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Mine to take, p.3

Mine to Take, page 3

 part  #1 of  Mine Series

 

Mine to Take
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  happened?”

  “She said someone was here.” Reese seemed to have just noticed the broken glass.

  “Go. Search,” Trace ordered as he pulled Skye even closer to him. “I’ve got her.”

  Pieces of the broken mirror had fallen to the floor. They crunched beneath Trace’s expensive shoes.

  Reese hurried away from them. When he ran away, Skye saw the gun in his hand.

  Her breath choked out. Why is this happening?

  Trace’s fingers slid through her hair. He growled, “Dammit, you could have a concussion.”

  What she had was a giant knot on her head. One that was making her dizzy and nauseous. Wait, was that a concussion?

  “I’m getting you out of here.”

  Before she could say anything else, he’d lifted her into his arms. He held her easily, as if she weighed nothing at all, and he hurried for the door.

  Then they were outside. The crisp air hit her, pushing back some of the nausea, but not doing a thing to alleviate her fear. The fear had far too tight of a grip on her.

  Trace carried her toward a dark Jag. He opened the door and sat her inside on the passenger’s seat. “Tell me what happened.”

  She hadn’t seen him in ten years. So why was she so ridiculously glad that he was the one there with her? “I was practicing…the lights went out. I-I thought it as the breaker. It’s gone out before and—”

  He caught her chin in his hand. “When did the man come?”

  She swallowed. “When it went dark. I heard the floor squeak, and I knew he was there.” She licked her too-dry lips. “I tried to run, but he caught me.”

  “Did he…” Trace’s words were gritted, “what did he do to you?”

  Her eyelids flickered as she remembered. “He slammed my head into the mirror. Reese came in…before he could do anything else.”

  I will be the one.

  Her hands were shaking. She balled them into fists in her lap.

  “I’m taking you to the hospital.”

  “No, I—”

  “I’m taking you to the hospital,” Trace said again, anger snapping in the words. “You’ve got a concussion. You need to be checked out.”

  “Boss!” Reese rushed toward them. “I searched the building, but no one’s there.”

  Her gaze darted down the street. There were other buildings, a few shops nearby, but they were all closed for the night.

  “Stay here. Get back-up on the scene,” Trace ordered Reese. “I want that SOB. And we’re getting him.”

  Then he slammed her door shut. She watched him through the window, chill bumps rising on her skin. Trace leaned close to Reese. Whispered something that she couldn’t hear. The chill bumps got worse. Skye felt so cold then. So very cold.

  Trace turned away from Reese and stalked back toward her. The driver’s door opened. Trace slid inside the vehicle, and the engine growled to life.

  I will be the one.

  The words wouldn’t stop whispering through her mind.

  The car’s engine snarled to life, and the Jag shot into the night.

  She looked back. Reese stood there, staring after them. Her studio was lit up, every light glowing.

  And the monster who’d been in the dark—he was long gone.

  But he’ll be back.

  The cold sank down, penetrating all the way to her bones.

  ***

  “Definitely concussed,” the doctor said as she shone a light into Skye’s eyes.

  Trace crossed his arms over his chest. He’d moved back so the doctor could work on Skye, but he hadn’t been about to leave the small exam room. He wasn’t in the mood to let Skye out of his sight.

  “We’ll need you to stay overnight for observation,” Dr. Denise Bond told Skye as she lowered her light. “It’s a precaution in a situation like this—”

  “No,” Skye said, her immediate denial cutting through the doctor’s words. “I’m going home.”

  “I don’t think you realize how dangerous a concussion could be.” The doctor spoke carefully, still in that soothing bedside manner that some docs managed so easily. “Brain injuries are unpredictable. Your concussion appears mild now, but what if you have a seizure in the middle of the night? What if you fall…is there someone at your home that can help you?”

  Skye’s green gaze darted to Trace, then back to the doctor. “I-I’ll be fine.”

  She’ll be alone.

  The doctor glanced back at him.

  “I’m the patient,” Skye reminded her. Trace rather liked the snap of anger in her voice. Before, Skye had been afraid. She’d been shaking when he first rushed inside that studio.

  Reese should have been taking better care of her. The agent had screwed up.

  No, I screwed up. I should have kept her closer. Too much time had been wasted.

  “Are you…involved with the patient?” The doctor asked him, obviously trying to figure out his relationship with Skye.

  He nodded. She didn’t need to know more. “She won’t be alone.”

  Some of the tension eased from the doctor’s face. “You’re going to need to keep her awake. Monitor her through the night.”

  “Trace…” Skye began.

  “Consider it done,” he said.

  The doctor nodded, looking grateful. “I’ll go prepare discharge orders.” But then she hesitated. “You will keep a close eye on her?”

  “The closest possible,” Trace promised.

  The doctor hurried from the room, and Trace headed toward the exam table. He locked eyes with Skye. Forgot about the doctor. “This is the way it will play out. You come with me, or you spend the night here.”

  Bright spots of color stained her cheeks. “I’ve been inside hospitals long enough. After the accident, I had weeks of therapy. I can’t stay here.”

  His hands pressed into the exam table on either side of her. “Then you’re coming with me.” She’d been the one to walk into his office. To return to him. He wasn’t about back away now.

  “He’s accelerated,” Trace told her as he leaned in close. The room smelled like antiseptic, but she smelled of sweet vanilla. He was close enough to see the gold in her eyes. “He snuck past my guard. He got to you. He hurt you.” Trace barely held back his fury. “I’m not leaving you on your own until that SOB is off the streets.”

  A knock sounded at the door then. He glanced over his shoulder.

  “This is Detective Alex Griffin!” A voice called. “Skye, I need to talk with you.”

  Trace’s eyes narrowed. He’d been wondering when the local boys in blue would be showing up.

  “He’s the one who’s been handling my case,” Skye murmured. “The doctors…they must have called the police in.”

  “You were assaulted.” Trace knew the notification would have been standard protocol.

  “I guess he has to believe me now,” she said, voice tense.

  His gaze cut back to her. Skye was clad in a one of those green paper hospital gown. She looked so fragile sitting on that table. Her eyes were huge. Her hair a dark curtain around her face.

  “Skye!” The detective called again.

  And, before she could respond, the guy began to open the door.

  Trace moved quickly so that when the door opened, he was right in the cop’s path.

  Alex Griffin jerked to a halt when he saw Trace. “Who the hell are you?”

  Trace’s brows rose as he studied the detective. In his early thirties, light blond hair, fit, and with a dark stare that heated a little too much when it peered over Trace’s shoulder and focused on Skye. The guy immediately put Trace on edge. “I’m Skye’s friend,” he said simply, but Trace knew the other man would hear the note of possessiveness that roughened his voice.

  Alex stepped around him. Seemed to focus totally on Skye. “Are you all right?”

  Her smile was forced. It barely lifted her lips. “Just a bump on the head. I’ll be fine.”

  Then the detective actually reached out to her and
curled his hand around hers.

  Trace tensed. What the hell kind of police work was that? The detective was far too cozy with Skye, especially for a guy who hadn’t believed her story about a stalker.

  “The attack changes things,” Alex told her as his fingers skimmed over her knuckles. “This is an assault. I can get a team at—”

  “My team is already at her studio,” Trace said as he returned to Skye’s side. The detective was still holding her hand. Still staring at Skye with far too much interest. Still pissing Trace off to an alarming degree. “But your officers are certainly welcome to join the hunt.”

  “Your team?” Alex repeated as his brow furrowed. Then his stare—a muddy brown—was back on Trace. “I didn’t catch your name.”

  Because he hadn’t thrown it. He did now, with pleasure. “Trace Weston.” Deliberately, he took Skye’s hand from the detective.

  Alex backed up a step. “Weston Securities?”

  “Yes.”

  Alex whistled and glanced back at Skye. “You hired him to keep you safe?” Before Skye could answer, Alex continued, “I don’t get it. If Weston Securities was on the case, why the hell did she get hurt? Aren’t you supposed to be the best in the damn area?”

  His hold tightened on Skye. “If we’re asking questions, I’ve got a few of my own…like why the hell didn’t you do your job sooner? Someone has been stalking Skye for weeks.” No, much longer if she’d been watched in New York.

  “Because there was no evidence,” Alex gritted out. “But I tried, okay? I sent extra patrols to her house. I dropped by whenever I could. I’ve been trying to keep an eye on her.”

  The guy wanted to keep more than an eye on her. That much was obvious to Trace. The detective’s expression was too intense when he glanced her way. “Don’t worry, detective,” Trace said, his voice flat, “I’ll keep an eye on her from now on.”

  Skye looked between them. Her lips tightened. “I just want this man caught, okay? I want him stopped!” She pulled away from Trace and slid from the exam table. When her feet hit the floor, Trace was there to brace her, just in case.

  “Tell me everything that happened,” Alex told her, hunching his shoulders as he leaned in closer to her.

  Back the hell off. Skye didn’t need the cop crowding her.

  Skye had come to Trace because there hadn’t been anyone else to help her. The detective didn’t get to step in now and play hero.

  “There isn’t much to tell.” The hospital gown slipped off her right shoulder and she tried to quickly pull it back into place. “I was working in my studio. The lights went off. I-I heard the creak of the floor and knew someone was there. I tried to run, but h-he caught me.”

  Trace had locked his back teeth while she spoke. Bastard, I’m going to make you pay.

  “He?” Alex pounced on that word choice. “You’re sure it was a man?”

  “I couldn’t see him.” Her stare darted to Trace. “But I could feel him. He was strong, and he was big…about Trace’s height. His body curved over mine when he—he held me against him.” Her voice broke a little.

  Trace wanted her out of that room. He wanted her in his home, where he could protect her.

  “Did he say anything to you?” Alex pressed. “Did you hear any kind of accent in his voice? Did he—”

  “No accent.” She shook her head. Winced a little. “He was just whispering to me.”

  Alex stilled. “What did he say?”

  “He said, ‘I will be the one,’” she told them, her voice husky. She blinked quickly, as if fighting tears. “That’s all he told me, okay?” Those words came out rushed. “That he’d be the one. Then Trace’s agent came rushing in and—and the guy let me go.”

  “After he slammed your head into the glass,” Trace added, the words tearing from him.

  “No, actually, he slammed my head into the glass before he gave me his little promise.” She curled her arms around her stomach. Stared up at Trace. “Please take me home,” she said. “Take me home with you.”

  Hell, yes.

  The doctor and a nurse headed into the room then. The doc glanced Trace’s way. He inclined his head. “I’ll make sure she’s safe tonight.” Every night.

  He and the detective headed out while the nurse helped Skye change. Trace would have been more than happy to do that job himself—seeing Skye nude was one of his favorite things—but he needed to clear the air with the detective.

  And it seemed the guy wanted to clear the air with him, too. As soon as the door closed behind them, Alex spun toward Trace. “What’s your game?”

  He let his brows rise. “I’m not playing a game.”

  “Two days ago, Skye told me that she wasn’t involved with anyone. She didn’t have any family in the city, no close friends…” Alex exhaled roughly as he glared at Trace. “Now you’re standing here, saying you’re her ‘old friend’ and taking her home for the night.”

  Yes, that was exactly what he was doing. Wasn’t the detective observant? “Skye doesn’t like hospitals. After her accident in New York, I think that’s understandable.” He didn’t like to think about her accident. Didn’t like to remember—

  “I’ve heard about you, Weston.”

  Good for the detective. “Most people in Chicago know about me…”

  “You’ve got money, a freaking ton of it from all accounts.”

  Yes, yes, he did. He’d come a long way from being the poor kid on the streets.

  “And you’ve got dangerous connections.”

  “Safe connections aren’t any fun,” he murmured.

  Alex’s eyes narrowed. “You’re high profile. You take the big cases. You don’t sign on as some woman’s bodyguard.”

  If the detective kept pushing, he’d find out just how hard Trace could push back. “This isn’t some woman,” Trace said. Time for his turn to talk. “This is Skye, and, I assure you, where she is concerned, I am very involved.”

  “You weren’t two days ago,” Alex fired back.

  “Two days ago…” Trace exhaled slowly and fought to chain his anger. “That would have been back when you were patrolling, doing your circles around her place.”

  “Yes,” Alex hissed. “I’ve been trying to protect her—”

  “And now I’m here to help you do that job.”

  “You looked like you were here to fuck her.”

  The words were low, hard. Jealous?

  Trace stepped toward the detective. The fellow was close to his height, and even though he was a cop, he had a soft look to him that told Trace this man hadn’t seen nearly enough darkness in his life.

  I’ve seen plenty.

  Enough to appreciate the light that came his way.

  Alex pointed his index finger at Trace. Bad move—that’s the way to get that finger broken. “I’ve got a woman being stalked,” Alex snapped, “an attack on her—and suddenly, I have a new guy—wait, sorry, an ‘old friend’—who has just entered the picture. Two days ago, she said that she had no one.”

  He kept harping on the two days bit. “She has someone,” Trace told him, keeping his voice flat with a monumental effort. “And until the SOB after her is caught, Skye be staying with me. So if you need to contact her,” he gave him a hard smile, “come find me.”

  The door opened behind them. Skye was seated in a wheelchair, and she sure didn’t look happy. “They said I had to go out in this thing.” Her hands lightly hit the wheels. “Some kind of hospital rule.”

  “Liability issue,” the doctor said. “I told you, it’s—”

  “Standard. Right.” Skye’s hands rose and clenched in her lap. Her frantic gaze locked on Trace. “I need to get out of here.”

  “Baby, I’ve got you.”

  And he did.

  He moved behind the wheelchair. Pushed her carefully. The wheels spun on the chair.

  “Skye!”

  The detective was a dick, and he’d just snapped Trace’s last nerve. Did the fellow realize that, with just one phone call, T
race could have the guy writing parking tickets? Doing traffic patrol?

  Or sitting bench at desk duty?

  Alex hurried around them and stopped in front of the wheelchair. “Just how long have you known Weston?”

  Skye swallowed. “Since I was fifteen years old.”

  Alex leaned toward her. His voice dropped, but Trace heard him clearly as he said, “I asked you to tell me about any ex’s that you might have in town. Someone who might have a hard time letting go…”

  Skye shook her head. “Trace never had trouble letting go.”

  Alex’s stare swept to his.

  He knows.

  It was easy to recognize need, lust, in another man’s eyes.

  Behind the cop, Trace saw Reese striding down the hallway toward them. Trace inclined his head toward the cop. “Make sure the detective has our contact information, Reese. Skye’s going to be staying with me for a while.”

  Her head turned toward him. “But I—”

  He pushed her down the hall, leaving Reese to deal with Alex.

  The detective could become a problem. Trace would have to watch him, carefully.

  Because no one could be allowed to interfere with his plans for Skye.

  ***

  She should have expected the penthouse. The elevator doors opened up, and she stepped out onto the top level of the high-rise. Trace was right at her side.

  “No one can get up here without passing my guards,” he told her as his fingers curled around her elbow.

  Right then, she was sure glad to hear about that security.

  They entered the penthouse. Her gaze swept around the place. Everything looked expensive. Everything smelled expensive.

  And the view was killer.

  If she hadn’t been scared to death, literally shaking apart on the inside, she would have appreciated that view more right then.

  As it was, she just wanted to go someplace and collapse.

  The door shut behind them. She heard the sound of the alarm engaging. Then…Trace’s hands slid down her arms. Her bare arms because all she’d had to wear out of that hospital were her workout clothes. “You’re safe, Skye.” His words whispered into her ear.

  And the fear deepened. Because she remembered him. The man in the dark. His mouth at her ear. His whisper.

  I will be the one.

  She pulled away from Trace and headed toward the big, floor to ceiling window that looked out over Chicago.

  He didn’t follow her.

 
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