Jerking his head up when his phone rang, he
“Vincent, it’s me,” Denise’s voice came through the
line. “The tracker’s up and I’ve got a good signal. It’s a little twitchy but
“Thank God,” he muttered. Turning on his truck, he
stuck his phone on the console on speaker. “Where am I going, Denise?” he
Once she gave him a direction he pulled out and
followed her instructions. Frowning as he entered the downtown area he shook
his head. “Are you sure she’s down here?” he asked.
“She’s there. Where, exactly, is the issue,” Denise
said. “There are a few blocks that the city has down for maintenance, routine
shit, so I’m getting a bit of a weird echo off the tracker. I’m working on
cleaning it up and tightening things, but for the moment, this is as close as I
can get you, Vincent.”
Pulling to the curb he parked the truck and hopped
out. Paying for parking for the next hour, he looked around. “Is Shawn there?”
“Yeah, Vin, I’m here. What do you need?” he asked.
“Remember that map I gave you from Ro?”
“Of course,” Shawn answered.
“I need you to take a look at it and see if any of
Moreau’s properties are in the same area as Rhonda’s tracker. If I was him, I’d
stick her somewhere I owned, at least for the time being.
if he didn’t want to be disturbed during questioning.”
The thought of
what a man like Moreau could do, what other men like him had done to rats in
their houses, made his gut clench.
“Hang on,” Shawn muttered. “Okay, here we go, he’s
got a full block he owns two streets north, one east. There are a couple other
buildings he also owns on the next block over to the east. We have an office
building, a restaurant, a condo and then several buildings that are a mixed
kettle of fish. What are you looking for, Vin?”
Vincent was looking for something specific. “If I
was bringing someone down there to be interrogated, in the middle of the day,
I’d need to ensure no witnesses. Especially if I needed to dispose of
I was taking in there later. No need to point the
cops to me,” he said. His gut was churning just at the thought that Rhonda was
in that situation.
“So you’d want something very private, preferably
with the assurance that you weren’t seen,” Shawn said. “So a back alley without
an easy view to the street, or a
“If it’s an alley or a
no cameras would be best. While they could wipe the tapes later, why bother? Why
not ensure that they were never filmed moving through there?” Vincent said.
,” Shawn muttered. “Okay, he’s doing renovations on a building, but is
stalled out. Denise just found the building permits, with one currently in
arears which is why they aren’t doing anything on it currently. The building
previously had a contract with a security company but it was cancelled when
Moreau bought it. He hasn’t set up a new contract with anyone yet which means
that any surveillance is down. It’s the perfect spot, and with the contractor
stuck on hold, no one’s working today.”
Vincent got the address and headed over to the
building. He had no idea what he was going to do. One thing he knew for sure,
he wasn’t leaving Rhonda in there if she was in trouble. If she wasn’t, he’d
pull back and let her do her thing. With her message though, he had a feeling
he’d have to get her ass out of the fire.
“All right, I’m here,” he said into the phone as he
casually strolled along. “I have one goon in the lobby area reading a magazine.
Another one back by what I’m guessing are the elevators. Can’t see anything
else,” he told them.
“Vincent, I don’t like this,” Shawn said. “You have
no idea how many are in there. If you go in and disable any of them, and she
isn’t in any trouble, you’re going to blow her cover.”
“You don’t think I already figured that out?” he
asked. “I can’t just walk away, Shawn. This is Ro, for the love of God. I—” he
“I get it,” Shawn said softly. Yeah, the man likely
did. Given all Shawn had gone through to keep the love of his life, Tamara,
safe, he definitely got where Vincent was coming from.
Reaching an alley, he took a peek down it and found
nothing but a couple of dumpsters. Turning into it, he moved quickly and
quietly, just in case anyone was actually there. “I have a back door I think I
can get through. Listen, if I don’t call you back in an hour,
the local PD and have them come looking for us.”
Vincent could practically hear Shawn grinding his
teeth in frustration. “Fine, one hour. If you don’t survive this, Vincent, I am
going to be fucking pissed.”
“Join the club,” he muttered, hanging up the phone.
Turning it to silent, he changed the setting of the vibration and slid it into
his pocket. Staring at the door, he flexed his hands. “I have a bad feeling
about this,” Vincent said as he stared at the door that would get him inside,
and into who knew what kind of shit.
Rhonda’s head whipped to the side in the wake of a
large fist hitting her cheek. She was beyond
everything was too numb, her brain having shut down all the pain receptors from
the first hour, or more, of the beating.
“Who the fuck do you work for?” Moreau demanded
again. He was off to the side, pristine in his Gucci suit, as he asked the same
question over and over again.
Not that she could answer anymore. Rhonda was
pretty sure the goon hitting her, Patrick, had broken her jaw about four or
five punches ago. All she could honestly do was bleed and drool.
Her head whipped to the other side from another
punch. Damn. That fucking hurt. Maybe those receptors were still firing.
“Who do you work for?” Moreau asked again. God,
couldn’t he fucking come up with something else to ask? Something she could
actually answer maybe. Not that she would anyway, not with the beat-down they
were giving her.
Moreau gave a sigh and flicked his perfectly
manicured fingers. “Let’s give the lady a moment to think. Patrick, you are
looking thirsty, maybe some water is in order. We don’t want you getting
dehydrated while we wait on what we need from her.”
“Yes, boss,” the big goon panted out.
Yeah, that’s right, she was wearing him out.
Patrick and Moreau moved over to a table in the
corner where Patrick opened a bottle of water and guzzled. Closing her eyes for
a moment, or eye really, since the other was swollen shut, Rhonda rested,
grateful for the respite.
She also catalogued her injuries. Busted jaw,
serious contusions to her face with a lot of bleeding, not
Busted ribs, thankfully none seem to have punctured her lungs, so she could
breathe, albeit shallowly through the pain. Her left hand was broken in a
couple of spots, and she had several long, deep cuts from Patrick’s big ass
bowie knife on her chest, stomach and arms. She was strapped down in a chair with
zip ties, no way to break free of them, and they had her positioned on a large
plastic sheet. Great for ease of cleanup of the everyday kill. She was so
fucked she didn’t even know where to begin.
“Sorry to interrupt, sir,” another of Moreau’s
goons said. Squinting through her good eye, she thought it might have been
Frederick, Moreau’s driver and additional muscle. “You have a call. I told them
you were in a meeting, but it’s one of the lawyers. He says it’s time sensitive
about a property you’re looking to acquire so I said I’d check if you were
Moreau shot her a look before nodding. “That’s
fine. Patrick, rest up and watch her. I’ll deal with this. When I return, be
ready for some more carving. I think that would be most effective at this
“Yes, boss,” Patrick grinned gleefully.
Rhonda’s gut heaved. Patrick was well known by all who
worked for Moreau. He liked cutting up his victims. According to rumor, Patrick
had disposed of Moreau’s lieutenants, the ones that had failed him, by
torturing them for days before chopping them into shark bait. No proof, of
course, but it was a great way to bolster the guy’s ego and reputation.
Moreau left with Frederick, and Patrick opened
another bottle of water. He moved a little closer but stayed off the plastic
sheeting as he drank. He watched her closely, too closely, and so never saw the
shadow that slipped up behind him. One moment he was gloating, a smirk on his
lips, the next he was fighting for air as a large, muscular arm wrapped around
his neck in a chokehold that cut off all oxygen to his brain.
He went to his knees as he clawed at the arm,
squeezing tight. The bottle of water he’d been drinking from fell to the
plastic, the remaining liquid quickly creating a pool. Rhonda watched his
struggle with some amusement from the corner of her eye.
Take that you big ape,
she thought her lips curling into a smile.
No! Definitely no smiling, that shit hurt
she realized with a wince. His eyes rolled back in his head but it was the very
satisfying snap of neck bones that let her breathe a little easier. Patrick hit
the plastic, nothing more than a lump of flesh, dead to the world in the midst
of the puddle of water.
“Rhonda,” Vincent’s whisper reached her. “Fucking
hell, woman, what did they do to you?”
Lifting her head enough to see more than his belt
buckle took effort, but she was rewarded with the sight of Vincent right there
before her. He cut through the ties holding her down. She would have told him,
but couldn’t. God, did she want to tell him though.
“Fuck, they really did a number on you,
sweetheart,” Vincent said, working quickly. After pocketing the knife he looked
at her with a wince. “I’d ask if you could stand on your own but I doubt you
can. I’m going to pick you up, but this is going to hurt like a son of a bitch.
So feel free to pass out. I’m getting you out of here and somewhere safe. No
hospital, not the apartment or anywhere else he might think to look for you.
Promise,” he whispered softly.
She gave a small nod, the best she could manage.
She let him lift her up into his arms, not that she had a lot of options or
choices. It felt good to feel his warmth against her even with the thump-thump
of pain at every beat of her heart.
He smelled so good, all male, all
Closing her good eye as he headed for the door,
she rubbed her nose lightly to his neck. She had truly thought she’d never see
him again. Never have the chance to be completely honest and open with him.
Never get the opportunity to tell him how she felt about him.
Rhonda didn’t know if he felt the same, one of the
reasons she’d held back. The other was that she didn’t want to ruin their
friendship by admitting she had the
She wanted a relationship with him, beyond
friendship. Hell, she wanted to strip him naked and jump his gorgeous self. On
more than one occasion she’d actually had to restrain herself, she thought with
a bit of humor. Usually when they were at Shawn and Tamara’s for some reason or
other and he was out swimming in the pool. He had a body that just screamed to
be licked, slowly, preferably by her. A smile tried to curl her lips at the
idea of walking up and licking him. Only that smile didn’t go any better than
her other attempts, and she let out a low moan of pain as her jaw throbbed.
She could feel him walking carefully.
Likely to prevent jostling her, but also to prevent any noise from
It was also how he moved. He was incredibly light on his
feet, thanks to all that wonderful military training, she was sure. She loved
watching him—it helped to fuel more than one late night fantasy—and dreaming
Always wondering if he would make love the same way
he did everything else, with complete and absolute focus on the task at hand.
Oh, to have that intensity directed at her. It gave her chills to think about
it, even when she was bleeding and a white-hot fucking mess.
“Almost there,” he said quietly in her ear, his
breath warm on her too-chilled skin.
Reaction, her body was going into shock, not good.
She managed a small nod to let him know she’d heard him. Shit, she was likely
getting blood all over his shirt. She really liked the shirt he had on too. It
was so nice and tight, showing off all those wonderful muscles he had to
perfection. Damn, now she was all hot, and bothered, so not the time to be
Rolling her eyes internally at herself she tried to
focus on where they were. Not something she could manage while in his arms. All
she could think about was the feel of his strong arms around her, the heat of
his chest to her body, and the scent of his skin.
Wonder if he’d mind if I
took a lick
? So very inappropriate of course, but she wouldn’t be who she
was if she didn’t have at least one inappropriate thought about him every ten
They made it outside, thank God. She knew because
she could feel the breeze on her skin, and pick up just the faintest hint of
An alley, likely.