Page 21 of Stealing the Bride

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“Vanna.” I stiffen at the sound of Lilith’s voice. “I’m glad you’re awake.” Where the hell did she come from? She’s like a ghost that appeared out of nowhere. When I turn to watch her coming down the hallway, I see she’s dressed impeccably as always.

“How did I get here?”

“We brought you here, of course, after you fainted. Nick told me you’re prone to that.”

“It’s only happened a few times.” She gives me a tight smile, and although her anger might not be on the surface like Nick’s, it’s there. I can see it simmering underneath, and it’s dangerous. “I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to scare anyone. I’ll call for a ride and be out of your hair.”

Lilith’s fake smile drops. “You’re not going anywhere. There are several things we need to discuss.”

She grabs my elbow, and her fingers dig in as her hold tightens. I’m tempted to jerk away, but complying might be best for now. No one has a clue where I am, and I’m not sure what she’ll do if I struggle. All I can think about is Lawson. Is he looking for me? Does he think I took off on him? If he sees my apartment, he’ll have to know something is wrong.

“I’m not sure what there is to talk about. Nick and I aren’t in love.” I say it the nicest way that I can without being crude.

“Love.” Lilith laughs lightly. “Marriage isn’t about love. It’s about power.”

“Well, I don’t have any of that either so…” I shrug one of my shoulders.

“No you don’t, do you?”

Ouch. I know I said it about myself, but damn, that stung a little. Only because what she and I consider power are two different things.

“Then you should be happy the engagement is ending.”

“You’re very well provided for. Did you know that, Vanna? People find you endearing and even more so when they hear about your past,” she informs me. “You might not have power or pedigree, but people perceive us allowing you into our family as a great act of kindness. It shows that we accept everyone.”

“Seriously? That’s a weird-ass compliment.” I don’t want to be in their world or care what the people in it think of me.

“Don’t curse,” she snips.

Lilith finally releases my elbow when we enter the great room. It’s obnoxiously ornate with giant paintings hanging on the walls and overstuffed chairs filling the space. I’ve been in here before, but the furniture was removed for a party.

“This is all pointless. I’m not marrying Nick.” Does she think she can make me?

“You’re lucky he wants to marry you. Especially after how you took off on him the way you did.” She gives me a look that used to cut through me. Now I don’t care.

“Did he tell you I caught him with two women?” I ask, and Lilith rolls her eyes.

“Don’t be a child. Men have needs they have to fulfill in other places. It’s better that way.” Her eyes roam up and down my body. “You’ve put on weight.”

“Okay, so we’re not getting anywhere.” I glance around, glad Nick isn’t here. “I’m leaving.”

“No you’re not,” Lilith responds but doesn’t block me when I walk to the door. I touch the handle before her words halt me in my tracks. “Lawson Reins’ fate lies in your hands.” I whip back around and stare at her in shock. “Or I suppose in mine.”

“What does that mean?” I swallow hard as I think about what Lilith is capable of. She always gets what she wants.

“You think we can’t ruin a man like Lawson and the rest of his family?”

“He’s done nothing.” My heart starts to race. The last thing I would ever want is for something to happen to Lawson or his family. Especially because of me. He’s the only man to show me real kindness and to give me a taste of love.

I step away from the door, and Lilith nods in approval. Her smile is genuine, like she’s won.

For now at least.

Chapter Sixteen


I have to blink a few times before I can focus on what’s in front of me. My neck is sore, and when I reach up to rub it, I realize I’m strapped to a chair with my hands tied behind my back.

“What the fuck?” I mumble and pull on the restraints.

“It’s for your own protection.” The voice comes from behind me, and then I hear footsteps.

Nick steps out from the shadows, and it’s then I notice I’m in some kind of wine cellar. He must have brought me to his parents’ place because he lives in a new building downtown. This room is old with stone walls and racks of wine that are covered in dust. His parents have bragged endlessly about their wine collection, and he’s not smart enough to cover his own tracks. Of course, he brought me to their house thinking that this was the perfect place to commit a crime. His first mistake was not killing me when he had the chance.

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