Dangerous Lines (5 page)

He shut his mouth and shot her an apologetic look.
“Sorry, I’m babbling. I’ve been worried about you.
Could
barely sleep more than a few minutes at a time last night since I kept freaking
that you would stop breathing or something.
I know, babbling again.”

Rhonda watched him rub a hand over his face, only
then noting how tired he looked. He’d watched over her, all night, because he
was worried. That had to be the sweetest thing anyone had done for her in
forever. Lifting her good hand, which felt like it was weighted down, she moved
it to brush over his hand on his leg.

He quickly caught it and held on gently. Sighing,
she closed her eye for a moment to soak in the sensation of his palm to hers.
His hand was warm, firm and just a little rough. Like a man’s hand should be,
and she knew it would feel fantastic on a woman’s skin.

Opening her eye again, she looked up at him and
squeezed his hand lightly. Not that she had many options given how weak she
felt. He smiled down at her and that was enough.
For the
moment.
Later, she’d damn well be telling him how grateful she was. He’d
saved her ass, pulling it right out of the fire at great risk to his own. He
was amazing, her own hero, though she knew he’d hate that particular title.

“Try and sleep for a while. I’m going to grab a
shower, make some dinner and then I’ll be right back, okay?”

She gave another small nod. Closing her eye she
held onto his hand as sleep claimed her once more.

****

The next few days were pretty much the same thing,
over and over. She’d wake for a time to find Vincent nearby. He’d talk to her
about anything and everything. He was occasionally in contact with Shawn but
they were keeping the conversations short.

From Vincent she knew that Moreau was making
discreet inquiries about her, trying to figure out where she likely went.
“Shawn called and talked to your boss. They had a meeting so that Shawn could
let him know what happened and that you were going to be out of touch. He’s not
happy, to say the least, but he is trying to be understanding. Since the guy
that actually was hurting you, even if it was at Moreau’s command, is dead, there’s
not a lot they can do anyway.”

Which was the truth.
They still had nothing on Moreau other than a few rumors and
suppositions that wouldn’t hold water if it even made it to a court. He had to
make a mistake, get caught, and then maybe they’d be able to nail him. Since he
wasn’t a man to make mistakes though, there really wasn’t a hell of a lot of
hope.

When she next woke up she felt much better.
Definitely not great, but good enough that she was a bit antsy.
She was struggling to sit when Vincent came in the room.

“What the hell, Ro?” he asked as he came quickly to
her side. “What are you trying to do, damn it?”

Shooting him a glare, much more effective now that
she had both eyes able to open, she let out a huff of air. Lifting her good
hand she made a walking motion.

“Not happening, you are supposed to be on full bed
rest,” he told her.

That earned him another glare. Shaking her head,
she made the motion again.

“Ro,” he said in clear frustration. “Fine, but we
have to get the catheter out first. You can’t go wandering around with it in.
So lay your ass back down and let me deal with that first.”

Embarrassed at the thought of what he needed to do,
she reluctantly let him ease her down. She even put up with his foul mouth as
he removed the catheter. Damn that shit hurt, which made her eternally pleased
she hadn’t been awake when it had gone in. Flinching, she let out a low hissing
breath as he shot her a look.

“Sorry, baby,” he said.

Shrugging, she watched him. She didn’t care how
much it hurt as long as it was out. With it out she could do her own bathroom
breaks, which was huge in her new world. She even dutifully waited, with as
much patience as she had, while he took out the IV line as well. That didn’t
hurt nearly as much as the catheter; thank heavens for the little things in
life. Wiggling her fingers at him once he’d put the bandage in place, she
smiled a little. She was free!
In a manner of speaking.

Poor Vincent, he did not look happy to be helping
her sit up. That was fine, let him be grumpy. She needed to get up and moving.
Swinging her legs over the bed edge, she gave herself a moment to let the bit
of vertigo settle down. Sucking in a breath, one she quickly regretted, Rhonda
let out a hiss of air. Fucking hell, her torso felt like it was in a vise.

Then she pushed herself beyond the throbbing pain,
and up to stand on her own two feet.
Where she nearly fell
flat on her face.

“I fucking told you, Ro, you’re not ready to be
moving,” he said, catching her and saving her from a flat nose to go with her
other issues. Moaning at the pain from the grip he had on her ribcage, she
gripped his arm hard with her good hand.

Catching her breath again, Rhonda rolled her eyes
at him as she found her footing. Giving him a little smirk she took a few shaky
steps with his help. Soon enough she was moving under her own power. Yes, she
was weak, but that would go away with a little walking each day. She’d be back
to normal in no time at all. She did let him help her into a robe over the long
T-shirt she was currently sporting, one of Vincent’s she assumed, given the
size.

Vincent kept on muttering about stubborn women as
he let her walk, one hand under her elbow to balance her. He might bitch a lot,
but he was a good guy. She knew he was worried for her, even appreciated the
worry. Hell, who was she kidding? It made her all warm and fuzzy inside to know
he cared enough to worry.

In the kitchen he set her in a chair, which was
good. She was a little tired from that short walk. Then, being as sweet as she
had always known him to be, he got her a cup of coffee with a straw. Shooting
him what she hoped was a grateful look she took a sip and moaned happily at the
lukewarm concoction.
Sweet caffeine, how she’d missed it.
It was also just what her brain needed to get back into gear, and clear out
some of the cobwebs. With a peek at Vincent from under her lashes, she took
another slow sip. It was time to figure out her next move, however slow it
might be given the current situation, and what the hell she was going to do
with Vincent.

 

Chapter Six

 

Giving Rhonda a moment to drink some coffee,
Vincent collected a notepad and pen. Setting them down by her cup, he got her a
refill before joining her at the table. “All right, since you’re now up and
about—against doctor’s orders—we might as well talk. Technically you’re
writing, but you get my drift.”

She picked up the pen and drew a picture, turning
the notepad so he could see it.

He snickered at the emoticon denoting sticking out
one’s tongue. “Funny,” he said. “Seriously though, I need to know what happened
that morning, Ro. You write and I’ll keep refilling the coffee as long as you
give me everything. I have to get a report into Shawn so he can give your
bosses something. They are fucking foaming at the mouth to get to you and find
out what Moreau did.”

She wrinkled up her nose, but nodded. Bending her
head, Rhonda got to work writing everything out.
Which gave
him time to study her.

Rhonda was looking better, except for the ugly
bruising. The swelling in her face was finally subsiding, her delicate bone
structure becoming prominent again. She had about fifty different shades of
bruises on her face, ranging from nearly black to a sickly yellow-green.

Her left hand was wrapped up in a thick cast to
heal the broken bones there, and he knew her ribs were tightly wrapped to hold
those in place during healing. He didn’t even want to think about the number of
stitches the doctor had needed to put in.
Mainly because he
saw red, and wanted to go back and kill that bastard all over again.
Slowly.

A tapping sound brought his focus around to Rhonda
and he looked down at the pad. “
What?
” it said on it. He shook his head,
not understanding the question. She scribbled something else out and turned it
his way.

Why the glare of death?

Shit, he hadn’t realized his emotions had been
showing. Shrugging, he forced himself to take a breath. “Just thinking that the
asshole
who
did this to you died way too easily. Had I
not been under a time crunch, I’d have ensured he suffered much worse than he
did to you.”

She stared at him for a moment before scribbling
something else. Glancing down at it, he rolled his eyes.


You’re so sweet!
” with the word
sweet underlined twice.

“Finish your statement woman,” he told her feeling
distinctly uncomfortable.

Getting up from the table he poured the last of the
coffee into his cup before starting another pot. He could feel her watching him
for the first moment or two. He always knew when she had her eyes on him. It
was like a stroke to every sense. Nearly physical, it hit him so hard.

That was something else they would have to talk
about, when she could actually talk again. He needed to tell her how he felt.
He’d nearly lost
her,
he couldn’t live with not
telling her, even if she didn’t return the feelings. Vincent just needed her to
know.

He turned to watch her as he sipped the coffee. Her
full attention was on the pad of paper as she wrote. Every now and again she’d
pause to slip the straw in her coffee between her lips, wincing as she leaned
forward. Her ribs had to be killing her. Watching her suck on the straw really
wasn’t helping Vincent’s cause. All he could picture was her lips wrapping around
his cock.

Damn it! Turning away, he paced to the window to
stare out at the trees around the house. He would have to scan the pages, email
them off to Shawn and then give the man a call.

A tapping noise behind him brought his attention
back to Rhonda. When she waved him over, he went. Like he had any other choice
when it was her? Stopping at the table, he looked down at the pad.

“Done?” he asked. At her nod he touched her cheek.
“Sign and date it,” he told her. Setting his cup down, he headed off to get his
laptop and scanner.

By the time he got back, she’d finished her coffee
and looking longingly at the fresh pot. Chuckling softly, Vincent grabbed the
carafe, bringing it to the table with him. Filling her cup he admonished her to
be careful of the heat as he set it down near her hand. Sitting, he started to
set up the laptop.

The notepad appeared before his nose. Drawing back
a bit he read, “
What are you doing?

“I’m going to scan and email all the pages of your statement
to Shawn. He’ll then forward it onto your bosses to buy us more time.”

A moment later the notepad was back. “
We’re in
the middle of nowhere, how?

“Military grade electronics with a twist of super-hacker
smarts to boost it,” he said. “On top of that I have a dish up on the roof that
will boost the signal from my sat phone when I send it out to him. I’ll send it
as an encrypted file, only Denise in our tech department has the required code
to decrypt it. No one will have a clue where we are, especially after it
bounces around the world a few dozen times.”

He glanced at Rhonda while waiting for the laptop
to finish its security checks. She was frowning slightly before giving a nod.
Chuckling, he watched her. “What?” he had to ask.


It’s a good thing you guys are on my side.

Reaching out he put his hand over hers and squeezed
gently. “I’ll always be on your side, sweetheart.” Smiling, Vincent gave her a
wink. Drawing his hand back when the computer beeped, he started the scanner.
Tearing off the sheets of the notepad with her statement, he scanned the first
one, saved it into a folder, and waited to ensure it was legible.

It wasn’t bad, just not great. He adjusted a couple
of things and scanned the page again. Definitely better, he thought as he
killed the first scan. Humming softly under his breath, Vincent scanned the
other pages. Saving the file, he set the encryption program to run and sat back
in his seat, sliding the notepad back her way.

“How are you really feeling, Ro?” he asked.

She gave a small shrug.

“Ro, seriously here, how are you doing?”

He loved when she got that little annoyed look on
her face, her full lips puckering ever so slightly, the small line between her
eyebrows, the heat in her eyes. Damn he was a sick, sick man.


I’m fine.”

He shot her a look that
hopefully portrayed his disbelief.

“Okay, okay. The ribs hurt like hell. I
feel weak as a kitten. Mostly though I’m achy, and bored out of my mind.

Which was understandable.
“Sorry,” he said quietly. “I know this isn’t exactly the Ritz. I just
wanted you safe, and it was pretty much the only place that would work. You
need to be back in fighting shape before we head back. Even you have to know
that.”

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