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Chapter 156—Her Pain Shook Me


I stared at the monitor in silence, my spine rigid, my fist and elbow settled on the desk in front of me as I leaned forward. I had cleared the security room with a roar, "Get out!" All five guards, attending to the multiple screens and high tech protection equipment, scattered like mice running from a rabid cat. They didn't ask questions. They knew me. They recognized the edge of crazy I was teetering on.

'"He's holding your child!"  That's what she had screamed at me to stop my assault. My body had ground to a complete halt, as Raine's words slammed through me like a freight train. I heard them. I even understood them, to a point. But for the briefest instant in time, my world stood still, as I struggled to accept the truth of what she said.

In the next breath, I spun and searched her face in disbelief. I couldn't possibly have heard her correctly. Because there was no way she would ever keep something like that from me. Or so I thought. But the devastation on her face, and trembling of her body confirmed it.

She had wanted to explain. But I didn't want to hear it. Not then. Right then, I just needed her to repeat those agonizing words to be sure I wasn't hallucinating. And she did. With tears running down her cheeks, she whispered the words that cut me so deeply, "He...he's holding your...child."

Her revelation echoed through my head.

My child.


My head had snapped back to Marku, my eyes raking over the small box he held in his hands. There was no doubt it had been crafted by the finest artisans. Deep mahogany wood, inlaid with sapphire enameling, and the distinct outline of the tiger Raine and I shared from her royal mark, set in diamonds on the top.

He was holding a casket. A crypt. With my child inside.

Pain crashed over me, sucking every bit of air from my lungs. My chest felt compressed like a balloon ready to break. My mind swirled with images, nameless faces of innocent babies staring back at me. But in my imagination, they were all healthy. They were safe. Not, tucked away for an eternity inside of a box. How had this happened? Why?!

And then reality crashed in on me again. My fury sparked hot and strong. I might never have even known to ask those questions, let alone hope to have the answers, if Marku hadn't intruded when he had. It had been clear from Raine's shocked and dismayed expression that she hadn't expected him.

Why the fuck had she kept this from me?!

Even worse, she had made me look like a complete and utter fool in front of the one man who wanted her almost as much as I did. The one man who had gone to extreme lengths to obtain her. The one man she had admitted to 'loving' in her own way, I thought bitterly.

I slammed my fist down on the desk. I was certain that fucker enjoyed every second of my confusion and loss, and the realization that she trusted him more than she trusted me. It was pretty fucking obvious to me now, that they were a hell of a lot closer than I had realized. They had to be, to share this secret and keep something so precious from me.

I thought I knew Raine. I thought I knew her as well as my own heart.

I was wrong.

Fuck, was I wrong.

When the full understanding of what she had done, flowed through me, I had stormed out. I didn't want to hear her excuses. I didn't want to listen to any more of her lies. And I sure as fuck wasn't going to give Marku the satisfaction and entertainment of witnessing all of it. She might have loved him in her own way, I thought with a growl, but I despised him. Even before I knew about this travesty breach in trust, I had been ready to beat his ass for showing his face here. And I would have succeeded if she hadn't stopped me.

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