Brighter Than the Sun

Page 71

“Jesus,” Donovan muttered.

“And you think you can connect to her now?” Sam asked gently.

“I don’t want her to even try it,” Nathan snarled. “You have no idea what’s going on with Zoe, what her situation is, what you’d be exposing yourself to. I won’t allow this, Shea. You’re already fragile enough with this pregnancy kicking your ass on a daily basis. I don’t even want to contemplate what this might do to you or our baby.”

Part of Joe agreed with Nathan. The risk was great. But the other part wanted to scream at his brother that if the roles were reversed and it was Shea enduring God knows what and someone might be the key in finding—helping—her, he’d be just as adamant about doing whatever was necessary to help her.

It’s exactly why I’m going to do everything I can to help her—and you, Joe.

Shea’s soft voice echoed in Joe’s mind and he gathered her close, hugging her tightly as he buried his face in her hair.

You’ll never know how much this means to me, baby girl. I love her so damn much. I can’t lose her now that I’ve finally found her.

Joe saw Nathan sigh in resignation and realized that he and Shea had been having their own telepathic conversation.

Everyone looked at Shea in concern and a flush turned her cheeks pink at being the object of so much scrutiny.

“You tell us how you want to do this, Shea,” Garrett said gently. “If you prefer to only have Nathan and Joe with you, then the rest of us will clear out until you give us the all clear.”

Shea smiled shyly. “That’s sweet of you, Garrett, but I think everyone should be here. I’m not always cognizant of what I relay, and if we have everyone’s ear then we run the least risk of missing important details.”

“Promise me,” Nathan said fiercely. “If this causes you any pain or distress, promise me you’ll break away.”

Shea pulled away from Joe and went into her husband’s arms. “I’ll be fine, Nathan. Promise. I need to get started. We’re wasting time Zoe may not have.”

Joe stiffened, his face spasming in pain. Shea sent him a look of apology but he shook his head. “You’re only speaking the truth. We don’t know what we’re up against—what she’s up against, so yes, we need to hurry. Just tell me what you need. Anything at all.”

“Just be here and try to be calm so I can give my entire focus to trying to establish the link between me and Zoe. It may take a while because it’s a lot to grasp that you can suddenly hear someone talking in your head, and she’ll wonder if she’s going crazy.”

Nathan led Shea over to one of the couches in the war room and sat down next to her. She reached her hand out to Joe to pull him down next to her and then sat between the two men, their hands clasped in hers.

She sucked in a deep breath and closed her eyes, her brow puckering with strain. The entire room fell silent as all attention was focused on her.

Shea blanked everything from her mind as she closed off every path except the narrow, faint fingerprints that led her to Zoe.


ZOE lay numbly on the floor, her hands tied behind her back, her ankles bound so tightly together that the rope cut into her skin, which was smeared with blood. She blinked in an effort to clear her vision, obscured by blood and swelling, but her head had incurred the most injury. The pain was so overwhelming that nausea was ever present, and she swallowed rapidly to prevent vomiting.

Sebastian stood a short distance away with two accomplices she couldn’t identify. He wore a smug expression of victory, and every so often he leered openly at her, seemingly amused at the damage he’d inflicted.

“The old man really doesn’t give a fuck about you,” he said with a laugh. “He sounded quite bored when I listed my demands. I wonder if he’ll say the same when I call his bluff and send him footage of his daughter’s head being blown off.”

He bent down and ran his fingers suggestively over her breasts, and she shrank away, nearly moaning at the pain the motion caused her. He laughed and then backhanded her across her already bruised cheek.

“I plan to have a taste of that pussy again before I hand you back over to Daddy. If you give me any trouble, I’ll let my partners have a turn as well, so if I were you, I’d be a very good girl.”

Tears trailed down her cheeks, mixing with fresh and drying blood from her nose and mouth. There was no hope for rescue. No one knew where she was, and even if Rusty told Joe and his brothers everything, Joe wouldn’t want her anyway. Her father didn’t give a shit about her—he never had. Once . . . before her mother left, he had been a different man. He’d been an actual father. She had vague memories of a loving family, of his tossing her into the air as she squealed in delight. Him tucking her into bed at night after reading her a bedtime story.

All of that had come to an end after her mother had left without so much as a good-bye, a letter or an I love you. One day she was there and then she wasn’t, and her father had turned into a cold, heartless man she didn’t recognize. Did he blame her for her mother leaving? Did he hate her for that? What kind of father placed blame on a five-year-old child? And even if he didn’t blame her, didn’t he realize she was hurting every bit as much as he was? She hadn’t only lost one parent. She’d lost both the day her mother left them behind.

And now Sebastian was taunting her, knowing full well her father didn’t give a shit about her. She knew she wouldn’t come out of this alive. She’d heard the phone call and his plan to kill her that had prompted her to flee in the first place. What kind of monster toyed with her when she knew the eventuality of her fate? It seemed Sebastian and her father were cut from the same cloth.

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