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Mine to take, p.13

Mine to Take, page 13

 part  #1 of  Mine Series

 

Mine to Take
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  Carol’s eyes were still open. Still looking over Trace’s shoulder.

  But the officer was dead.

  In the distance, an ambulance’s siren wailed.

  Too late. Too fucking late.

  He surged to his feet. Spun toward the snaking alley that Carol had been looking at in her very last moment.

  You couldn’t have gone far, you SOB.

  “Take this,” Trace told Skye. He shoved his gun into her hands. “Stay with the cop. Help’s not far away.”

  But he wouldn’t waste any more time.

  “No! You need a weapon!”

  He yanked out his back-up weapon from his ankle holster. “I’ve got it covered.” Then Trace took off running down that alley even as Skye shouted his name.

  Carol fired her gun. Did she hit you, asshole? Did she?

  He glanced down and saw the spatter of blood drops.

  She did. And I’m gonna follow your fucking trail of blood until I find you.

  “Trace!” Skye yelled.

  He kept running. He was ending this, before Skye was the one he found dead in a blood-soaked alley.

  ***

  Skye stared down at Carol. The cop’s eyes were closed now. Skye had closed them. Carol’s face was chalk-white. Her lips stained red with blood.

  The scent of blood filled Skye’s nose.

  Carol Jones hadn’t deserved this. To die in an alley, surrounded by garbage.

  To die in someone else’s place. My place.

  Skye still held tight to Carol’s hand. But her gaze was on the alley. Trace was gone. He’d run after the attacker.

  She didn’t want Trace dying in her place.

  Not Trace.

  Not Reese.

  Not Carol.

  “Come after me!” Skye shouted. “Stop hurting the others! You let me be the one! Don’t hurt anyone else!”

  A tear leaked from her eye.

  The ambulance’s siren was louder.

  “Let me be the one!” She called out again. “Don’t hurt anyone else!”

  Doors slammed. Footsteps rushed toward her. She looked up and saw Alex rushing her way. Behind him, she could see EMTs. More cops.

  Alex blanched when he saw Carol.

  “I’m so sorry,” Skye whispered.

  The EMTs pushed her out of the way.

  They tried to work on Carol.

  You can’t save the dead.

  Carol’s death was on her.

  Skye looked back into the alley. No sign of Trace. What would she do if her stalker turned his attention on Trace?

  “Skye.”

  She blinked and realized that Alex was standing right in front of her. A muscle flexed in his jaw as he said, “I want you to come with me. Come with me, now.”

  “Trace went chasing after the attacker. We-we didn’t see anyone, but Trace ran down the alley—”

  “I’ll have men look for him.” His eyes…they burned with emotion. Pain. Grief. Fury. “But it’s not safe for you to be out here. Come on.” He took the gun from her hand. Led her to a patrol car.

  “I-I’m so sorry about Carol.” Tears wanted to choke her.

  Alex nodded. The pain in his eyes deepened. “So the fuck am I. She was only twenty-two. Twenty damn two.”

  The EMTs weren’t trying to save Carol any more.

  She saw the way the other cops were acting. Saw the way they were marking the area. This wasn’t about saving a life for them.

  It’s a crime scene now.

  ***

  The blood trail ended at the entrance to an old factory.

  Trace kicked open the doors and rushed inside. His gun was up. Ready.

  Dust and cobwebs covered the factory’s interior.

  Trace searched and searched but found nothing. Because the bastard led me here.

  He’d led. Trace had followed. And I left Skye alone.

  He whirled around and started racing back to Skye.

  Trace had only gone about five feet when the bullet hit him.

  Chapter Nine

  Another gunshot.

  When Skye heard the thundering sound, her heart stopped. Alex ran toward the blast, and she dashed after him. Rushing faster, faster and—

  Trace was on the ground. Blood was all around him.

  Just like Carol.

  Just. Like. Carol.

  “No!” Skye screamed.

  Alex bent beside Trace. Backup—more cops—raced up around them.

  Skye hit the ground beside Trace. So much blood.

  “I’m…all right,” Trace managed.

  Her heart started to beat again.

  “SOB fired from the south. Waited for me to make a target…of myself.” His breath heaved out. “Bullet’s still in my chest. I’ll be…fine.”

  He’d better not be lying to her.

  In his chest.

  “He’s…not as good,” Trace managed, “with a gun…as he is…with a knife…”

  Fear clawed at Skye’s insides. She grabbed for Trace’s hand and held tight.

  Trace’s gaze—not as bright, and that dimness terrified her—found Skye’s. “Get her…out,” he rasped to Alex. “He could…be here still…”

  She wasn’t leaving him. Alex tried to pull Skye away, but she just held tighter to Trace. “I’m not leaving you.”

  Cops fanned out, started searching the area.

  The EMTs came and loaded Trace onto a gurney. When they put him into the back of an ambulance, Skye jumped right in with him.

  So much blood.

  “Rode with you…too…” Trace whispered. “After…wreck…” His fingers squeezed hers. “Didn’t want to…let you go.”

  “I’m not letting you go.”

  The EMT pushed a needle into his arm.

  The ambulance jostled, bouncing along the old road. The scream of the siren echoed around her.

  The EMT cut away Trace’s shirt, and she got a good look at the wound.

  Skye stopped breathing. “You lied to me,” she whispered to Trace.

  “No…”

  How was he still talking? Still conscious?

  “Never leave…you…this won’t stop…”

  The EMT connected thin tubes to him. Something started to beep.

  “Blood pressure’s dropping!” The EMT snapped. Then he pushed Skye back.

  Trace’s fingers slid from hers.

  You lied to me.

  Because she’d seen the wound, and she knew things weren’t going to be all right for Trace.

  ***

  The hospital’s emergency room doors flew open. The EMTs ran with the gurney, barking out orders.

  Skye sprinted to keep up with them.

  Doctors and nurses jumped into action, swarming that gurney.

  Please, please take care of him.

  Trace vanished into the ER. The doors swung shut behind him.

  She stood, alone, in that narrow hallway. Staring after him. So lost.

  I can’t lose him again. She and Trace just found their way back to each other. This wasn’t supposed to happen.

  “Miss?”

  She turned and saw a nurse—a brunette with hazel eyes—gazing sympathetically at her. “Miss, we’re going to need you to fill out some paperwork on the patient.”

  Skye licked lips that were bone dry. “He’s going to be okay.”

  The nurse’s face tightened. “There’s a waiting room just down the hallway. It’s the second door on the left. You can take the papers there.”

  “He’s going to be okay,” Skye said again, her voice harder.

  The nurse handed her the clipboard. “You may want to notify other family members…”

  Trace didn’t have other family members. “He only has me,” Skye said. Her fingers trembled when she took the clipboard.

  She walked toward the waiting room in a daze. Bodies passed her in a blur. White lab coats. Green hospital scrubs.

  Someone bumped into her, right as she turned toward the waiting room.

  “Sorry,
a voice rasped.

  That rasp…

  She looked up, frowning, just as something sharp jabbed into her neck.

  A needle. He shoved a needle into my neck.

  The man wore a green face mask—the kind that doctors and nurses wore during surgery—but she could see his eyes—see them so perfectly.

  His eyes were the last thing that she saw before everything went dark. Skye fell forward and felt his strong arms wrap around her.

  ***

  “Skye.” Saying her name was hard. So much harder than it should have been.

  Trace tried to move his arms, but found that they were strapped down. His throat ached, burned, and it sure as hell seemed like someone had driven a fucking stake through his chest.

  A stake…or a bullet.

  “Take it easy, Weston.” A familiar voice advised him. “You just came out of surgery. They took the tube out of your throat three minutes ago. Just slow the hell down, okay?”

  A tube? That would explain the burn in his throat.

  Trace forced his eyes to open. Again, the small act was too damn hard. But he opened them, and he locked his gaze on Detective Griffin’s. “Skye.” He said her name again because she was the only thing that mattered.

  But at her name, Alex looked away.

  Where is she? She’d been with him in the alley. He remembered her holding onto him. She’d been in the ambulance, too. He’d hated the look of fear in her eyes.

  “We’re looking for her,” Alex said. His voice cracked. Not good. “I’ve got an APB out now—every cop in the city is searching for her.”

  Searching for her…

  The machines around him began to beep frantically.

  Alex hurried toward the side of the bed. “Take it easy. Jesus, man, calm down.”

  He couldn’t be fucking serious. Trace tried to push up in the bed.

  “You’re bleeding again! Stop!” Alex pushed the call button for the nurse, then he locked his hands around Trace’s shoulders. The detective shoved him back against the bed. “They just dug a bullet out of you. You can’t go racing out of here now!”

  Yes, he could. Trace had to get to Skye.

  The lines on Alex’s face became deeper. “We’re going to find her.”

  How had they lost her? How?

  Alex exhaled on a rough sigh. “She was in the hospital. I-I saw the security video just a little while ago. Some guy in a doctor’s coat came up to her. He injected her with something that knocked her out. Then the cocky bastard just put her in a wheel chair and pushed her right out the doors.”

  No.

  “No one even stopped him. Didn’t ask a single damn question. He took her out the emergency exit. There were two guards there, and he just took her.”

  The machines were shrieking now.

  Two nurses ran into the room. The male nurse demanded, “What are you doing to the patient?”

  The other nurse—female, a redhead—hurried toward the bed. When she got close enough, Trace grabbed her wrist. “Get me…out…”

  “No, no, sir.” Her brown eyes became saucer sized. “You can’t leave!”

  The male nurse pulled out a needle and added something to Trace’s IV bag. “This will help calm you down.”

  No. He didn’t need to be calm. I need Skye.

  “Take it easy,” the redhead told him. “You have to rest and recover.”

  Resting was the last thing he needed to do. He had to get out there and find Skye. “Doc…tor…”

  “The doctor will come to see you soon,” the redhead reassured him as Trace’s fingers slid lifelessly away from her wrist. He could feel the cold touch of the drugs slipping through his veins. “Sleep…” The nurse told him.

  I can’t sleep. Skye needs me.

  “We’ll find her,” Alex told him, but the cop’s voice seemed far away now. “Every cop in the city has her photo. She’s not just going to vanish…”

  ***

  But she did. Skye fucking vanished.

  Two days passed, and the cops didn’t find her.

  “He was clever,” Reese said as he guided Trace into the car. They were at the hospital’s exit. Finally. The doctors hadn’t wanted him to leave the hospital.

  Fuck what they wanted.

  He’d tried to leave the day before, and he’d torn open his wound. Blood had spurted and the nurses had sedated him. Again.

  “The guy kept his face averted from the cameras,” Reese told him, “and he had a surgical cap and mask on the whole time.”

  Trace slid into the car. The fresh stitches in his chest pulled, but he ignored the pain.

  He could only focus on one thing then—Skye.

  Reese slid into the front seat. The car eased into traffic.

  “The cops think she’s already dead.” Trace had heard the whispers when Alex got his updates. As soon as they’d hit the forty-eight hour mark on Skye’s abduction, the cops had stopped looking for a live body.

  “It’s…it’s been a long time, Trace,” Reese said softly. “A lot can happen during all those hours…”

  Trace’s hands fisted. He didn’t want to imagine what had happened to Skye. “She’s okay.” He had to think that way. Had to think of her being alive. Because if he let the fear take over…I’ll lose my damn mind. “I’m going to find her.” He’d already reassigned every agent that he had.

  Finding Skye was their priority. He’d been pulling the strings and starting the search for her even when the doctors had been sewing him back up.

  Reese slanted a fast glance his way when the vehicle stopped at a red light. “We’ve got eyes on the choreographer and the doctor in NY. Both guys have been going to work, business as usual for them.”

  It wasn’t business as fucking usual.

  “If one of them had her…the guy would still be with her.”

  If she’s alive. Trace heard the words that Reese didn’t say.

  “Could just be that it’s not them. Her stalker could be anyone.” Reese kept talking as he drove them through the Chicago streets. “Some freak who saw her dance and fixated on her.”

  Trace’s gaze slid to the window. “I want the plane ready to depart within the next two hours.”

  The car braked at another red light. “Boss, you know that you’re not clear to travel. The doctors didn’t want to let you out—”

  “We’re going to New York.” Because that was where the nightmare had started for Skye. “Have the plane ready.”

  The killer had aimed for Trace’s heart with that bullet. The bullet had missed its target, barely.

  But when the SOB had taken Skye…

  You cut out my fucking heart.

  He wanted his heart back.

  He’d get it back.

  ***

  The handcuffs cut into Skye’s wrists. She’d lost track of time again. She’d tried counting the minutes before, a little trick to try and stay sane, but it hadn’t helped.

  There was no light. Only a complete darkness. It was cold. So cold there in her prison.

  Her wrists had stopped bleeding. She’d thought that the blood might help her slip out of the cuffs.

  It hadn’t.

  Her lips were cracked. Broken. Her stomach ached, but at least it had stopped growling.

  She hadn’t eaten. Hadn’t been given a drop to drink.

  She’d been taken. Then…left.

  Forgotten in the dark.

  She’d tried yelling before. Screaming. She’d screamed until her voice had broken.

  Her hands were looped around some kind of thick, metal pole. She’d kicked it and kicked it. Jerked and pulled.

 
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