I flushed the toilet and moved to the fancy vanity in the bathroom, turning on the faucets to wash my hands. As I paid myself close inspection in the mirror, I could see my eyeliner running a bit. I was tired. Nothing more would satisfy me than to snap my fingers and be showered and in the bed with Sadik. I decided on my way in here to have a slice of pie packaged to go before leaving tonight.
I dried my hands, then adjusted my clothes. This dress was casual cute, but could be formal chic without the denim jacket. I wore it to camouflage the swelling of my midsection. The timing had truly been perfect. I’d been growing by the day, it seemed, in the waist. My belly was still but a pouch, yet at a size only pregnancy could explain in relation to my body build. The high heeled red bottoms helped façade my secret as well. Man, did it feel good not having to hide my truth anymore. Now, everyone most crucial to the knowledge of this pregnancy knew. That was a huge weight off.
A deep sigh left my lungs as I flipped off the lights to the bathroom and opened the door. Just as I turned in the hall to begin the trek through this mammoth place, a leggy figure leaning against a column across the gallery startled me. I jumped in the air, grabbing my beating chest.
“There are better ways to get my attention than to wait on me in the hallway,” I panted out.
This felt like déjà vu.
Panic loomed over me, threatening. But immediately, I decided to reject it. I had to start somewhere. Iban had decided poking season would continue so soon. I had to fight back.
His leer was carved out by Lucifer himself, convincingly evil.
“I ain’t think bitches like you get scared.”
“I’m human.” How else would I respond to that?
He pushed off the column and paced toward me, shrinking me by an inch with each step. His tongue wet his lips, eyes narrowed in seduction.
“I know what you like. Know what you need, too,” he informed.
I swallowed hard, then cocked a brow. “I could use a laugh. Haven’t had one since you and your father killed my brother.”
“That’s the thing.” His index finger stabbed the air repetitively as he chuckled. It was still shocking—baffling—how these Ellis men could look so debonair while terrorizing people. Iban’s navy blue suit fit his frame perfectly; the jacket’s sleeves pushed up his arms. The V-neck white t-shirt exposed the top of a tattoo at his carved chest. His light brown irises were lit wickedly, his orange hair low and tapered with precision. “I’mma give you more options than he had.” He stopped inches away. “I can get you a bag to get the fuck lost forever. Or I can put you in a box and lay you next to ya whole family in the ground.” He gave a dramatic pause that worked.
He just threatened to kill me and, for the first time in my life, I was being threatened by a known murderer. He’d killed before.
Life wasn’t viewed in high regard to people like him. Iban knew violence, not compromise.
I switched postures, engaging in the best acting of my life. The muscles on one side of my face lifted. “Cut it out. No harm will come to me without your brother’s consent, and you know it.”
He snorted. “Why you think? ‘Cause you pregnant?”
“Even if I wasn’t carrying his baby, you’d never lay a hand on me. And you know why, Iban. It’s because your brother for real, for real loves me. You know just like the rest of your family, Sadik has never been into a woman like he is with me.” God, let that be true… It’s what I’d gathered from my first visit here to Elliswoods Palace. “The baby only furthers my security. You need to get over whatever issues you have with me. I’ve accepted the sick, villainous ways of your complicated family. Surely, you can figure out a way to get along with my simple ass. No one else is holding back on rolling out the welcome carpet but you.” I gritted my teeth, feeling a surge of anger out of nowhere. “If I can sleep with a man every night whose family killed mine, you can figure out how to stop trying to intimidate me!”
Iban laughed, unaffected. “You wanna kitty.”
My face folded. “A what?”
He scoffed. “A kitty. It’s what we call it in the pen. When a new inmate come in, he ain’t got no commissary. Depending on the day of the week, he may not have no good shit to eat for days. So the set he rep put together what we call a kitty. Food, snacks, deodorant, toothpaste, drinks…shit like that.” He nodded. “Guess you could call it a welcome package to help him start his bid. That’s what you looking for from me.” A nasty guffaw pushed from his belly, it seemed.
Iban expressed his guileful humor in my face. “Sorry, young bird. I was that nigga that plotted on a nigga’s exit, not his coming. I’m the enforcer, remember?” His face morphed into an ugly glare in less than a second. “When it comes down to the Ellis name, I’m murkin’ niggas to keep the legacy.” Those were the same words he used during my “orientation” here the first night I stayed over.
“Why do you think the legacy’s in danger, Iban?” I lowered my chin. “Because you know he wants to marry me?” I nodded. “He does. I just don’t get what that has to do with you. Why do I pose a threat to you? And now, I’m carrying his baby, and you threaten me? It’s your nephew, Iban. Your flesh and blood. Your legacy—”
“That shit ain’t my fuckin’ legacy!” he bit out.
His adamancy dazed me. The Ellises believed in family, from what I’d been told and had seen. They were an insulated unit, believing to be exclusive and above the rest. The Ellises were aristocratic and had convinced me of it.
“My child won’t be Earl’s legacy?”
“Nah.” He shook his head. “Hell no.”
“But Lia’s baby is?”
My chin lifted at the same pace as Iban’s eyes. They darkened to a new hue of evil.
“Bitch, don’t speak about my kids. You ‘on’t know shit about me or my kid’s mother, my wife, or my brother, if you wanna keep it a buck. You just new pussy to Deek. That’s it. You ain’t built to be in this family. You think I ‘on’t see who you is, staying around knowing what we did to ya peoples? You wanna get some information to go to the law with? Huhn?” He entered my personal space. “Ain’t shit you can tell them that’ll hurt my family. Deek nose may be wide ass open, but the man know what to keep to the chest. Fuck what you think. He a Ellis soldier. Don’t let his dick game make you forget that shit.”
“He’s an Ellis soldier,” I echoed, blood rushing in my ears.
“You damn right!”
“The regulator in this family.”
“You better fuckin’ know it,” he gritted.
I swallowed, turning away from him to leave. “Then you should know I’ve got the power.”
I watched recognition wash over Iban. “What the fuck you just say?”
I began to walk backwards as I nodded. “Yup. I have his heart and his baby. I’ve got the power, big brother.” My words were delivered with confidence, and the wink I implemented was the icing on the cake.
Iban started toward me. In a panic, I picked up the pace. God, I’d crossed the line… Before turning to run, I noticed Iban’s eyes flash, and his stride suspend. Then I slammed into fleshy steel, startling me again. Stars lit behind my lids and when I was able to open my eyes, I saw a glaring Sadik. Orange irises shooting between Iban and me.
His frame was hot and hard, and the chords in his neck protruded.
The lion contemplated the jaguar.
“Let’s go,” I whispered, pleading with him. Sadik didn’t respond. He remained immobile as I glanced back to his older brother frozen, too. Only Iban’s expression was somewhat of guilt. “Baby,” I rubbed his arm. “I’m tired. Let’s go home.” After a parting gaze at Iban, I shifted past Sadik, pulling him down the hall to leave.
Release date coming soon…