A hint of desire built between my legs, and I wondered just how much more twisted my lust for him could get. He’d made me feel free, adventurous … guess that sense of adventure ran deeper than I realized, if I could get turned on by him holding a knife to my throat.
In the unlikely event that I actually made it out of here alive, I really needed to look into some serious counseling. The thought struck me as funny, and a snort of laughter escaped. Nobody else laughed—guess they couldn’t quite appreciate the humor?
“Your daydreamin’ bullshit is only cute on days you haven’t tried to kill me,” Reese murmured in my ear. “Fuckin’ talk or I’ll cut you.”
I swallowed, forcing myself to focus.
“So the next morning the girls invited me to go out with them and get pedicures. That was Saturday. We had a good time and got some lunch after. Then I left because I needed to get to work. I went back to my van and the front window was open. There was an envelope on the seat and I opened it. There was a phone, the same one you probably found in my purse. It’s black.”
“Didn’t occur to you that maybe opening a strange envelope was a bad idea?” Bam Bam asked, his voice casual. “Your house had already blown up, and then you find someone’s been in your car? Not real bright, London.”
“Yeah, I’ll give you that one,” I said, biting back the urge to laugh again. God. What was wrong with me? Oh yeah … imminent death … “Not smart at all, but I did it anyway. They sent me a video chat request, and I answered it. Jess was there and I talked to her, and then they held her down and cut off one of her fingers while I watched.”
Reese’s breath hissed in my ear, and for the first time I saw the carefully blank expression on Horse’s face crack a little. He looked … disgusted?
“So they cut off her finger and told me that I had to take pictures of papers I found in Reese’s house,” I said slowly. “They told me they’d kill her if I didn’t, and I believed them. I think they might have done it already … They didn’t care about hurting her, and they have no clue what they’re dealing with. She’s not a normal kid, at least not medically. Not with that shunt in her head. Other stuff isn’t quite right with her, either—her brain doesn’t process cause and effect correctly. Fetal drug effects. Amber did a lot of drugs while she was pregnant, so Jess came early and spent months in the NICU over at Sacred Heart. We’ll never know if the hydrocephalus is connected to that …”
“Shoulda told me,” Reese gritted out. “Shoulda told me about Jessica’s medical shit, shoulda told me somethin’ was wrong. Gave you lots of chances.”
“Fuck, London,” Gage said, shaking his head. “Why the hell didn’t you come to us?”
“I hardly know you,” I said, and for the first time I felt something that wasn’t numbness or fear. Anger. “Why the hell would I come talk to you? Crazy men have my cousin and she’s in danger, and all I really know about you is you throw great parties and everyone says you’re criminals.”
“Nice to know our time together meant so much to you,” Reese whispered, and I’ve never heard so much menace in a man’s voice before. But his cock was still hard against me and my nipples tightened in response.
Serious fucking counseling.
First thing on my to-do list, right after not dying in this basement.
“Think about it from my perspective,” I said, trying to keep my voice calm. “I don’t know you very well. Her life is at stake. Would you risk Em’s life based on a relationship that’s only a week old?”
Silence fell, so terrible I actually heard my own heartbeat.
“Babe, I wouldn’t risk lettin’ you flush a fuckin’ toilet at this point.”
“This is getting off track,” Horse muttered. “Pic, hold it in. We gotta figure out the situation, then you can deal with her, bro. Hear me?”
“I hear you,” Reese said. He let go of my hair abruptly, which scared the hell out of me because the sudden release pushed my throat deeper into the knife. Then the knife pulled away, and his hand wrapped around my throat instead, big fingers catching me under the jaw and pushing my head back into his shoulder.
Now I felt the full length of his body behind me, cradled in his embrace. How could this be the same man who’d held me before? I’d felt so safe in his arms. Now all I felt was terror.
Terror and unholy lust.
“So what does this mean in terms of them holdin’ Jessica?” Bam Bam asked, his voice tight. “She need special drugs or somethin’?”
“No,” I whispered. “But she’s really vulnerable to infection and head trauma. That shunt gets damaged, it’ll take her out fast. She can’t be handled rough, it’s too dangerous. I did what they said. I searched as much of the house as I could, although I didn’t find anything.”
“We know,” Reese told me, tightening his hold until I could hardly breathe. “We watched you.”
I closed my eyes tightly. God. I’d been so stupid.
“You knew all along?”
“Not all the details,” Gage said, his voice soft. “But we knew you were working for them. That’s why you had Puck on you.”
“I guess that’s not a huge surprise,” I admitted. “It all felt wrong—I kept thinking you knew. Not that it matters. I couldn’t find anything for them, and then they called me again today. I talked to Jessica, and then I watched them throw her down on a concrete floor. She hit her head and started having a seizure. He told me I have to kill Reese or she’ll die. If he dies, they’ll dump her at an ER. So I tried to kill him.”
“Did you ever see their faces on the video?” Reese asked, his voice like ice.
“No, they only let me see Jess.”
“Where did you get the gun?”
“They gave me an address and I drove there using the GPS on my phone. Up north of Hayden. It turned out to be the middle of a field, and a man met me there. He showed me how to use the gun. I didn’t learn his name or anything.”
“Then I went to Nate.”
The air in the room changed. Sudden menace radiated from Reese, and his hand tightened so hard on my throat that I couldn’t breathe and my vision started to swim with black dots.
“Let her go,” Horse said suddenly. “You’re gonna hurt her, Pic.”