“You said something about having my mothers necklace?” she asked, trying hard to act normal when all she wanted to do was run as far as she could.
The dull throb coming from her bruised jaw was giving her a headache, and by the roiling of her stomach, she knew that she’d made a mistake taking her pain pills with nothing but wine on her stomach. She used the discomfort to hide her true feelings from the prying gaze Baron was sending her, and Delilah cleared her throat. It worked to snap Baron out of whatever was going through his mind, and he nodded, holding out his hand.
“Come with me.” He didn’t phrase it as a request, yet Delilah hesitated.
“I just want to get my ring and necklace and go home. It’s been a long day and I want to take a bath and relax.” She hedged, yet the outstretched hand remained steady and she sighed. “Baron.”
“Delilah.” He retorted, voice firm and with a small noise in the back of her throat, she placed her uninjured hand in his, unconsciously cradling the other close to her chest. Baron gave her a quick unreadable glance before he turned and started leading her to the stairs.
A small part of her mind reveled in the feeling of his hand wrapped around hers once again, but another, much larger part of her couldn’t reconcile the fact that he’d killed a man. Her logical side was making a fair point by pointing out that he’d probably killed more than once, seeing as he was the leader of a major globally known crime family. He was essentially the ruler of the American Mafia.
“I heard about your mother passing.” Baron said unexpectedly. “I’m sorry she left you so soon.”
Blinking at the words she had definitely not thought he’d say, Delilah missed the first step of the stairs that led up to the loft. Thankfully, Baron still had the reflexes of a cat and he’d turned and caught her before she face-planted onto the dark wood.
“Still as clumsy as ever, Del.” He chuckled, and Delilah could feel the thousand and one emotions swirling in her head. Baron was acting as though it hadn’t been seven years since they’d last seen each other, like so much hadn’t happened, and it was close to being the tipping point.
Biting her tongue to keep from snapping at him like she wanted to, Delilah let Baron set her back on her feet, enjoying the feel of his hands on her a little to much, and she let out the breath she hadn’t realized she was holding when he turned away and continued climbing the stairs. When they got to the top of the stairs, she realized that she had been correct in her assumption that this was Baron’s bedroom, and while she felt awkward and nervous being so close to a bed standing next to the man who had taken her virginity, she buried those emotions and instead focused on how well the industrial theme had translated into the loft-like room.
Dropping her hand, Delilah watched as Baron’s long-legged stride easily carried him across the room to where a dresser stood against the brick wall. When he opened a drawer, she found herself drawn to a painting that was hanging in the space above his bed. It was a landscape portrait, and there was something about it that looked so familiar, yet she couldn’t place it. The sound of the wooden drawer shutting snapped her out of her stare, and she looked over to where Baron was standing, a familiar necklace dangling from his fingers.
“You can have it.” Baron started, and Delilah moved to reach for it, hesitating when Baron moved it out of her grasp. “Under one condition.” He finished, and Delilah couldn’t help the incredulous snort that escaped.
“You can’t be serious.” She laughed, but it stopped when she saw the look in his eyes. “You’re serious!” Shaking her head, she crossed her arms to keep from reaching for the chain that he still held.
“I’m always serious, Delly.” He stated.
“Don’t call me that!” Delilah snapped, the familiar nickname echoing in her head, bringing up images she would have rather stayed buried, ones that brought a flush to her cheeks. “What’s your condition? I want my mother’s necklace back.” She asked hurriedly, not wanting Baron to see how the nickname affected her. He did though, and the familiar smirk playing on the edges of his lips had Delilah scowling.
“Give me a chance.” Baron said simply, as if it was the easiest thing in the world.
Staring incredulously at the man holding her dead mothers necklace, the man who had disappeared for eight years only to resurface as the American Mafia Father and the man who had held her heart for so long, Delilah couldn’t help the laughter that escaped. It wasn’t the kind of laughter that one hears after a funny joke, it was the kind of laughter that one hears before someone was about to break down.
“You’re fucking kidding me.” Delilah got out between gasps, the tears that were building on her lashes part hysterical laughter, part mental breakdown. “You want me to give you a chance? After eight years of silence when you promised to keep in touch while we went to college? You want a chance after you just told me you were glad you killed a man? Are you out of you fucking mind?”
Throwing her hands up in the air, Delilah spun around and started making her way to the stairs, wiping her eyes as the tears finally feel. Heart in her throat, she spun back around, obviously surprising Baron, who took a step back from where he’d started to follow after her.
“Do you know how many nights I cried myself to sleep when I didn’t hear from you?” she yelled in a hoarse voice as she tried to stop the tears from falling faster. “Do you know how many times my brothers had to come get me from my dorm room because I hadn’t ate or slept? I had a mental breakdown, Baron! They almost admitted me to the Mental Ward! You disappeared for eight years after promising forever, and now you want me to give you a chance? Yeah, you can forget it.”
Sniffling as she wiped at her cheeks, Delilah paused as she looked down at her hand, the moisture evident on her cheeks more than she had thought. Taking a deep breath, she stole one last glance at the gorgeous man who still haunted her dreams before turning back around, eyes set on the elevator doors. She made it across the room and had a foot on the first step when Baron spoke again.
“You’re the only one who managed to find me, Delilah.” He said, and the soft tone in his voice pulled at her heart, and she stopped. “All the agencies in the world are looking for me, and you, Delilah Jade, are the only one who managed to track me down.”
Closing her eyes so tightly she could feel her lashes on her skin, Delilah swallowed the sob that was making its way up her throat. Almost every part of her wanted to turn around and run to him, longing to feel his arms wrapped around her once again, yet a small part couldn’t forget the hurt he’d caused, not to mention the fact that he was a globally wanted criminal.
He killed for you.
Eyes flying open as the little voice whispered through her head, Delilah repeated what it said, confused at to what the voice meant.
Think about it. That man not only hurt you, he took your most precious things. Baron killed him for that.
Hand unconsciously reaching up to where her necklace should be, she let the words reverberate through her head, sinking in. There was still so much wrong in what he did, but Delilah couldn’t help but feel that the voice had made a point she hadn’t considered before. If Baron was still the man he once was, just as she was still some part of the woman she was back then, then he had a just reason for doing what he did. She didn’t know what the reason could have been, but she could only hope there was one.
Turning back around, Delilah slowly made her way back to where Baron was still standing, only stopping when she was barely a foot away. She stared up at him, searching his face and eyes for a hint of something, anything that let her know that there was still some of the old Baron in him. When he raised an eyebrow, a glint of something familiar crossed those mesmerizing eyes of his and she huffed. Without saying a word, she snatched her necklace from his hand and put it back on, smiling slightly when the familiar weight of the pendant settled its spot on her chest. Nodding at the still silent man, she moved to walk away again when a hand grabbed her wrist.
Looking over her shoulder at the warm hand that was wrapped around hers, Delilah opened her mouth to question his move when Baron yanked her towards him, the unexpected move causing Delilah to loose her balance and crash against his chest. He was a solid mass and didn’t move, instead wrapping his other arm around her waist, pulling her even closer. Before she had a chance to protest, he was tilting her head upwards and slanting his lips over hers.
Delilah could feel the fight leave her body as his warmth seeped into her body, and her eyes closed on their own accord. It was as if they were young again, and any thought she had of pushing him away was gone. His arms tightened around her body as a whine escaped her throat, her arms winding around his neck as she held on, and an echoing rumble grew in his chest, vibrating against hers.
Rafe’s voice calling from below them had Delilah returning to the present, and she pushed against Baron, panting and lips tingling. Eyes wide, she stared at Baron, taking in the wild look in his eyes and the slightly swollen lips that had been ravishing hers not a second ago. She took a step back, and a shaking hand rose to briefly touch her lips before she shrank back, walking backwards. There were a million and one thoughts rushing through her head, brought on by the unexpected kiss, and the urge to run away was front and center, yet Baron’s eyes held her captive. Those eyes had always entranced her, yet something in them now had her heart racing more than it ever had when they were dating.
Baron opened his mouth to say something, but stopped when Delilah shook her head fervently. She didn’t want to hear whatever it was he wanted to say, she couldn’t deal with whatever it was. She needed to leave, now.
If she didn’t, she wasn’t sure she would be able to, the longing in her heart building as she was reminded so thoroughly of the heat Baron created in her.
“King? Oh, sorry.” Was all she heard before she bumped into a body, and Delilah’s head whipped around to see that she’d backed into Rafe as he crested the top of the stairs. He started to say something, but Delilah muttered an apology before rushing down the stairs, hearing Rafe say something after her and Baron’s response was as jumbled as her mind was.
Smashing the elevator call button, Delilah stared at her reflection, seeing nothing to suggest that her head was running in circles except for the wild look in her eyes. Her eyes drifted down to her lips, ones that had been kissed and showed. A movement in the metal of the elevator doors had her looking over her shoulder once more, and she caught Baron looking at her from the loft just as the doors opened and she jumped in. Hitting the ground floor button repeatedly even though she knew it wouldn’t help the machine move any faster, Delilah deliberately avoided looking anywhere but the panel.
Finally, after what seemed to be an eternity, the elevator slid shut and she collapsed against the walls with a sigh, a shaky hand coming up to cover her eyes. Taking deep breaths to try and calm the heart that was battering against her chest, she tried to think about anything but the feel of having his arms around her, or the sense of being home as soon as she was holding him against her.
So caught up was she in trying to not think, Delilah didn’t hear the ping of the elevator reaching its destination, and it wasn’t until a familiar voice broke her out of it.
“Miss Delilah?” the feminie voice called tentatively, and Delilah dropped her hand to see Lydia, Rudy’s woman, poking her head into the elevator.
“Sorry, sorry, I’m just – I’m going – I need to go home.” Delilah muttered, not meeting the woman’s now friendly gaze, patting her pockets to try and find her phone and keys, then remembering that Rudy had taken her phone. “My phone – Rudy took it.” She said disjointedly, and Lydia smiled, reaching out a hand.
“Come with me, Miss. Rudy and I will take you home.”
“Oh, no you don’t have to – I’m fine – I’ll be alright.” Delilah shook her head, but let Lydia lead her out of the elevator. Following the woman, Delilah stared at her feet, not looking up even though she felt everyone’s eyes on her. When Lydia paused and spoke in another language to a man – Rudy, going by the massive feet- Delilah wrapped her arms around herself, the urge to burst into tears growing by the second. Even though she’d tried to assure Lydia that she was okay, she knew she wasn’t and Delilah wanted , more than anything, to curl up in a ball in her bed and cry.
A huge arm wrapped around her shoulders and Delilah glanced up to see Rudy smiling down at her, and she tried to smile back. By the slight falter in the giant’s smile and the offer of a tissue, Delilah knew that she’d failed to convince him with the smile. Once again, she let herself be lead and before she knew it, she was being bundled into an unfamiliar car, somehow making it out of the huge building without knowing it.
“My car.” She muttered as she numbly buckled herself in, Rudy gently pushing her hands aside when she couldn’t get the buckle into the slot.
“Lydia is following us, don’t worry.” The man assured her, and again Delilah tried to smile in thanks, but all she could manage was a half smile before the tears started to fall silently.
The entire car ride was silent as Rudy let her cry in peace, and Delilah barely noticed they’d stopped until Rudy was unbuckling her and Lydia was patting her pockets for her apartment key. Noticing her new friend’s struggle, she reached into her front pocket with trembling fingers and pressed them into the woman’s palm.
As they made their way into the building, Delilah’s knees gave out as a fresh memory flashed, and her heart seemed to break into a thousand pieces all over again. She never hit the floor though, and when she felt herself being swept up, she opened her eyes to see Rudy cradling her in his arms.
“I’m sorry.” She whispered, voice hoarse, and Rudy simply smiled down at her as he followed Lydia through the halls.
“Here you go, love.” Lydia said as soon as she unlocked her apartment door and Rudy gently deposited her onto her couch. “Your phone is right next to you.” The woman instructed as Delilah felt a blanket being drawn over her body and tucked behind her.
“Thank you.” Delilah croaked out, reaching a hand out and grabbing Lydia’s as she walked past. Blinking tears from her lashes, she looked up and caught Lydia’s slight headshake before the older woman leaned down to kiss the top of her head.
“Don’t worry.” Lydia assured her, tucking a strand of flyaway hair behind Delilah’s ear as she did. “Rest now, you’ve had a long day.”
Giving a watery chuckle at the understatement of the century, Delilah sank into the cushions of her couch and closed her eyes, fighting back another wave of tears, vaguely hearing the click of her front door shutting. When trembling fingers reached for the necklace that was back around her neck, Delilah couldn’t help the heart-wrenching sob that escaped and let the tears come.
She hadn’t cried at her mother’s funeral, needing to be strong for her brothers. She hadn’t cried when Baron had said good-bye and she hadn’t cried after she realized she wouldn’t be seeing Baron again.
She cried now, for everything.
(A\N: This one was tough for me, so it's shorter than I would like. Please accept my apology, and I promise the next one will be back to the normal length.)
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