One hot holiday, p.21
One Hot Holiday, page 21
He wanted to pull that trigger. So badly.
“Big, bad sheriff. Can’t do anything, can you? You want to rip me apart. You want to rush off and save her. Too late. My partner doesn’t miss. He gave her a warning before. She should have listened back in New York. Now it’s all over for her. It’s—”
Spencer hauled the bastard forward. “If she’s dead, so are you.”
The masked attacker pounded his fist into Spencer’s stomach.
He barely felt the blow. He shoved the fool back, and the man scrambled for the fallen knife. He picked it up, laughing, and surged toward Spencer.
For the second time that night, the knife dropped. This time, so did the attacker. He fell to the ground, body shuddering, as blood soaked him.
Spencer raced past him. He had to get to the house. Had to get to Haley. He ran as fast as he could. The front door was locked. He’d locked it when he left. Locked it and set the alarm so that Haley would be safe.
I promised to keep her safe.
He didn’t bother yanking out the key. He just kicked in the door. It flew back and bounced into the wall. But the alarm never made a sound.
They cut the alarm. Fuck, Fuck! “Haley!” He raced up the stairs. Fear and rage were all he knew. Absolute terror and fury. If Haley had been hurt, if that bastard had hurt her—
What if he killed her? What if he—
Spencer stopped dead in the open bedroom doorway. He could see a man’s body slumped on the floor. The guy wasn’t moving. Blood had already soaked the carpet around him.
Spencer’s gaze whipped up.
Haley stood near the nightstand. Her hand still gripped the gun. She had it aimed at the figure on the floor.
“Y-you said to keep shooting…but I shot once, and he fell…” Her voice was soft and lost.
He knew the signs. “It’s okay, baby. You’re perfect. You did the right thing.” He stepped over the body. Bent to check for a pulse.
There wasn’t one.
Spencer looked up at Haley.
“I killed him,” she said in that same lost voice. “I could see it. The life—when the bullet hit him, I was staring in his eyes, and everything just went away.”
Fuck. Her first kill. It was never easy to take a life. He hurried to her. Took the gun from her and hauled her into his arms. She was soft and warm, and her delicate body shuddered against him.
“You said to shoot. You said—”
He eased back. Stared into her eyes. “He was going to kill you. You did the right thing. The only thing you could do.”
A tear leaked from her eye. “He was the man from New York. The guy who attacked me near the subway. Andrew sent him after me then. He sent him after me now.” She shook her head. “It’s never going to stop.”
“Yes, baby, it is.”
Another tear. “He won’t let me go.”
Then I will just send his ass to hell. “He fucking will. I promise.”
Spencer didn’t go to the station. He put in a call and had Titus stay the hell on top of the FBI agents. Then he called in backup from the area and got authorities to swarm his house. Two dead bodies had to be explained, and the scene had to be contained.
He wanted those attackers traced back to Andrew Bradley. The blond who’d broken into his house and gone after Haley—Spencer knew they could link that guy to Andrew.
He’d attacked Haley in New York.
He’d come to kill her.
We can find proof of his link to Andrew and nail the SOB.
“What can we do?” Linc and Blair stood in the middle of the chaos at Spencer’s home. They’d arrived in record time to the scene.
Spencer glanced to the right. Haley was three steps away from him. He wanted her even closer. “You can cut through the bullshit,” he told them bluntly. “I need Francis Callaway’s ex-wife. Get in touch with the Wilde agents in New York. I don’t care if they have to tear that town apart, but they need to find her.”
“What if she’s already dead?” Blair asked quietly.
Not quietly enough. Haley flinched.
“If she’s dead,” Spencer responded, “then I need her body. Because Francis isn’t going to play ball unless she’s safe or she’s dead. She’s the reason he went after Haley. I know it. When he wakes up, I want him ready to nail Andrew. And he’ll only do that if we have the ex.”
If she was dead, Francis would want revenge.
If she was alive and in Wilde custody, then Andrew wouldn’t be able to manipulate Francis any longer.
Blair nodded as she listened to him, but then her phone rang. She pulled it out and glanced down at the screen. “Hold on,” she told them. “Maybe we have news now.” Putting the phone to her ear, she stepped back.
Spencer glanced at Haley. Shadows lined her eyes, and he hated that. He wanted the threats gone to her. Every last one of them.
“What?” Blair’s voice rose, jerking his attention back to her. “Was that sanctioned? Yes, yes, I’ve heard of him. Just didn’t realize he was part of the team.” Her long lashes flickered. “I see. He isn’t.” A small line grew between her brows. “Right. Yes. I’ll tell them now.” Her hand tightened on the phone as she lowered it to her side. “Well…” Her throat cleared. “The ex-wife has been found.”
Linc eased closer to her. “Wilde agents brought her in?”
“No, a…freelance operator tracked her down.”
That was surprising. “Since when does Eric use freelancers?” Spencer asked.
“Since Ghost.” Her lips twisted. “Apparently, the guy makes his own rules.”
“Ah, excuse me.” Haley stepped forward as she squared her shoulders. “Who—or what—is Ghost?”
“He’s an asshole,” Linc muttered. “And he’s very much not Wilde.”
“He wants to be.” Blair cut him a glance. “You know the man is more than qualified for the job.”
Spencer’s temples were throbbing. “I do not have time for this shit.”
“Right.” Blair nodded. “Ghost is—um, he’s just that. A ghost. For years, he was whispered about—”
“Talked about like a freaking legend—” Linc cut in with a roll of his eyes.
“—but we recently found out that he is very much a flesh and blood man.”
Linc’s mouth tightened. “He’s seriously not all that. The guy is a douche.”
“Get to the point,” Spencer gritted out.
“Ghost found the ex-wife. Used some of his highly shady connections and got to her. She was being held in some old warehouse in Brooklyn. He pulled her out, and she’s safe, but Eric said the woman was blindfolded the whole time, so she has no idea who took her.”
Yeah, but would Andrew know that? Andrew had been locked up, out of communication with his crew. He wouldn’t know what had happened with the ex-wife. We can use what Andrew doesn’t know against him. Spencer caught Haley’s hand, lifted it to his lips, and pressed a kiss to her knuckles. “Will you trust me?”
Just that simple. That fucking simple.
He looked at her hand and wondered if she realized that she held his heart in her delicate palm. Soon, he’d tell her how he felt. First, though, he wanted her safe. He wanted her to be free.
“Ahem.” Linc cleared his throat—twice.
Spencer glowered at the guy.
“What can we do?” Linc wanted to know.
Spencer smiled. “You can disappear.”
“See this?” The FBI agent’s thin hair had been shoved back on his high forehead. His suit was wrinkled, and his eyes were hard with determination as he lifted a paper toward Spencer and waved it in the air like a flag. "This is an official document from my boss saying that Andrew Bradley is to be released into my custody, immediately.”
Spencer blinked. “Do I look like I give a shit what your boss wants?”
Titus snickered. “Told you.” He
The agent slammed the paper down on the desk. “The FBI trumps some backwoods sheriff’s office any day of the week.”
Haley stood just behind Spencer. Her hand was gripped in his. He gave her a reassuring squeeze right before he said, “Not this day.” His gaze flickered to Titus. “Who are these assholes?”
“Asshole Number One…” Titus pointed to the red-faced agent. “That is Special Agent Troy Morris. The fellow beside him is Asshole Number Two, his partner, Ken Doggett.”
Ken had close-cropped, pale blond hair and bright green eyes. His eyes were locked on Haley.
Spencer waved a hand in front of her. “Hey, agent, over here.”
Doggett’s gaze snapped toward him.
Spencer smiled and knew it wouldn’t be a pretty sight. “There a reason you’re staring so hard at my companion?”
“I know who she is.”
“Good for you.”
“I know she shouldn’t be here.” A sniff. “She’s the one who almost blew Andrew’s cover to hell and back in New York. She needs to get out of this station. You need to send her away.”
“That’s a hard no. But thanks.” Spencer let his stare drift around the station. Just after dawn and only a skeleton crew was there. His deputies were stretched thin because of every damn thing that was happening, but he had reinforcements coming in from Mobile. And, of course, there were the Wilde agents.
Some of the authorities were still at his house. Dealing with the bodies. The others, well…
Sometimes, help is closer than you think.
“You need to let Andrew go, now,” Agent Morris snapped. “You have no right to hold him.”
“He assaulted me. I think that gives me lots of rights.”
Doggett pointed to Haley. “It’s because of her. Trouble follows her. Now she has two lovers fighting over her and that has led to a fucking mess for the FBI.”
“You jerk!” Haley fired back at him as she surged forward. “I’m not trouble. I’m not the criminal! I—”
“I heard on the police radio that you shot a man earlier.” His angry stare raked her. “You going to tell me that’s not trouble?” He focused on her and Spencer’s joined hands. “And I’m guessing the fact that you’re screwing the sheriff has nothing to do with the reason you weren’t locked up for that crime?”
Spencer moved in front of her. “You want her?” He wasn’t smiling. Wasn’t pretending. “You go the fuck through me.”
Her hands pressed to his back. “Spencer…”
Doggett retreated a step.
“Her shooting was self-defense, and it was also tied to that so-called upstanding citizen you’re trying to vouch for, Andrew Bradley.”
“Andrew’s been locked up,” Morris reminded him quickly. “Not like he could do anything.”
“Really? I’m supposed to believe he can’t pull strings?” Spencer inclined his head toward the Feds. “He got you two here, didn’t he?”
They looked at each other.
“You’ve verified their IDs, Titus?” Spencer asked.
“Verified us?” Morris puffed out his chest. “How dare—”
“Wouldn’t be the first time we had a prick in here pretending to be someone else.” He shrugged.
Titus still had his hip pushed up against the desk. “They checked out. They’re stationed up in New York. Came a long way for their ‘friend’ on this trip.”
Yes, they had.
Spencer glanced back at Haley and sent her a reassuring smile. “It’s okay.”
She shook her head. “Nothing about this is okay.” She was aware of his plan. They’d talked about it on the ride over. He knew she didn’t like it. “Spencer…”
“Trust.” A soft whisper. She’d given him her trust, and he would not let her down.
“Titus.” Spencer turned toward his friend. “I need to see our prisoner. I’m going back to—”
“You’re not getting near him without us there,” Doggett barked. “We told you, it’s time for you to release him.”
“Not yet, it isn’t. I have some questions for him first. I’m not even close to letting him go.” His muscles were tight as adrenaline poured through him. “But how about this? I’ll be generous. Hospitable, even. You two can come in the interrogation room with me while I question the prisoner. That work for you?”
The two agents exchanged a fast glance.
Spencer slid his gaze to Titus. “And you can watch from the observation room.”
A slow nod.
“I’ll be in observation, too,” Doggett said quickly. “Morris, you can stay with Andrew.”
Spencer stiffened. Then, as he held Titus’s stare, he lifted his right hand and rubbed his index finger under his eye.
Titus gave a barely perceptible nod. On the way over, Spencer had called and spoken with Titus already, wanting to warn him of possible danger. But the old hand gesture—a sign they’d used back in their SEAL days—was still a message to stay on alert. Keep your eyes open. Expect betrayal.
They’d seen plenty of that back in the day.
Betrayal was always waiting to spring. That was why you had to be ready for it.
“Before we go in to the interrogation room…” Spencer curled his lips in his most genial smile. “All weapons have to be secured. I’m sure you understand the drill. Can’t have weapons where any prisoners can get a hold of them.” A pause. “So if you’re going in to interrogation, Agent Morris, I’ll need you to surrender all weapons to my friend Titus. Now.”
Her palms were sweating. Her stomach was churning. And Haley was trying very, very hard not to be sick. This whole keeping-it-cool-in-the-face-of-danger thing? So not her style.
She had killed someone. Shot and taken a life, and goosebumps still covered her skin. She would never forget the look in that man’s eyes.
The door to the interrogation room opened. She stiffened in her chair. She’d been waiting in the room with Spencer and Agent Morris. A young deputy—she remembered his name, it was Cody—brought Andrew into the room. Andrew’s hands were cuffed in front of him and a bruise lined his jaw. His eyes went immediately to her.
Yes, jerk. I’m still alive. How about that? Suddenly, she didn’t feel quite so cold as anger churned inside of her.
Then Andrew blinked and his expression filled with soft concern. The charming lie was in place on his face. “Haley!” He smiled at her. “I knew you would come to your senses. I knew you would—”
“I want those cuffs off him,” Morris ordered. “Now.”
Spencer motioned to Cody. “You can go. I’ve got this.” He marched around the table. Shoved Andrew into a chair. Kept his hand planted on Andrew’s shoulder.
Agent Morris stood near the one-way observation mirror. His back was to the mirror, and his narrowed gaze was on Spencer.
Her hand slid inside her coat. A big, encompassing coat that sheltered her completely.
The door closed behind Cody. The soft click seemed so final.
“The cuffs,” Morris said once more.
“Yeah, they aren’t coming off.” Spencer’s grip on Andrew’s shoulder tightened. “By the way, your team failed. As you can see.”
Andrew’s head turned so that he was staring at Spencer. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“The two jackasses you sent to my place? They didn’t take me out. They didn’t kill Haley. Since they failed, I’m sure you have someone else already in place. Someone that you think will finish the job.”
Morris surged forward. “This man is an FBI asset, he has nothing to do with—”
“This man is a cold-blooded criminal. In order to get what he wants, he threatens people around him. Like say…the PI who shot Haley right outside of this station.
Andrew stared at him…and laughed.
God, I hate his laughter. “This isn’t funny,” Haley snapped.
Immediately, his stare whipped to her. “No.” He stopped smiling. “It’s not. Come on, Haley.” His cuffed hands rose and stretched across the table, as if he’d reach out and touch her. “You know me. You loved me. I would never do something like that.”
She could feel Spencer’s eyes on her. Haley shook her head. “I never knew you. Not the real you.”
A muscle flexed in his jaw.
“And I didn’t love you.”
His eyes flashed with fury, a crack in his perfect mask.
“We have the ex-wife,” Spencer announced. “She’s been taken into custody.”
“What?” Morris shook his head. “No, no, I have not been informed of anything—”
“I just informed you,” Spencer told him. “You’re welcome.”
The FBI agent’s face was truly an unnatural blend of purple and red.
As cool as you please, Spencer continued, “She’s in custody, and she’s going to testify that it was your men who abducted her, Andrew.”
Andrew just shrugged. “If that’s what they say, they’re lying. They don’t work for me.” His stare never left Haley. “How could I be behind something like that? I’m here in Point Hope. Obviously, it’s just my enemies, trying to make me look guilty. I’m an innocent man.”
The man was such a lying snake. “You’ve never been innocent a day in your life.”
“This is over,” Morris announced. He rushed toward the table and hauled Andrew to his feet. “No more questions, no more farce, no more—”
The lights went out. Darkness filled the interrogation room, and for a moment, Haley didn’t breathe.
There was a sharp grunt. A thud and then—
The lights came back on.
by Cynthia Eden / Romance / Thriller have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes