Sweet Temptation

Page 35

“Hi, Chad,” she said softly.

He smiled warmly at her. “Hey, kiddo. You doing okay?”

She nodded. “Micah said you’ve found him?”

“Yeah, we were just getting to that.”

Chad pulled out a folder and handed it to Micah. What happened next was a blur. One moment Micah was flipping open the folder, and the next Chad whipped out his pistol and hit Micah in the back of the head.

Micah went down, blood spilling from the wound on his head. Angelina’s knees buckled, and she dropped down next to Micah, her hands going to his shoulders.

“Oh my God, what are you doing?” she screamed up at Chad.

Chad pointed the gun at Micah, his eyes so cold she shivered.

“Get up, Angelina. Do it now.”

“What is wrong with you? I need to call an ambulance. Are you crazy?”

The realization was slow to come, but when it did, it hit her like a sledgehammer. Her gaze flicked to the open folder lying next to Micah on the floor. It held empty sheets of paper. There was nothing there. It was all a trick.

She stared in horror at Chad. Nausea bubbled in her stomach. “It was you,” she whispered. “You’re the creep who’s been stalking me.”

“Not stalking. I never stalked you.”

“What the hell would you call it then?” she spit out. “You made my life hell. I lived in constant fear. I had to pack up and move in the middle of the night.”

“You should have come to me,” he said calmly. “I took good care of you. For a little while you leaned on me. You should have seen that I was perfect for you.”

Oh, sweet Jesus. He was insane. Out of his ever-loving mind, and now Micah lay on the floor with a head injury.

“Get out of the way, Angelina. I don’t want to accidentally shoot you when I shoot him.”

Terror blew through her chest, robbing her of breath. He was utterly serious. There was no emotion, no reaction in his eyes. He would calmly kill Micah without a second thought. Unless she could stop him.

She rose to her feet, careful to keep her body in between Chad and Micah. Her knees shook, her palms were sweaty, and if she so much as breathed wrong, she was going to puke.

“Please don’t kill him, Chad,” she said in her softest voice. “I’ll go with you. I’ll be whatever you want me to be. We can be together. I won’t fight you. But don’t kill him.”

His eyes narrowed suspiciously as he stared at her, but the gun never moved. “I’m supposed to trust you? After you betrayed me by sleeping with him? You’ve been holed up here acting as his sex toy for weeks now.”

“I didn’t know it was you. You should have realized what a crush I had on you. Why do you think I went to you for help? But you ignored me. You treated me like a kid sister. Like David’s sister. What was I supposed to think?”

“Why do you care what happens to him then?”

Angelina glanced down at Micah and prayed he was still alive, that she could buy him enough time.

“He was David’s best friend. And if you kill him, you’ll go to prison for murder. How can we be together then? You’ll leave me just like Micah left me, like David and Hannah left me. I’m tired of being left behind, Chad. If you care for me like you say you do, then you won’t leave me either.”

His eyes flickered and he slowly lowered the gun. She held her breath as tension knotted her belly. Then he gestured toward the door.

“Let’s go.”

“I need my stuff. My clothes. It’s all upstairs.”

Suspicion glittered in his eyes again, and his lip curled upward in a snarl.

“Forget it. I’ll provide you what you need. For now we’re getting out of here.”

Swallowing back the stark terror that swelled in her throat, she took a step forward and made herself not look back at Micah. It would enrage Chad, and she needed him calm if she ever hoped to escape him.

He took her arm roughly with his free hand and kept the gun pointed at her side as they walked out of The House.

Sunlight accosted her vision and she winced, blinking away the brightness. She stumbled when he yanked her forward. How could this be such an utterly gorgeous day when her entire world had gone to hell in a matter of seconds?

“Get in,” he ordered.

She stood inside the open car door and everything inside her balked at getting into this vehicle.

Like the cop he was, he put his hand on her head and shoved her down into the car just like she was some criminal he was arresting.

The magnitude of her situation slammed into her brain with the force of a hurricane. She was being kidnapped by a lunatic cop. Crazy or not, he was a good cop. He’d be hard to find. He knew how cops thought.

She clamped her lips shut to quell the desperate moan that threatened to escape.

Think, Angelina. Keep your cool.

Chad slid in beside her, and to her relief his gun was at least holstered. To her dismay he clapped one cuff around her wrist and proceeded to secure the other cuff to his.

“Just in case you get any stupid ideas,” he said as he yanked her arm forward so he could start the engine.

“Where are we going?” she asked with fake calm.

He drove onto the highway, ignoring her question. There was sick determination on his face, and she knew no one was going to find them. If she was going to get out of this alive, she was going to have to do it herself.

Real calm descended over her. Her mind quit screaming. Her gut, which was knotted in worry over Micah, loosened, and she began to think. Really think.

Images from when David had taught her self-defense at the gym came to mind. He stood over her, making her repeat her moves until she was sore and exhausted.

You can beat anyone if you use your head. Intelligence always beats brawn. No matter how small you are or how big the guy, you can find a way to win, Angelina. You just have to outwit him.

Chad drove on, obeying all the speed limits. He was careful not to bring attention to them. He made all the correct stops. In fact he looked decidedly casual, one arm on the steering wheel in a nonchalant manner. He firmly believed he was invincible. He’d won. He’d gotten the girl.

Or so he thinks.

Somehow, someway, she was would escape. She only prayed she would get an early opportunity, before she had to endure whatever he had in mind for her.


Micah stirred and was immediately assaulted by a rush of pain so intense that he gagged, which only made the pain in his head all the more vicious.

He tried to force himself up, but his arms and legs wouldn’t cooperate. Beside him, his cell phone lay on the floor, and he stared curiously at it as it wavered in out and out of his vision, so blurred he had to blink to try to bring it back into focus.

And then it came back, sharp, like a lightning bolt. Knowledge exploded through his head and he panted against the pain.

Angelina. Chad. Oh God.

He was an idiot. He’d trusted the wrong person and now Angelina would pay the price.

He closed his eyes and swallowed, forcing himself to focus, to shake off the nausea and the pain. He wiped at his head, and his fingers came away red and sticky with his blood.

With shaking hands he grabbed at his cell phone, swearing when the buttons wouldn’t work right. He punched the speed dial for Connor because he knew he couldn’t navigate through his address book for another number.

“Hey, man,” Connor said, and Micah winced as the too loud voice seemed to crack his skull all over again.

“Chad Devereaux,” Micah rasped. “He has Angelina. Came here. It was him all along.”

“Whoa, back up. First, are you all right? You sound hurt. What the hell happened?”

“Get here,” Micah gritted out. “Need you to call it in. Get everyone looking. Find what you can on him.”

“On it,” Connor said and the line went dead.

Micah dropped the phone and tilted his head back, closing his eyes as an agony of a different kind flooded him.

Bits and pieces of the exchange between Angelina and Chad came back to him. He’d drifted in and out of consciousness, but he’d heard her agree to go with Chad if Chad wouldn’t shoot him.

Fear and rage slashed viciously through his chest. Fear for her. Rage at Chad.

She’d given herself to a man who’d tormented her for a year—to save Micah.

I love you, Micah. You may not want it. You may not need it. But you’ll always have it. It doesn’t come with any strings or expectations. It’s given freely.

Her words hit him like a ton of bricks. She loved him and she’d just sacrificed everything for him.

He’d been so afraid to love again, to open himself up to the kind of pain that came with losing someone. He’d loved Hannah deeply, the kind of love he thought he’d only feel once in his life. And he’d lost her. He hadn’t wanted to love Angelina. Hadn’t wanted to form an emotional attachment to her. He’d lost her anyway.

Shut the fuck up. You haven’t lost her yet. You’ll get her back.

He sagged against the couch and then tried to elbow his way up by putting his arms on the cushions and levering. It took longer than he’d have liked, and he felt like a goddamn wimp, but he finally managed to get himself off the floor.

I’m coming, Angel girl. Don’t give up. I’m coming for you.

Angelina looked up wearily when Chad pulled onto yet another bumpy backwoods road. They’d been driving forever. She’d tried to keep up, to notice road signs, landmarks, but all she knew was that they’d driven north of Houston, and he’d taken her on a veritable maze of unmarked, shabby roads. On purpose she was sure. He wasn’t a man who left anything to chance.

The road narrowed and the surrounding woods grew thicker, until they were following what looked to be an old ATV trail. At the end, they came upon an old frame house that looked like the woods had tried to swallow it up.

Gnarly bushes grew up the sides. Two trees stretched their massive branches over the roof, dipping low as if they’d punch a hole right through it.

The house looked intimidating. It looked isolated. Like it hadn’t been lived in for years.

“How did you find this place?” she asked helplessly.

“Spent a lot of time looking for just the right spot after you left Miami. I knew you’d wind up in Houston sooner or later. You were so transparent. Like a bitch in heat after Hudson. I just had to wait for you to appear.”

She closed her eyes. All that work for nothing. Her predictability and her love for Micah had been her ultimate downfall.

“What are you going to do to me?” she asked calmly. As calmly as she could when she was afraid she’d die. He’d picked the perfect spot. Who would ever find them here? Who would hear her screams? Or a gunshot?

He ignored her question and opened his door. None too gently, he hauled her across the seat, forcing her out his side. Still attached to him by the cuffs, she had no choice but to scramble out or have her arm ripped off. She winced when her bare feet hit the ground and immediately picked up at least three stickers.

He grabbed her arm and propelled her forward, onto the sagging porch and then inside. There was no electricity, probably no running water. The house had been abandoned for years.

Once inside, he fumbled with the cuffs and removed them, but he took his gun out of his holster and kept it up and ready.

“Don’t be stupid. I’ll shoot you before you ever get three steps. You made me a promise. Now let’s see you deliver.”

“What do you want me to deliver, Chad? I told you I’d come. I did. I told you I wouldn’t fight. I haven’t. Now you tell me. What am I supposed to do? What do you want? Did you bring me out here to kill me? Why not just shoot me back there with Micah?”

He curled his hand around her shirt and yanked her to him. He held the gun to her cheek with his other hand, and his breath blew hot over her face as he seethed.

“Don’t push me, Angelina. I’m already pissed at you. You’ve fucked with me for over a year, teasing, making promises you had no intention of keeping. You’re mine now. I’ve run out of patience.”

She gaped at him. The crazy asshole honestly believed she’d somehow led him on some merry chase. He’d made her life hell, forced her to leave Miami and spend many exhausting hours running. He’d drugged her, terrorized her friends and now he’d hurt Micah and kidnapped her.

She wanted to knock the ever-loving shit out of him, but she forced herself to calm. She didn’t have the advantage ... yet. No matter what it took, she had to play it smart and wait for her chance.

“I’m sorry.”

It nearly choked her to say the words and actually sound sincere. But they seemed to have the effect she was going for. He loosened his hold on her and pushed her away.

He circled the room, lighting candles. It was obvious he’d spent time here and arranged everything just so. Was this his attempt at seduction? Nausea rose in her throat. How could she endure him touching her?

He returned to her a moment later, a box in his hand. He shoved it at her, and to her astonishment it was a home pregnancy test.

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