(Part Two)


Jenny Devall

Copyright © 2015


All Rights Reserved
. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.


Chapter One

Riley woke, her head pounding, but she didn’t remember partying last night. She remembered being in a coffee shop then that was it. Her eyelids might as well have been glued together. She couldn’t seem to open them.

Someone held her hand. A man, from the warmth and hardness of it. Her mouth was dry and she was hungry. What had happened?

She moved her arm.


It was Dirk. Of course. He was that type of guy. How nice of him to be here. Where was here? Was she at his place? Guess she better open her eyes and find out.

The place smelled of antiseptic, and she knew her apartment was not that clean. Finally she was able to open her eyes. She had something in her nose that she pulled out.

“That’s your oxygen, Riley. Leave it in,” he said.

She shook her head. “No.”

He frowned, but helped her get it off. “Riley.”

She blinked and tried to sit up. The room did a spin around her. A groan escaped her as she lay back down. “Ouch.”

“I’ll put part of the bed up.”

The bed whirred then she was a little more upright. The room didn’t spin that time. Dirk still held her hand. He looked terrible. His hair was a mess, as if he’d been running his hands through it.

“How long was I out?”

“A day.”

“A day? I lost a day?”

“Do you remember anything?” he said.

“I remember being at a coffee shop,” she said.

It hurt to try to remember. Now that she was coming awake, she realized that her body hurt. “What happened?”

“Somebody beat you up.”

His faced held a grave expression. Was he mad at her? “Oh.”

“You don’t remember?”

“Can I have something to drink?” He held a cup with a straw to her lips. She sipped. “No, I don’t remember.”

A nurse came in to check on her. “I’m Janice. If you need anything, I’m your nurse for the next few hours.”

“Can I get out of here?” she said.

The nurse laughed. “No, honey. You were out for a day. You need at least another day in here.”

“I promise that I’ll climb the walls,” Riley said.

She rarely became sick, and when she did she didn’t sit still. She could watch movies all day long, but being sick made her antsy. She figured being in a hospital bed would do the same thing.

“You go ahead and tell me that you can stand without being dizzy,” Janice said.

She tried to sit up further, but the room did that little jig around her again. “Okay. I’ll stay put.”

The nurse left. “Really, Riley? Just get better. You had me worried.”

Dirk had been worried about her? “I thought you were mad at me.”

“No, you’re mad at me.”

“I don’t remember,” she said.

She didn’t. None of it seemed important right now.

“I’m hungry,” she said.

“Of course. Let me go find your nurse to see if you can eat.”

He left her alone. She was able to snag the cup and drink some more. He returned. “The nurse is getting you some broth.”


“Maybe if you’re good you’ll get Jell-O.”

“I hate Jell-O.”

“Who hates Jell-O?” Dirk said.

“You eat that?”

“I have when I was a kid.”

She laughed. “Kids don’t know any better.”

The nurse came in with a cup of broth. Dirk moved her bed up more so she could eat.

“Is the broth any good?”

“Kind of bland. You want a spoonful?”

“No, thanks.”

She laughed. The expression on his face was one of horror. Of course broth would be too pedestrian for him. Her stomach rumbled. The broth wasn’t going to hold her for long. “I hope they give me something else.”

“The nurse said she wanted to make sure you didn’t throw it up.”

She leaned back after handing him the cup. He put it on her nightstand. The room didn’t spin anymore. Her body began to hurt. The nurse breezed in. “I have some pain medication.”

“I don’t want it.”

“Trust me, you will when the medication wears off. You’re pretty battered up.”

Riley didn’t want to be loopy. She didn’t want to sleep anymore, but she knew that the nurse was probably right. “Okay.”

“I’ll stay here until you go to sleep. The cops are going to want to talk with you,” Dirk said.

She groaned. “I don’t have anything to tell them.”

The nurse shook her head. “I’m not letting them in yet. They can wait until you wake up next time.”

She handed the pill to Riley along with a glass of water. Riley swallowed the pill then handed the glass back to her.

“When you wake up next time we’ll talk about you moving in with me.”

“No way.”

“Riley, think about it.”

She shook her head, but that made her whole body hurt. She grimaced. Dirk squeezed her hand. “We don’t have to talk about it now. When he get some more rest. You’re going to be in here for a few days.”

Her eyes started to droop. What were they arguing about? That medication worked fast. “Uh, no, Dirk. I’m independent.”

“You are also in danger,” he said.

Danger? What was he talking about? Oh, yeah. She’d been beaten up. By whom? She didn’t remember.

“Uh, I don’t want to live with you,” she said.

Her eyes were closing now. She couldn’t keep them open. She also couldn’t keep track of the conversation.

“I can’t live with you.”

She wanted to repeat it until he understood. This was a job and she had to retain something so she wouldn’t lose herself when it was all over.

“Why not? My place is the safest. And I can keep an eye on you.”

“No, Dirk.”

“Let’s talk about this when you’re awake.”

She shook her head, making everything hurt. “No. No no. I can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because you don’t love me the way I love you.”


Dirk stared at a sleeping Riley. What had she just said? She loved him? Holy shit. She probably wouldn’t remember that she said it. He left her to sleep to find some food. He’d brought his laptop so he could get work done.

She awakened a few hours later, not quite as drowsy. When she’d had food and was more awake, Dirk broached the subject with Riley.

“I want you to move back with me. You can have your own room. I have plenty of space. I just want you to be safe.”

“I doubt this person knows where I live. The attack may have had nothing to do with this case,” she argued.

“What if it did? Wouldn’t you rather be safe?”

“I’d rather be in my own apartment. Not the one you provided.”

“Why not?”

“I want to sleep in my own bed,” she said.

“If that’s it then we’ll put your bed at my place. I don’t care. I just want you to be safe.”

“Why are you so worried about me? It’s my company’s responsibility to provide safety for me. Not yours,” she asked.

He didn’t know the answer. Well, he knew the answer. He wasn’t ready to verbalize it. He didn’t think that Riley was ready to hear it. “You wouldn’t be in danger if it weren’t for me.”

“You don’t know that. People get attacked on the streets of Manhattan all the time.”

“Why wasn’t your purse stolen?’

“I don’t know, but don’t you think that if I were getting close to something, the attacker would have left some kind of warning? I was just attacked.”

Dirk didn’t want to continue with this argument. He just wanted Riley to do what he said. Most people in his life just did what he said. That’s why he ran the company. That’s why he liked running a company. He was in control.

Riley was a wild card that he couldn’t seem to get a handle on. He didn’t know what made her tick. He wished he did. Might be easier to find her weakness and exploit it. She didn’t seem to have one. He’d have to delve into her psyche further.

Dirk always won. He wasn’t going to lose now. He wasn’t going to get complacent. Riley was a puzzle and he had to put all the pieces together properly. He would. Eventually.

“Riley, be reasonable.”

“I’m not being reasonable, just because I’m not letting you bully me?”

She put a hand to her head. He hated that she was in pain. Her face was swollen. Her eyes didn’t hold their usual sparkle. She was beautiful anyway. More gorgeous than she would ever realize.

She rubbed a hand down his face. “I’m not letting this go.”

“I’m not giving in. We seem to be at an impasse.”

She blinked at him, her jaw set. She hadn’t crossed her arms, but he thought that hurt her to do that.

The nurse came in. “The cops are here. You ready to talk to them?”


He didn’t want the conversation to end, but she did need to file a report. “I’m staying.”

“Do what you want,” she said, the frustration oozing from her.

Two detectives came in and introduced themselves as Abot and Costa. Abot was a man in his thirties graying already. Tough job. Costa was a woman who looked to be fresh out of the academy, but Dirk would bet she was older than she looked.

He remained in his seat. If they upset Riley he’d be there to help. Not that he didn’t think she could handle two police detectives. Riley shook their hands, and so did Dirk.

Costa began asking questions. “Did you see your attacker?”

“No, he grabbed me from behind and managed to keep out of my sightline during the attack.”

“Did your attacker say anything?”

Riley shook her head then winced. She had a concussion and she’d probably feel that way for a while.

“No. I’m guessing it was a male, because he was very strong. I wasn’t able to get too many hits or kicks in,” Riley said.

He could hear the regret in her voice. He wished he could take this all away from her. He’d never felt so powerless. He didn’t enjoy that feeling at all.

“Did you hear anything unusual?”

“No, it all happened so fast. He grabbed me then a few hits later I was going unconscious,” she said.

“Not much to go on. We haven’t found any witnesses.”

“It was later in the evening, when people were eating dinner,” Riley said.

She didn’t show any outward anger at the attack. Then again, she was probably taking it out on him. Being stubborn and refusing to admit she needed help. He’d have to subtler than he was being.

The detectives left. Riley lowered her bed a little. She yawned.

“You going back to sleep?”

“Probably. I think I’m due for pain medication soon. I hope I don’t need it for long, but my aching head and limbs aren’t ready to give it up,” she said.

“It’s easier to heal when you aren’t in pain.”

“You a doc?”

“No, but it was something my mother said.”

Riley yawned again. “Don’t you have work to do? An empire to run?

“I’ve been keeping tabs. My assistant is very good at keeping me in the loop,” Dirk said.

He’d had about a thousand e-mails from her just in the last hour. Not crises. No big problems. A few employee squabbles that HR could handle. Besides that, his company ran like a well-oiled machine.

“I hire excellent people. They can all work without me there for a day or so.”

“Any idea how long I’ll be here?”

She shifted and yawned again. She might be asleep before the pain medication came.

“The nurse said a few days.”

Riley frowned. “I hate hospitals.”

“No one loves them.”

She shrugged and her eyes drooped closed.









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