Beneath These Chains (Page 52)

“Doesn’t bother me if it doesn’t bother you. Besides, I like the top picture. No disputing your gorgeous ass belongs to me.”

The old Elle would’ve bristled at his outright statement of ownership. The new Elle … she was surprisingly okay with it.

“You did get the girl. They weren’t lying about that.”

The sound of shuffling behind us signaled that Mathieu was moving away and giving us some privacy.

I swallowed, realizing what I’d just said. It was probably the most honest I’d ever been with Lord about my feelings.

He tilted my chin up, his eyes meeting mine. “Did I get the girl, Elle?”

I nodded. “But when I tell you the rest, I’m not sure you’re going to want to keep her.”

“There’s not a damn thing you could tell me that would make me let you go.”

“Even if I told you Denton said I had to drop you and quit this job.”

Lord’s expression turned hard. “Fuck that dick. You’ve never bowed down to him in your life, so why the hell would you start now?”

“Because he’s going to throw my mother out on the street if I don’t.”

Lord’s head reared back, but his arm never loosened. “What the fuck kind of threat is that?”

“I don’t know. He seems to have reached the end of his patience with Snyder women.”

“His loss.”

The way Lord summed it up was so simple. So final. But he didn’t understand the whole of it.

“But then she becomes my issue.”

Lord’s jaw tensed. “She’s your ma, not an issue.”

“I know, but she’s got a lot of issues, and they’re going to all become mine.”

“Do you have any idea what I’d give to have been your age when my ma was spiraling out of control? When she needed someone to pick her up and get her help so she didn’t keep on the path that ended with her dead in a gutter?” He shook his head. “I couldn’t save her because I was just a kid. But you can save your ma, and that’s exactly what we’re going to do.”

His certainty. His conviction. His heartbreaking confession. They all reinforced what I knew I needed to do. Tell Denton the dick to go fuck himself and help my mother find a way off the rocky path she’d slid down. But how was she going to take the news that her marriage was ending because I was selfish enough to not want to give up Lord? Because that was ultimately how I expected her to see it. That was how I had to be prepared for her to see it. She would never forgive me for destroying her life—but I could live without her forgiveness; I just couldn’t live with myself if I didn’t do everything in my power to save her.

I squared my shoulders, determination filling me. “That’s exactly what we’re going to do.” I looked up at Lord’s gorgeous face. “How are we going to do it exactly?”

His smile was small, but it hit me right in the chest. My heart expanded with his approval.

“I’ve got a friend who runs a rehab program. She’ll be able to help us out.”


Lord stroked my back, as if preparing me for the bomb he was going to drop. “You know we can’t do this ourselves, right? To get her well again, we need professionals. She’s sick, Elle. She doesn’t drink like that because it’s something she can control.”

Logically, I knew this, but part of me was stuck in the head of the teenager who’d been so devastated that my mother had moved on before my father was even cold in his tomb. Everything she’d done had seemed intentional at that point, including her descent into the bottle. It was something I’d spent a whole lot more effort avoiding thinking about than I had spent analyzing rationally.

“I know you’re right. It’s just … it’s hard to think of my mom in rehab. That’s where other people go.”

Lord smoothed his hand up and down my back again. “This place is nice, and if you’ve got the cash to send her there, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed by the treatment she gets.”

“I’ve got the cash. For whatever she needs.” I flicked my eyes up to his. “Denton said she signed a prenup. She’s going to lose everything when I tell him I’m not toeing his line. She’s never going to forgive me, because while I’ve got cash, I don’t have the kind of money Denton does. I don’t have what it takes to support her in a big house with all the staff without draining myself dry fairly quick.”

“She’ll have to learn to adjust.”

“Or she’ll remarry again.” I hated to say it, but I also had to recognize it was a possibility.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, let’s focus on getting her better, okay?”

“Okay.” I hauled in a deep breath. “Now I just have to tell her. She’s going to lose her mind.”

“Let Denton break the news. He’s the dick who’s going to leave his wife. We’ll be there to pick up the pieces and deal with the aftermath.”

“Okay,” I said again. “But do I wait out his timeline, or do I just call him right now and tell him to fuck off?”

Lord considered for a moment. “I say we use the time we’ve got to line up our next steps. No need to force his hand.”

Another thought occurred to me. “What if he doesn’t follow through? What if he decides not to leave her?”

“Then we come up with another plan to get her away from him.” He smiled. “Even if it means getting another picture of your ass in the paper.”