Sweet Temptation

Page 36

“What is this for?”

“Get in the bathroom and take it. Now. I have to know. I want to know what I’m dealing with. If you’re coming to me with someone else’s baby.”

“Chad, this is ridiculous. I use birth control.”

It was the wrong thing to say. His face darkened into a savage mask at her reminder that she’d had sex with another man.

“I won’t have it. I won’t have Hudson’s bastard. Your babies will be mine. Just like you’re mine. Now get into the bathroom.”

She stumbled when he pushed her forward. God, this was crazy. More crazy was the worry of what would happen if she was indeed pregnant. Frantically she searched her memory for her last period. She couldn’t think. How long had she been here? Had she taken all her pills? Had she missed any? Would Chad go over the edge if she was pregnant?

He stood in the doorway and lit two candles on the small counter. Coupled with the thin stream of sunshine from the hallway, the light was enough for her to see.

“Are you going to watch?” she demanded. “Don’t I deserve some privacy?”

“Don’t talk to me about what you deserve,” he hissed. “Take the damn test. I’m not letting you out of my sight.”

Refusing to let him see her humiliation, she fumbled with her jeans and tried her best to shield what body parts she could. He yanked the box from the counter and tore it open. He thrust the stick at her, and she took it, praying she could pee on command.

After several long moments, she managed enough to comply with the test instructions. When she set the test on the counter so she could clean up and get her pants back up, he took it, curling his hand around the plastic tube.

“It takes five minutes,” she mumbled.

“Get back in the other room,” he ordered.

She went ahead of him, back into the living room. Despite the warmth of the late afternoon, a chill whispered over her skin. She was scared. More scared than she’d ever been in her life. How did you reason with someone who had clearly lost whatever grip on reality he once had?

“Why didn’t you just tell me?” she asked.

It felt clichéd, the whole thing of trying to get her captor to talk, but her mind had shut down, and she needed time to figure a way out of this mess.

“Tell you what?” he snapped.

“Your feelings. That you wanted me. You never said a word. I trusted you, Chad. I went to you for help when I started getting all those creepy notes. I thought you cared, but it was you all along.”

He seemed put off by her bluntness, as if she made a very valid point and he was at a loss as to how to respond.

Then his eyes narrowed and rage boiled off him in waves.

“I went to David.”

“What? Chad, he’s been dead for three years.”

“Before. I went to him before. A long time before. When you were sixteen. I told him I wanted you. I asked for his blessing. He told me if I ever came near you he’d kill me with his bare hands.”

His hands shook, and she watched nervously as his fingers tightened around the gun in response.

“He had the nerve to act like I was some piece of shit not good enough for you. He freaked. Completely lost his cool.”

“I was sixteen,” she said gently. “Of course he freaked. What would you do if some guy so much older started paying attention to your sixteen-year-old sister?”

“He said never,” Chad snarled. “I’ve always loved you. Always. I waited. Waited until you were twenty. I did the right thing. Instead of going to you, trying to sneak around him, I approached him like a man. Told him my intentions. Told him I wanted you.”

Angelina caught her breath. He was well and truly obsessed. He saw himself as the victim. To him he had done nothing wrong.

He glanced down at the test in his hand, and Angelina caught her breath when he threw it across the room, splintering it on the wall.

“You bitch! You fucking whore. You did this on purpose. You did it thinking if you got knocked up I wouldn’t want you. You don’t think I’m good enough either, do you?”

Oh God. Her knees gave out, and she went to the floor holding her stomach with both arms. Pregnant. Tears welled in her eyes. He’d never let it live. And she’d never let him touch her.

This changed everything. She not only had herself to protect, she had to protect her baby.

He lunged at her, grabbed her hair and yanked her painfully toward him. Spit hit her face as he raged at her.

“I’ll get rid of it. Just like I got rid of David. I won’t let you get away with this. You’re mine.”

She went cold. “What did you say?”

He dropped her hair and backhanded her across the mouth. The taste of blood exploded onto her tongue, and she reeled away, holding her split lip.

She scrambled up, fury raging through her veins like acid. Burning. Eating.

“What the hell did you do to David?” she hissed.

“I got rid of him and that bitch lover of his. He had a hell of a lot of nerve thinking I wasn’t good enough for you when he was shacked up with Micah and his wife. You needed to be removed from that situation. They weren’t a good example for you.”

Tears of rage scalded her cheeks. “They died in a car accident.”

“Stupid bitch. Who do you think caused the accident?”

She forgot all about caution. About preservation. About patience and waiting for the right moment. She lunged at him and drove her knee directly into his balls.

He dropped to his knees, the gun clattering across the floor as he dropped it. Both hands went to his groin and he doubled over in pain.

She made a fist and punched him in the eye, and when his head reared back, she jabbed him right in the throat.

He went down hard, and she didn’t waste any time bolting for the door.

He grabbed her ankle and yanked. She hit the floor with enough force to knock the breath out of her. He rolled her over, and she came up fighting.

She landed another punch to his face before he grabbed her wrists and yanked her arms over her head. No way. No fucking way she was going down this easy.

She arched her back and slammed her knee into his crotch again. He managed to dodge this time, but she still hit him where it hurt.

“Bitch! Goddamn you. You promised not to fight me.”

“Sue me, asshole.”

When he leaned down to kiss her, she reared back and then head butted him right in the nose. Blood spurted like a geyser, splattering her shirt. He loosened his hold enough for her to wrench free, and she rolled, kicking and punching for all she was worth.

She bounded to her feet, but he gained his as well. He lunged and she dodged, but he caught her waist and they both went to the floor, her taking the brunt of his weight.

Fear for her baby outweighed everything else. She had to end this quick or he’d kill her baby.

Be smart. Use your head. You can beat your opponent no matter how big or mean he is.

She relaxed and went completely still. In his surprise, Chad loosened his grip, and his eyes narrowed in suspicion. She waited until he reached for her shirt and then she jabbed her fingers into his unprotected eyes.

He roared in pain and rage. She shoved with all her strength and he fell away. The gun. It was lying just a few feet away.

She dove for it, her hands stuttering over the barrel.

Chad landed on her, driving the breath from her. She felt a pop in her ribs and pain exploded through her chest. They wrestled, rolling as she gripped the pistol. His hands gripped hers cruelly, squeezing until she thought her bones would surely break, but she wouldn’t let go.

They grappled for control, their bodies tangling as they rolled over and over. She was fighting for her life and that of her child. She fought for David and Hannah. And for all that she and Micah had lost.

A loud explosion rattled her ears, and pain seared through her shoulder. She was knocked backward several feet and fire licked up her arm, searing, hot, excruciating. God help her, he’d shot her.

He climbed over her, straddling her body as her blood flowed onto the floor. She saw the intent in his eyes and knew that unless she found a way to survive, his face would be the last she saw.

Whispering an urgent prayer to God, to David and Hannah, who watched over her, she made one last stand.

Maybe Chad thought she was done. Maybe he didn’t think she was a threat any longer. It was his mistake. Ignoring the agony any movement of her arm caused, she wrenched the pistol from his grip with both hands. Before he could react, she cracked the butt over his face, shattering his nose that was already damaged from her head butt.

He fell backward, landing on the floor with a thump. She lay there a long second, heaving for breath. She was light-headed and the room spun crazily around her. Gasping for breath, she struggled up, only to see Chad out cold in front of her.

The cuffs. She couldn’t chance him waking up. Couldn’t chance him following her. She wouldn’t be able to hold him off again.

Silver glinted in the candlelight and she saw the cuffs across the room, thrown carelessly aside when he’d freed her before.

She crawled over and grabbed them, her hands shaking violently.

Simply cuffing him wouldn’t do. She had to incapacitate him. She quickly cuffed one wrist and then rolled him so that he lay on his belly. She yanked both arms around and then secured the other wrist.

Rope. She’d seen rope when they walked in. But where? She searched the living room frantically and then remembered it was out on the front porch. Hoping it was sturdy and not rotted and frayed, she stumbled out to get it, ignoring the blood that dripped from her bullet wound.

Calling on strength she didn’t know she had, she looped the rope around his ankles and then pulled until his legs were bent back, and his body was bowed, belly out. She tied the rope as tightly to the cuffs as she could, winding and winding again until he was bent at an impossible angle, his arms and legs tied together behind him.

Keys. Where had he put the keys? First things first. She had to stop the bleeding. She ran to the kitchen and rummaged through the drawers until she found some old rags. As best she could with one hand, she fashioned a tight bandage, but blood was soaking through them already.

She tucked the gun into the waist of her jeans and went in search of the keys. Frustration ate at her when she came up with nothing. She searched his pockets, the living room, even the bathroom. He hadn’t left them in the car. She knew that much.

A groan rose from across the room, and she panicked. She pulled the gun and eased over, pointing the barrel down at him as he moaned again and tried to move.

Rage. Such red-hot fury descended. Her hand shook and her finger curled around the trigger. She could shoot him. Right here, right now. No one would blame her. No one would ever know it hadn’t been done in the heat of the fight. She could shoot him and then untie him and leave him to die. He deserved to die like a gut-shot animal. Slow and painful.

Do it. Just do it.

The voice whispered over her ears. She was tempted, so tempted. He’d taken everything from her. From Micah. He’d tried to kill her baby. He didn’t deserve to live.

Tears filled her eyes and she wiped at them, leaving sticky blood.

She lowered the gun and turned away. No. David had taught her to value life. He’d never want her to kill another human being for him.

She left the house, stumbling down the steps, the gun once more tucked into her jeans. Cell phone. Chad’s cell phone. He’d left it on the seat of the car.

She wrenched the door open and looked again for the keys, though she’d seen him bring them inside. She grabbed the phone and slammed the door shut.

From inside the house, she heard Chad curse and then yell at her. He called her a litany of names and vowed to kill her if he ever got his hands on her again.

She needed no urging; she turned and ran down the road they’d driven in on.


Micah paced the interior of the meeting room at HPD. He was about to go out of his mind. Nathan, Gray, Connor and even Damon had gathered along with several detectives. They had crawled over Chad’s entire life, tracked his movements by credit card receipts, knew where he’d stayed in Houston and when he’d taken leave from Miami PD.

Micah blamed himself. The taste of guilt was sour and overwhelming. How could he not have seen what a nutcase his friend was? Hell, they’d worked together for years. Nothing had ever made him suspect Chad was off his rocker.

He’d made it entirely too easy for Chad to get to Angelina. He’d failed to protect her then just as he’d failed her now.

His cell phone rang and he flipped it open in his hand. He froze as he stared at the incoming number.

“It’s him,” he barked.

Silence fell, and one of the detectives motioned him over to the table.

“Put it on speaker,” he mouthed to Micah.

Micah pushed the button and snarled into the phone. “Where is she, you son of a bitch?”

There was a moment’s hesitation and then Angelina’s voice quivered across the room. “Micah?”

Fear exploded over him. He snatched up the phone even though it was still on speaker. He needed to be closer to her voice.

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