“You want me to do what?” I asked Daemon. My legs began to tremble as I processed his request—his one request. He’d made it simple really. All I had to do was one tiny thing and he would believe I was completely loyal to him.
“Help me kill your father,” he repeated with a simple shrug, as if he’d just asked me to help him clear the table after dinner or even take a litter of unwanted kittens to the pound. “I don’t know how much clearer I can make it.”
“It’s clear. I understand,” I told him, biting down on my lower lip. Already, I found myself shaking my head. “I can’t kill my father, Daemon. I just can’t do that. There’s no fucking way I can do that.” Again, panic began to lurch up my throat, cutting off my airway, just like it had when he was holding the gun to my head only a few moments ago—before swiveling it to point it at himself, which had been even worse.
Daemon smirked at me, a crooked grin on his face, as he asked, “Why not? I killed my fucking asshole father. And that was the best day of my life.”
I stared at him for a moment, wondering if that was true, and if so, how many people knew about it. I’d heard rumors, but I never knew for sure. He’d killed his own father? Why? I knew his father was a complete monster, but it was hard to imagine someone actually taking out a parent.
I folded my arms beneath my chest, wishing my heartbeat would settle down because he could probably hear it hammering against my ribcage. “I just can’t do it. I physically cannot kill my father, and I can’t imagine helping anyone else do that either.” Another ripple passed through my body, but this one wasn’t panic. It was fear. God, what if I tried to kill him, and it didn’t stick? What the fuck would I do then? My father would rip me to pieces, and there’d be no one to help me. I couldn’t trust Daemon to save me when Alexander La Rosa discovered his only daughter had betrayed him and the entire family.
Frustration mounted behind Daemon’s dark eyes as he glared at me. “I don’t understand you, Elisa. You told me what a fucking beast the man is, but you can’t help me kill him? He already tried to get you killed, remember?”
“No, he’s smacked me around a bit,” I began. “That’s not the same.”
Daemon wasn’t listening to me. Running a hand through his hair, he gave me the perfect view of his wild eyes before he turned away from me. When his gaze landed on me again, I could see the agitation in every twitch of his left eye. “He gave you to me with the express promise that he wouldn’t make a move on my family. He just took over my family, so by all rights, I should cut you down where you stand. He knew damn well what the consequences would be.”
My mouth dropped open as I let that sink in. But I had to believe that the Daemon I’d seen glimpses of, the one I truly believed cared for me, would never hurt me like that. “You wouldn’t kill me.”
He took a hurried step toward me, making me retreat. “I would do anything to keep my family strong.”
“Except join it with mine,” I bit out, holding my chin up as he narrowed the gap between us. For once, I felt slightly brave, like I was talking to a reasonable person.
That was my first mistake.
Daemon grabbed me roughly by the shoulders and lifted me off the floor, positioning me in front of the punching bag he’d been swinging at not long ago. My eyes wide, I stared at him as he threw the first punch, slamming his bare fist into the bag right next to my head. Fear kept me from moving an inch, from even blinking as he threw another punch, this one on my left. His knuckles were red already from just a couple of blows, but he didn’t stop.
“Your fucking asshole father came into my family, turned my mother against us, and now he’s trying to take what’s mine,” he said, slamming his fists into the bag again and again.
Trying not to blink, I watched him, praying he didn’t punch me in the face. The sheer power on display in front of me was mesmerizing in a way I couldn’t describe. His muscles rippled with each punch, causing that familiar ache in my core to ignite. But now wasn’t the time to be thinking about how good it would feel if it were his massive cock striking me between the legs instead of his iron fists hammering near my head, merely missing my face by a fraction of an inch. No, I needed to try to reason with the man to get him to stop before something disastrous happened.
But I couldn’t even open my mouth. I listened as he continued to tell me how vile my entire family was, how he hated all of us, how my father needed to die. “Alexander La Rosa is going to pay for what he did, one way or another.” Sweat dripped from his forehead, spraying out of his hair with each wild movement. “If you don’t want to be a part of it, that’s your choice, Elisa, but this is the only way I will ever trust you. In this line of work, in this life that I live, trust is everything.”
“That’s not fair!” I shouted at him, almost yanking my head too far to the right with the comment. His fist barely missed me. When I recoiled, snapping my face to the left, his knuckle grazed my skin, heating it but not catching enough of me to hurt. “You can’t put me in this kind of a position!”
“I didn’t put you in this position,” he countered. “Your dear ol’ dad put you there, angel. Now the question is, what are you going to do about it?”
I bit down on my bottom lip again, contemplating his question. He wasn’t wrong that this whole mess was my father’s fault, but I still couldn’t fathom what would happen if our plan went wrong and my father didn’t die. It was bad enough that I’d lived with an entire family full of pigs my entire life, my brothers practically vying against one another to see who might get to kill me. Now, Daemon wanted me to take the ultimate measure and knock off my dad. If any of them caught wind of it, save Drake, I’d be dead.
If my father lived, he’d make my death slow and painful. And I couldn’t count on Daemon or anyone else to save me.
Before I could formulate a response, Daemon stopped his angry outburst, letting the bag behind me continue to swing as he closed in on me, his handsome, sweat-streaked face an inch from mine. I could feel the heat rolling off his flesh, see the flakes of gold around his irises. The urge to lean forward slightly and press my lips to his was ridiculous. I wanted him just the same.
“Listen, you’re the one who took something that didn’t belong to you. If you want to prove to me that your only reason for having that file was to protect me from Ragno, this is what you have to do. You think I’d hesitate to bury you in that garden next to your spidery cousin? Fuck, I don’t give a shit about killing La Rosas. You should know that by now.”
I watched his eye twitch slightly and knew he didn’t mean that. But he wasn’t going to back down. “I’m not a killer, Daemon,” I reminded him. Images of a younger version of me entered my mind. How easy had it been for my hulk of a father to tower over me, to command my every move with the swing of his fist? I’d been too soft then, and he’d let me know it in a way that left scars deep in my soul. Now, the thought of committing the ultimate betrayal against him made me paralyzed with fear.
“If you want to have anything to do with me for the rest of your life, Elisa La Rosa, you will show me you are loyal to me, and only me, by doing this.” He gritted his teeth, straining to keep control of his anger again.
My father had always been some sort of fairytale beast to me, the monster lurking under the bed or just behind the closet door. If I did this and I wasn’t able to slay the dragon that had haunted me my entire life, he’d eat me alive.
“Elisa, what the fuck is it going to be?” Daemon asked, leaning in even closer. His warm breath fanned over my face, his lips only a hair’s breadth away from my own.
He wasn’t looking for a kiss, though.
I leaned away from him. “You’ve got to give me some time to think about this,” I pleaded. “You can’t expect me to just commit to something like this without giving it any thought whatsoever.”
“Why not? Do you think you might be more loyal to him than me?” Daemon countered.
“No, but there’s a lot at stake here. And if we fail—”
“Why the fuck would we fail?” he asked. “Unless you’re planning on betraying me. Again.”
“For fuck’s sake!” I shouted, starting to get angry myself. Why wouldn’t he just believe me? “You and I both know there are always other factors to consider in something like this. Just give me some fucking time!”
For a moment, I thought showing him my angry side might’ve actually bought me a few moments and maybe he’d back off. He did step away from me, but only for a second. Then, I was off the floor again, tossed over his shoulder, and Daemon Petrov was moving rapidly to the staircase that would take us out of the gym area.
“You need some time? Fine,” he said, carrying me like a sack of potatoes up the second flight of stairs, the one that led to his bedroom.
Thoughts of what he might be planning to do with me flittered through my mind. God, if he threw me into that fucking dog cage again, I’d lose my mind.
But then I thought maybe he would want to fuck me. Maybe he was pissed off but also turned on, like I was. When he carried me into his room and dropped me onto his bed, I found myself panting, and it wasn’t from exertion.
Daemon wasn’t breathing heavily at all as he stared down at me. I couldn’t tell if he was thinking about fucking me the same way I wanted him. He had that same borderline maniacal look on his face as he’d had when he started throwing punches near my head. I stared into his dark eyes for a moment, wondering if I should say something.
I didn’t get a word out before his phone chirped. Pulling it out of his pocket, he cursed and read a quick text. “Goddamnit,” he muttered, shaking his head.
Putting his phone back in his pocket, he returned his attention to me. “All right, La Rosa. You need some time to think about it? You got it.” He reached into the nightstand and pulled out a pair of handcuffs. I didn’t try to fight him. He was clearly much stronger than me, so it would do no good. Daemon closed one of the cuffs around my left wrist, threaded them through the bars on the back of his bed, and then hooked the other one around my right wrist, leaving my hands down next to my hips but still practically immobile.
I stared at him, unblinking, trying to figure out what the hell he was doing.
“That should give you some time to think about it while I go take care of some business,” he said before heading into his bathroom. I heard the shower turn on and cursed under my breath. It only took him a few minutes to get cleaned up, and then he walked out of the bathroom, dressed in a suit, and didn’t even look at me as he headed out the door.
“Fuck me,” I whispered.
At least I wasn’t in a dog cage.