Authors: Moira Callahan
I’m not complaining about the location you
dolt. It’s quite lovely, if not my usual taste. I’m complaining about the fact
I can’t damn well talk, we can’t talk, and I’m practically shackled indoors.
Oh, well hell. “Ro, you’re healing,” he said. “Give
it time. You’re weak now, physically, but that won’t last forever. I am going
to have to figure out how to make you some shakes so you are getting something
into you beyond straight liquids. You won’t rebuild any strength if we can’t
get some protein into you, and some vegetables.”
Rhonda looked to the mug and back at him with a
“Coffee, while it grows on a plant, is not a
Out came the pout.
It didn’t really come off well. He was only able to guess at the facial
expression she was trying for after weeks of watching her with intense focus.
“Stuff it, woman,” he muttered. Shaking his head, Vincent
turned to the computer again. Hooking in the sat phone, he hummed softly before
stopping as he caught himself. Shaking his head he typed up the email, dropped
in the file and hit send. “I think I need to make a run into town and see about
finding some protein powder for shakes.
Probably better than
throwing a steak into the blender.”
Lifting his eyes, he looked to her, then the pad. “
I go too?
“Sorry, sweetheart, no go. We can’t have anyone
potentially seeing you. Right now, sorry to say it, you’re very memorable and
not in a good way. If you didn’t have the bruises or the cast, then I’d say
That earned him another pout, and had him wavering
for a moment. He didn’t crack, but it was a damn close thing.
It had been three weeks since her abduction,
beating, and subsequent disappearance into the wilds of California. Damn, that
sounded like a weird contradiction even to
mind. Rhonda’s biggest issue with it all was the fact she couldn’t
talk to Vincent. Something she desperately needed to
He was taking care of her, protecting her, helping
her get stronger, and keeping the boredom at bay. He was sweet, kind, amazing,
funny, and fucking driving her toward death by sexual frustration. She couldn’t
even think most days. Even when he’d removed her stitches the week before
because he hadn’t wanted to risk taking her to a doctor, she’d gotten turned
on. The intense look of absolute concentration on his face had caused her to
wonder if he would have the same focus on the woman in his bed.
Which then led to her wanting to be
woman, and promptly cursing the injuries causing the delay.
Each morning she had a shake, something he
concocted to get vitamins, nutrients and protein into her, that actually tasted
great. They would then go for a walk around the property before coming back to
the cabin for a game of cards, a board game, or something of that nature. Lunch
would consist of another shake, something different from the morning one, again
very good in her opinion. A slightly longer walk, some stretching, and then
Vincent would get into his gear and do a workout.
She loved watching him work himself into a sweat.
He’d ditch his shirt partway through his exercises, a visual treat for her, and
let her watch all those muscles flex and release. She had a few plans for
making him sweat once she was better, and all of them involved both of them
being one hundred percent naked.
Rhonda knew he was fully aware of the sexual
tension between them. She’d caught him watching her with a hunger in his eyes
that couldn’t be mistaken for anything but what it was. It was a serious distraction,
one that caused her mind to wander more than once, or twice.
She’d woken the other night in a sweat, her body
tight and needy. All because she’d been dreaming of the things he might do with
his large, long-fingered hands. God, she wanted to know what he could do with
A hand appeared before her eyes and waved, dragging
her back to the present. Blinking, she turned her head to look at him.
“If you don’t want to watch the movie you could
have just said so,” he told her.
Rolling her eyes, she shot him a glare, which just made
him chuckle. Huffing out a breath, Rhonda grabbed her pad of paper and
scribbled on it.
“Oh, what were you thinking about so intensely?” he
asked in response to her note.
” she wrote down.
“Me?” he asked, sounding shocked. “What about me?”
Snickering, she shrugged and scribbled. “
just have to wait for that answer.
“What? When do I have to wait until?”
She wrote, “
As soon as my jaw isn’t wired shut
and I can move it without pain.
“Well, shit,” he muttered. It was his turn to glare
at her. “I’m really starting to hate you having your mouth wired shut.”
Wait, hold up. “
You like the fact my mouth is
His smug little grin gave her all the answer she
needed. Smacking him with her notepad, she growled and smacked him again.
“Hey.” He snatched it from her and wrapped an arm
around her shoulders. “I’m just teasing, Ro,” he said softly.
She snorted, but did snuggle in closer to him. It
was nice having him holding her, even if she knew it wouldn’t last for long.
Rhonda planned on enjoying this for as long as she could.
“I was, seriously,” he said. “I miss hearing you
call me that annoying-as-piss nickname you have for me. I miss our talks,
actual talks, where we can discuss anything and everything. I miss your
excitement as you discuss the latest takedown and how you got to smack around
the bad guy a little because he dared to run, or called you a nasty name.”
Wrapping her good arm around Vincent’s stomach, Rhonda
squeezed. She missed talking to him too, watching his expressions as she told
her wild stories. So what if she embellished them a little, it was all to watch
him react. Sighing, she rubbed her cheek to his chest.
“I know, sweetheart. Just a little longer and we
can get it all dismantled, you’ll be back to your old self.”
which would be
If they didn’t lose
this, what they had right now, in the process. She didn’t want to just go back
to the way things were. She wanted more with him.
didn’t screw up their friendship in the process.
A buzzing sound had her popping her head up.
Looking to him, she frowned.
“My cell,” he said.
Letting him loose so he could get up and hunt for
it, Rhonda huffed out a breath. She’d just been getting comfortable too. It was
always that way. Whoever it was that called, their timing sucked fucking ass.
“Yep,” he said, pulling her attention back to him.
“What? When? No,
let me put it on speaker.” He
came back her way, flopping down next to her on the sofa once more. Vincent
even put his arm back around her shoulders too. “Go ahead, Shawn, we can hear
“Hey, Ro, how’s the wildlife hell going up there?”
Shawn asked. “Oh, that’s right, you no can talkie,” he chuckled.
Vincent shot her a look and snickered. “I’m
guessing, from her expression, asshole is the word she’s applying to you right
now, buddy. Stop poking the bear, she has a long memory and will exact revenge.
You should also remember
with your wife.”
Silence came over the line before she heard a
throat being cleared.
So, Moreau has put out a
bounty on Rhonda’s head,” Shawn said. “He doesn’t have any specifics, it’s
extremely vague, but according to what little we’re hearing, it’s huge. Like
“Six figures means he thinks she knows something
that could take him down,” Vincent said.
Pretty much what she’d been thinking too, but she
didn’t know anything. Not worth that kind of bounty, anyway.
“That’s what we’re thinking too. We have one of our
guys applying for the option of hunting her,” Shawn said. “Oh, yeah, the
hunters must interview and be approved by Moreau. If they aren’t approved they
are not to go after her.”
Which makes them collateral
damage to those he has approved.
It also likely means he’ll be telling
those on his list of approved hunters more about what she might, or might not
have on him.”
“That’s our hope,” Shawn said softly. “And why
we’re trying to get an option in. If we can find out what he knows, what he
thinks she knows, and any other pertinent details, we might be a step closer to
helping the SFPD to shut him down permanently. In other news, he’s no longer
after my property, but he did buy up one more
the far end. He’s now got enough to completely fuck up a sting or surveillance
operation. I had our guys do a little training exercise to stick in some
cameras, neighborhood watch and civic duty, in my mind. So far he hasn’t done
jack shit. He’s just had crews in cleaning out all the crap that was in the
warehouses when he took possession.
“He’s probably too worried to try anything until he
has Ro,” Vincent said, hugging her closer. “He has no clue if she’s a cop, Fed,
or working for a competitor. Until he knows, or has her in hand again, he can’t
chance doing anything that isn’t totally above board.”
“Right,” Shawn agreed. “
means we need to figure out what the hell he thinks that she knows.
ideas, Rhonda?” he asked.
Shaking her head at Vincent, she let out a heavy
“She’s got nothing. We’ll work on it though,”
Vincent said. “Any other news we need to know about?”
Her bosses are
they were very happy with her statement and have
backed off. I had one of them in here right after I sent it over to thank me,
and to tell me to keep her safe. I’m thinking they believe there’s a hole they need
to plug internally.”
“Makes sense given she was
somehow to Moreau, but I would have thought he’d then know she was a cop. He
kept asking her who she worked for, Shawn.
So that theory
doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
is, you two stay tucked away safe and sound. I’ll update you as soon as we know
if we got our boy hired on or not. Tamara said to say hello as well, Rhonda.
She also said for you to keep Vincent in line,” Shawn said in an amused tone.
“Good luck with that.”
Vincent hung up without a goodbye. “Asshole,” he
Laughing softly, Rhonda hugged him and peeked up at
“Keep laughing, sweetheart, keep laughing,” he said,
dropping his head to the back of the sofa.
“There you go,” the dentist said as he sat back,
pushing his glasses up onto his head. “Now, your jaw is going to be extremely
stiff for the first little while. Go easy, no chewing for a few days, and then
with only soft foods once you do. Anything too hard will cause pain. I’d recommend
getting some gum to rebuild the jaw muscles slowly.”
Vincent watched as Rhonda slowly flexed her jaw,
catching the small wince of pain.
“Guess you’re stuck with my shake creations for a
while longer,” he teased.
She stuck her tongue out at him and smiled slowly.
Laughing, he pushed off the wall. “Thanks, doc,” he
said, shaking the dentist’s hand.
“Just glad I could help,” the man said.
The dentist, a former client of C&M Security,
had been more than willing to do a little after-hours work to help repay them.
It was only in his mind he had a debt, but Shawn hadn’t argued the fact when
he’d asked for the guy’s help.
“Anything else we need to know?” he asked, as they
all headed for the front doors of the office.
“Watch how she talks. She’ll have a tendency to try
and not move her jaw around, especially for the first while. She needs to let
it come naturally,” the dentist said. “Make sure she does the exercises on the
sheet I gave her as well. They seem and look silly as can be, but they do
“Thanks again, doc.” He shook the man’s hand once
Leaving the office with her, Vincent shot her a
How’s it feel
“Weird. God, I need a toothbrush so badly,” she
muttered. Her voice sounded really hoarse, and every couple of words she had to
stop, clear her throat and swallow.
He snickered at that, wrapping an arm around her
shoulders. “Let’s get back to the cabin, I have two brand new ones just sitting
there waiting for you.”
That earned him a huge smile, with a bit of a
wince, before she started rubbing at her jaw.