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Mine to take, p.14

Mine to Take, page 14

 part  #1 of  Mine Series

 

Mine to Take
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  Nothing.

  He’s just going to leave me down here. Until I starve.

  It would be a slow death.

  Death in darkness.

  She tried to look through the dark. To see beyond it. Skye didn’t want this to be her last memory.

  She wanted to remember Trace.

  Trace.

  He’d find her, eventually. She didn’t doubt that. If he’d survived that gunshot. He had to survive. He had to.

  Trace would heal. He’d get out of the hospital. Then he would look for her.

  She hated to think about what he would find.

  ***

  “Janie, make sure that Mrs. Summer gets her medication before—”

  Dr. Mitch Loxley broke off, choking.

  Because Trace had just wrapped his hand around the prick’s throat.

  “Stop!” The nurse—Janie—sprang to her feet. “Let him go!” She grabbed for the phone. “Security—”

  “Security can wait a bit, honey,” Reese said as he took the phone from her. “We’re just gonna have us a little chat with the doc.”

  Mitch’s eyes bulged. “Let…me…go…”

  Trace eased his hold. “Want to have the chat out here, or in your office?” His fingerprints were bright on the doc’s throat.

  “O-office…”

  “Good choice.” He let the doctor go.

  Mitch spun away from him. Strode down the hall.

  “Dr. Loxley?” Janie called out uncertainly.

  “I’ve got this,” Mitch snapped back.

  No, the bastard didn’t.

  Mitch threw open his office door. Paced inside and rubbed his neck.

  Trace marched after him. Reese followed. He shut the door, then put his considerable bulk in front of the exit.

  “What the hell?” Mitch demanded as he spun to confront Trace. “What the freaking hell! How dare you come in here and assault me—”

  “Her picture is gone,” Trace said.

  Mitch’s mouth snapped closed.

  “All the pictures on your desk are gone.” Actually, it looked to him like the doctor was packing up his office. “Planning a trip?”

  “I’ve got a transfer,” Mitch gritted out. “I applied for it months ago after—”

  “After Skye dumped you.”

  Mitch flushed. “I heard about her disappearance. I-I’m sorry. I hope the cops can find her soon.”

  Trace wanted to drive his fist into the doc’s face. Again and again until he heard the smash of bones. “Seeing as how it was some person who took Skye, and not a figment of her imagination, I think your theory was a little off, doc.” Rage seethed in Trace’s words.

  “My mistake.” Each word seemed torn from Mitch. “I thought…I-I was wrong.”

  “You were.” He closed in on the doctor. He didn’t like Mitch Loxley. Didn’t trust him. Actually, Trace wanted to rip the man apart. “I almost killed a man for Skye once.”

  Mitch swallowed. His eyes widened. “You did what?”

  “I wasn’t even aware how close I put the guy to death,” Trace said as the memory rose in his head. “He was trying to rape her. I saw…and I reacted. I hit him, again and again, until Skye pulled me off him.”

  Sweat beaded Mitch’s forehead.

  “That’s what I did to him,” Trace murmured as he stared directly into Mitch’s eyes. “So what do you think I’m going to do once I get my hands on the man who took her?”

  Mitch backed up. “I didn’t take Skye! I’ve been here—”

  “Actually, you came back to work the day after Ms. Sullivan was taken,” Reese said as he stood firm by the door. “We checked. We have lots of resources to do things like that.”

  Mitch’s gaze darted toward Reese.

  “She left you, and you couldn’t handle that…” Trace fought to keep his voice level. He wanted to pound into Mitch, but that wasn’t the plan. He had to walk a very delicate line here. Very delicate.

  The doctor shook his head. “It’s not me! I wanted to help her—”

  “You wanted to own her. You wanted her to be yours, but she couldn’t be…Skye didn’t love you, and no matter what you did, you couldn’t make her love you.”

  A fist pounded into the door. “Doctor Loxley?”

  “Looks like Janie called security after all,” Reese said flatly. “Some people just don’t know how to follow orders.”

  “I didn’t want to own her.” Mitch shoved his hands into the pockets of his lab coat. “That was the dancer—Wolfe. He’s the one who was always controlling her. Telling her when to exercise. When to go home and sleep. What to freaking eat. He wanted to control everything about her life.”

  Trace kept all emotion from his face. “I’m going to kill the man who took her.”

  Mitch tensed. His eyelids jerked.

  Such a small move.

  “I am going to kill him,” Trace said deliberately, “because Skye wasn’t his to take.”

  The guards had burst inside the room.

  “She was never his,” Trace told the doctor. “Never.”

  ***

  The guards shoved Trace and Reese outside of the hospital.

  “Well, that didn’t go so smoothly,” Reese murmured as he gazed around at the hospital’s parking lot. “But at least none of the damn paparazzi are here to see you get your ass thrown into the street.”

  “The meeting went exactly as I’d hoped.”

  Skye wasn’t his to take.

  When Trace had said those words, Mitch’s hands had fisted. His eyes had been tight and angry, and the man had clamped his lips together to stop himself from replying to Trace.

  “The guy was angry, but that was probably because you basically accused him of being a kidnapper and a killer. And because, you know, you threatened to murder him.” Reese turned toward the car. “All right, boss, we need to back off.”

  They weren’t backing any place. “I goaded him so that the fellow would make a mistake.”

  Reese glanced over his shoulder. “Maybe it is the choreographer, Wolfe, maybe he’s…”

  “I’ve got two agents on Robert Wolfe. They are watching him twenty-four, seven.” Just in case. “And now, you and I are going to take over the watch on Loxley.” Because his gut told him to stay close to the doctor.

  He’d taken her pictures away. Packed up the office.

  And the man in the video—that damn grainy video that Trace had watched again and again—he’d expertly injected Skye with that needle.

  No hesitation.

  The man who’d killed Carol had known just where to shove his knife. Known just how to twist that blade to cause maximum damage.

  A doctor would know.

  Trace headed toward the back of the building.

  Waited.

  When Loxley rushed out of the hospital ten minutes later, Trace was still waiting.

  The doctor hopped into his car.

  Sped away.

  “Now it’s your turn to be stalked,” Trace whispered.

  ***

  Footsteps.

  They tapped across the floor, coming at a slow, steady pace toward her.

  Skye was on the floor. She didn’t have the strength to stand any more.

  My wrists are bleeding again.

  The footsteps kept coming closer.

  Skye didn’t move. She thought that perhaps she might just be imagining that sound. For days, she’d only heard—

  Her heartbeat.

  Her screams.

  “Who…” Skye tried to ask…Who’s there? But she couldn’t get the words out. Her throat had closed up. She couldn’t even cry anymore.

  “It’s all right,” his voice told her, whispering in the darkness. “I’ve got you.”

  Then she felt something against her lips. Something wet and cool and so wonderful. She choked at first as the water poured over her lips.

  “Easy. I’m going to take care of you…”

  She gulped the water. Drank and drank.

  Her s
tomach cramped. Her throat convulsed.

  The water spilled from her lips. Over her shirt.

  “Open your eyes, Skye.”

  They were closed? She blinked and the light hit her. Too bright and hard and she couldn’t see anything clearly.

  He was before her. A big, hulking form. Blurry.

  “I’ll get you cleaned up,” he promised her.

  Because she was filthy and bloody.

  But I’m not dead.

  “I will be the one you need. The only one. I will be the one who takes care of you from now on. You don’t have to worry about anyone else. No director telling you that you’re eating too much, that you need to work out more, to practice more…”

  Robert?

  “I knew you hated that life.”

  She still couldn’t see him clearly. Her eyes just wouldn’t focus with that sudden light.

  His voice was husky and low, as if he were talking to a lover.

  Is that what I am to him?

  “I would come and watch you dance. Not just at your shows, but during rehearsal. I knew you needed me…”

  The water was gone.

  She tilted her head back. Stared up at him.

  “Sleeping Beauty…finally waking up to see me.”

  Skye shook her head. “Not…Sleeping Beauty…” His features were sharpening, coming into focus before her.

  “You’re my Beauty. And I’ll be the one to wake you up. The one who gives you life.” He’d pushed the water away. The container spilled, and water poured over the floor. “Or death.”

  She could see him now. Skye stared into his face. Looked straight into the eyes of a man who was crazy.

  As crazy as he’d accused her of being.

  “There’s no going back now,” Mitch Loxley told her, “I’ve got you.”

  ***

  The windows of the brownstone were boarded up. A giant KEEP OUT sign covered the front entrance.

  “Yeah, yeah, got it,” Reese said into his phone.

  Trace glanced over at him. The weight of his gun pressed into Trace’s side.

  “The brownstone is in a cousin’s name. That’s why it didn’t come up when we did a property search for Dr. Loxley.”

  Because Trace had gotten his team to look up any and all properties tied to Mitch Loxley.

  But his agents had come up with nothing.

  Not anymore.

  Trace had known that if he got close enough, if he taunted the guy, if he pushed him far enough, Loxley would break.

  But he might try to take Skye with him when he shatters.

  “The cops are on their way,” Reese continued, voice roughening. “We should wait—”

  Trace pulled his weapon from his holster. Thunder rumbled overhead. “No, we shouldn’t.” Because he knew Skye was in that place. Scared. Hurt?

  He was getting her the hell out of there.

  I’m coming, baby, I’m coming.

  Chapter Ten

  Mitch’s fingers slid over her cheek. “I was so mad at you. When you went back to him…”

  She shuddered. Nausea rose in her stomach. “Don’t…”

  “You called me by his name. When I touched you, you called for him.” His hands slid under her chin, and he shoved her head back. She hit the pole. The impact had her moaning.

  “You were my Beauty, and you went to him. After all I’d done…I was the one to heal your leg. I was the one at your side when you walked. I was the one—”

  “Who…made me…have the wreck?”

  Her brakes…Alex had said…

  The nausea deepened. Skye was afraid she’d pass out.

  Mitch smiled at her. Terrified her. “It was the only way to get your attention. I couldn’t see you after the shows. I tried. Again and again. Beauty needed her hero to wake her up. I was there, and you couldn’t see me. I had to find a way to make you see me.”

  He was a freaking doctor. He shouldn’t have—

  “I was supposed to find you that night. Not him. He was always there. Always between us.” Mitch’s fingers dug into her jaw. “But not anymore. Weston is dead.”

  Something shut off inside of Skye at those words. She could actually feel the change sweep through her.

  Her heart stopped racing.

  The nausea faded.

  The fear vanished.

  If Trace was gone, what happened next didn’t matter.

  “You…killed…” Skye whispered.

  “I shot him in the heart because he tried to take you away from me. That wasn’t happening. That wasn’t ever going to happen. You belong to me.”

  Mitch pulled away. Fumbled in his pocket. “I’ll take the cuffs off. I’ll get you cleaned up, and then we’re going far away from this place. Starting over…”

  And he’d said she was the crazy one.

  Skye’s body stayed perfectly still as he uncuffed her. She’d long since lost feeling in her fingers.

  He rose. “Come on, Skye.”

  “I-I can’t stand.”

  Silence. Then he reached down for her. He put his arms around her and lifted her up. “See, I can take care of you.” His breath blew lightly over her cheek as he shifted her body to the right.

  Her eyes closed. His scent filled her nose. Disinfectant.

  Death.

  Skye swallowed. “I don’t…want you…to take care…”

  Glass shattered. She heard the sound, coming from…above them?

  Mitch tried to jerk away from her.

  She held him tighter. He killed Trace. “I want…” Skye gathered her strength. Every last bit of it, and she thrust her body fully against his. “I want you…to die…”

  The weight of her body sent him falling back, and this time, his head slammed into that metal pole. The crack was loud and wonderful and so perfect to her ears.

  Footsteps thundered, sounding close.

  “Skye!”

  Trace’s voice.

  He’s dead.

  She dropped to her knees. Mitch was still alive. She couldn’t have that.

  “Skye!”

  She was still hearing Trace’s voice. She’d finally gone crazy.

  The voices came first. That was the way it had been with her mother.

  The voices.

  She liked hearing Trace’s voice. Maybe being crazy wouldn’t be so bad.

  “Fuck, Skye!”

  Hands grabbed her, yanked her away from Mitch and—

  Now I smell him.

  Trace’s scent was rich and warm. Masculine. His arms were around her, squeezing her so tightly, and shudders racked his body.

  A hallucination? It was so real and so wonderful.

  “Love…you…” Skye managed to whisper.

  “Baby, baby, I fucking love you! You’re okay, I’ve got you, I’ve got you.”

  He was kissing her. Her face. Her cracked lips. Holding her so tightly.

  “You’re dead,” she said, so sad about that. Because she’d wanted to see him again. Her Trace.

  “No, no, I’m not! Skye, I’m real, and I’m right here.”

  She just stared into his eyes.

  Fear burned in his gaze. “I’m here. Baby, baby, be here, too. Be here with me.”

  A groan came from behind her. Mitch. She hadn’t finished killing him.

  The image of Trace shook her. “I found you. You’re going home with me. You’re going to dance, and we’re going to fuck and laugh and be happy. Do you understand? Do you—”

 
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