Counsellor(Acquisition Series Book 1)(62)

By: Celia Aaron


“Before you even came in that night, into the room where he and I sat, he’d already signed that contract in your hands. One million dollars. I was so pleased with my good fortune. That was a pittance for a woman like you. He eagerly agreed, signing the paper and sending you to me. He even told me how to phrase my offer to you before you came in. Very helpful, really. And it worked. Oh, how it worked. You came out to the car as planned. Then you came here, as planned. He knew you’d sacrifice yourself for him. The one man you thought loved you was actually the one man who sold you to me. And, just so you know, he was guilty of every single charge against him. I give you my word.”

Her hand rose to her face, covering her mouth as she gasped for air. I hadn’t hit her, hadn’t touched her, but I knew as surely as she sat there that I’d destroyed some deep piece of her heart. It was blasted away, spoiled so that nothing could ever grow there again. Loathing rose in me—for myself, for her father, for everything.

She dropped the papers and stood, turning her back on me and staggering to the dark windows. Lucius rushed to her, steadying her by the shoulder. I could do nothing but wish him harm and wish her comfort. After all I’d done and all I would have to do, I still just wanted her to look at me again the way she had in the cabin. It was only hours ago, but now seemed like a lifetime.

I thought I’d seen love in her eyes, or something like it, as if I knew. I didn’t know anything about that particular emotion, not really. But, I didn’t remember anyone ever looking at me that way, with so much genuine feeling. It was guarded, but it was there. I wanted it back. I’d strangled any fledgling feelings she may have had with the documents that now lay on the floor, but I still wanted her. I wanted her to come to me for comfort, for support.

Lucius pulled her into his side as her sobs rose and fell. I willed her to leave him and come to me, to return to me and throw her arms around my shoulders. I would hold her while she cried. I would whisper sweet words into her ear. I would soothe her and bring her out of her despair.

My heart swelled, as if drunk on her tears. I could make it right. Somehow. I would try.

Her sobs stopped and her breathing slowed. She lifted her head, staring out into the inky gray of night.

I would tell her. I didn’t care if Lucius heard. I was sorry, so fucking sorry.

“Stella—”

“I choose Lucius.”

“What?” Her words were a jolt to my system—unbelievable, false. She couldn’t mean it, not after what we’d been through, what we’d shared in the cabin.

She turned to me, her tear-streaked face bearing an expression that was a mix of heartbreak and hatred.

“I said I choose Lucius as my owner instead of you,” she spat.

“You can’t—”

“You heard her, Sin.” Lucius wrapped his arm around her waist. “She chose me. She’s mine now.”

She stepped back from him, pushing his arm away in disgust. “Don’t touch me. Leave me alone, both of you.”

She rushed through the room, running as if demons were at her heels. We both watched her go—one brother destroyed, and the other exhilarated.

She wouldn’t look at me, though she was all I could see. She retreated down the hallway, disappearing from my view. My soul seemed to have left with her; my legs were no longer strong enough to hold up the empty shell of my body. I sank into the chair.

What have I done?

After a few moments of silence, a door slammed somewhere far away in the house. Her door.

The sound jarred Lucius into motion. He followed Stella’s trail like a seasoned hunter, smooth and focused.

I wanted to stop him, to work the same violence on him that I had on Stella’s heart.

“Leave her alone, Lucius.” Though my soul was gone, my rage still burned.

He glanced over his shoulder, triumphant and vicious. “She’s mine now. I know the rules. I call the shots, and I have no intentions of ever leaving her alone.”

“I will fucking end you.” I forced myself to move and followed him into the hall.

He flipped me off and took the stairs two at a time.

“Game on, big brother.”