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Mine to take, p.10

Mine to Take, page 10

 part  #1 of  Mine Series

 

Mine to Take
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  Trace stalked around the table, heading right for that bastard.

  Alex shoved away from his chair and stood up, fists clenched.

  “You took away the dancing because that is what originally took her away from you, right? That’s what Parker said. Skye left to follow her dreams in New York. She left you.”

  “No!” Skye’s denial. That sound halted Trace before he could drive his fist into the cop’s face. “It wasn’t like that. Trace was joining the military. He…he’s the one who left me. He told me to go.” Her hair brushed over her shoulders as she shook her head. “He rejected me, not the other way around.”

  “Then maybe he changed his mind.” Alex didn’t glance her way. “Maybe he saw so much blood and death during his deployment that it made him want life again. Want you. But he had to come up with a way of getting you back…and he did. He made you afraid. So afraid that the only person you could turn to for help would be—”

  Trace grabbed the guy and shoved him back against the wall. “You don’t know what the hell you’re saying.”

  “And you just assaulted an officer.” Alex smiled at him even as the door to the interrogation room flew open. Two uniformed cops rushed in and grabbed Trace’s arms. “I don’t care how damn rich you are, Weston, you’re under arrest.”

  He could have broken free from the cops. Could have gone right after the detective again. Instead, Trace offered the cop his own, grim smile. “You’ve made a mistake, detective. A very, very serious one.”

  Alex straightened his shirt. “I don’t think so. What I’ve done is keep her—” He jerked his thumb toward Skye. “Safe. I’ve shown her just what you really are.”

  The uniformed cops pulled Trace toward the door. He glanced over at Skye. “She already knows just what I am.” She was the only one who knew what he was really like, deep inside.

  He hated the pain he could see on her face.

  The detective’s fault. His gaze cut back to Alex. “Soon enough, you’ll see, too.”

  “Is that a threat?” Alex demanded.

  “More of a promise…” Then the cops forced him from the room. You should know, detective, I always keep my promises.

  ***

  Her knees felt like rubber.

  “You need to sit down, Skye,” Alex said, speaking in a soft, soothing voice to her as he pulled out her chair once more.

  “I don’t want to sit down.” She wanted him to stop treating her like some kind of broken bird. Skye raked a hand over her face. “It’s not Trace.”

  “I know you don’t want to believe that—”

  “He saved me!”

  Alex walked closer to her. Stopped less than a foot away. “That’s what he wants you to believe. Are you so sure he wasn’t at your studio before the fire started?”

  “He wasn’t! I was there, Reese was there—”

  “Reese is a trained agent, yet it looks like someone got the drop on him. Someone snuck up and knocked the guy out. I’m guessing not many folks could do that, but Trace Weston, he could.”

  Trace could do anything.

  He was at the wreck?

  “You’ve got to stop seeing him with some freakin’ rose colored glasses. He wanted you back, so he got you. He set up everything so that you had to return to him. Don’t you see? He makes the threats, then he saves you from them.”

  This couldn’t be happening. “I need to talk to him.” She took a fast step toward the door.

  Alex moved and blocked her path. “He’s headed to booking. You can’t talk to him now.”

  “You’re not really going to arrest him!”

  “Yes, I am.” His lips tightened. “And I figure he’ll have some fancy-ass lawyer who comes in and gets him out by morning, but you know what? That gives you tonight. A night to be safe. A night to think about Weston. Every moment you’ve spent with him. Realize who the hell he really is, and get smart. Get away from him. And you can stay alive.” His fingers lifted and curled around her shoulders. “I’m trying to help you. You—dammit, you remind me of my sister. She was like you. Trusting the wrong man. So sure he was right.” His eyes glinted with a wild intensity.

  “Alex—”

  “She was eighteen when that right man beat her to death because he didn’t want any other man getting close to her. Eighteen. He thought Susan was his, and he wasn’t going to let her go.” He gave a rough shake of his head, but his hands were light on her shoulders. “I’ve seen the way Weston looks at you. You think that man’s not obsessed? He is. And I believe he would do anything to have you.”

  I would kill for you. In an instant, with no hesitation. Her lips felt numb as she said, “He wouldn’t hurt me.”

  “That’s what Susan used to say, too. No matter how many times I told her otherwise…”

  The interrogation room door opened again. “Captain wants to see you, Griffin,” the female officer said as she stood on the threshold. “Wants you now.”

  Alex dropped his hold on Skye. “Make sure she gets home safely, will you, Carol?”

  “Of course.”

  He backed away from Skye. “Remember what I said, Skye. Think about him.”

  Then he was gone.

  The female officer stood uncertainly in the doorway. “Um, miss, you ready for that ride?”

  Her nails dug into her palms. “Where’s Trace Weston?”

  “Booking.”

  Right. That was the same thing Alex had said. Skye’s gaze slid to the table. To the photograph of her crash. He was there. “Then, yes, I am ready to go.”

  ***

  The small apartment seemed to be closing in on her. Skye sat on the couch, unable to sleep. Two a.m., and she was wide awake.

  The ticking of her clock seemed far too loud. Every second passed by so slowly. Every. Second.

  She stood and strode toward her window. She couldn’t breathe in that place. Skye threw open the window. An alarm immediately started to beep. One of the alarms that Trace had installed for her.

  Skye’s back teeth clenched. She stalked to the alarm pad and stopped that damn beeping.

  Then, through that open window, she heard the sound of music. A fast, driving beat.

  Coming from the club down on the corner of her street.

  The music drove out the sound of that ticking clock.

  Before she gave herself a second to think, Skye grabbed her shoes and her bag. She nearly ran from her apartment and down the stairs. Her legs pumped. Her left calf twinged.

  Then she was outside. A line of people snaked around the side of that club, waiting to get inside.

  Laughter, voices, and music drifted on the wind.

  She wanted to get close to that music. She needed it.

  No, not the music.

  She slipped into the line.

  She needed to dance. Dancing always helped her to forget the most painful moments of her life. Dancing helped her to cope. To survive.

  She’d go in the club. She’d dance. She’d be like everyone else for a time.

  I’ll forget.

  Because if she didn’t forget, for at least a little while, Skye thought she might just go crazy.

  ***

  “It looks like the lady’s going clubbing,” Carol Jones said as she settled back into her car. An unmarked vehicle, it blended pretty well on the busy street. Friday night in Chicago. Sure, it was after two a.m., but the city usually just got pumping at this time.

  She tightened her hold on the phone. “She’s going into the club alone.” What was the name of that place? The neon letters were flashing. Extreme. “It’s a place called Extreme.”

  She sure hoped that she wasn’t given orders to go in that club.

  Not my scene.

  The beat of the music was already giving her a headache.

  She’d rather take traffic duty over this detail any day.

  But, if she had to follow orders…

  Carol sighed. She’d do her job.

  ***

  “Your detective made a
serious mistake, captain!” Trace’s lawyer snapped as he grabbed his briefcase. “He deliberately provoked my client and—”

  “The charges have been dropped, Guthrie, what more do you want?” The captain, older, with gray shooting through his red hair, sighed. “Mr. Weston is free to go.”

  Alex Griffin stood at the captain’s side.

  Trace had no doubt that Alex had been ripped a new one by the captain. You shouldn’t have gone after me.

  The charges might be dropped, but the situation between Alex and Trace was a long way from over.

  “Where’s Skye?” Trace asked quietly.

  Alex’s features tightened. “She went home.”

  “By herself?” He swore. “Dammit, I’m not the threat to her. Someone else is out there, and you just let her go—”

  “Officer Carol Jones is keeping an eye on her.” It was the captain who spoke. “Carol took her home, and then we gave orders for Carol to stay and keep watch on Ms. Sullivan’s place.”

  His racing heart calmed a bit. The cops hadn’t completely screwed up.

  Not yet.

  “That’s good to know.” He jerked his head toward Craig Guthrie. “Let’s go. I’ve seen enough of this station to last a fucking lifetime.”

  Guthrie nodded. The guy was on retainer. Five minutes after Trace had called him, Guthrie had rushed into the station.

  The lawyer had been threatening a law suit even as the door swung closed behind him.

  But, by then, the charges had already been dropped.

  Alex was jerking me around.

  The detective should know better than to play out of his league.

  Trace’s hands slammed into the main door and sent it flying open as he hurried outside. He needed to get to Skye and—

  “I don’t know who the girl is,” Guthrie said as he grabbed Trace’s arm. “But with the cops involved, it might be wise to back off a bit.”

  Trace paused. He glanced over his shoulder, looking back at the station’s entrance. Alex had followed him out.

  Not surprising.

  “Backing off isn’t an option,” he said and he shook off Guthrie’s hold. His gaze met Alex’s. “Not a fucking chance.”

  ***

  The club was packed.

  Lights flew over the crowd even as the music pumped out from the stage.

  At first, Skye didn’t move.

  Her gaze swept the club.

  Some women wore short and low-cut dresses. They writhed on the dance floor.

  Others were dressed like Skye—snug jeans, loose tops.

  The music kept blaring. The beat was hard, driving.

  A blond guy headed toward Skye. “Want to dance?” He had to yell to be heard over that pounding music.

  Skye nodded. Dancing. It was what she needed. The only thing.

  Trace lied. He lied.

  She took the blond’s hand.

  Then she went onto the dance floor. She stopped thinking. Started feeling the beat.

  And, finally, finally, stopped hurting.

  Chapter Seven

  The fucking asshole had his hands all over Skye.

  Trace stood a few feet from the dance floor. His eyes had found Skye the instant that he stepped inside the club.

  He could always find her.

  Some blond jerk had his hands on Skye’s hips. Skye was undulating and moving fluidly to the beat of the music.

  Sensual temptation.

  She pulled away from the man. Danced toward the center of the floor.

  Spun. Rolled her body.

  Another partner grabbed her.

  She met his moves. Danced. Danced.

  Pulled away.

  Went to another damn partner.

  The music’s tempo increased. Skye easily matched the beat.

  There was no limping. No stumbling. Just grace. Temptation.

  No one else could dance like Skye.

  Her body curved and spun. Dipped. Twisted.

  Temptation.

  Another partner. The crowd was loud. The band blasting.

  Skye had nearly died that night. She should have been at home. Safe.

  Another partner. Another. Fucking. Partner.

  Trace stalked forward. Pushed his way through the crowd.

  When she spun again, he was the one to catch her and pull her close.

  Skye didn’t even look up at him.

  Her body was rocking to the beat. Moving, moving…

  “Are you drunk?” Trace growled out the words.

  Her head jerked toward him. She stopped dancing and seemed to finally see him.

  Fear flashed in her eyes.

  The band cranked their song up even louder.

  Skye pulled away from him. Found another partner.

  He followed her. “Taken,” Trace snapped to the blond.

  The man wisely stepped back.

  “No,” Skye fired right back at him. “I’m not. Leave me alone, Trace. Get out of here.”

  She didn’t sound drunk. She sounded angry and afraid, but her words hadn’t slurred.

  He frowned down at her. “What are you doing?”

  Skye laughed. “Dancing. It’s what I do, right? The only thing…” She tried to break away again.

  Not happening.

  “Someone is after you!” He pulled her closer. She was still moving. Her hips undulating. “You should be home.”

  Her lashes shielded her eyes. “Are you the one after me?”

  “Skye…”

  “You’re the only one I’ve ever counted on. Don’t do this to me, Trace.” Her lashes lifted. There were fucking tears in her eyes. “Don’t be the one hurting me.”

  Right there, on that dance floor, with that too-loud music and the hot press of bodies, she broke him.

  His hands tunneled in her hair. He tipped her head back. “I’m not, baby. I’m not.” He kissed her. Hard and deep and desperately.

  Skye had kept him sane for years, and she didn’t even know it. Skye had made life worth living for him.

  She thought he’d hurt her? Terrorize her?

  No. Hell, no.

  “Trust me,” he breathed the words against her lips. “It’s not me.”

  He needed to get her out of that club. To some place quiet so that they could talk.

  He could explain then.

  She stared up at him. “I love you.”

  The words were a punch to his chest.

  “I never stopped,” she said, lips trembling. “I couldn’t.”

  To Skye, love was trust. He knew that. Because he knew her.

  He pulled her close—and he got her the hell out of that club.

  ***

  “She’s leaving,” Carol said into her phone as she watched Skye rush out of the club. “And she’s not alone.” Carol straightened in her seat. “Wow, wait—wasn’t he supposed to be in jail?” Because that guy holding Skye Sullivan’s hand sure looked like Trace Weston to her.

  The man was pretty unmistakable.

  She thought the couple would head back toward Skye’s apartment. They didn’t. Weston bundled her up in his black Jag and he raced away with her moments later.

  The guy never glanced Carol’s way. He’d been focused only on Skye.

  Carol listened to her orders as her hold tightened on the phone. “On it, sir.” She tossed her phone to the side and cranked up her vehicle.

  She was supposed to keep her eyes on Skye Sullivan.

  That was exactly what she’d do.

  ***

  The elevator doors slid closed behind Trace, and he was finally able to take a deep breath as they headed up to his penthouse.

  Vanilla. Skye’s scent wrapped around him.

  He glanced at her. She’d retreated to the back corner of the elevator. The walls were mirrored, and his stark reflection stared back at him.

  He looked too dangerous. Too wild.

  Story of his life.

  “Why were you in New York those times?” Skye asked him.

 
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