Beneath These Chains (Page 51)

His words hit me like drive-by bullets—coming out of nowhere and striking unexpectedly.

“What are you talking about?”

His voice rose and filled the shop. He slammed a fist down on the glass case, and for a moment I thought he’d cracked it. “I’ve had enough.”

I didn’t follow his logic … but when had Denton ever needed logic to make a threat? “You’re going to leave my mother if I don’t straighten up? What kind of threat is that?” The man had officially lost it.

His eyes turned hard. “Did you know she signed a prenup? If I divorce her, she’ll have nothing. Which means you’ll be using that fancy trust fund you’ve always thrown in my face to take care of her. She sure as hell can’t take care of herself.”

“Why did you even marry her to begin with if you hate her so much?” I couldn’t hold the question in; his disgust threw me. I’d never thought he’d treated her well, but this was something totally different.

“None of your goddamn business. But I know you don’t want to deal with her. So if you want her to stay my problem, you’re going to fall into line. You’ve got a week, Eleanor. Don’t make me come back here again.”

He turned and walked out, slamming the door behind him. The chimes clanged, and I wasn’t sure what the hell had just happened.

“He’s a dick,” Mathieu said, coming up behind me.

“Yeah. He’s a piece of work.”

“He treat your ma like that the whole time they’ve been married?”

I thought of the disgust, the disdain, and the absolute iron fist with which he laid out his orders.

“Pretty much.”

“Total dick.”

“Yeah.” I didn’t know what else to say. He was a dick. He’d just threatened to divorce my mother if I didn’t fall in line. Who did that? Someone who didn’t plan to stay married to her for much longer, regardless.

“Did you call Lord?” I asked.

“Yeah, he’s on his way.”

It seemed that all the bad shit happened when Lord left the shop. He was right; I wasn’t staying here without him again. Who knew what would happen next. Would the Devil himself walk right through that door and steal my soul?

My mind went back to Denton. Such a prick. And I was a horrible daughter, because for a split second, I actually considered what it would take for my mother to continue being Denton’s problem. But no way in hell. I’d wanted her to be free of him since the day I’d found out they were getting married. So fuck him. I’d never bend to his wishes—which meant I’d be responsible for my mother losing the life to which she’d become accustomed. Her safety and stability. Her marriage.


The back door opened, and I’d never heard a sound quite so comforting as the thud of Lord’s boots on the floor.

“He’s gone?”

“He’s gone,” Mathieu answered. I was still spacing over Denton’s threat.

“You okay?”

I looked up and met Lord’s concerned blue eyes, and everything surged inside me and the walls broke.

I came around the counter and barreled into him. Lord caught me and wrapped me in his strong arms.

Strong. Solid. Steady.

He was all of those things.

And I was none of them.

I burst into tears.

He didn’t try to quiet me. Didn’t ask why I was crying. He just held me and stroked my hair while my sobs soaked the front of his T-shirt.

I had no idea how much time passed before I lifted my head and snuffled.

“Everything’s such a mess.”

“You tell me what’s a mess, and we’ll fix it. Don’t doubt it.” He tucked a section of my hair behind my ear. “You know I hate seeing you cry.”

I snuffled again and lifted a hand to swipe at my tears, but Lord beat me to it. His thumb gently brushed below each of my eyes, and I blinked back the remainder poised to fall.

“I don’t know what to do,” I admitted.

“First thing, we get rid of these tears. Everything else can wait. Including tarring and feathering your stepdad for making you cry.”

My snort laugh wasn’t sexy, but the visual of Denton running around looking like a chicken was a helpful one.

And then I remembered the paper. I bit my lip. How would Lord feel about that? Right this second it was easier to worry about the side of my ass being printed in full color for the citizens of New Orleans to see than the havoc I was about to wreak on my mother’s life.

“My ass is sort of on the front page of the society section. Well, side cheek—if that’s a thing. Like side boob? I don’t know. But it’s there.” I blurted the words out in a disjointed tumble.

Lord’s brow furrowed. “Side boob? What the hell?”

I started to pull away, but Lord didn’t let me go. “Nope, you’re stuck staying close to me until we sort out whatever got you charging into my arms.”

“Then do we walk together like we’re in a three-legged race? Because the picture is on the counter.”

I heard movement, and then Lord unwrapped one arm from around my back and grabbed the paper from Mathieu’s outstretched hand. He held it out so we could both see the picture.

It wasn’t a bad one. It wasn’t even that revealing.

“If that’s side cheek, I like it,” he said.

“You’re not pissed my ass is in the paper?”

His lips quirked as he read the headline aloud. Society Princesses Find Tattooed Princes: Bad Boys Get The Girls.