Betrayal (Phantom Protectors Book 2) (12 page)

BOOK: Betrayal (Phantom Protectors Book 2)
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Chapter 13

 

 

Gracie’s heart raced with fear as her hands trembled as she clasped them in her lap. If anything would have happened to any one of them she’d go straight to Sinclair and shoot him through the chest. They knew where she lived which meant that they knew her true identity too. She lifted her gaze to her house. There was an explosion that sounded like a million firecrackers going off at once. Ridge stomped on the brakes, and he splayed an arm across her chest as she jolted forward from the impact of the blast sending the SUV further down her drive.

Her house exploded right off the foundation. Burning
chunks of wood flew toward the SUV’s windshield. Appliances shot up into the sky, along with books and other objects that were so burnt she had no idea what they could have been. She gasped in horror, unbuckled her seatbelt, and flew out of the passenger door. Her gaze followed the flaming falling projectiles as they scattered around her once tidy yard. The flames and smoke licked the blue afternoon sky. She sank down to her knees into the dirt driveway. The world stopped, and her stomach rolled as everything she owned went up in flames. Everything she had was gone; some of it irreplaceable like the pictures of her mother. Her vision tunneled on the flames that ruined everything she’d come to love. A constant low buzzing sounded in her ears.

She heard Ridge’s voice but couldn’t make ou
t his words. Did it even matter? Her heart nosedived into her stomach as tears ran down her face and blurred her vision. Strong arms lifted her from the ground and put her back in the passenger seat and placed a seatbelt across her body. Ridge hurried around the SUV, slammed the SUV back into reverse, and sped down the road. Her vision dimmed to a tunnel, and she let the darkness suck her into the void.

****

 

Ridge leaned back in the c
hair across from the couch. Gracie, still fast asleep and possibly in shock, rolled over. Gracie was lost in her dreams, a single tear escaped down her cheek. His heart ached for her to wake up so he could tell her that everything was going to be all right, even though he was unsure himself.

Adam leaned against the wood frame of the
living room entryway with a defiance in his eyes. “They said they wouldn’t hurt her if I could reproduce the serum.” He said with bitterness in his voice.

“And you believed them?”

Adam stepped down into the sunken living room and dropped to his knees in front of the couch. He pushed the bangs out of Gracie’s face. “I did everything they asked.”

Ridge rose from the chair and walked to the fireplace. He placed his palms on the mantel and let his head drop. When her house
had blown up, realization hit him between the eyes. Gracie was in more trouble than he’d thought, and he’d almost failed his mission of keeping her alive. He shook his head and turned toward Adam. “Did you replicate it?”

Adam nodded as he continued stroking Gracie’s hair.

“Where is it?”

Adam’s hand stilled. “I snuck it out of the lab and hid it. It’s in a safe place.”

Ridge pulled the cell from his pocket. “I need to call this in.” He walked out of the French doors to the back deck and exhaled a deep breath as he tried to figure out exactly how to explain when he didn’t have the answers himself. Bile rose to his throat. He punched in the numbers to make the phone call that had the potential to annihilate his career. “Sir, we have a problem.”

He heard the
screeching of tires and rushed back into the house to find his living room empty. Even Gracie and the blanket covering her were gone. He made it to the open front door just in time to see his SUV take the corner on almost two wheels. “Shit.”

He lifted the phone to his ear. “Gracie’s in trouble.”

 

****

 

Gracie opened her eyes and glanced around the unfamiliar room
. Dark curtains covered the windows, and the walls were made of wood. It reminded her of a hunting cabin of sorts. She jerked her arm to try and sit up. The sound of clanking  metal-on-metal rose to her ears. Her eyes widened and darted down to the side of the bed as she jiggled the handcuff attached to the hospital-style bed she was in. Her gaze flew around the room and then down to her other arm where an IV was inserted and secured by tape. “What the hell?” Her last memory was of her house being blown to smithereens. How had she gone from being safe with Ridge to being handcuffed to a bed? Her heartbeat quickened.

“I’m glad you’re awake
.” Adam’s voice came from behind her. The sound of his steps moved quickly to her side.

“What are you doing
, and where the hell am I?”

He didn’t reply. He clasped her fingers. “You’re safe.
That’s all I ever wanted.”

She shook her restrained arm.
“Why the cuffs?”


For my protection. I have a lot to tell you, and I couldn’t risk you trying to leave. You need to hear what I have to say.”

He
rolled a chair next to the bed. “Sinclair tried to kill you by using poison. I’m not sure how you were getting it, but it was in your system when I did your blood workup.”

Gracie clenched her eyes. Her mind raced with the possibility that she could have died. She let out a breath.
“The cake. It had to be the cake. I thought it was because I was the only girl there.” She shook her head. “How could I have been so stupid?”

“The drip is a mixture of replacement fluids and an antibiotic. They should counteract t
he poison.”

Gracie rattled the cuff. “Thank you. Can you take these off? I’d like to sit up.”

Adam moved to the other side of the bed and shoved the key into the slot and turned. He reached behind her head and helped her sit up.

Gracie rubbed her wrist and slid her legs over the side of the bed.

Adam retook the chair.

“Adam
, what happened back in college, and why did I forget?”

He lowered his head and reached for h
er hand. “Gracie, you were the only person in the world I cared about.” He released her fingers and ran a hand through his hair. “I knew it was stupid. I knew that Black would find me, but I was young and dumb and thought I could handle him. Apparently I was wrong.”

She reached for his hand. “It’s not your fault.”

He pushed up from the chair and moved farther away from her. “It’s all my fault, Gracie. He tried to recruit me, and I told him no, so he threatened the one thing that mattered most.” He stepped in her direction. “You.”

He cupped her cheek and let his hand fall
. “Gracie, I don’t know how much you’ve figured out about Sinclair, but he and Black have certain abnormal abilities, abilities most people don’t have.”

She
shoved her nervousness aside. “I know people with gifts. They use theirs to help people, not hurt them.”

He lifted his gaze to hers and
replaced his palm on her cheek. “Not these guys, Gracie. They’ll kill anyone who stands in their way. That’s why I had to do it.”

She placed her palm over his. “What did you do, Adam?”

He picked up her left arm and pointed to the Band-Aid. “I had to give you the ability to protect yourself.”

The weight of his words made bile rise to her throat as a tear slipped down her cheek.
She rubbed her thumb over the Band-Aid. “What did you do?”

He turned his back to her. “I injected you with the
serum. The same one that Sinclair stole from Floyd.” He turned back toward her, “You should feel the full effect of it in twenty four hours as it moves through your blood stream.

She shook her head. “No. Please tell me you didn’t.”

He grabbed a cotton swab from a nearby table and pulled out the IV securing the swab in place with another bandage.


You’re my only weakness, Gracie. I had to flip the tables on them.”

Gracie slid off the bed.
The room spun in front of her eyes. She grabbed the side of the bed to steady herself. “What’s happening?”

He reached for her before she fell to her knees. “It’s the serum.
” He lowered to his knees with her in his arms. “You’ll feel better soon. Just give it time.”

She fell back in his
hold, unable to stay upright. “Ridge is going to kill you. You know that, right?”

Adam chuckled. “If he loves
you, he would have done the same thing.”

The door flew off the hinges as Ridge rushed in with the gun extended in front of his body.
“You’re surrounded. Let her go!” Windows crashed around them and she heard another door being kicked in behind them. Men swarmed from all angles, all with weapons pointed at Adam. Either Gracie was seeing double or Brody had come to her rescue also and was standing right next to Ridge. She used the last reserve of her energy to hold up her hand. “Don’t kill him. We need him.”

Ridge’s lips pulled in a fine line as he lowered his gun but kept his finger on the trigger.

“Promise me. You won’t hurt him.”

Ridge nodded.

Her heavy lids slid closed, and before she let the blackness pull her under again, she thought she heard Brody say, “I didn’t promise, asshole.”

 

Chapter 14

 

 

Gracie woke up once again in an unfamiliar bed. She glanced toward the moonlight shining in the window. Jamie Bloom, the resident badass and healer of the Phantoms, stepped up to the bed, blocking her view of the window. “How do you feel?”

Gracie tried to push herself up
and the room looked as though it was spinning. Jamie reached for her and eased her up. “Easy does it, young lady. Ridge brought you to my house. You’ve been out cold for a day and a half. Are you thirsty?”

Gracie slid her legs over the side of the bed
, took the cup of water from Jamie, and gulped the liquid. It was cooling and refreshing, and it increased her need to pee. “I have to use the bathroom.”

Jamie slid her arms around Gracie’s waist and walked her into the bathroom
, and thank God, she left Gracie to pee by herself. Her dizziness was subsiding as the bathroom fixtures came into focus and she started to remember everything that happened. She whispered, “Oh God… Adam.”

Gracie washed her hands and splashed her face with water, patting it dry with a towel. She needed to find Ridge. She
needed to explain and make sure they hadn’t hurt Adam. Gracie pulled the bathroom door open and leaned against the wood. She was weak. She needed to regain her strength.

Ridge stood in the middle of the room
. He scooped her up in his arms and held her. He leaned his head against the top of hers before he laid her down back in the bed. “You had me worried, princess.”

She reached for his hand as he pulled away. “I’m sorry.”

He sat on the bed beside her and stroked her hair out of her eyes. “Jamie went to get you something to eat. You need to rebuild your strength.

“What did you do to Adam?”

Ridge chuckled and rounded the bed. He kicked off his shoes and slid onto the bed with her resting against the backboard. He pulled her so she was lying on his lap. He stroked her hair. “He’s still alive and being held at the compound.”

“Did he tell you what happened?”

“I haven’t talked to him. Brody took him back to base. I brought you to Jamie.” He rubbed his hand down her arm. “I’m sure Brody got him to talk by now.”

Gracie lifted her head. “He better not have a scratch on him.”

Ridge tried to hold back a grin. “If he does, it wasn’t from me.”

He started rubbing her back when she placed her head back down. “Do you want to tell me what happened and why he took you?”

Before Gracie could answer, Jamie walked through the door, carrying a tray. She motioned with her head back to the door. “Ridge, you’ve got a call from the base. I’ll stay with Gracie.”

He eased her head up and slid from beneath her. He placed a tender kiss on her lips. “I’ll be right back.”

 

****

 

Ridge drew a deep breath and left Gracie’s room. The thought of being without her for another minute
had his nerves tied in knots. He’d promised to remain by her side. Hell, he still had a mission to complete. The general’s silence on the phone when Ridge had explained what was going on had him clenching his eyes closed. The general’s words seared his brain. “Protect her at all costs.” He didn’t need to be told twice. He’d use his last breath and fight her every inch to keep her safe. Not so much for the general, but for himself. When he’d watched in horror as Gracie’s house blew up, his heart had momentarily stopped beating with the one thought that she could have easily been inside. His own life had flashed before his eyes. All of the happy times he’d had with Gracie had ripped from him with a force that made him cringe with despair. No, she wasn’t leaving his side, not now, not ever, if he had his way.

Ridge picked up the cordless phone. “
Connors.”

“Bro, you aren’t going to believe this.”

Ridge glanced around the empty room and walked toward the double doors. “What did you find out? What was Adam’s excuse?”

“Dude, he’s a hard one to crack and get this…he has gifts of his own.”

Ridge clenched his jaw. He didn’t like the thought of that.

Brody laughed. “He’s a genius
, and he claims he took her because she was still in danger. Something about cake and poison.”

Adam had been adamant that Sinclair was trying to kill her just to get to him.
Ridge ran his hand through his hair. “Anything else?”

Brody’s silence hung in the air
, unusual unless he was mad or there was something bothering him. “What is it?”

“He injected her with the same crap they stuck Thompson with when they kidnapped him. Adam said it was the only way she could protect herself.”

“You’ve got to be kidding.” Ridge gripped the phone tighter. The electrical current sizzled in his other hand. “I’ll call you back. I don’t want to fry Jamie’s phone.”

“Take a deep breath
, brother. She needs you right now. If you go flying off the handle, she’s just going to shut you out.”

Ridge nodded as if his brother could see him.
“Duly noted. I’ll call you back.” Trying to catch his brother before he hung up, he said. “Hey, Brody. Thanks for your help and do me a favor. Make sure Thompson sticks around. I want to meet with him and the general when I bring her in. If it’s the same serum, we might need him.”

“You’ve got it.”

Ridge set the phone down, braced his palms on the counter, and lowered his head. How the hell was he going to tell her about the serum? How the hell was he going to protect her if she could syphon his gift just from being around him? “Crap.”

“Adam must have confessed
,” Gracie said softly from the doorway. “You don’t have to hide it. He told me what he did before I passed out.” She stepped into the kitchen.

“Why are you out of bed?” He moved to her and wrapped his arms around her.

She laid her head down on his chest and hugged him back. “I’m not a piece of china that’s going to break. Hell, they blew up my house. I’ve got stuff do. I’ve got to find another place to live.” She glanced down at her clothes and then up at him. “And I need to replace some of the essentials. I don’t have time to lay around whining.”

“I’ll take you shopping in the morning. Tonight
, you can stay with me, and we’ll figure it all out tomorrow.”

She ran her hands up his chest and around his neck and pulled him down
, crushing her lips to his with a desperation he’d never seen in her. She pressed her palms against the hard planes of his chest. He needed to feel her just as bad as she needed to feel him to reassure them both that she was safe and still alive. His palms slid up and down her back as he pulled his lips from hers. He let his forehead rest against hers as they both tried to calm their breathing. “Let’s go, baby.”

He entwined their fingers and walked back through the living room. “Thanks for your help, Jamie. I really appreciate it.”

Jamie walked them to the door and waved as they got in the SUV. They drove in relative silence back to his house. He kept glancing in her direction as he tightened his grip on the wheel. He pulled into his driveway and glanced around the surrounding woods before escorting her in the house and locking the door behind him. Only then did the tension in his muscles ease.

She pulled him upstairs and straight into his b
edroom. “I need a shower.” She glanced over her shoulder and gave him a saucy grin. “Do you think you can help with the hard-to-reach spots?”

Ridge grinned for the first time in days. “Anything your heart desires, princess.”

She pulled off her shirt and unhooked her bra and let both drop to the floor as she walked into his bathroom. She kicked off her shoes and was reaching for the button on her pants when strong arms came around her and pulled her back against his muscular chest. “Let me help you with that.”

Ridge made a slow move down her stomach
, unfastening the button and sliding her zipper down. He crouched and pulled the offending material down her legs, slid his fingers into the elastic of her panties, and slid those down too. Still crouching behind her he placed his palms on her calves, slowly sliding them up the length of her legs, driving her wild with anticipation. Her breath hitched when he stood behind her and cupped her butt. “You’re so beautiful.”

Sliding
his hands around her waist and up her stomach, he cupped her breasts, loving the way they felt in his palms. Yeah, he wanted her, and he didn’t think they were going to make it into the shower.

“I need to feel you
, Ridge.” She turned in his arms and tugged at his shirt. He helped draw it over his head and then let it drop to the floor, simultaneously kicking off his shoes. He reached for the button of his jeans, and her hand stilled him. “Let me.”

She unbuttoned his jeans
, and he shoved them and his boxers down, unable wait another second, and kicked them off. He rested his palms on her face and leaned down. The feel of her lips pressed to his sent his heart spiraling out of control. He felt the energy swirling in his body like lightning about to strike. He’d almost lost her, and he needed this. She needed this, and he wouldn’t deny her, not anymore, not after everything that had happened. He lifted her in his arms and moved to the sink, pushing bottles from the counter to crash on the floor. The desire to get inside of her rode him hard. He pulled his mouth from hers and slid his palms up her arms. “Gracie, I love you.”

He didn’t wait for a reply as he attacked her mouth again with a fierceness and desire he couldn’t hold back. She stepped closer, needing, wanting to show her what she d
id to him. He lifted her to the countertop, and unable to wait a second longer, he slid into her and sighed. She felt so right, so alive; he was never letting her go.

She let out a sigh.
“Ridge.”

He moved his lips down to her neck and nibbled on her ear as he eased out and slid back in.

A hushed whisper left her lips. “More, Ridge.”

Her hands slid from his neck to his shoulders as she clutched him closer
, running her fingernails over his skin. He moved faster, sliding in and out of her, uninhibited for the first time in his life. Her body tightened around him, pulling and sucking at his sex as she screamed his name. Her body shivered as he slid in two more times, grunted, and then fell over the cliff with her. Every nerve in his body released the pent-up stress of the last few days.

She gasped
, and her eyes grew big as she scrambled to push him away. She pointed toward the shower. “Fire.”

He pulled out
of her and turned. There was a hole in the shower curtain, singed as a small fire worked itself outward. “Shit.” He reached for the knob and turned the water on, aiming the showerhead at the fire, dousing the rest of the curtain. Water splashed on the floor and all around them.

He turned back and found Gracie pressed with her back against the
wall, clutching a towel in front of her body. “Did you do that?”

He shook his head. “You did
, sweetheart.”

“What do you mean I did that?”

Ridge held her gaze as he reached down and pulled his jeans on, not sure how he was going to explain what had happened. He took her hand and pulled her into the room and sat with her on the bed. “The serum Adam gave you. It allows you to syphon powers.” He stroked the top of her hand. “And that was one of mine.”

“Like the tree?”

He turned to face her. “Exactly.”

She inched away from him
, her jaw slack. He moved closer to her and rubbed her back. “It’s going to be okay, Gracie. Thompson will teach you to control it.”

She
squeezed her trembling hands together. “You’re not safe.” She walked over to his drawers and pulled out one of his T-shirts, throwing it over her head. She slid a pair of sweatpants up her legs and pulled the string as tight as it would go. “I could hurt you.” She swept her hand in the air. “Burn down your house.”

She turned her back to him. He didn’t need to see her face to know that a tear had slid down her face. She was scared. He moved behind her and wrapped his
arms around her waist. “Gracie, I can show you how to use it. You don’t need to be scared. We’ll work through this together.”

She turned in his arms and lifted her gaze to his. “What if I hurt you?”

He cupped her cheek. “Sweetheart, the only way you can hurt me is if you push me away. I love you, Gracie, and I’m not going anywhere.”

She laid her head down on his chest. “I love you too.”

 

****

 

Gracie felt his heart speed up underneath her cheek. He meant what he said.

He pulled her closer and kissed the top of her head. “I’m not going to let anything happen to you.” He leaned out of the embrace and looked down at her. “I swear it.”

Gracie took a deep breath and exhaled
, snuggling deeper into Ridge’s strong arms. The sensuous glide of his fingertips trailed up and down her back, the light move, almost tickling her. “I still need to take a shower, and under the circumstances, I don’t think we should take it together. I could end up electrocuting you.”

BOOK: Betrayal (Phantom Protectors Book 2)
12.5Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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