Home > Savage Chains: Scarred (Men in Chains #1.6)

Savage Chains: Scarred (Men in Chains #1.6)
Author: Caris Roane

Chapter One

Stay, Angelica. Please stay …

The expression in Reyes’s clear blue eyes pierced Angelica’s heart. He was pleading for her to remain with him, to help him bring down the Starlin Group, the organization that abducted tens of thousands of humans every year and sold them into slavery.

She’d been with him long enough to understand that he walked this path alone and that he never asked anyone for help.

But he was asking her now.

He still wore his expensive Brioni tux from the after-auction party, and it didn’t help that his broad shoulders tapered to a narrow waist or that he was so easy on the eyes. He had a striking appearance with thick black brows, straight nose, and soft, sensual lips. He had a sexy scruff, and his cheekbones angled sharply, adding to his don’t-mess-with-me look.

She tried to be sensible. She had an obligation to her infirm mother that couldn’t be ignored, a life to return to, a very human life. Even though Angelica knew she needed to make changes, to get out of the rut of her accounting job, of too much overtime and not enough social life. But she was still young and she could fix whatever needed to be fixed.

But if she stayed with Reyes she could die.

The truly sensible thing would be to run. Yet she hesitated.

He’d asked her to stay with him during the upcoming Starlin Festival, to continue playing her role as his slave for a few more days or possibly a few more weeks. If she left now he would have a hard time sustaining his cover, but if she stayed she’d have to form a blood-chain bond with him. The bond would help keep her safe from other slavers intent on manhandling her, would increase her ability to siphon his power, and would help her to know what he was feeling from one moment to the next. In the same way, he’d have a clearer view of everything she experienced.

Her own reasons for wanting to stay were far more complex. She had little to gain personally, except the knowledge that in playing her role and supporting Reyes she could possibly save thousands of lives.

The ominous risk to her life, however, kept her locked in a terrible place of indecision.

He stood close to her, the red leather box in his hand, the one that displayed the bonding chains. He wanted her with him badly.

But how could she possibly stay?

She glanced at the blood-chains one more time. Once bonded, the chains would create a proximity issue. From what he’d said, she’d have to remain at all times not more than ten feet away from him. Something about the bond didn’t permit either person straying beyond that distance.

So close.

Something she had to admit: she wanted, to be that close to Reyes. And there would be no reason for not engaging sexually with him anymore, no holding back. Sudden desire, always a breath away, sent a shiver through her. She’d wanted him badly from the first, and she had no doubt that the blood-chain bond would take them the distance.

Extending her hand, she touched the chain on the left and immediately felt a strong drift of power, a vibration against the tip of her finger, like electricity. Everything about Reyes’s world was so strange, the hidden caverns in which an entire vampire civilization lived, the way they could travel with altered flight and pass easily through stone as though it were air and not solid matter, and now the chains infused with his blood.

But could she do this?

Still touching the chain, she lifted her gaze to Reyes. His lips were parted and she could sense what he was feeling, that he desired her and something more, that he called to her from so deep in his soul that her heart seized.

His voice moved softly through her mind: stay.

I want to, Reyes, but I’m scared.

I know.

Then suddenly, as she continued to touch the chain, as the bonding sensation flowed through her finger, she felt drawn into the past. His past. She couldn’t explain exactly what happened, but she saw Reyes as he’d been well over a century ago, when he was a teenager, as the young man abducted by slavers and sold at auction to the sadistic woman known as Sweet Dove.

The image sharpened in Angelica’s mind, and she knew it had to be some kind of vision.

Her breathing grew short as she stayed in the past, seeing him as an innocent youth, full of fire and drive, stacks of books all around his cavern bedroom, as well as a bench, a rack, and barbells for working out. He looked so serious, even back then, so driven.

She didn’t know how she was able to see into his past, but she kept looking and watching. He was lean and looked to be about fifteen. He barely had a beard, compared to his current scruff, but he was clearly proud of what was there, a typical boy in his teens.

She scanned the space and saw that many of the titles dealt with justice and the law. Even then, his purpose had been fixed.

She released the chain, and the image disappeared. She wasn’t sure what had just happened, but she needed to know if what she’d seen was real. “When you were young, before you were abducted, did you live in a cave with rough, jagged walls, an arched doorway, and books stacked high, all scattered around the space?”

His eyes widened. “Are you telling me when you touched the chain that’s what you saw?”

She nodded slowly. “You had workout equipment in there as well, a bench, barbells. Many of the books had to do with government and the law.”

He stared at her. “You saw all these details?”

She nodded.

“You’ve just described my bedroom, the one I had growing up. And you say this happened when you touched the chain?”

“Yes. I felt a sort of electrical charge; then the image just came to me, of you when you were young.”

He seemed more distressed than ever as he clamped the lid shut on the chains, then shifted to sit on the end of the bed. He scrubbed a hand through his short hair.

She pivoted to look at him. “So, I didn’t imagine what I just saw?”

He lifted his gaze to her. “I was fourteen when I started collecting books from the European and American libraries. I wanted to know about government and about how various societies dealt with criminals, with the rights of the individual. All we have is a corrupt court system in our world.”

“Then you’d already made the seeking of justice your mission even before you were abducted?”

He leaned forward, planting his elbows on his thighs. He clasped his hands tightly together, flexing his jaw several times. “A year prior, my father, a very powerful Ancestral, tried to take a stand against the injustices in our world, in particular the increasing sex-slave traffic. Shortly after he’d made his tenth speech to what had become larger and larger audiences, he disappeared. My mother and I never knew what happened to him, but we suspected he’d been assassinated, then dropped into the middle of the ocean somewhere to remove all traces of his existence. But we had no recourse, no one to turn to for help in finding out what had been done to him, never mind holding anyone liable for the crime.”

Angelica hardly knew what to do with this new piece of information. Just before Reyes had been abducted he’d already had to endure his father’s apparent murder. “And you’d planned that one day, you would take his place?”

He looked up at her, his blue eyes glittering. “I had. I was planning on studying in the human world, at one of the major European universities, when I was drugged and abducted.”

She thought about this for a moment, about mother and son surviving the disappearance and probable death of a worthy husband and father. “Your mother must have been devastated when you disappeared.”

“If you’re asking what happened to her, she didn’t survive. I think you might even say she died of a broken heart. Sweet Dove kept me informed, though, the gentle soul that my captor was, telling me how she’d stopped meeting her blood-needs, fell into madness, then perished.”

Angelica, standing close to him, shaded her face with her hand. She saw all that he was in this moment, from the orphaned youth to the tortured slave under Sweet Dove’s cruelty and to the current warrior on the brink of rectifying a terrible injustice in his world.

And all he had asked was that Angelica stay with him for the duration of Starlin’s festival, attend a few functions, share a chain-bond and quite possibly his bed. Her life suddenly seemed so small because here was a man standing alone against an organization that earned billions each year from its crimes.

“Why was I able to see into your past like that? What was it I saw? I don’t understand.”

“It’s called a revisiting vision. Some humans have markers in common with basic vampire DNA.”

“And these humans can see into the past?”

“It’s very rare, but apparently you have exactly that kind of capacity, which could be useful.”

“And that’s why this whole thing bothers you even more.”

“Yes, because you’re who you are. You’re an amazing woman, and to top it off apparently you have this unique ability in my world.”

She glanced at the leather box next to him. “So just by touching the chains, I could see the past. Would I see even more if I wore the chains? If I was bound to you?”

“I don’t really know. This is new territory even for me.”

“So you’ve never bound anyone before.”

He shook his head. “Never wanted to. Never thought I would just on principle.” He rose up and faced her once more. “All these questions, Angelica. Does this mean you’re considering saying yes to my proposition?”

She nodded, but her throat grew tight. “There’s just one thing. If anything happened to me, I would need to know that my mother was cared for.”

“Of course,” he stated, taking Angelica’s arms gently in his hands.

“Not to put a damper on things, but what if you died as well? I really don’t want to leave anything to chance here.”

“I’ll have papers drawn up immediately, so that she’ll never lack for anything as long as she lives.”

Angelica was so stunned that her mouth fell agape. “You would do that, without question?”

“It’s the least I could do given the situation, given what I’m asking of you.”

“At the Ocean Club, you accused me of being a gold digger.”

He shook his head, a sad smile on his lips. “I knew you were no such thing. I was just trying to warn you away.”

“And if only I’d gotten in my car and left.” But she felt her lips curve; then tears started suddenly to her eyes and she began to weep, though she didn’t really know why. The whole situation overwhelmed her, including Reyes and all that he’d been through. That alone, what he’d suffered even before his abduction, made her want to help him.

Reyes surprised her yet again as he rose up, drew her gently into his arms, and just held her. He rubbed her back, letting her feel whatever it was she needed to feel.

“You’re exhausted,” he said against her cheek. “Why don’t you get some sleep and we’ll talk about this again when you wake up? If you still think you want to stay with me through the Starlin events we can work out all the details, including an arrangement that will protect your mother’s future. You can ask anything you want about the blood-chains and, perhaps more importantly, what will be expected of you in the coming days and nights. For now, bedtime.”

At the mere mention of sleep fatigue settled into her bones as much from the mental stress as anything else. “You’re right.”

After getting ready for bed Angelica crawled beneath the comforter. Reyes gave her some much-needed space, leaving the room to take care of other business.

As she fell asleep what slipped through her mind didn’t have anything to do with concerns for her mother or even what she might have to do if she stayed in Reyes’s world but, rather, her own heart. She already felt a connection to the man, so what would happen if she joined him in a blood-chain bond? Most certainly he would become her lover, but what if she grew even more attached to him than she already was? What if she fell in love with him? How would she ever be able to leave this world after that?

###

Later, long after Angelica had fallen asleep, Reyes lay on top of the comforter next to her. For her sake, though he usually went commando, he now wore pajamas and a robe. He didn’t want her to assume for a moment that he had any expectations, and he was pretty sure the last thing she needed to confront right now was his na**d male body.

With one arm slung over the top of his head, he thought back to the cave she’d described, to the bedroom from his youth that reflected his plans to take up his father’s cause.

Despite the fact that his father had been killed by his enemies, Reyes had embraced his calling to bring down the vile elements in his world. How ironic that Reyes had then been enslaved by a sadistic female owner for over a century.

Now Angelica was here and she was considering remaining with him.

With his mind reeling at this unexpected turn of events, that Angelica would have an added power if they forged the chain-bond, he finally left the bed and paced quietly in the opposite sitting room.

He poured himself another Bowmore and drank deeply, his gaze shifting to the bed. Angelica had thrown the comforter back and lay on her stomach. She wore a short dark-blue silk nightgown that rode up, exposing much of her white creamy skin and the curve of her bu**ocks.

His constant need for her flooded him in a sudden wash of desire. For just a moment he imagined kissing that curve and running his tongue in the erotic crease where her bu**ocks met the backs of her thighs.

He shifted away from her and sipped his scotch again. He needed to get hold of himself, to stop lusting after the woman. If she chose to remain, more than anything he would want her to feel respected.

###

When Angelica woke up she lay on her back staring up at a carved ceiling. Reyes’s world made use of stone in ways she’d never seen before, sometimes a reflection of the actual makeup of the cavern, sometimes added. In this case, she wasn’t sure. An angled flow of black granite, speckled with silver, stretched across the entire cavern space. Parts of the room appeared to be squared up with drywall, but other parts had been carved out of rock.

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