what Dominic called him, had gone, much less where his bedroom was. I didn’t want him to hear me cry. Especially not after I’d offered myself to him like Dominic told me to, and he’d turned me down. Without that, I didn’t have a clue how to help Dominic pay off the debt. I knew I wasn’t pretty, but Dominic usually took me anyway. He said it was the least I could do.
Then to see Ashton break that other man’s hand, I was terrified. Yet, Ashton had made no move to do any harm to me.
Once I let the tears go there was no stopping them. It had been years since I cried that hard. Each day, I’d learned more and more about what made Dominic happy, meaning less mistakes, fewer reasons for him to correct me. My body convulsed with the force of the sobs. My throat burned. Eventually the weight of it all was too much, and the tears pulled me into sleep.
For the first time in as long as I could remember, I was woken by a bright light. My eyes burned as I cracked them open, finding sunlight streaming through my window. I sat up, trying to get my bearings. I knew where I was, but it was shocking to not have an alarm wake me.
Rubbing at my swollen eyes, I remembered the fit I’d thrown the night before and resolved to shake off my feelings. My husband had asked me to do something, and I was going to do it. Forcing myself from the bed, I found my bag where I’d left it the night before. The room was filled with heavy oak furniture, the kind that dominated a room. The carpet was thick and plush, my feet sinking into it the moment my feet hit the ground. Walking in farther, I notice the en-suite bathroom. The luxury continued there, with extra robes and towels hung in the room, and a variety of toiletries on the counter.
Pulling out the things I needed, I decided that a shower would help me to start afresh. The double showerhead made for the most relaxing twenty minutes of my life and lifted my spirits somewhat; at least, until I realized I couldn’t hide in my room all day.