Unbreakable Hearts, page 20part #2 of CEP Series
Hanging her head, she again let a few tears fall. John was probably going crazy right now as was Jeff. And, oh crap, her mom and grandma had to be so upset too. And Quinn! God, Quinn had heard everything that’d happened.
Tilly cried for them all.
As her tears stopped, she knew all she could do now was wait. Wait for the man to come in the morning and do horrible things to her body. Then wait a little longer for him to kill her.
“Nice,” Graham said as he checked out the car his father-in-law had delivered. The Lambo Gallardo was pretty sweet, but if the FIL had felt the need to get them something, he could’ve at least gotten the new Aventador. But whatever.
Brynne laced her arm through his grabbing hold of his bicep. “Isn’t it awesome?” she said, looking up at him with a giddy grin.
“Yes, it is,” he answered, looking down at her with a smile. She was a beautiful woman. Maybe she’d be up for some play tonight. Well, that of the mundane type. But it’d ramp him up for the Maxwell woman in the morning, and he could totally deal with that.
Brynne went to her father, hugging him tightly. “Thank you, Daddy!” She tiptoed up and kissed his cheek before turning back to Graham. “Let’s go for a ride!” she squealed.
He smiled at her childlike enthusiasm and followed her to the car, opening her door, which made her gasp as it went up vertically. He chuckled and helped her inside then closing her door, walked around to his side, nodding a thanks at Theo before getting in.
As they sped off into the night, he couldn’t help but think that things had sure taken a turn since that afternoon. The picture situation was solved, he had a new sports car, his wife was going to give him some when they got back, and he had a hot little piece waiting for him back at the Hamptons. Life was good. Very, very good.
“Take me to my house,” Doug said, “and I can show you what I’ve got.”
Gunner turned and looked back at Oz who nodded and they drove out of Buster’s parking lot.
Oz was furious. If this dumbass knew something that would’ve prevented Tilly’s abduction and he’d held it back, he’d be introducing his fist to the guy’s face soon. He looked out the window seeing nothing as he thought about her. She was probably terrified. Damn it, he wished he could let her know somehow that he was coming for her.
After a five-minute drive, they pulled up to Doug’s house and piled out of the truck.
“My ma’s probably asleep, so be quiet when you get inside,” he told them.
Oz saw Brock look at Gunner with raised eyebrows, probably wondering why a man in his thirties was still living with his mother. Join the party, he thought. Inside, they followed Doug down some stairs to a bedroom basement where he went to a desk and sat down, opening a laptop. He clicked around on the thing for a few minutes then turned it toward them.
“I took those Saturday night.” He looked at Oz. “I, uh, was upset, so I was staking out her house. You were right. That was me in the PT Cruiser.”
When Brock snorted at the mention of the idiotic car, Gunner bumped him with his shoulder but couldn’t help his own snort that came out afterward.
Leaning closer to the laptop looking at the pictures, Oz asked, “Who is that?”
Jeff also looked at the photo. “I’ve seen him before.”
“Graham Hightower. One of New York City’s most successful businessmen. There was a write-up in Fortune a couple years ago about him,” Doug said.
“And you caught him breaking into Tilly’s house?” Gunner looked skeptical as he too leaned in to look at the picture.
“Yes,” Doug replied defensively and frowning at him. “I was sitting in my car. It was after him and Tilly left,” he motioned his thumb toward Oz, “and this guy comes along about an hour later. Oh, I forgot, Quinn the bitch left right after they did. Anyway, I’m sitting there looking at my photos on my phone when I see a guy walking across her front lawn, which triggered the light to come on. He stopped for a second before continuing around to the side. Next thing I know, I hear sirens and the guy’s jogging back across her lawn holding her laptop. That’s when I grabbed my camera and started shooting.”
They all stared at Doug.
“What?” he asked.
“Just how long were you gonna sit on this?” Oz asked, his hands clenching into fists.
Doug cleared his throat. “Well, I kinda had a plan.” At Oz’s raised eyebrow he continued. “I was gonna send copies of the photos to Hightower’s office and tell him I’d take them to the police if he didn’t cooperate and pay up, like, a million or so. Then I’d set up an account at the bank and have him wire the money to it, that way I wouldn’t have to meet him face-to-face. Pretty smart, huh?”
He looked up smugly at all of them and didn’t have time to duck the fist that rammed into his face sending him soaring from the chair to land on the floor.
“What the fuck?” he asked, holding the left side of his face and looking up at the men.
Oz pointed down at him. “That’s for Tilly, you fucking prick. If you don’t want my side of it, you’ll work with us on this. Your choice.” He was breathing heavily trying to control his temper as he looked down at the little bastard.
Doug put up his hands. “Okay, okay, that’s why I brought you here in the first place. Fuck.” He stood up on shaky legs his hand going back over his mug as if he couldn’t believe he’d been punched. “What do I need to do?”
Oz looked at Jeff. “Can you be here? I mean, you are the police and what we do might not exactly follow protocol.”
The muscles in Jeff’s jaw pulsed as he looked back. “She’s my sister. I’ll do what it takes.”
Oz nodded. Good to know. “Print these out for us,” he said to Doug.
“What? I can’t be wasting—” At Oz’s menacing look Doug shut up and began the printing process.
“Hand me your phone,” Oz said. At Doug’s open mouth, he repeated himself. When Doug finally complied, Oz punched his numbers into it, listing himself as a new contact. Then he called his own phone so he’d have Doug’s number. “You hear anything, you see anything, you think anything, you call me. Even if you think it’s insignificant, got it?”
Doug nodded as he watched the pictures printing.
They heard the basement door open. “Doug? What’s going on down there?”
“Nothing, Ma,” Doug answered, wincing as he lightly touched his quickly bruising cheek.
“You sure? There’s a truck parked outside.”
Doug sighed. “Yes, Ma. Just some friends I’m showing my pictures to.”
“We’ll be taking these,” Gunner said as he grabbed up the photos.
All four men walked up the stairs past a curler and housecoat adorned Mrs. Donati who looked up at them in awe. They couldn’t help but chuckle as they made their way to the front door when they heard her say, “I didn’t know you had such hot friends, Doug. You should’ve introduced me. Maybe one of them is into cougars.”
Tilly awoke with a start and sat up quickly, breathing hard. Tears streamed down her face as she remembered her dream. It was the same one she’d had since her dad had died, the one she hadn’t had in over five years. In it she was in the house where she grew up. She’d start out in the kitchen and her dad would call to her from the living room. When she’d go to the living room, he wouldn’t be there, but he’d call her again from another room and she’d go to it still not finding him, and on and on she’d go, from room to room, but she never found him. The dream was exhausting and she always woke up crying.
“Oh, Dad,” she sobbed, pulling her legs up and wrapping her arms around them. She rested her head on top of her knees as she cried. What she’d give to see him just one more time.
When she was all cried out, she went to the bathroom and washed her face. Ugh. Her eye was a lovely assortment of colors and swollen even more than it’d been the first time she saw it. Man, this guy was going to get the crap kicked out of h
She wondered if he was looking for her, but knew that even if he was, there really was no way he’d find her since he had no idea who’d taken her unless the guy was holding her for ransom which she doubted he was. She didn’t have her cell phone so she couldn’t be tracked through the GPS. She had nothing. And that made her want to cry even more.
“Please, John, please find me,” she whispered as she stared at herself in the mirror knowing there really was no hope.
Graham was all smiles Monday morning as he sat in his office. The night before Brynne had let him fuck her from behind, which she never allowed because she said the cellulite on the backs of her thighs looked horrendous when she knelt. When they’d finished, she’d shocked the hell out of him again by actually being up for round two. They’d started out in ho-hum missionary position, but at the last second he’d maneuvered them into some sixty-nine action and, what do you know, she hadn’t whined too much when he’d come in her mouth. Well, she’d spit his cum out immediately right onto his thighs then run to the bathroom and snatched a tissue up, proceeding to wipe her mouth out with it. She followed that up with a good brushing of her teeth as she bitched at him the entire time for not warning her. But other than that, she’d been a real trooper.
Now he had something more to smile about. As soon as he could get away, he’d head up to Zim’s Hamptons house to have a little fun with Ms. Maxwell.
Yep. Couldn’t ask for much more.
He answered when his intercom beeped. “Yes, Brenda?”
“There’s a package here marked ‘Urgent.’ Do you want me to bring it in?” his secretary asked.
A few seconds later, there was a knock at his door. He told Brenda to enter and she scurried in placing the envelope on his desk then promptly left. His dumpy, middle-aged secretary had been scared of him from day one and that’s the way he liked it. Made for more efficient work from her and he didn’t have to bother with small talk or niceties. If everyone else would behave that way toward him, life would be even better.
He glanced at the envelope for a second before he continued reading the proposal he’d received for another start-up. As he read, he made notes in the margins finishing by checking the market report in the area being proposed. Not bad. He’d have to get with Maddox and see if he’d be interested in getting in on the deal.
After making a few calls and launching some things into motion, he looked at the clock seeing it was just after eleven. Jesus. Time really flew when you were making money. Sitting back in his chair, he ran his hands over his face. Damn. Brynne had actually semi worn him out last night. Who knew she had it in her?
Sitting up, he saw the envelope and reached for it, tearing it open. His eyes narrowed as he looked at the pictures of him in the Maxwell woman’s yard carrying her laptop. “How in the fuck…” he muttered.
He reached in and pulled a paper from inside the envelope, which read:
As you can see, I have pictures of you committing a crime. If you don’t want them sent to the police, you need to contact me at (646) 555-0137. I’ll be waiting to hear from you. If you don’t contact me within four hours of receiving this, I’m turning them in.
As he stared at the photos, he couldn’t believe it. How the hell did someone capture him (yet again) on camera committing another fucking crime? He had to chuckle at the fact that he was caught up in yet another scandal. And that maybe he should’ve bought stock in Nikon or some shit. Wasn’t life just full of surprises this morning?
He went to the liquor cabinet and poured himself a tumbler of scotch drinking it slowly as he stared out his office window thinking that Ms. Maxwell was turning out to be a regular pain in his ass. Several minutes later he refilled his glass then went back to sit at his desk to look at the photos, shivering a bit in anticipation. God, but he loved a fucking challenge. Whoever was behind this didn’t realize that this was the kind of thing he got off on. Pushing the intercom button he said, “Brenda, hold all my calls for the rest of the day and cancel any meetings I had scheduled. Also, go to the Jersey City office and pick up some paperwork. They’ll have it ready for you.”
“Yes, sir, Mr. Hightower,” she answered hastily and disconnected.
He then picked up the phone and dialed the number he’d been given smiling as he heard the line ring. They wanted to play a game with him? Well, he was all in. And he never lost.
Oz hadn’t gotten a minute of sleep and that was fine by him. He’d been too keyed up waiting for Hightower to call. And didn’t it suck that he was the one and only lead they had. Oz hoped like hell they’d been correct in assuming he’d taken Tilly because if that wasn’t the case, they were fucked.
After they’d left Doug’s, they called and met Hank at CEP, and after filling him in on the situation, Hank had immediately gone into badass ex-SEAL mode, dictating directions and assigning roles to everyone. Jeff had left to go to the station to see if anything had come up telling Oz to contact him if they heard anything and that he’d do the same.
Quaid was sent to Hightower’s house and was to report when he was on the move and Brock was now waiting in the underground garage with a GPS tracker to attach to the guy’s car. Gunner had couriered an envelope of the pictures Doug had taken of Hightower to his brother Chase at the law firm he worked at, who’d then couriered it to his wife at the mortgage company for which she worked, and she’d had it couriered to her father’s company with instructions to send it on to Hightower’s office. A sort of laundering of the package to cut the paper trail, if you will. Besides, Gunner knew his brother and sister-in-law would get a kick out of helping out a little on the case since Chase had once worked for CEP and had told him he actually missed the excitement of it all, and, well, his wife Julia was just plain ornery.
By eight Monday morning, Oz had heard from all the guys, so now he waited to hear from Hightower.
“Why doesn’t he fucking call?” he said in frustration all but crushing the prepaid phone he held. It was already after ten in the morning. The envelope had been delivered at least thirty minutes earlier. What was taking him so long?
“He will,” Gunner replied.
Oz gritted his teeth wanting to tear shit up. He wanted Tilly back now, damn it. But, God, he felt so helpless knowing all he could do was wait. And think. And wonder. Wonder whether she was okay or if she was somewhere she could at least be a little comfortable or… if she was even still alive.
“Fuck!” he spit out, pacing the floor in the lobby and getting a dirty look from Abby who was busy sorting paperwork and taking calls. He glared at her until she turned away then he went to get his fifteen-thousandth cup of coffee, needing the caffeine like he needed air.
He next went to the safe in Hank’s office and checked his Ruger again making sure it had a full magazine. He already had his S&W 642 tucked inside his left boot, and an SRK strapped to his right ankle. He was ready to get the show on the fucking road.
Hank was sitting at his desk filling out paperwork and answered his intercom when Abby buzzed it. “Yeah?”
“There’s a Jeff Maxwell and a Quinn McDonnell here to see Oz,” Abby replied.
Oz left the office immediately. “Heard anything?” he asked Jeff as he approached.
“Nothing. You?” Jeff questioned with a frown.
“Waiting on the prick to call.” He filled Jeff in on what was happening telling him there wasn’t a whole lot else they could do.
When he was finished, Quinn, who’d been standing quietly listening now looked from Jeff to Oz and back again. “That’s it? Are you kidding me? I don’t get it. Why are you all just standing around? That’s my best friend out there! Can’t you do something?”
“We’re doing all we can, Miss,” Gunner answered as he walked up.
“Oh, really?” Quinn said with a sarcastic chuckl
“Quinn,” Oz began before she cut him off.
“No, John! Tilly trusts you and you’re… you’re not doing anything!” she screeched hysterically.
Well, fucking ouch. Oz ran a hand over his face feeling the same exact way but needing to keep his shit in check. Wouldn’t do a lick of good for him to fly off the handle. He had to remain calm. And that sucked not a little because what he wanted to do was throw a fit and hurl shit around the goddamned building.
“Ms. McDonnell, would you like something to drink?” Gunner asked quietly.
Oz watched as Tilly’s best friend put her hands on her hips and answered his coworker. “Oh, am I getting too loud here because I want Tilly found now? What, are you trying to divert my attention to keep me calm?” she asked snippily, her voice rising in volume at each word that came out.
“Well, yeah,” Gunner replied, his lips twitching a bit when Quinn’s mouth dropped open and she scowled at him, her bright green eyes boring into his striking blue ones that held steady on hers.
Jesus. Oz was grateful that Gun was trying to handle the situation but he didn’t need him provoking her. Things were tense enough without Quinn going batshit crazy on them all.
She narrowed her eyes at Gunner crossing her arms over her chest. “And who might you be?”
Gunner held his hand out saying, “Gunner Murphy.”
Quinn looked at his hand for a few seconds before putting hers out to shake it. “So, Gunner, is this your idea of getting Tilly back?”
“There’s a certain way of doing things in a situation like this. Right now we’re playing the waiting game. It’s about all we can do. I’m sorry,” he answered.
“Well… I… thought… I thought… maybe…” she whispered.
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