Home > Kept Bride : A Dark Romance(8)

Kept Bride : A Dark Romance(8)
Author: Alta Hensley

Her blue eyes so full of truth stab me in the heart. She’s calm, she’s collected, and she seems so wise and in control. In a whirlwind of chaos, standing in this room with Ember is the first time I feel a sense of grounding.

“You’re my wife,” I say. “I don’t care what anyone says; you are my wife.”

“And Marissa?”

“I will need to handle the situation delicately. I don’t want to hurt her. I don’t want to hurt you. But I can’t think right now. I’m tired. I need a shower. We need a shower. Tomorrow is another day, and we can face this nightmare then.” I point to the closed door. “You can have the shower first. I’ll go see about some of my mother’s clothes while you’re in there.”

Ember stands up and walks to me. Inches from my face, she tilts her head up so she can look directly into my eyes. “I’m sorry, Christopher. I’m sorry you have to go through all this. You don’t deserve this.”

I run my hand down the back of her head and pull her into an embrace. “You have nothing to apologize for. I’m sorry for both of us. This situation is so fucked up.”

“Do you regret taking me with you?” she mumbles against me.

“Never,” I say, pulling her away enough so that I can kiss her lips. The act of intimacy feels foreign, as if I shouldn’t be kissing my wife. “Yes, we made wedding vows, but I made my own vow to you that has nothing to do with being married. I’m never going to leave you, Ember. I’m here for you through all of this.” I kiss her one more time, determined for the sensation to not feel wrong, but it still seems off in the light of normalcy and no longer being chained together. “I’m not going to lie to you and tell you this is going to be easy. It’s not. It’s going to be fucking hard. Really fucking hard.”

“But we’ll get through it,” she finishes for me. “Together.”

God, I fucking hope so. I do.

“Christopher?”

“Tomorrow,” I interrupt, having reached my max. “Tomorrow.”

“But—”

“Ember… I need to… tomorrow.”

I know the tone in my voice is harsh. I know I should hold her. I should make promises and reassurances to her. I should put her feelings first.

But right now, all I can do is shut down. My mind says enough. My heart splinters with every sign of my past life muddling my current. The situation is swallowing me up, and I worry I can’t be who I need to be and do what I need to do.

Bells are ringing in my ears. Flashes of insanity are approaching.

“Tomorrow,” Ember finally says, her voice pulling me from the depths.

 

 

5

 

 

Ember

 

 

It smells different.

It sounds different.

It feels different.

This isn’t my home. This isn’t Hallelujah Junction.

And though I’m lying in bed next to Christopher, I don’t recognize anything. Not even him. The man last night was different than I’ve ever seen. Everything is different.

The borrowed nightgown I wear feels too soft—like butter. It slides on my skin, and I feel molested by cloth that’s not mine. The sheets feel that way as well. Rich and luxurious but suffocating.

I don’t belong here, but regardless, I am here. Where else can I go? Even if I wanted to go back to Hallelujah Junction, it is burned to the ground by my own doing.

“Did you sleep well?” Christopher asks huskily as he rolls over to face me. His eyes sparkle in the sunlight peeking through the curtains.

“No.” I don’t want to lie to Christopher. I’m not a liar… yet. Maybe this place will change me.

He stretches and yawns. “I know this is a lot to get used to. It’ll take time.”

With a small groan, Christopher gets out of bed and pads barefoot over to the window, opening the curtain. He’s wearing nothing but underwear, and I’m surprised when a stirring in my sex ignites at the sight. I try to divert my sinful eyes, but I can’t. He looks down below and curses. “Shit. They’re still here.”

“The reporters? Why?” How can we be so interesting that people choose to camp outside?

“They know we have to come out someday. They are hunters waiting for their prey.

“I’m scared,” I confess.

He looks over his shoulder at me and offers a warm smile. “You don’t need to be scared. They seem scary, but they’re harmless. Remember, I’m a photographer myself… or I was.”

“Not of them,” I clarify. “But what if… if we’re on television or the newspapers, then he can find us. Papa Rich. If he’s alive, he’ll know where we are.”

I sit up, feeling as if I have to in order for the thick mattress not to swallow me up.

“That’s not possible.”

“How can you be so sure? I know Papa Rich. And if he’s alive, he’ll want me back with him. He’ll want us both. He won’t give up until that happens. He’s always claimed to be a determined and driven man. He says God gave him the gift of fortitude.”

Christopher takes two large strides toward me with a firm jaw and narrowed eyes. His voice is low and terse. “Don’t ever be afraid of that man again. You hear me? He’s had enough control over our lives for a lifetime. I will not allow him to control another minute any longer.” He sits down next to me on the bed and takes my hand in his. His voice softens as he adds, “I’m never going to let you be in danger again. If he’s alive… if… he better stay away. Because I won’t hesitate to kill him myself. He’s never getting you again. You aren’t his to take. You’re mine now.”

“Am I yours?” I ask, liking the way it sounds but not truly believing him.

“Yes, mine.”

“It doesn’t feel that way,” I admit. “Your mother is right. You were forced to marry me. She doesn’t see me as your wife. No one will.” I look out the window and see the blue in the sky. “I’m not even sure you see me as your wife.”

“It doesn’t matter what others think,” he says, rubbing a circle on my hand with his fingertip. “It’s about what you and I feel. And right now, I feel more connected to you than I do anything else. My life feels out of control right now. But you are my one grounding constant. You are the one person who truly understands what I went through and what I’m feeling now. I don’t care about the term ‘wife’ or all the legalities. We’re together. I’m not leaving you, and that’s all that matters.” He brushes a lock of hair behind my ear. “You’re my wife, Ember. Block out all the noise that says anything different.”

He leans forward and places his lips to mine. It’s not like last night’s kisses. It’s different. I hear his breath. I feel his breath. And when he pushes his tongue into my mouth, I taste his breath. It’s laced with hunger and need that matches my own.

He pulls away just enough to whisper, “I’m not letting you go. I know you’re afraid I will, but I swear to you, you’re mine. My wife. My future.”

The kiss continues and deepens even more as he lowers me back down to the mattress, mounting me as he does so. Effortlessly, he pulls down his underwear, and it dawns on me that this is the first time we have been able to do this action without a chain to our ankles. We’re free… at least from the metal constraints.

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