“Uncuff me. Now!” he shouted. A sheen of sweat slicked on his forehead, and the desire that had fogged his irises moments earlier had disappeared.
“I can’t.” She reached the threshold, then glanced back.
“Sorry,” she said, even though she had no clue why she apologized.
He kidnapped her, lied to her about her father, and who knew what else. But why did a strange feeling nag at her, shooting a nauseating sensation in her stomach? She shook her head and scurried to the entrance. She couldn’t afford to waste any time. If the sound of his body slamming against the frame was a hint, he would be running after her soon.
She slid the key in the door handle and twisted it. The sun blinded her. She started to run, but suddenly strong arms grabbed her, and calloused hands covered her mouth.
“Ssshhhh…you’re safe.” Someone whispered. “Your father sent us.”
A burly man materialized in front of her. It took her a couple of seconds to register he just mentioned her father. Somehow her heart kept hammering on.
“You’re safe now.” The man’s grasp around her loosened enough to give her room to breathe. She blinked. “What?”
“Tony’ll take you back. And I’ll go in.”
Tony took her elbow and cocked his head in the direction of a black sedan. He opened the door for her. “Get inside.” She stared at the door with hesitation. “Where are we going?” The two men seemed legit enough. Why would a third party want to kidnap her? “Shouldn’t we call the police first?” She had no idea how these procedures worked, but why would Tony rush her away while the other one stayed? Was it because the guy would call the police and have Emanuel arrested?
Tony shook his head, somewhat annoyed. Obviously he had expected her to jump into his car without asking questions. Her father must have already had a clue about her whereabouts when Emanuel called him the previous day. Otherwise, how would he have found her so quickly and sent these two men after her? They had showed her no special badge, so she assumed her dad hired them privately. Why would he keep her disappearance a secret when he had done nothing wrong? Her stomach clenched. Unless…
A hellish smile spread across the man’s oval face. “There aren’t any police involved. Your dad ordered me to fly you home ASAP, and Harry will handle your kidnapper.”
Her chest tightened. “What do you mean handle? Listen, I think this is a huge misunderstanding…”
Tony mocked her and waved his hands in the air. “Mr. Lancaster was very clear about it. He wants no loose ends. Emanuel Duarte must be eliminated.
Now, if you get in the car, you can put this nightmare behind you, and you’ll be having brunch with your friends tomorrow.”
Nightmare? She pushed down the lump in her dry throat. The guy who walked in would kill Emanuel if she didn’t stop him. He’d die for kidnapping her because he wanted to help someone he believed was wronged. He shouldn’t have taken her, but he claimed he had good reason, and he didn’t deserve to die. She couldn’t allow that to happen, nor could she live with that kind of knowledge. She slammed the door and stepped back, her hand fumbling in the backpack. She palmed the gun, the weapon heavy and cold. “I can’t go.”
He opened the door and pointed to the inside of the car. “That’s not your choice.”
Her dad couldn’t have told these men to kill Emanuel, could he? Misunderstanding or not, leaving Emanuel behind was not an option, not if she had anything to say about it. Determined, she grabbed the gun and aimed it at him. “Get away from me.”
He laughed. “Why wouldn’t you want to go home? Listen, I can call your father, and you can talk to him after we get a head start. Get in the car, or you’ll make life harder for all of us,” he said, and reached for the inside of his vest.
He launched at her, and she pulled the trigger. The sound sliced through the air, as Tony touched the fresh blood seeping through his pants. “Bitch. You got my leg.”
Emanuel punched the intruder in the face, and he stumbled back against the nightstand. The guy must hurt and kill people for a living, he’d give him that. Ever since he’d broken the wooden frame and gotten out of the bed, the cuffs still clasped against his wrist, he’d realized the restraint would be the least of his worries. The idiot had stormed into the room and clocked him before he even registered his presence.
“I should have shot you, but I got paid extra to make it slow and painful,” the man said, panting and wiping blood from the side of his mouth.
The thug stood up, but before he could throw a punch, Emanuel shoved him against the wall, curled his fingers into a fist and hit his jaw. Once. Twice.
“You’re overpriced. I’m killing you for free.” Emanuel shoved his elbow on the man’s shoulder, dropping him to the floor. The guy groaned. Did this idiot expect Emanuel not to be such a good fighter? He’d learned his ways as a young boy and knew every dirty trick in the book, even though in his adult life he seldom used them.
A squirming noise yanked him from the moment, and he dashed out of the room. Erika. He left the house and found her fighting with another man who kept pushing her into the backseat of an idling car.
“You’ve done enough for a day,” he grunted. “Now shut up and get in the car, you rich bitch.”
Emanuel launched at them and pushed the man off her. He tried to protest, but Emanuel punched him and he fell to the ground.
“Let’s get out of here,” he said to Erika.
She nodded, and he circled around the car and slipped onto the driver’s seat, turning on the engine. She shut the door and stayed in the back. Within seconds, they were driving away from it all.
Carmen Falcone. BC_Galley.indd (Kindle Locations 858-918). Kindle Edition.