The short rides I’d taken with Reese hadn’t come close to preparing me for this. My ass had started to hurt, growing slowly worse until finally it went numb. Even if I hadn’t been sleep-deprived the trip would’ve killed me. Just to make things more pleasant, not one of the fifteen men riding with us would talk to me, or even look me in the eye.
When we finally pulled down a narrow alley into a residential neighborhood, I didn’t quite register that the ride was over. We stopped in front of a great big old carriage house with huge wooden sliding doors on the back. They opened slowly and the men rolled their bikes in, leaving just enough room on one side for the battered gray cargo van that had trailed us from Coeur d’Alene. They had a prospect driving it, but I had no idea what was in the back.
No way I’d be asking, either.
I’d learned my lesson about questions.
The heavy doors slid shut behind us, blocking out the light and sound. Some seriously solid walls in this place. As my vision adjusted, I looked around in the gloom to find Hunter, Em’s boyfriend, watching the activities with a proprietary air.
His gaze caught on me standing next to Reese, and he strolled over to join us.
“What’s the story there, Pic?” he asked quietly, ignoring me. “Not a trip for women.”
Reese shook his head, face grim.
“We had an unpleasant incident yesterday,” he said. “I’ll tell you all about it later, but the quick and dirty is she tried to kill me. Cartel was behind it.”
Hunter’s face hardened.
“Sorry to hear that,” he said. “We were all hopin’ it would work out.”
“Shit happens,” Pic said. “Fuckers have her cousin—she did it to save the kid’s life.”
“Sounds like an interesting story,” Hunter said, his jaw tightening. “So she’s a prisoner?”
Reese nodded sharply.
“Haven’t decided what to do with her yet, but figure the Portland prospects can babysit her just as easy as the Coeur d’Alene ones. Didn’t want to leave her behind. We haven’t had time to make any decisions, you know how that goes.”
“I got a strong room we can put her in,” Hunter said.
“We’ll need that for someone else.”
That caught my attention, and I glanced back at the van. Had they hauled Nate across the state, too?
“How about the storage room upstairs?” Hunter asked. “It’s not as secure, but the window’s high enough she won’t be able to climb out and she’ll have to pass through the chapel to leave the building. Should be safe enough for the afternoon.”
“Sounds good,” Reese answered. He gave me a nudge and I followed Hunter upstairs through a big, open space with a broad wooden table and then down a hallway to the storage room.
“Don’t touch anything,” he told me, his voice grim. “You wouldn’t wanna learn what happens if you break something. And if you find something in here you can use as a weapon, don’t. This is my place, and I don’t give a damn how much Pic likes fuckin’ you. You pull any shit, you’re dead.”
I nodded, studying the room after he closed the door behind me. Dusty boxes lined three of the four walls. The last wall had a garage sale couch pushed up against it, and above the couch was an old leaded-glass window. I climbed onto the cushions and looked out to find a fenced backyard hidden behind the carriage house. The house attached to the yard was two stories, with a high porch off the back. It looked to have been built about a hundred years ago—obviously one of those not-quite-Victorians littering the older neighborhoods in Portland.
Must be Hunter and Em’s place, I realized. They probably lived in the house while his club used the carriage house out back as a base of operations. Not a bad setup, all things considered.
I could see a barbecue pit in the center of the grass, with several canvas folding chairs circling it. There wasn’t much open space, though. The yard was essentially a jungle—just a mass of overgrown shrubs surrounded by a circle of mature trees providing complete privacy, despite the fact that I knew there had to be buildings on either side of us. Nobody would be able to see my window, that was for sure.
Good thing I wasn’t trying to catch any attention, or escape.
I wondered how long I’d be stuck here. Considering I hadn’t really slept in nearly twenty-four hours, being locked up long enough for a nap sounded pretty good. I flopped down on the couch and closed my eyes.
I don’t know how long I’d been out when the sound of a car back-firing woke me. I took a minute to orient myself, rubbing the sleep out of my eyes and wiping off what felt suspiciously like a trail of drool.
The light had changed—now it streamed through the window much more brightly. I rose to my knees and looked down through the leaded glass to find Em sunning herself on a white blanket in the center of the lawn. She wore a bright red bikini that showed off a very small, very cute baby bump, and one arm had been thrown over her eyes.
The girl was obviously sound asleep. Early pregnancy. I hadn’t had children myself, but I’d seen enough of my friends go through it to learn that sometimes naps weren’t optional. Such a pretty girl.
God, I hoped I got my own pretty girl back, safe and sound.
Reese was a lucky man, because while I hadn’t met his other daughter yet, Em was a treasure for sure. He’d done a great job with her despite losing his wife so tragically. As I watched, Em shifted restlessly and rolled to the side, dropping her arm down to clutch her stomach. Her face twisted, but she didn’t seem to wake up.
Something was very, very wrong here …
Bright red blood covered the blanket where she’d been lying—blood that seemed to be coming from between her legs. She must not be asleep, but unconscious. Blood smeared the backs of her thighs. Adrenaline hit, and I ran for the door, jerking at the knob desperately. Nothing. I pounded on it, yelling for someone to come and get me.
The walls were old and thick, built by hand to last.
ShitShitShitShitShit! Em might be dying out there, and obviously nobody could see it but me. I had to do something.
Running back to the window, I climbed up onto the couch and peered through the glass, trying to figure out how to get down to her. Nothing really jumped out at me, but maybe I’d be able to figure something out if I broke out the glass. I found an old, broken stool propped against a pile of boxes and grabbed it, shoving the legs through the glass. It shattered easily enough, and after three more blows I managed to knock the leading out, too.