Claimed As His (Mail Order Brides, 2)

By: Jenika Snow & Sam Crescent


Staring at his family, he realized that they weren’t that. They were never a family.

The cruelty and greed was clear to see in their eyes, and he wasn’t going to allow himself to be brought down to their level anymore.

Lucy made him a better man, and he was going to be better for her, always for her.





12





Lucy stared out the window, her nervousness and anxiety rising to anger. The things his family had said about her, the way they’d looked at her … She clenched her jaw in annoyance, in rage. Their expressions as they gazed her up and down had been like she was a piece of gum stuck to the bottom of their shoe. They couldn’t wait for her to go, couldn’t wait for Ian to agree with them.

She glanced over her shoulder at where he stood by the bar. He poured himself a scotch, and she could see how tense he was. But he hadn’t left her, hadn’t agreed with them. He’d told them how things would be and that was that. He’d held her hand, kept her close. Ian had told his family that he didn’t care what they thought, that she was his wife.

His.

She’d had to excuse herself so she didn’t hear any more, so she could get her bearings. And so she’d walked out, assuming Ian would stay with his family, maybe try and work it out with them. But he hadn’t. Ian had followed her. He’d taken her into this room, closed the door, and for the last ten minutes they hadn’t said anything.

Maybe he was worried about how this would all play out?

Surely he’d seen this coming. Lucy didn’t come from money; she wasn’t thin, svelte. She had no family, was a foster care child. To his family she was the worst of the worst.

But still he stayed by me. Still he told them how it would be.

She faced the window again and stared out at the perfectly manicured gardens. She saw Ian’s reflection in the glass as he moved up behind her, a square cut glass in his hand. He didn’t touch her as he stood right next to her, looking out the window as well, the tension surrounding him tangible. For long moments they stood like that, neither speaking, but the air starting to become thick and hot, uncomfortable.

“I can’t say enough how sorry I am,” he finally said but didn’t look at her. He brought his glass up and took a long drink from it.

“It’s not your fault,” she responded and turned to face him. He did the same seconds later, this wounded look on his face.

“It is my fault.” He closed his eyes for a second and exhaled roughly. When he opened his eyes again she saw how raw and bared his emotions were.

“It’s not your fault.”

“But it is. It’s my fault because I knew the kind of people my family were. And I hate them for it. I loathe the fact that they made you feel that way, that I should have said more, put them in their place. Hell, I should have said fuck them and left.”

She shook her head. “It’s not your fault,” she whispered this time. “But I don’t want to be here anymore. And I don’t want to ever see your family again. At least not until they can accept this.” Maybe someone would say she was being dramatic or intense over the situation, but Lucy didn’t have to surround herself with this negativity. She didn’t have to be verbally abused by people who didn’t know her, judged for the way she looked or what she did or did not have. She didn’t need any of that in her life. She’d grown up with enough judgmental assholes in the foster system, in her workplace, hell, just in life in general. She refused to be someone they trashed on.

He leaned in and kissed her softly, and she closed her eyes and just absorbed the feeling.

“I don’t want them in my life, not if they can’t accept you and treat you with the respect you deserve,” he murmured against her mouth. When he pulled back she knew she probably had a shocked expression on her face.

“Let’s get out of here. I don’t need them. We don’t need this shit.” He took her hand and started leading her out of the room, but she pulled back until he stopped.

“What do you mean you don’t need them in your life?” His statement genuinely confused Lucy. This was his family. He’d walk away, just like that? “I can’t have you stop having them in your life just because they’re assholes to me.”

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