A Prince's Ransom: Kidnapped by the Billionaire (32 page)

Sebastian wouldn’t have truly hurt her, though—others would have. Mark and Rob would have, which was part of the reason why he was the one alone with her now and they weren’t. But he wouldn’t have actually hurt her. He had promised himself a long time ago that he would never hurt a woman that way, regardless of the circumstances, regardless of why he might be tempted. And he was tempted, he decided, his gaze flickering down to the curve of her ass, somehow still enticing despite the vet’s slacks she wore. He could palpably taste his desire to kiss her again, but he remained leaning against the wall.

After the fourth or fifth attempt to pull the bullet from Jesse’s shoulder, Tobin drew back in frustrated, frightened aggravation, and Sebastian narrowed his gaze a little bit. She almost slammed the forceps onto the table, shutting her eyes and apparently forcing herself to breathe. Breathing was good, he thought to himself, even as he sighed aloud slightly. Damn Jesse for screaming that way at the alcohol-soaked gauze. She’d been much calmer before, even if she’d still been frightened. She’d been able to focus on the task in front of her instead of that fear—yeah, that was his fault. He’d got her to get back to work, but now she was thinking about what would happen to her if she failed. That wasn’t good for anyone.

“Why a vet instead of a doctor?” he asked, breaking the monotony of Jesse’s mumbling.

Tobin looked back at him, startled. “Sorry?” Her voice was practically a squeak.

“Why did you decide to be a vet instead of a doctor?” he repeated, and in her dark blue eyes he watched as realization flared—realization that he was trying to keep her from focusing on her terror.

“Animals… animals are easier to work with,” she answered quietly as she reached for the forceps again. “They don’t really… have their own opinions or agendas when it comes to their medical care. They aren’t trying to hide things. And anything serious is usually an accident, not…” Not like this, Sebastian finished for her silently, when this was anything but an accident.

“I wouldn’t think that getting licked all day by dirty dogs would be easier than talking with a person,” he continued. Not exactly true, but if he could keep her focused on the conversation, so much the better. She was turning back to the bullet hole, carefully inserting the forceps to find the bullet. Her hands weren’t shaking as badly anymore.

“But dogs are usually… usually just happy. Sometimes nervous in a vet’s office, but usually happy. People, though? People are often… whiny jackasses who think they know better than their doctor how they should be treated,” Tobin countered, only for her brow to furrow. They were both silent, until Jesse let out a squeal of pain—but it seemed that she had found the bullet, carefully extracting it from the wound with the forceps and letting it sink to the bottom of the pot of water. She let out a breath of relief, putting the forceps down.

Jesse was still almost writhing in pain, though, and Sebastian could see her throat tightening as she reached for the bottle of alcohol again. “You don’t have anything you can give him for that?” he asked quietly.

She shook her head. “Nothing for people. The dosage would be way off on what I do have, and I wouldn’t know how much to give him. Too much and I could… kill him anyway.” She was doing everything she could right now to save his life so that she could save her own. The vet reached for the needles and thread she had pulled out of her bag before, seeming more confident now as she carefully measured out a length of the latter and cut it. This part probably didn’t vary much between human patients and pets.

Sebastian relaxed a little bit. The bullet was out. That was good. Jesse was getting sewn up. They’d have to find him drugs or something, and he’d probably be extremely weak for a good long while, but now that the bleeding could finally stop, he would most likely be alright. That was the important thing. He focused on Tobin’s hands as she threaded the needle and started the careful, delicate process of suturing up the bullet hole, only a few small tears of blood escaping from between the stitching. Jesse was still whimpering as she repeatedly punctured his skin, but he had to be feeling better with the bullet out of his shoulder.

Finally, she was done. She let out a breath and gently cleaned the wound again before pressing fresh gauze on the spot and wrapping it in bandages, just tight enough to keep it in place. The IV bag was still mostly full, but it was significantly less full than it had been before, when she had started it. At this rate, it was probably just an hour or so before dawn—and she was done, and Sebastian had a decision to make.

Tobin closed her eyes and drew back from the guy she had just performed surgery on, turning away from him and nearly ready to weep again now that that part was over. The water was much cooler than it had been before, and she dipped her hands into it, rubbing off the blood that stained her fingertips. The one thing she hadn’t had in her bag that she could’ve used, of course, was latex gloves. Absolutely figured.

Hesitantly, as she opened her eyes again, she glanced at the guy who had been guarding her. The guy who had talked to her to distract her after he had nearly raped her. He was still leaning against the wall, observing his friend, but he straightened up when he noticed her glance. Her throat tightened and she looked away again, scraping blood out from under her nails and shaking a little bit.

So, what now? Now that she had done as he ordered her to, now that she had done everything she possibly could to save this guy’s life, what was he going to do to her? No, no, she knew the answer to that. She could almost break down right now because she knew the answer to that. Why couldn’t they have been wearing masks? Why couldn’t she not have seen them?

His shoes echoed on the concrete near her as he drew closer, and she refused to focus on anything but the water she was washing her hands in, refusing to see that gun from the corner of her vision. If she was going to die… if he was going to kill her… just let him do it. Let him get it over with, let him make it quick. At least she’d gotten to see her dad today. At least there was that.

Oh, God, she was so sorry. She was so sorry to her dad for leaving him alone like this, without anyone else, and just when he needed her the most. She was so sorry. But Kate would take her cats. Kate would offer her cats a really good home and she’d be able to do a really good job with the clinic. Kate had always been a better vet than Tobin was, and they both knew it—she was just too good a friend ever to say something like that aloud. Kate would take her cats, and they’d have happy, happy lives.

It still killed her to know that she’d never found anyone. She had wanted to find someone. She had wanted to be happy that way, with someone who could make her happy, who would treat her right. And she’d wanted to give her dad a couple of grandkids, have a chance at raising some children herself. That was something Tobin had always wanted, but it wasn’t something she was ever going to get. And all because she’d been in that stupid parking lot, and they had thought she was a real doctor instead of a vet.

“You’re already convinced of what I’m going to do, aren’t you?” His voice was surprisingly subdued, from where he stood right next to her. She was still rubbing at her fingers, peeling her knuckles raw. “Already entirely certain of what’s going to happen next.”

“Should I not be?” she whispered, her voice panicked and broken as tears blurred her vision. “It might be the most clichéd thing, the most ridiculous thing, but I… I saw your face, and his face, and we both know that no promise I make in the world that I won’t go to the cops will… so yeah, I think I know what’s going to happen next.”

He shifted, and she jerked when she saw his hand, but it wasn’t the one holding the gun. He was reaching into the pot of water, pulling out her hands to stop her from rubbing at them. He grabbed a clean, dry cloth off the table and pressed them to her fingers.

“You’re right about that much,” he admitted quietly. “That is what should happen right now. I have too many people I’d have to explain it to if I didn’t—the same people I have to explain him getting shot to. And the loose ends I’ve got to fix are bad enough without you being one of them. That’s what should happen next.”

Tobin let out a frightened sob and shut her eyes, her finger tangled in the cloth. He drew back, and remained silent, just watching her cry. Finally, he moved again, his fingers brushing her tangled brunette hair back from the side of her face, and lightly tracing a trail of mascara that stained her skin. She jerked away from him.

“Don’t!” she shouted at him through her panic. “What, are you fucking getting off on this?! You think this is all some sick joke. Let’s see how badly we can freak out the vet before we kill her because she was in the wrong place at the wrong time and we couldn’t be bothered to cover up our damn faces?” She slammed her hands into his chest, and nearly fell over for the effort.

He grabbed her wrist, catching her before she fell and keeping her upright. “Your name is Tobin,” he murmured. “I’ve never heard that name before. Tobin. It’s very pretty.”

She stared at him, not sure what to say after that outburst, and some part of her not wanting to know how he knew her name. If she tried to think about it, she could probably figure it out, but she just really didn’t want to think about it right now. He let go of her, though, and circled slowly around her stiff, still form, until he was just behind her. One of his hands lifted, brushing away her hair from the back of her neck, and she shut her eyes tightly as something cold and hard brushed against her skin.

“Please. Don’t.”



Chapter Five

Tobin was still shaking, still crying. Her tears made it even harder for her to see through the burlap sack over her head, and by this point she wasn’t certain if she was crying more out of relief or terror. Her hands felt numb, restrained again in the zip ties as she slumped down in the backseat of her car, doing her best to judge where the edge of the window was so that she wouldn’t be seen. That was the deal—she wasn’t to be seen, right now, as she was driven to her home in her own car, trapped in the back. She didn’t think her breath would ever even out.

Her ears were still ringing. They were ringing because he had still fired the gun. Fired it into the ceiling of the room where she had tried to save the skinny guy’s life, and she’d been frozen, shaking. The warehouse had seemed to echo all around her for the longest time but she was certain no one outside the building had heard a thing. The auburn-haired brute who had done it had gone to the door before she could even entirely process whether she had been shot or not, and only after several long, long minutes did she realize that it was to keep the other two guys from realizing he hadn’t shot her. Like he was supposed to have. He was supposed to have shot her and he hadn’t. Through the ringing in her ears, Tobin had heard him angrily order them to go and get their car to take the fourth somewhere else, she couldn’t make out where. He had come back after that, roughly telling her that he was going to take her home.

He hadn’t needed to ask where she lived, of course. That knowledge had already started terrifying her, knowing that he had seen her ID, knew her name, knew where she lived and where she worked. But he had shoveled all of her things back into the medical bag, zip-tied her hands, shoved the bag back over her head—and then he had guided her out to where her car had been parked who knew how long ago. He had shoved her into the back, told her to keep her head down, and driven off with her. She didn’t know what he had told the others about where he was going or what he had done, but she didn’t care. They were gone before the others came back and whether or not they bought that she was dead… well, it wasn’t unimportant, but nor did it strictly matter right at this second. Because she was still breathing, and that… that felt vastly more important.

He hadn’t said a word since he had shoved her into the car, though. He also hadn’t told her that if she went to the police, she’d be dead, like she kind of expected him to. Through the sack over her head, it was still dark, before dawn, with the passing streetlamps almost glaringly bright, which was probably a mixture of rushing adrenaline and absolute exhaustion. Not daring to say anything herself, in her head, Tobin repeated a prayer over and over and hoped to whoever was listening that he wasn’t just taking her somewhere else to rape and kill her. She was… confused enough without him actually turning out to just be taking her home. She was frightened enough without wondering if he was, somehow, still a good guy in all of this. Even though he had kidnapped her and held a gun to her head and threatened to rape her, and… more of fear, she decided. Her tears were more of fear than relief.

The bag, she had figured out after a long while of numbness, was to ensure that she didn’t know where she had been kept for those few hours, which was… acceptable, at the very least. Like this, she was far too out of it to have any idea where they had taken her if she couldn’t see it for herself, so that seemed smart. She wanted to be home. She wanted to be anywhere else and she wanted to take a shower for hours to get rid of every second of it. Faintly, she squirmed in the seat, but went still when there was a slight grunt from up front and shut her eyes. God, she was so tired. She could sleep for a week and yet she doubted she would be able to sleep at all when she actually tried closing her eyes in her own bedroom. The sound of the gunshot would never stop ringing in her ears. She would always feel its cold metal pressing on her skin.

Finally, after she didn’t know how long, the car came to a stop. A real stop, not just a stop sign or a red light, and as she turned her head a little bit, she could make out the familiar entryway to her apartment building through the burlap sack. He climbed out of the driver’s seat and came around to her door, opening it. Without a word, he grabbed her wrists and cut loose the zip tie, and this close she could see him stuff it into his pocket. He didn’t say anything as he pulled back, just staring at her where she sat shaking. He didn’t pull off the sack either. No, finally, he closed the door again, and she could see him turn and walk off down the street. Tobin didn’t move. Not for at least another fifteen minutes, counting the seconds so she knew. Making sure he was gone.

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