Author’s Note: Originally, Anna and Nate became close and dated for several weeks. The result was still the same: Devin sent him away to New York. But of course, there has to be a plot twist with such a love story.
“My parents are going to kill me.”
Anna’s eyes slowly opened to see Nate sitting up in bed, his chest bare, and running his hands through his hair. Anna sat up on her elbow. “What? Why?”
Nate turned to look at her. “Because I stayed out all night.” He reached down on the floor for his pants and pulled out his phone. He shook his head. “Three voicemails. Five missed calls. And a crap load of texts.” He sighed.
“I’m sorry, Nate,” Anna whispered. She was afraid that he would be angry at her.
Nate looked back at her. “Oh, Anna. I’m not mad at you.” He grinned. “I really, really enjoyed spending the night with you.”
Anna smiled shyly. She had too.
Nate sighed again. “I need to call my dad.” He stood and she got a quick glimpse of his muscular ass before he pulled his jeans on and went out in the other room.
Anna went to the bathroom to put her robe on and then went out into the living room.
She sat gingerly on the couch. “Are you in trouble?”
Nate shrugged. “A little. My dad was just glad I was ok. I think he was actually glad I stayed here. You know and…slept with you.”
“He wants to meet the girl I fell in love with.” Nate smiled.
Anna stared. “Fell in love…?”
He chuckled. “You didn’t hear me last night?”
She shook her head.
He sat next to her and took her hand. “I love you, Anna.” He kissed the back of her hand and his eyes shone with emotion.
She felt her heart open to him. “I love you, too,” she whispered shyly.
He beamed at her. “Will you come home and have lunch so my parents can meet you?
He laughed. “Because I’m in love with you. My dad and I are pretty close. He likes to know what I’m doing and know my friends and girlfriends.”
“Oh.” The thought of meeting Nate’s dad made her nervous. What if he didn’t like her?
“Dad’s a BBQ wiz. And my brother’s home too.” His brother had been in Europe studying for a few months.
Anna agreed, albeit reluctantly and went to shower and get ready.
Anna watched the houses pass by as Nate drove to his house across the city. He seemed excited about introducing her to his dad, though Anna’s stomach was churning with nerves. By the time Nate pulled into the driveway of the blue and white arts and crafts style home, Anna was so nervous she was almost nauseous.
“Don’t be afraid, Anna,” Nate said, taking her hand and kissing her cheek before leading her up the stairs to the front door. “My dad’s a cool guy.”
They went inside the house and into a large room with a kitchen at one end. A woman with red hair was stirring something in a bowl while two girls younger than Anna were busy with other kitchen tasks.
“Nate!” the woman exclaimed. She hurried over to him and hugged him. “I was so worried about you.”
“I know, Mom. I’m sorry.” Nate hugged her back. “My phone was on vibrate.”
“Your father told me not to worry, but I can’t help it.” She smiled and kissed his cheek then looked at Anna with a warm smile. “This must be your beautiful girlfriend you’ve told me about.”
Anna blushed and looked at the ground.
“Yeah. Mom, this is Anna Perkins. Anna, this is my mom, Paige.”
Anna looked at her shyly. “It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. Devereaux,” she said softly.
“Oh, please,” Nate’s mom said, hugging her in greeting. “Call me Paige.”
“Paige,” Anna repeated softly.
The two girls had made their way over and were grinning at Nate. Nate rolled his eyes. “These are my sisters, Sierra and Michelle.” The younger girls smiled and giggled as they greeted Anna.
Anna held tightly to Nate’s hand.
“Where’s Dad?” Nate asked looking around.
“He’s out back with your brother, warming up the coals.”
Nate smiled and tugged Anna’s hand. “C’mon. I can’t wait for my dad to meet you.” He led her out a French door and onto a deck overlooking a large, green backyard.
“Aw, here he comes,” came a voice from the side of the deck.
Nate pulled her in the direction of the voice and she saw a young man, a few years older than Nate grinning at him. Another man was facing the BBQ, stirring the coals.
“Hey Shawn,” Nate greeted as they approached.
The man who had been facing away from them turned and Anna nearly threw up.
She gasped and put her hand over her mouth as she stared into the face of Rick, one of Devin’s Deacons. The blood drained from her face and her knees buckled. Nate caught her before she fell.
Rick’s face was pale as well. His brown eyes were wide and his jaw dropped with shock.
Anna vaguely heard Nate asking if she was alright as she stared into Rick’s face, horrified at the realization of who her boyfriend’s dad was.
Nate led her to a lounge chair and she sat down heavily as her hearing returned. He knelt in front of her. “Anna…Anna? Are you ok?”
Anna blinked several times and stared into Nate’s concerned brown eyes. She should have realized it before. They had the same eyes.
“Nate, go get Anna some water,” Rick said, kneeling next to Nate. Nate nodded and hurried into the house.
Rick gently brushed her hair out of her face. “Anna, take some deep breaths.”
She did so and stared at Rick. “I didn’t know it was you,” she whispered, tears stinging her eyes. “I’m sorry. I’ll leave.” She tried to get up but Rick put his hand on her knee.
“Anna, it’s alright. I’m not angry.”
“Dad, you know her?” Shawn asked.
Rick closed his eyes and sighed. He opened them again and gave Anna a sad smile. “Yes.” He glanced up at his son. “She belongs to Devin.”
She heard Shawn gasp. “Holy shit. But how…” He trailed off as Nate returned.
“Here,” Nate said, sitting beside her and handing her a glass of ice water. “Anna, are you…” he began but stopped when he saw his father’s hand on her leg. “Dad?”
Rick removed his hand quickly and almost looked sheepish.
Nate studied his father for a minute then looked at Anna. She looked at him nervously, as if she expected him to know how she knew his dad.
“Dad, do you know Anna?”
Rick nodded with a grimace. “I do.” Rick looked like he wanted to say something, but didn’t say anything for a moment.
“How?” Nate’s voice was strained. “Why did my girlfriend nearly faint when she saw you?”
Rick looked at his son with remorse. “I…” He sighed. “The men’s club that I belong to…”
Anna looked up at Rick, confused. Men’s club?
“The thing you do on Fridays…” Nate’s face went pale as he looked at Anna. “You’re busy on Fridays too.” He looked between the two of them, his face reddening. “Is that where you know him?” he asked Anna.
Anna looked at Rick not sure how to answer.
“Yes, Nate. She…is there…” Rick finished lamely.
Nate stood with a disgusted look on his face. “What do you do there, Anna?”
Anna looked up at Nate with tears in her eyes. She opened her mouth to speak, but Rick interrupted her before she could.
“Nate, it’s not like that. Please sit down.”
Nate sat on a chair a few feet away, arms crossed and looking very angry.
“Nate, when I took you there after your birthday, I didn’t tell you the whole truth.” Rick said, turning to Nate. “What I am going to tell you, you cannot tell anyone.” When Nate rolled his eyes, Rick added “For your sake, Nathanial. Not mine.”
Nate frowned at his dad but nodded.
“Nate, those girls are not there because they want to be there. They are there because they have to be there. They’re slaves. Sex slaves.”
Nate looked at Anna with narrowed eyes and she looked quickly at the ground. “So, you’re saying Anna’s a sex slave?”
Rick didn’t answer at first. “Yes. But she’s not like the other girls who are there. She’s…special.”
Nate snorted. The sound broke Anna’s heart.
“Son, she’s there because Devin chose her. She wasn’t born there like the others. She’s allowed out…to have a life outside the…club. I knew she had a boyfriend, but I never in a million years imagined it was you. If I had, I wouldn’t have…” Rick trailed off.
Anna glanced up at Nate out of the corner of her eye.
“So, when you’ve been busy, that’s what you’ve been doing? Having sex with…other guys?”
Anna nodded, defeated.
“Nate, she doesn’t have a choice. She has to.”
“What do you mean ‘she has to’?”
“If she doesn’t, Devin will punish her. She must obey him.”
“What kind of punishment?”
Rick was quiet for a minute. “Devin does not take kindly to disobedience. His punishments are…severe.”
“How severe?” Nate’s voice was low.
Rick sighed. “I’ve seen girls killed for saying no.”
Nate was quiet. Anna looked up at him. He was staring at the ground. Anna looked at Rick who was watching Nate closely. He glanced at Anna and gave her a sympathetic smile.
“Have you…been with her?” Nate asked quietly.
Rick winced. “Yes,” he answered just as quietly.
Nate made a face and stood. “I need a minute,” he said and walked into the house.
Anna looked at Rick. “I should go home,” she said with an aching heart. Nate clearly didn’t want her. Anna just wanted to leave and go home.
“Don’t go yet, Anna.” Rick stood. “Let me go talk to him.” He followed Nate inside.
Shawn sat in the chair that Nate had vacated.
“When did you come to the Manor?”
Anna looked at him surprised.
Shawn laughed. “My dad’s a Deacon, Anna. I know a lot about it.”
“At the end of May,” she said softly.
“That explains why I hadn’t seen you. I’ll have to look for you next week.”
“I sit at Devin’s feet.”
“Ah. You really are special.”
Shawn kept Anna company until Rick and Nate returned. She looked up at Nate hesitantly. Did he want her to leave?
Nate took her hand and pulled her to her feet. He cupped her cheek. “I love you, Anna.”
Anna’s eyes widened. “You do?”
He grinned. “Yeah. I can’t help it.”
“But what about…?”
Nate shook his head. “My dad told me more upstairs. I know it’s not your choice. And maybe someday Devin will let you go. Then you could be all mine.”
Anna’s eyes filled with tears. Nate hugged her to his chest. “I love you, too, Nate.”
The rest of the afternoon, Anna was quiet, but Nate kept reassuring her of how he felt about her. Rick kept a respectful distance from her and treated her platonically.
Monday morning, Nate told her that he had to do something after rehearsal but would come over later. Anna went home, certain that he wasn’t going to come over. He didn’t want to see her anymore, she was sure. She lay on the couch and stared at the TV.
When there was a knock at the door a while later, she assumed it was one of the men Devin sent to her and braced herself as she opened the door. But it wasn’t one of them. It was a smiling Nate.
“Nate!” she exclaimed. “What are you…? I thought you wouldn’t come.” Tears of relief spilled down her cheeks.
“Oh, Anna!” Nate walked into the apartment and gathered her into his arms. “Oh, don’t cry.”
Anna cried into his shirt. Her arms wrapped tightly around him for support.
He held her and stroked her hair as she cried, whispering sweet, comforting words. When her crying subsided he led her to her couch and pulled her onto his lap, continuing to hold her.
“Anna, I never would just drop you like that. I just had to run an errand after rehearsal.” He kissed the top of her head. “I wanted to get you something.”
Anna sniffed and looked up at him. “I thought you were disgusted with me.”
“Not at all. I told you that yesterday, Anna. I’m here to stay.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a small square black box. “Here. So you don’t forget.”
Anna took the box from him. She opened it and pulled out a jewelry box which she opened. Inside was a small gold ring with two intertwined hearts and small diamonds in the center of each heart. She looked up into Nate’s eyes and smiled. “It’s beautiful.”
He grinned sheepishly. “I know it’s nothing like that other ring you wear, but I’m not a gazillionaire.”
Anna had told him about Kurt and the pink ring she wore that he had given her.
“I love it,” she said quietly, stroking it.
Nate took the box from her and pulled the ring out. “I hope it fits. I had to guess from dancing today.”
Anna giggled. “Is that why you kept holding my hand all weird today?”
Nate’s face turned pink. “Yeah.” He put the ring on her left ring finger. It fit perfectly.
Anna looked at her hand with the ring. “It’s so pretty, Nate. Thank you.” She kissed him, wrapping her hand around the nape of his neck.
“Have you eaten?” he asked when the kiss ended.
She shook her head. “I wasn’t hungry.”
“Let’s order a pizza.”
They ate pizza then went to Anna’s bed and made love. Nate left early the next morning so he could go home before class.