Broken Queen

Page 65

A trade? For Emma? What the hell is he talking about? I stop struggling, confused. I turn to look at Dmitri’s face. His ice-blue eyes.
Dmitri grins, passing me off to one of his men, and I watch as he steps right up to Lucien.
“The little girl isn’t mine. But I think you already know that.”
I watch, dumbstruck as Dmitri walks a menacing circle around Lucien, then comes to stand in front of him.
“I think I understand things now.”
Lucien looks back at me, then around at all the men. He miscalculated. And he knows it. He nervously checks his watch.
Dmitri takes him by the back of the neck and forces him to look up at him. “You have somewhere to be, boy?”
“The kid’s yours. I swear.”
It takes a moment for the color to bleed from Lucien’s face, and I get a feeling Dmitri’s calm tone is a warning of the rage to come rather than anything else.
“She was going to come away with me. Did you know that?” He turns to me. “But she wouldn’t leave you behind. That’s why I let her stay in that house, knowing what I knew.” He turns back to Lucien. “But that day, she’d come to leave me.” He shakes his head. “I demanded to know if it was that bastard husband, if he’d raped her, because I was going to kill him. I was halfway out the door to kill that motherfucker like I should have done when I saw the first bruise. But she stopped me. She told me she was leaving me. She had to, or he’d take her children from her when he found out about us. She showed me a photo and told me there were more. So many more. And if she didn’t walk away, her husband would see them, and she knew he’d take away the thing she loved most.”
Tears fall for my mother. I sob for her. For the sadness of her life. For the loss of her.
“You look like her. So much like her. You even cry like her,” he says to me. “I don’t think I’ll ever forget that sound of her sobbing. She had no choice, she said, and I understood.” He releases Lucien and looks at me. “I loved her enough to understand why she was choosing her children over us.”
I feel a kinship with this stranger whose eyes shine with emotion at the memory of my mother. He loved her.
“My mistake.” His voice is so hard, the shift so unexpected, that it chills me. He gives Lucien his full attention. “My mistake was that I let her go. I left her alone and unprotected in a house with the likes of you. Of your father. And you killed her.”
Lucien swallows hard and shakes his head. “That wasn’t me. That was Dad.”
“Yeah?” Dmitri asks, grabbing him by the hair on the back of his head and tugging his head backward. “Explain.”
“He had the mechanic rig the brakes. Arranged for a car chase. He couldn’t stand looking at her after he found out the truth.”
“And how did he find it out? The photos should have been destroyed. It’s why she did it. Why she slept with you.”
“What?” I hear myself ask. My brain rattles inside my head, and it feels like the world drops out from under my feet. “What did you do?” I ask in a voice I don’t recognize. “What did you do?” I scream. Finding a strength I didn’t know I had, I break away from the man who has me. I hurl myself at Lucien, wrapping my legs around him and digging my nails into his skin as he stumbles backward. He and I go down as one, my scream deafening.
A door slams open somewhere behind me. I hear the commotion of weapons being drawn. And I feel hands on me trying to pry me off as a rage I’ve never felt before gives me the strength to plunge my fingers into Lucien’s eye sockets. He screams and screams like he made me scream. And I know I’m not going to stop. I’m going to kill him with my bare hands. I’m going to dig out his eyes and then his heart and crush it with my bare hands and make him pay for what he did. For everything he did.
“What did you do to her? What did you do to my mother?”
Did he rape my mother? Impregnate her? Did he blackmail her into sleeping with him? Threaten to expose her affair to Dad who I know would take me away from her. Would have taken Emma away if only to hurt her.
Oh God, Emma. She’s Lucien’s?
Arms close around me, gentler than I’d expect. Lucien lies whimpering, and I slap wet hands against his chest as the energy drains from me.
“What did you do?” I ask again, this time my voice quieter.