Betrayal (Phantom Protectors Book 2) (11 page)

BOOK: Betrayal (Phantom Protectors Book 2)
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“No.”

“How long have you been getting migraines?”


Since college. I was hoping that since I finally remembered that night with Adam that they’d gone away on their own.”

He
pulled her closer to his body. “Maybe seeing him again today didn’t help.”

She
rolled in his arms, and he watched helplessly as a lone tear escaped her eye. “Why would he do that to me? Why would he lie about going to school with me, and how did he make me forget?”

Ridge reached up with his thumb and brushed the tear away. “I don’t know
, baby.”

He rolled to his back
, pulling her with him. He was enjoying the weight of her head against his chest as he stroked the silky strands of her hair in the darkness of her room. Her breathing evened and she fell fast asleep. This was the first glimpse of vulnerability and hurt he’d seen in her. His chest tightened as he lay awake, trying to think of a way to get her out of this without her getting hurt again. He’d do anything in his power to take her pain away. It dawned on him in the darkness of her room that, once his own mission was over, there was no way he was going to be able to let her go. Leaving her wasn’t going to be an option. He’d just have to get the general to understand that his feelings for Gracie were real and lasting and extended beyond an assignment. He bit his lip
. That is if she feels the same way.

A noise woke him up as
Gracie stirred in his arms. Ridge opened his eyes and glanced at her alarm clock. He’d fallen asleep with her, and three hours had passed.

Tara
pushed the door open and whispered, “Ridge.”

He blinked against the light spilling in from the cracked door.
“Just a sec. Let me get dressed.”

Tara
nodded, backing out of the room. Sliding from beneath Gracie’s arm, he left the warmth of her body and pulled on jeans before easing her door closed behind him and walking out into the living room. He ran a hand through his hair. “Yeah.”

Tara
held her hand over the speaker of Gracie’s phone. “It’s Adam, and he wants to talk to Gracie. What should I tell him?”

Ridge took the phone from her hands and walked out onto Gracie’s
porch. The smell of the steaks on the grill drifted to his nose as the sun set behind the trees. He pressed the phone to his ears.

“Hello? I was waiting for Gracie.”

“She’s sleeping. Is this Adam?”

The man on the other end was silent for only a second. “Yes, and you are?”

“My name’s Ridge. I’m her boyfriend.” Ridge moved down the steps to the driveway and pulled in a calming breath since reaching through the phone to snap the little weasel’s neck wasn’t an option. “Do you have any idea what you’ve done to her? How you’ve hurt her?” He clenched the cell phone in his palm and glanced up at the darkening sky when he felt the electrical currents rising in his fingers. If he didn’t stop it now, he was going to fry her phone, and then she was really going to be pissed.

“It couldn’t have been helped. It was the only way.”

“Only way for what, Adam?”

“To keep her alive
. They didn’t want her; they were after me. If you care anything about her, Ridge, you won’t let her come back to work tomorrow or ever again. She’s playing a game that’s going to get her killed, and I can’t protect her there.”

“Protect her from what?”

“I’ve got to go. I’ve already said too much, and someone is coming.” Ridge looked down at the black screen and shoved the phone in his pocket. He lifted his hands toward a tree in the distance and let all of the stirred angry energy release from his palms and fingers, projecting the blue lightning to the forest beyond. Blue and white lights swirled and danced, lighting up the night sky as he pointed toward the trees. Birds took flight and flew away. The hair on his arms stood on end from the energy coursing through his body. The blood boiled in his veins heating him from the inside out. Branches on a tree in the distance cracked and blackened before crashing to the ground absorbing the concentration of his anger.

Someone gasped behind him
, and he spun around. Gracie stood there with her hand over her mouth. He took a step toward her, and she held up a hand to stop him. “What the hell did that tree ever do to you?”

“I can explain.”

She folded her arms over her chest. “Okay, I’m listening.”

He pulled the phone from his pocket and handed it to her. “Adam called
looking for you, and Tara answered it. I took the call since you were sleeping.”

She glanced down at the phone before me
eting his gaze. “What did he want?”

“He said if I care
d about you that I wouldn’t let you go back to work. He said he couldn’t protect you there.”

“What the hell did he mean by that?” She threw her hands up. “And why does every man in my life think I need protection!”

Closing the distance between them without hesitation, he threw his arm around her shoulder and steered her back to the house. “I asked him the same thing, and he said he had to go and hung up.” He placed a kiss on the top of her head. “And as for men who think you need protection, it’s just because you’re so damn cute.” Unable to stop himself, he patted her on the ass as she walked into the house in front of him.

She glanced
back and glared as a groan of frustration left her lips. “Care to explain the light show?”

He wrapped his arms around her from behind
, pulling her back against his chest. He lowered his head and simultaneously nibbled her ear as he whispered words only meant for her to hear. “You know I have more gifts besides the one you’ve seen in the bedroom, right, princess?”

He didn’t have to be looking at her to know she rolled her eyes. His comment was something that Brody would have said.
As the days went by, Ridge was finding he was becoming more and more comfortable around Gracie. She brought out things inside of him that he hadn’t even realized he missed, a playfulness and gentleness he couldn’t ever remember having, and with the new feelings came a deeper despair. A giant ball of helplessness and frustration ate at his gut that he couldn’t fix all her problems and give her the normal life she deserved.

Chapter 12

 

 

A full month
of playing house with Ridge went by. He’d practically moved in, not that she cared. She was getting used to the mind-blowing sex every night, although it did little to ease her headaches. Ethan had somehow managed to talk Tara and Cathy into staying with him at the townhouse. Whether it was by saying that Gracie and Ridge wanted privacy or something else, none of them would tell her. Adam tried his best to ignore her at work and stayed hidden behind the lab doors while Ethan and Ridge still worked on figuring out his past. Every day she ate her lunch in the cafeteria by herself, and every day the flirtatious cook gave her more cake. The last two weeks had been rough on her physically. She was drained of energy and nauseous every day. She’d chalked it up the stress of the situation and the additional sex.  

Ridge never
gave up on asking her to quit her job, but as she explained it was about more than just her, he’d helped her concoct ways to gather more information. They’d even started sparring in the backyard so she could refresh her fighting skills that Jamie had taught her years ago as a simple precaution. She was getting comfortable with Ridge. Her feelings for the man grew every day. Her heart opened to the possibility that she was falling in love with him, even with all the turmoil in her life. He was the one constant she could count on. Nothing triggered her inner alarm as she worked for Sinclair. She’d begun to think she was barking up the wrong tree until today.

More
security roamed the grounds than usual, and the place was locked up tight. She had a hard time getting through the gate. She paused as she entered her office. Shouting and a heated argument came from behind Sinclair’s door. Gracie hesitated, her nerves prickling with unease, debating on whether to turn tail and leave before being caught eavesdropping. She shook her head when the phone rang and moved to her desk. “Global Med, can I help you?”

“Gracie
, is that you?” Adam whispered through the phone.

“Adam?”

“Shhh, don’t say my name.”

Gracie turned
her back to the door, away from Sinclair’s office, and lowered her voice. “Are you okay?”

“No, and I can’t talk. You need to get out of there, now! Ca
ll me as soon as you get home, and I’ll explain.”

Gracie replaced the phone in the cradle and grabbed her purse
, heading to the door. She was about to round the corner when she heard Sinclair’s voice. “Gracie. Where are you going?”

She mentally cursed and placed a hand on her stomach as she turned. “I’m sorry
, Mr. Sinclair. I wasn’t feeling well, and I was just going home before I get anyone else sick.”

The man with the
black eyes from the fundraiser stepped out from behind Sinclair. “This must be Gracie, your new assistant.” A smile formed on his lips as his gaze roved down her body and back up to her face. He stepped closer, and she clasped her hands behind her back to hide their visible tremble.

Her hand flew to cover her mouth as she made a gagging sound. “I’m sorry. I think I’m going to be sick.”

Sinclair patted the man on the shoulder. “Let the girl go, Black. She looks like she’s going to faint.

Black nodded.
“Well talk when you’re better, Gracie. You might want to go straight to the hospital.” He grinned, giving her a flash of his yellowing teeth. “I’m surprised the food around here hasn’t killed you yet.”

Gracie nodded once and
ran down the hall to the bathroom. Slamming the door behind her, she turned on the faucet and leaned against the wooden door. Cupping her hand under the water she drank the cool liquid. Her being sick hadn’t been a total lie. She’d been nauseous for days but she wouldn’t let that stop her from getting the hell out of this building. She pulled the door open and glanced up and down the hallway before scurrying outside. She threw her purse in the seat, her hands shaking as she shoved the keys in the ignition.
Calm down
. Now she had a name for the face of the one man who scared the crap out of her, the one man whose mere presence caused her to freeze. He had a name as dark as the soul piercing through his eyes.
Mr. Black.

Gracie gripped the wheel as she passed through the gate and turned out onto the open road
, switching her gaze from the road in front of her to her rearview mirror to see if she’d been followed. She breathed a sigh of relief when she made it home in one piece and no one followed her. Her driveway was empty of cars for the first time in a long time.

She unlocked her
front door and pushed it open and came to a halt. Her hand flew to cover her mouth. Overturned furniture and books torn from the shelf lay strewn across the floor in a giant mess. A shiver of anger ripped down her spine at the thought that someone had intentionally done this to her.

She pulled her cell from her pocket and
the gun from her purse. She speed dialed Ridge as she gripped the gun tighter, keeping her back to the door.

“Hey
, beautiful.” His voice was like a ray of sunshine on her day from hell.

“Someone broke in.”

“What? Go get in your car and lock the door. I’m already on the way.”

“Ridge,
please hurry.” Her voice cracked as she disconnected the call. She shoved the phone back in her pocket, and a crash in her kitchen made her jump. She spun on her heels and ran out to her car, climbing inside. Her hands were shaking harder as she jammed the keys into the ignition. An outline of a man stood in her doorway. The sunlight shining in her eyes and the darkness of her house obscured his face. She reached for the gun on the passenger seat and stepped out of the car. She held the gun tight in front of her as she pointed it at the burglar.

“Get down on your knees.”
She sidestepped her car door, keeping her eyes on the intruder. “Do it now, or I’ll kill you.”

The man didn’t move.

She lifted the gun in the air and pulled the trigger. The sound was quick and loud like a firework bursting in the air. She pointed the barrel back at the figure. “I said now! The next one is going in your brain, asshole, and I’m a good shot.”

The man dropped to his knees and lifted his hands in the air.
He had something clenched in his fist.

“Drop it.”

A piece of crumbled paper fell to the floor. “Gracie, I can explain.”

The familiar voice drifted to her ears
, but she kept her gun pointed at the man. “Adam?” She stepped in his direction. “What the hell are you doing here? And what the hell did you do to my house?”

She lowered the gun but only slightly and moved closer to her front steps. “It was like this when I got here.” He
nodded back to her house. “Well, I did knock a coffee cup off the counter, but I swear it was an accident.”

She nodded to the paper in between them. “What were you taking?”

His cheeks reddened. “Floyd’s list.”

“How the hell did you find it?”

“You stashed the list in your old hiding place behind your mom’s picture. That’s where you use to keep your rent money that you’d dig into when we wanted pizza. You should really think about finding a new place.” His words brought back more suppressed memories she’d forgot.

She gripped the gun tighter. “How are you involved?”

“Can we go inside and talk about this? Gracie, you know I would never do anything to hurt you. You can put your gun away.”

She shook her head. “Not until you give me some answers. I don’t
even know who you are anymore. Hell, apparently I never did.”

She heard a car coming behind her and a quick glance over her shoulder told her it was Ridge.
A door slammed and Ridge appeared next to her. “Gracie, go get in your car.”

He stepped up beside her and had his gun drawn. His jaw twitched as the muscles in his outstretched arm flexed. “I’ll handle this.”

Gracie lowered her weapon. “Ridge, this is Adam.”

Ridge glanced at her and back to Adam.

“He was looking for Floyd’s list.” She picked up the crumbled paper in front of Adam and straightened it. “It looks like he found it too.”

“I had to be sure, Gracie.”

“Sure of what, Adam?”

“Sure it was you
who was checking into the accounts.”

Gracie placed her palm over Ridge’s gun and eased it
down to point at the ground. “Adam called me at work and warned me that I needed to get the hell out of there.”

Ridge tilted his head. “This doesn’t make sense, Gracie. He called to tell you to leave
, and then he broke into your house?”

Gracie stepped up on the porch and
sat on the swing. “I hung up with him, grabbed my things, and had almost made it out the door when Sinclair and Mr. Black came out of the office.”

Adam pushed to his feet and slid into a chair. “Did they see you?”

Her heart pounded at the memory that they might have tried to stop her. “Yes. I told them I had to leave because I felt sick.”

Adam leaned his elbows on his legs. “Do you?”

“I’m probably just coming down with a bug. I felt like I was going to throw up, but I’m sure it was just because of being in the same room with them.”

“Did they believe you?” Adam asked.

She ran her palms up and down her crossed arms to erase the goose bumps. “I guess so. Black made the comment that he was surprised the food from the cafeteria hadn’t killed me.”

Adam jumped from his seat. “Shit, I knew it. I just didn’t know how.
That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Ridge
growled.

Adam ran a hand through his hair. “
The day you showed up and Sinclair introduced us, somehow he knew you were important to me. I just couldn’t figure out how the hell he found out.” Adam clenched his fist. “It had to have been Black. There was no one else who knew.” He drew in a breath and sat back down in the chair. “He threatened me, said if I didn’t get him the results he wanted then he was going to hurt you.”

He looked over at Gracie. His eyes held a hint of sorrow. “I couldn’t let him do that, not after last time…”

“Wait…” Ridge lowered his gun and held up his hand. “What are you working on that’s so important?”

Adam swung his gaze to Ridge.
“A breakdown of the DNA code and other agents in a liquid that Sinclair has somehow acquired. He wants me to figure out what it is and replicate it. So he can mass produce the substance.”

Gracie gasped
, and her gaze flew to Ridge. “It’s probably the same stuff Floyd injected into Thompson when Floyd kidnapped him to get to Lydia.”

Rick
’s and Lydia’s lives had never been the same. Rick could syphon the energy and gifts out of anyone he was near and then turn around and use them as his own. They’d been testing his blood for the last year trying to figure out how the change had occurred, and they still had no clue what could be used to counteract it.

Gracie
saw the blue currents jumping from Ridge’s fingers before he balled his fist. She moved to his side, placed her arm around his elbow, and laid her head down on his arm. “You alright?”

He nodded although his lips were
pressed in a fine line.

“Did you succeed
, Adam?”

Ridge’s brows dipped. “
Was it even possible?”

Adam stood. “I shouldn’t even be telling you
this. It could put you in even more danger.”

Gracie unlocked her arm from Ridge’s and folded
her arms across her chest. “I’m already in danger.” She pointed to her open door. “And they ransacked my house. I don’t think anything you can say will change the fact that they probably already want me dead.” She hesitantly bit her bottom lip. “Do you?”

Adam glanced to the door. “
They’ve obviously been here. I think we need to take this inside.” He glanced around the woods. “They could be watching.”

Ridge placed his palm on her back and steered her down the steps.
“I think he’s right, but I also don’t think that we need to do it here. They could be listening.”

He glanced ov
er his shoulder. “Where’s your car?”

“Hidden in the woods.”

“You’re riding with us.”

She glanced over her shoulder to make sure that
Adam was following. She grabbed her purse and cell from her car and slid into the passenger side of Ridge’s SUV. Adam climbed in the back. “You’re right; they probably have the place bugged.”

Ridge put the SUV
in reverse and laid his arm on her seat and started backing down her driveway.

Her mind raced with what might have happened if Ridge
had been home when they’d come. He could have been taken like Thompson or worse, killed. Her hand flew to her mouth, and she whispered, “Thank God Tara and Cathy weren’t still here.” She pulled her phone out of her pocket dialed Cathy’s number. Her phone rang, but she didn’t answer.

BOOK: Betrayal (Phantom Protectors Book 2)
12.36Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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