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Had I really said those words to her? I mean…I shook my head slowly, chastising myself. What did it matter? I’d sacrificed everything for this woman. How could she not know? Here I was, after spending a small fortune to find her, lying beside her in this piece of shit hotel bed, the warm feel of her pressed against me as she slept…the smell of her…the taste of her lingering on my tongue… I’d just finished making her cry out for me again and again, desperate for the sound after so long, desperate for her…was it really a surprise?
I sighed. I couldn’t sleep. Instead I watched over her, keeping her safe, taking her in…hesitating to do what I needed to do next. I needed to get her out of this place. I’d found her first, but they were looking. And they would kill us both without hesitation. Just like they’d killed my father.
And my grandfather was getting older. He couldn’t do this alone anymore. There were a few guys who had moved up when my father died, but he wanted his own blood to take over. I was the only one still alive with his blood coursing through my veins. Even though I knew my mother was probably rolling over in her grave, pissed off that she’d gone through hell to keep me out…and yet here I was. And this time, I was all the way in, a complete 180-degree change in direction once again.
I sighed again, pulling Vicky closer, breathing in her scent, wondering about the effect it had on me…the effect she had on me. She undid me. Unraveling my entire life, realigning stars and moons…and I was supposed to send her back down to those idiots in New Mexico and leave her there? The ones who had lost track of her in the first place? They were going to protect her? Keep her safe? I reached beneath the pillow and felt the cool metal of the Glock I’d put there earlier. Could they really keep her safer than I could? Should I let them try only to fuck up again? And what if I didn’t find her first this time? What if I lost her for good? The thought made my heart pound…I would be useless if anything happened to her.
But what was the alternative? Bring her with me? It was so much worse than any Godfather movie. So much money…so much to learn…and so many people wanting me dead. Or they would when he passed the reigns over to me. A woman? A woman who had been a cop? Who knew so little about this life? I was supposed to run his organization? Jesus…Jesus. And here I was, kidding myself, thinking I could actually do this…thinking I could bring her with me…ruin her life…put her at risk every day. Every fucking day. I sighed…it weighed on me. All of it, every change, every new turn…and most of all her. I couldn’t keep risking everything to keep her safe. I had to prioritize. And in order to do that, I needed to know she was safe. New Mexico was the best option. I wouldn’t be with her, but she would be safe. And then I could focus on my life in New York…maybe.
I knew I’d exhausted her, knew I should let her sleep…but damn if I didn’t need her again. I had no idea how much longer I’d have her to myself…I just needed…
I turned to her, gently brushing strands of dark, silky hair from her forehead, from her cheeks…she was so beautiful, all that soft, caramel skin, those dark, long lashes, her full pouty lips…I could see her eyes darken in my mind as she came for me…and now the tension between my thighs would no longer be ignored.
I leaned in to take her lips, kissing them softly, begging for entry, smiling as her lips parted for me, even in sleep. I moved in closer, teasing her with my tongue…tasting…savoring…enticing…drawing her to the surface. I stroked the rounded softness of her hip, caressing the length of her arm as my mouth continued to invite her to awaken…my hand gently stroking her delicious curves, pushing the sheet aside. She turned, lying on her back, her legs parting just a bit…just for me. I smiled again, my mouth no longer on hers as I shifted even closer.
The scent of her, aroused, could have me fighting wars. I mean, I actually understood the idea of Helen of Troy now. I watched as my fingers glided along the length of her inner thigh, raising goose pimples…seeking buried treasure. She moaned a little and I wasn’t sure if she was asleep or awake…not that I cared. I just wanted to feel her, that warm liquid heat, grabbing me, holding me, pulling me in…I caressed the soft curls, trimmed neatly, that protected her from my attempts to ravish her. Not much protection, I smirked, as I traced her rapidly swelling nether lips.
I bent to take a hardened nipple into my mouth as I slid the first finger into her, enjoying the feel of her heat as it wrapped around me. She moaned again, turning toward me to give me better access. I slid another finger in, sinking slowly, my teeth teasing her nipple, forcing her body to climb as I stroked…she gave in to me willingly, riding my fingers…tensing…wanting…immediately needing more…I shifted again, lying half over her, my fingers diving deeper, pumping into her, my thumb manipulating that wicked canlı bahis şirketleri little nub, my fingers curving, listening to her breath hitch as I found that spot…tapping gently…my mouth on hers… rougher… demanding…her lips opening, receptive…begging me…she was close, I could feel her sweet muscles clamping around my fingers…hungry…desperate…
“Tell me again,” she pleaded softly, her voice heavy with sleep and arousal, her body on the edge.
“I love you,” I whispered.
And I felt her explode, abruptly, her orgasm ripping through her, forcing the breath from her, totally claiming her. I didn’t stop, continuing to fuck her, plunging in again and again, demanding her body quickly make the climb once more. Her body seized, the second orgasm consuming her, rendering her senseless. Still I continued, pushing her body to the next level until she opened her eyes, grabbing my hand to stop me from ravaging her, her lips covering mine beseechingly.
“Stop, you’re going to be the death of me,” she begged huskily.
I sighed, resting my forehead against hers, “good…then we’d be even.”
She fell into a deep, fatigued sleep this time, nestled against me…but I still couldn’t sleep. Even in the darkness of the room, I wanted to continue memorizing every inch of her face, the sweet smell of her skin, the silkiness of her hair. Finally I felt myself dozing off, part of me still awake, still aware.
It was this part that heard someone walk by the hotel room door, pause, and then continue walking…
It was this part that heard someone quietly try the doorknob…
And it was this part that had me moving with lightening speed, rolling over on top of Vicky, taking her with me as I hit the floor hard, just as bullets pierced wood and metal, drumming a nasty pattern into the wall above our heads. Unmoving, I lay on top of her, listening to her quick, panicked breaths, knowing I had to get us to a different location fast before the assholes shooting into the room realized they were aiming too high. I grabbed her hand, indicating she should stay low, and dragged her into the bathroom, pulling her into the bathtub, covering her with my body once again. The flurry of bullets continued for another few seconds and then stopped. But I remained in the bathtub, shielding Vicky’s body with my own, my breathing rushed, the adrenaline pumping, for another five minutes. Then I moved, yanking her out of the tub, quickly demanding she dress while I gathered all of our shit. Moments later we were in my Mercedes, heading toward the nearest highway.
Before I could even ask Vicky if she was okay, my phone was ringing. I glanced at the cell. It was my Grandfather.
“Where are you?”
He disconnected the call without another word. Whoever had eyes on me had done a good job of reporting in…but not such a good job of watching my ass.
I turned to look at the woman sitting beside me. Her face was frozen in shock, her hands, which she was wringing in her lap, trembling. I reached over and took one of them, holding on to it tightly.
She didn’t respond. I took that as a sign that she wasn’t okay. I pulled the car over, putting it in park before turning to her, a finger under her chin until her amber colored eyes met mine.
“Hey, you’re okay, all right? I’m here. I won’t let anything happen to you.”
The words seemed to sink in, albeit slowly. After another few moments, when she was trembling a little less violently, I pulled back onto the road, turning the heat on high and directing the vents toward her.
We didn’t speak for quite some time. An hour or two probably. My mind was going a mile a minute and I couldn’t even imagine what she was going through. I knew how they’d found her, but how had they tracked me down? Especially since I know my Grandfather had men watching my back. The only answer I could come up with was that one of those men was also on Marcos’ payroll. Had to be. No other way for them to find me in that crappy hotel that quickly.
I certainly didn’t relish the task of trying to determine who the traitor was. And I really didn’t want to think about what I would have to do about it once I found out. And yet, whoever the asshole was had almost killed Vic. And for that, I would make sure he paid.
The next few days passed in a blur as they drove down to New Mexico. Then Vic was walking through the vaguely familiar two-bedroom house she’d lived in for a year. Her clothes were still there, the few personal items she’d added to the bland décor still there…it was as if she’d been on vacation and was finally returning home. But this wasn’t her home. This was the place where they kept her “safe” until she could testify against Jimmy L. and Marcos. This was basically a prison. Her entire life here had been a prison.
“Can we have a minute?”
Tae’s deep voice was directed at the U.S. Marshalls. They nodded and left.
“You’re not staying here. They canlı kaçak iddaa just wanted to know if you wanted to keep anything before they moved you.”
Vic turned to her, “what does it matter? Where ever they put me, you won’t be there.”
She watched as Tae sighed, “babe, we’ve been over this.”
Vic walked a few steps toward her, but then stopped. Tae had made up her mind. Made up their minds. She was safer down here, under the government’s protection, than she would be in New York. Tae would be busy, training, learning, slowly taking over for her Grandfather. She couldn’t keep an eye on Vic, couldn’t keep her safe. The State’s attorney would pick up the case where he’d left off and probably within a year, maybe a little longer, she would be a free woman. Then she could relocate to New York. But not before then. Not before it was safe.
A great plan. A smart plan. A plan where everyone would be safe and happy…everyone except her. She couldn’t imagine being away from Tae for a year or longer. Not again. Not now. Not when she finally knew where she stood with her. She sighed, turning away from Tae to quickly look around.
“I don’t want any of this stuff. We can go.”
She was shoring up her strength to deal with Tae leaving. Why prolong the inevitable? They would not let Tae know where they were moving her. This would be the last time she saw her for months…
She hadn’t realized Tae was standing beside her until she felt those strong arms around her, pulling her close. Still, she couldn’t stop the tears from gathering, from spilling over…
“Vic, you’re killing me here. You have to trust me.”
Tae wiped the tears from her cheeks, “they will keep you safe. And I will get word to you as often as I can.”
Vic nodded, not wanting to make Tae feel any worse than she already did.
“I’ll be fine,” Vic assured her.
Tae nodded, “I know, that’s the point. Come on, let’s go.”
Vic sighed once more before following her from the small house. The sooner they got started, the sooner it would be over and she’d be with Tae again.
No one at her old job knew what had happened. So, the powers-that-be told the employees she’d had a family emergency and had taken an unscheduled leave of absence. And just like that, she was the director of the day care center again. It only took a few weeks for it to feel “normal”. After a few months, it was as if she’d never left. The heat, the dry, red earth, the smell of dust and dirt, the headache-inducing altitude which affected her even months later…yup, she was back in New Mexico all right.
She sighed as she looked over the file one of her teachers had given her a few days ago. The teacher had reported bruises on one of her student’s upper arms and buttocks. In this instance, they were required to call child services. She was expecting a visit from them at any moment. It would be unpleasant. Most likely they would take the child into custody until they finished investigating, which could take weeks if not months. It would be hard on her student. And on the teacher. Still, it was important they did their jobs in this situation, just in case the child was being abused. It was better to be safe, and disrupt his life for a little while, than to ignore it and subject him to a life of possible abuse.
That is where her thoughts were when the intercom buzzed.
“Ms. Cummings, you have a unscheduled visitor?”
She sighed, “Lizzie, I told you child services was coming. Just send them in, okay?”
She waited for Lizzie to continue, but there was nothing else before a knock sounded on the door.
She stood, “come in.”
But it wasn’t a representative from child services that opened the dark, heavy door. No. That chiseled, honey colored, handsome face, the slim, muscular form…no, not child services. She’d slept beside him for years. She felt her stomach contract painfully and forced herself to slowly sit down before her legs gave out beneath her.
She watched as he closed the door behind him.
“Hey babe,” he smiled, as charming and attractive as ever.
She didn’t respond…couldn’t respond. Her heart was racing, beating so fast she thought she might pass out…her thoughts going a million miles a minute. How had he found her? How? And what was he doing here? What did he want? Was he here to kill her? If so, why not break into her apartment and kill here there? Why come to her job, endangering other people? She swallowed, but why else would he be here? She closed her eyes for a moment, the image of gray, stormy eyes filling her mind for just a moment. But when she opened her eyes, Dylan was still there, sitting in the chair across from her desk…a rather large silver gun pointed in her direction.
They sat, staring at one another for a few moments, before Dylan spoke.
“I’m not here to kill you.”
She almost laughed…almost. Instead, she glanced downward, staring pointedly at the gun he held. She watched with some surprise as he lowered it and laid canlı kaçak bahis it across his thigh, his finger no longer on the trigger.
“I came here to talk.”
Later she would think she should have had a witty comeback, like “perhaps the time to talk was before you beat the shit out of me,” or something like that. But at the moment, nothing came to mind.
“So, at first Jimmy wanted me to just shoot you on sight, right? But then we were thinking…”
She just waited, glancing at the gun still resting on his thigh, hearing her own labored breaths…
“We have a proposition for you.”
Still unable to respond, she sat in silence until he continued.
“Marcos and Jimmy are willing to forgive and forget, both you and your butchy friend, if…”
Again they sat in silence for a few seconds as he paused for dramatic effect, an annoying habit of his she’d always hated.
“if you agree to kill the old man.”
She blinked, pretty sure her hearing wasn’t working. Was he joking?
“You want me to kill Don Carlos?” She whispered.
He nodded, “Marcos realized this is an ideal opportunity. They let you into the Brownstone. We heard the old man even met with you. He doesn’t do that. We’ll get you a weapon, you go to New York and you kill him. And all will be forgiven. You and your little girlfriend can just disappear and no one will bother you ever again.”
She just stared at him as if he was insane. Actually, she was convinced he was insane. Kill Don Carlos? After he’d saved her life? And watched over her when she was looking for Tae? And Tae? She was supposed to be okay with killing her grandfther? They would just live happily ever after?
So she just continued to sit, dumbfounded, knowing if she said ‘no,’ he would put a bullet in her brain. But if she said ‘yes’ too quickly, they wouldn’t believe her and would probably kill her anyway…
“How much time before I have to let you know?” She choked out.
He hesitated, causing her to tense up even more…but then he smiled. A dazzling, mind-numbing smile that she would have moved mountains to see in the past. Now? She just hated him.
“Good answer Vi. Smart. Forty-eight hours. And then I’ll be in touch, okay?”
He stood, tucked the gun in the small of his back, winked, opened her office door and left.
She continued to sit there, frozen, for a very long time.
She wasn’t sure how she made it through the rest of the day. The meeting with Child Services took place not long after. They did indeed take the child into custody, as she thought they might. Then she had to deal with daily minutia until she could lock up the facility after the last child was picked up by a late, frantic mother.
And then she was heading to her car, a simple, gray Ford that did not at all remind her of Tae’s beautiful, sexy grey eyes. She waved to the security detail parked across the street. Tae had hired a small, local firm to watch her. If she called Tae, it would be the last time she saw them. Because how had Dylan appeared in her office without even a word of warning if they truly were watching over her? But that was the question, wasn’t it? Did she call the Marshalls to report a breach, did she do nothing, coming up with an answer on her own in 48 hours, or did she contact Tae? What would Tae do? Bring her to New York, which is what she told herself she wanted? Put her plans on hold for a year, or more, to babysit her personally? Hire more people to watch her? What were her options?
God, if Dylan had been sent to kill her, she’d be dead right now. She’d been totally unprepared. She didn’t even have a weapon in her office…the first thing she would change if she stayed in New Mexico. Besides, she liked her job, she didn’t want to start all over again…but she so desperately wanted to leave Tae alone. To show her she could take care of herself. To prove she wasn’t going to be a burden once they were together again.
But Dylan had been in her office today. That was a fact and this was not a game. He was going to kill her if she didn’t give him the ‘right’ answer. She needed to actually do something before he reappeared. She needed a plan…and she needed help coming up with that plan.
She tossed her purse on the table near the front door as she locked the door securely behind her, turning on lights and kicking off her shoes as she moved through the brightly colored, spacious two-bedroom apartment. Typically the apartment got a lot of light and was a little more cheerful than the small house she’d stayed in before, but it was after 7pm and the sun had already set. Besides, she didn’t have time to stare out of the window thinking about how badly she missed Tae today. So instead, she pulled the small loveseat away from the wall, lifting a corner of the wall-to-wall carpet she’s pried lose previously, working lose the plank in the floor she’d also removed previously, and claiming the burner phone Tae had given her before she’d left. It was only for emergencies…and this was most certainly an emergency. She turned it on, relieved to see it still had a charge, and held down the number two so it could automatically dial the only number programmed into it. She listened as the phone rang once, twice, then three times. On the third ring, someone picked up but said nothing.
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