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Empire of Desire: Chapter 34


Dad came up with a plan.

Or more like expulsion.

He told Nate to go to the Seattle branch of W&S; it’s been around for a couple of years and has been growing noticeably. That way, he can stay away from me.

It’s not that Dad cares about the Seattle branch, it’s that he wants to separate us with everything he has.

Over the past week, he’s been setting things in motion for the separation of property and threatened Nate to shred the power of attorney agreement. Nate did it because he’s been mostly placating Dad. Besides, he doesn’t need power of attorney now that all properties legally belong to my father.

Then Dad insisted that he divorce me, and that’s when Nate said no. He also said no to leaving because, “Fuck you, King.”

Those were his exact words the other day.

I don’t see him much anymore, because Dad has kicked up the overprotectiveness a notch. Obviously, I intern with him now and he takes me everywhere, including to his ruthless showdowns with Susan that he usually doesn’t want me to witness. Then we go home together and he keeps watching me with that cold stare of his.

Something changed in Dad after the coma.

At first, I thought it was because he found out about me and Nate and lost it, but there’s something else.

There’s a troubled look in his gaze and agitation in his soul that seems to be consuming him. He’s harsher now, more ruthless than I’ve ever witnessed before. Though he was probably like this to the outside world before, he’d never directed it at me. It’s not that he’s stern with me—he’s still my dad, in a way, but he’s also become merciless.

His weird sense of smell has kicked up to higher levels, too. The other day, I crossed paths with Nate in the hall and we touched hands, since that’s all we can do now, and Dad smelled him on me. No kidding, he said, “Why the fuck is the bastard’s cologne on you?”

So yeah, something is up.

It’s almost like that time before his accident when he was disheveled and out of sorts. Fear that events will repeat themselves again keeps me up at night, roaming the house like a ghost. Especially with the way he dismissed foul play to be the reason behind his accident.

He said it’d been a while since he’d had maintenance done on his car, but the tone of his voice was wrong.

Everything is wrong now.

Not only do Dad and I have a gap between us, but also Nate and I keep growing apart.

With each day, the empty hole inside me grows bigger and deeper, and soon enough, it’ll swallow me whole.

“Maybe they just need time,” Jane tells me while we’re having lunch with Chris in the IT department.

“I don’t think time will fix it.” I glide my fry in the ketchup but don’t eat it. I’ve lost my appetite lately. “He asked me to file a restraining order against Nate. He won’t stop.”

Chris steals a fry and throws it in his mouth. “That shouldn’t be a surprise, though.”

“Don’t you dare say I told you so.” I give him the stink eye.

“I’m just saying, Gwen. Fathers don’t like anyone fucking around with their daughters, especially overprotective ones like yours.”

Jane gulps at that and clears her throat. “I still think it’ll be fixed with time. They’re best friends, right? That should mean something.”

“If by something, you mean that he keeps threatening to kill Nate, then sure, it means something. You know, I always heard stories about my dad and his coldness, but this is the first time I’ve witnessed it firsthand and it’s terrifying. I want my dad back.”

Chris steals another fry. “You know the only way to do that is to separate from Nate, right?”

Moisture gathers in my eyes as I nod. Because Dad is making me choose anyway. No matter how much I’ve begged him and told him my feelings for Nate, he doesn’t believe them.

The thought of separating from Nate leaves me breathless, with insomnia, and so hollow that I hear its cracking sound sometimes.

I leave all the fries for Chris and jerk up. “I’m going to get some air.”

“I’ll come with you.” Jane stands and interlaces her arm with mine.

Chris, however, takes all the fries and tells us to go without him.

“You’re strong, Gwen. Really.” Jane rubs my arm when we’re in the elevator, heading to the parking garage. “I wish I had your strength and wasn’t so much of a coward.”

“You’re not a coward, Jane. You just hate people, which is okay. You’re okay.”

Her gaze gets lost in the distance, staring at nowhere and nothing. “I don’t hate people. I just don’t know how to deal with them, so I choose to stay away because…I’m good at that. Running. Staying away. It’s how I survive. Truth is…”

The elevator dings as the doors open on the second floor, and I feel Jane stiffening even before I lift my head to see Knox standing there. A hand rests in his pocket and a blank expression covers his features.

“Come out,” he orders, his accent even more prominent.

I think he’s talking to me, but it’s Jane who jolts, and her nails dig into my arm. It’s the second time she’s done this in his presence. Or is it the third? I think I saw him that night at the club when Jane disappeared on us.

“I said, come out, Jane.”

She slowly releases me and steps out of the elevator. She faces me and murmurs, “Talk to you later.”

“Uh, okay.” I catch Knox’s lips twisting in a cruel smirk as the elevator doors close.

That was weird.

I’m still thinking about that scene when I get off in the parking garage. A hand wraps around my mouth and I shriek into it, but the sound is muffled, then it dies out when I recognize his warmth. The warmth mixed with spices and woods and belonging.

Nate drags me to a supply room and slams me against the shut door.

We’re both breathing harshly, and our chests are glued together so that we feel each other’s heartbeats. The bruises Dad gave him have faded to yellow and the cuts are slowly healing, but he’s still the most handsome man I’ve ever seen. The only man my heart would skip a beat and try to escape its ribcage for.

I run my fingertips over the line of his jaw and the cut on his lip. He closes his eyes, those beautiful, beautiful dark eyes that I don’t wake up to anymore. And probably never will again.

“Are you okay?” I sound emotional, heartbroken, and Nate must sense it, because he opens his eyes.

“Aside from missing the fuck out of you, I’m fine.”

“I miss you, too. I…it hurts, Nate. Everything hurts.”

“I’ll make it better. I promise.”

“But Dad—” The words come to a jolting halt when he places a finger to my mouth.

“Don’t mention him when I’m about to fuck you.”

A wildfire erupts in the bottom of my stomach and I gulp as he slowly removes his finger from my mouth and replaces it with his lips. I open up with a moan, reveling in how my nerve endings erupt to life.

I’ve been dead for so long and my resurrection to life hurts in a bittersweet kind of way.

For someone who doesn’t do kissing, Nate is the type who swallows you whole with the mere act. There isn’t an inch of me that doesn’t belong to him right now. And the dominant way he grabs me by the hair and neck to deepen the kiss turns me delirious.

As if that’s not enough, he trails his lips to my neck and sucks on the skin of my collarbone. I hiss in sharp intakes of air, feeling the hickey already forming.

“I’ve fucking missed your vanilla scent.”

“I thought vanilla was boring,” I breathe out.

“Not on you.”

I’m so delirious, that I barely register when he places two hands under my ass and lifts me up, then places me on a surface after he knocks everything off of it.

My skin tingles and catches fire when he pulls my skirt up and cups me through my panties.

“I see you’re wet for me, baby girl.”

“Only for you.”

“Fuck. Say that again.”

“I only get wet for you, husband.” I reach for his belt, but he shakes his head.

“Not so fast. Let me take my fill of you.”

“Nate…please… Don’t you miss me?”

“Oh, I fucking do. But you’ll be my good girl, won’t you, wife?” He pulls down my panties and slips them in his pocket. I trap my lip between my teeth as I watch. I’ve missed that, him confiscating my panties.

“I didn’t hear an answer.”

“I’ll be your bad girl, too.”

“You will?”


He wraps an arm around my waist and pulls me to the edge. My fingers splay out on his shoulders and then I’m kissing him again because I love it. I love how his tongue toys with mine and how he nibbles on my lips, letting me know who’s in control.

And he is, because I completely let go and I still feel powerful as fuck. He makes me feel it with the way he worships my body, the way his hands are all over my breasts, my waist, and my thighs as if he can never get enough of me.

He makes me feel powerful by wanting me with a ferociousness that turns him animalistic, and I get off on that.

I get off on how he wants me, not caring about the consequences or what the world thinks of us.

While he’s still kissing me, he frees his cock and lifts me slightly off the table so he can drive inside me.

“Oh, God,” I mumble against his lips, my eyelids slowly closing.

“No. Look at me while I fuck you, wife.”

I open my eyes and our gazes lock as he thrusts into me slow and long and deep. So deep that he hits a place I didn’t think existed.

With each roll of his hips, he not only fills up the emptiness, but he also engraves himself into that large space in my heart that he’s been occupying for years.

The space that kept growing without my permission and wouldn’t stop.

His lips find my forehead, my cheek, my nose, my collarbone as he whispers, “You’re so fucking beautiful. So fucking addictive. So fucking mine.”

And then he claims my mouth, his tongue emulating the same depth of his cock. They both pick up speed, his tongue and his cock, making the table hit the wall with each powerful rock of his hips.

He kisses like he fucks, with maddening urgency and impeccable control. He kisses like he never wants to separate his lips and tongue from mine. And I’m a goner for his possessive dominance, for the way he handles me with sure command, for the way he knows every inch of my body.

I don’t last long under the assault.

My head turns and my vision becomes hazy, but I don’t close my eyes as I shatter around him. I want him to see me, to see the feelings that he provokes in me and how uncontrollable they are. I want him to see me, not his friend’s daughter, not the girl who’s eighteen years younger than him, but the woman who’s so irrevocably in love with him, she’s slowly dying at the thought of losing him.

A grunt spills from his lips as he empties himself inside me, the warmth making me moan against his mouth.

And then he’s kissing me again. It’s harsh and unyielding as if he’s also telling me something.

What, I don’t know.

When we finally break apart, a line of saliva forms between us and he licks it off my lips, ripping a shudder out of me.

“I don’t want to go out there,” I whisper, wiggling so I can feel him inside me.

“We can stay here.”


“If you want.”

We remain like that for a moment before he pulls out of me and uses some tissues to clean me up. And then he’s between my legs as we fix each other’s clothes like we’re an old married couple. That puts a smile on my face as I adjust his tie.

“What are you smiling about?”

“This. Us spending peaceful time together.”

“We always did that when we used to live together.”

“Yeah, we did. I miss those days.”

He lifts my chin with two fingers. “We’ll go back to those days soon.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“I have something on King.”

“Are you…are you going to hurt him?” Yes, he’s difficult and we’ve had our differences lately, but I’d never let anyone harm Dad. Not even Nate.

“Of course not. He’s your father. I would never hurt him, even if he deserves it.”

“Then what?”

“I’ll tell you when I have further proof.”

“Why don’t you tell me now?”

“I don’t want to raise your hopes for nothing.” He kisses the top of my head. “Go out first and I’ll follow after in case there’s someone outside.”

I wrap my arms around him, burying my face in his neck. I breathe him in and it’s so soothing and right. Why can’t Dad and the world see just how right this is?

Why can’t they understand that I’ve never wanted and needed someone as much as I do Nate?


“Just a moment. Let me recharge.”

I feel the vibration in his chest as he groans before his strong hand wraps around my head.

We stay like that for minutes, just hugging and feeling each other’s heartbeats. It’s peaceful, but just like any peace, it has to come to an end.

Because wars have to happen. Because they’re more permanent than peace, no matter how much I like to think otherwise.

Nate begrudgingly releases me. “Go before he notices you’ve been gone for too long. I don’t want him taking it out on you.”

“Will you kidnap me again like this, husband?”

“Absolutely, wife.”

I smile, kiss his lips, and carefully slip out of the supply room.

I tiptoe to the elevator—thank God my sneakers don’t make a sound—while watching my surroundings.

The parking garage appears haunting, its blinding white lights turning me anxious despite myself. Then something else kicks up my jittery insides a notch.

The very familiar voice talking somewhere.


Shit. Shit.

If he smelled Nate on me after a mere brush of fingers, he’ll have a heart attack now.

I crouch behind one of the cars and watch through the windows. A frown forms between my brows when I see who my father is talking to.


My dad is talking to Aspen and for the first time since I met her, she’s shaking.

Flat out shaking, like when I’m about to have some sort of a meltdown.

I should probably leave, wash up, and pour perfume all over my body, but curiosity gets the better of me. Using the cars as camouflage, I slowly move toward them while still in my crouching position.

Jeez. This is harder than I thought.

I’m finally a car away and can hear them—or more like, hear my father. He sounds cold, not enraged like when he was with Nate, but there’s still that terrifying edge to his voice. He’s flipping his lighter on and off at a fast pace.

“You will leave. I don’t care where, but you’ll remove yourself from here.”

She shakes her head. “No…I didn’t even…I can’t leave…”

He grabs her by the elbow. “Listen to me, you fucking witch. You forfeited your parental rights the moment you left her at my door twenty years ago and never looked back. You were never a mother to her. You’re a nobody to her. And now you’ll disappear quietly like you did back then before I fucking break you.”

My chin trembles as I stare from him to Aspen. The her he’s talking about is me, right? No one left another baby at his door twenty years ago.

And…did he say a mother?



My fingers dig into the metal of the car I’m hiding behind and it burns.

It burns so hot that I release it with a jolt and jump up. I do it so suddenly, so violently, that both of their attention jerks toward me.

Life as I’ve known it so far seems like a big, giant lie.

And I’ve been the joke all along.


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