Return to poughkeepsie, p.25
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       Return to Poughkeepsie, p.25

           Debra Anastasia

  Eve used Beckett’s terrible wig as a way to track him in the crowd. When they locked eyes, he shook his head, standing by his earlier news on Livia.

  “Believe me—” Mary Ellen seemed to be getting into her pontificating now “—I can say with absolute certainty that Beckett Taylor is dead, or at the very least he’s never coming back. Please turn your attention to the screen…”

  A single screen took over for the three smaller ones, but when its image appeared, there was nothing but an empty chair—no woman and no kidnappers present.

  The reaction was almost immediate as the crowd surged toward Mary Ellen. With no leverage left, and apparently not even much sense of what was going on, she no longer seemed scary in the least. Primo barked orders to his men, and Eve melted into the swirling crowd. Nearly as many seemed headed for the exits as were now calling for Mary Ellen’s head.

  Eve crossed to the back of the room and marched straight up to the guard with Ryan. “I’ve got to get him to a safer place. The cops will be swarming this place soon.” She put her hand under Ryan’s arm.

  “Wait, what?” The guard seemed confused.

  “Don’t make a scene. We’re trying to get him out quiet.” Eve stepped forward aggressively, forgetting she was done up like a southern debutante.

  “Not without Mary Ellen’s say so. And she told us to watch out for you.” He eyed her suspiciously.

  “I just came from Mary Ellen,” Eve countered. “She’s a little busy right now, as you may have noticed.”

  “I’ve got him.” Beckett swooped in and pulled Ryan to his feet.

  “Ben, you best make sure you’re tuned into the local stations.” Eve forced a cocky smirk to her face. “Have you even noticed what’s going on here—or are you too busy jacking off?”

  “Come on, baby. I’m going to need your help interrogating him.” Beckett nodded, and she slipped her arm around Ryan’s waist.

  Before Ben could formulate a response, Beckett was moving toward the exit, with Ryan and Eve in tow. She caught Shark’s eye on the way across the room. “You got Micki?” she mouthed.

  He nodded once and continued walking, as if he’d looked right through her.

  Beckett yanked open a door and pulled Ryan into the hallway. He opened his phone, leaving Eve to settle Ryan on a fancy chair in what looked to be a reading room.

  She checked his pupils and un-tucked his shirt, pushing his coat aside. She felt his hard abs and then an odd bump on his left rib cage. He winced.

  “I think they broke your rib. Can you tell me your name?” Eve felt his arms and legs, which all seemed in working order.

  “Still Ryan.” He managed a smile and squeezed her hand.

  “It’s Ryan Morales, isn’t it?” Beckett was suddenly off the phone. “You’re a cop.”

  Eve ignored him, focused on Ryan.

  “You need to leave. Get out of here. I’ve got this.” Ryan looked into her eyes as he pulled out the container in his pocket.

  “You’re going to take on this clusterfuck with my vagina knife?” She almost smiled.

  Beckett shook his head. “They’re on lockdown. And this place is well guarded right now. I’ll go out there and distract them. Eve, you get him to my car. It’s a red Nissan GT-R.” He tossed the keys to her.

  She caught them and stuffed them down her bodice. “Gimmie.” Eve took the tiny knife from Ryan and began hacking at her dress’s huge skirt.

  Rather than leaving, Beckett put his hand over hers. “Let me.” He took the blade and grabbed a handful of her blue taffeta skirt. “Spin.”

  She couldn’t see his eyes, but she recognized the smirk. This wasn’t the first time he’d cut clothes off her body. After a couple circles, he tossed a giant blob of material in the corner. Now Eve wore her blue bodice and the tight bottoms of her spandex slip. The heels were a pain in the ass, but there was nothing to be done about that now.

  “Fuck that plan,” she said. “Get douchebags on the exits. I’m betting you didn’t come alone. Have them do some flash bangs all around.” Eve slipped her hands under Beckett’s jacket, freeing the gun she knew she’d find there. He grabbed her by the hair.

  “You’re wasting time,” she told him. “This place is going to be lit up pretty soon, and Mary Ellen’s going to realize I’m not there to protect her—and that no one’s protecting Ryan anymore. We all need to go now.”

  Beckett let go of her hair, and she stuffed the gun in her bosom on her way to the window. Although they were on the first floor, it was quite a drop. The music ground to a halt in the main room just as she opened the latch and swung the window out. It was so huge she could stand in it. She could see party guests scurrying to their cars.

  Ryan had staggered to his feet. “Go. Take Guy Fieri with you. I’m fine.”

  Eve gave him a dirty look.

  Beckett finished texting and scoped out the terrain below. “You get down there, and I’ll lower the pansy to you.”

  She shook her head. “No. Too far.”

  Beckett grabbed the curtain and ripped. Eve ducked just as the entire window treatment came off the wall. He used the knife to slice a long portion from the rod. “Go. I got it.”

  She turned and slid down, then let herself dangle from the end of the fabric, her knees scraping against the stone façade. She let go and bent her knees as she hit the ground. After a brief scuffle above her, Ryan emerged with a curtain wrapped around his back. He walked rappel-style down the side of the mansion for few feet before Beckett obviously ran out of material to feed him. Ryan slipped out from under the curtain and hit the ground with a groan. “Aw, fuck. That hurt.”

  Eve pulled him to his feet and waited. Beckett peered over the edge of the window. “Get out here,” she hissed.

  Beckett turned and pulled the same maneuver Eve had, but without the curtain to aid him. They all crouched behind the bushes until the first grenade popped and the screams began. Eve stood and pushed Ryan at Beckett.

  “I’ll get the car.” She trotted over to Beckett’s ride, which was an easy find in candy apple red and parked like an asshole as usual. She pulled it off the driveway and onto the grass as the valet followed, hollering.

  Beckett opened the door and slid Ryan into the backseat, slamming the door just as the man’s feet cleared the frame. He banged on the car and pointed for Eve to leave without him.

  She shot the ground where the valet stood and growled at Beckett. “Get in the fucking car, fuckhead.”

  He pulled open the passenger door and Eve took off, the force of gravity seating him and closing the door on his legs. He cursed and pushed it open, pulling his feet inside.

  Eve passed him the gun, and he pulled out two more, handing one to Ryan. “You know how to work one of these, son?”

  Ryan took the gun as Eve hit the button to slide her window down. More flash-bang grenades detonated, and the front gates began their motorized procedure to close. They would be hell to bust through once they shut.

  “Get the gate men.” Eve put her high heel to the gas and slammed it to the floorboard.

  Beckett and Ryan fired right up until the second they ducked. The car didn’t even slow, just plowed through the narrowing gate, metal-on-metal screeching down the sides.

  Beckett was on the phone almost as soon as the Nissan got free, telling the douchebags to evacuate, and fast.

  Eve checked the rearview mirror. Ryan slumped in the backseat. “Hey. You okay?”

  “I’m fine.”

  Eve would’ve believed him if his eyes hadn’t rolled back in his head right after he said it.

  Ninety minutes later, she pulled up to her father’s apartment building and knew she had to stop ignoring Beckett. Not like she was really ignoring him anyway. She’d never met someone so fucking present in the world. He took up all the space in the damn car, and he’d determined Ryan had a pulse and was breathing on their way back from Long Island, which is why Eve decided to bring him to her father first.

  Given what had ha
ppened to her dad just outside his place of work, she didn’t entirely trust the hospital to keep someone safe. If Ryan needed surgery, that’d be another thing. Eve called her father again to let him know they’d actually arrived and she didn’t want to move Ryan unless she had to. After a few minutes he stumbled out the front door, wearing pajamas and completely confused.

  “Why are you dressed like that? What’s going on? It’s the middle of the night!”

  “Dad, Ryan’s hurt. I can’t tell you more. Can you check him out and decide if we need to go to the hospital?” Eve watched the streets for any activity.

  Ted tossed up his hands but eased into the car. After a few minutes of examination, he reemerged. “I’d like to take him in and get a CAT scan and few x-rays. He needs to be monitored at the very least. Hydrated, some pain meds. This looks very familiar.”

  “Tell me what you need from the hospital.” Eve slipped past her father and expertly moved Ryan’s unconscious body toward the vehicle’s door. Her father raised his eyebrows. Beckett shrugged and reached for Ryan. Eve worked around him and together they got him in the front door of the building in one smooth motion. Then they started on the stairs. It helped that he woke up enough to move his legs.

  Finally, they set him down on the couch inside Eve’s dad’s apartment. Eve went into the kitchen and wet a hand towel. She wiped his face clean and his eyes opened again.

  “How you doing?” Eve gently tried to remove the blood caked in his hairline. “That was quite a work-over. Those bastards were experienced.”

  “Did you kidnap me? From that woman?” Ryan tried to sit up, but gasped and groaned before lying back.

  Eve could see her father was furious. But he was a professional. He rearranged Ryan and went to the closet, where he pulled out an alarming number of medical supplies. As he prepared an IV, he met Eve’s eyes. “Now you’re glad I bring my work home with me, aren’t you?”

  Beckett pointed to his chest and back at Ted, silently asking if he should step in. She shook her head. As her father slid in the IV, she tried to find the words to explain. “Dad, when I lost David and the baby…” She looked the floor. God, it hurt. “I did some stuff to survive.”

  Scarcely acknowledging he’d heard her, her father briskly assessed his patient. He opened Ryan’s shirt to reveal a pretty spectacular chest. “To survive? Eve, you are the privileged child of a doctor. What the hell are you talking about?”

  “Can we talk about this later, when we’re alone?” Eve headed for the door. “Do you have to work today?”

  Clearly exasperated, he followed her. “No, I don’t have to work and no, we can’t talk about this later.”

  “Keep Ryan here. Call me if you need anything.” She reached for the door handle and Beckett came to her side.

  Her dad touched her shoulder. “Wait. I can’t understand what’s going on.”

  She looked into her father’s face—so trusted, so comfortable. She didn’t want to break his heart. “I love you.” She hugged him.

  He got it, she was leaving. He raised his palms and sighed.

  Beckett nodded. “Sir.”

  The evil look her father dropped on Beckett was the last thing Eve saw as she closed the door. Beckett wisely kept his mouth shut as they retraced their steps to the car.

  A cold burst of night air slapped her face as soon as the building’s door opened, and it snapped her mind to attention. Beckett’s car was still sitting in front of her father’s house. How could I be this stupid? “Shit.”

  Beckett trotted in front of her and jumped in the driver’s seat. She had no choice but to get in the passenger side.

  “How come I didn’t dump this?” Eve punched the dashboard. “Mary Ellen loooves to track her party guests.”

  “I didn’t do it either.” He shrugged.

  “I don’t make mistakes. What’s your excuse? Gotta dump it in the river or something.” She opened the glove department, looking for a tracking device. She’d never put it in there. Under the car or tucked in the upholstery was best. She began searching. Beckett wasn’t driving nearly fast enough. She opened her mouth to tell him so, but he spoke first.

  “I’m stunned you’re here with me.”

  She stopped searching to look at him, her anger unleashed by his words. “Really? I feel the same way. Where have you been? Five years I waited for you. Five fucking years.”

  She kicked off her heels and climbed over into the backseat to continue her search as her emotions came crashing. She was losing it. Needing to harden, hating that she was out of control and sloppy, she punched the leather. He needed to apologize. He needed to stop the fucking car and kiss her. She had to slap him. Eve didn’t realize how badly she’d been craving this man. She could still remember how he’d made love to her that morning so many years ago, how devoted he’d been.

  Beckett was silent.

  She lifted the armrest and found a tracker. Rolling down the window, she threw it out and met his eyes in the rearview mirror. He rolled his window down and threw out his wig. He held her stare so long it was amazing he kept the car on the road.

  He broke the connection first and turned his attention to his phone, hitting speaker on the call he made. “Milton, I want you to notify Police Captain John McHugh that Ted Hartt’s house needs protection. Tell him Ryan Morales is there and has ticked off a crazy lady who may be able to track him. Try to keep him out of any public places for a few damn days. If that man is going to stay alive, they need to be fucking vigilant. His cover has been blown. Leave me a car in the parking lot and be ready to dump one.” He ended the call.

  The silence was thick. Eve sighed. She wished she had normal clothes on. She wished she wasn’t tits deep in a crazy-dangerous situation.

  “You love him?” Beckett asked quietly.

  Of all the things he could be asking, those were the words out of his mouth? “He’s a good guy.” She dug her nails into her palm, trying to clear her head.

  Beckett pulled into his old parking lot and switched vehicles with little fanfare. He handed Eve her shoes and pointed to the SUV Milton had left running. She got in the passenger side. “Give me a few minutes to get some fucking things settled.” He took off driving to no place in particular.

  Eve shook her head. He was so used to barking out commands and directions. She could kick him. Instead she tilted her chair back and took a deep breath. She was so tired. And as much as she hated to admit it, in Beckett’s presence she could turn off. No need to try and rest on the edge of sleep. She went out like a light for the first time in years.


  Only You

  BLAKE WAS WAITING OUTSIDE the bathroom when Livia emerged, wrapped in a towel.

  And he’d been there a while. After their initial adrenaline rush had subsided and Cole and Kyle had gone to bed in the guestroom, she’d fed Kellan until he was full and then slipped into the hot water what seemed like ages ago. To be home, to know her children were safe, she was safe—she’d relaxed in a way she’d almost forgotten was possible.

  Livia smiled at Blake, and she knew he counted. Past his shoulder, through the window, the sun was coming up, and a horrible stretch of time was coming to an end. He stood and pulled her to him, tracing the water droplets on her shoulder. She looked up with a question, but when she saw his eyes she knew. They had to connect. Just be together. He needed to be inside of her.

  Livia touched his face, and he leaned into her hand. He opened his mouth as if to speak, but he said nothing as she touched him. She pulled his shirt off and touched the scar on his chest. “I know.” She could almost hear his thoughts. He was so thankful, so full of love. “I know.” She leaned up and kissed his lips. He was warm and real and here. “I was coming back to you. The whole time.”

  He tugged at her towel until it fell to the floor. He took her hand and turned her in a circle.

  “They hurt you,” he said, tracing fingers over bruises on her arms and legs. She could hear the cold fury in his voice.

  She shook her head. “I’m okay.” She hugged him, her breasts leaking a bit.

  Blake ghosted her shape, honoring her. Instead of her usual shyness, today she felt proud. He touched her breasts, traced the small stretch marks, and grabbed two handfuls of her bottom.

  “No one takes you from us.” Blake kissed her neck and nipped her ear.

  She unbuckled his jeans. “You saved me, Blake Hartt. Only you.” The way he looked at her was breathtaking. His eyes were a soft green in the rising sunlight. She ran her hand through his hair.

  “I cherish you.” She kissed his cheek.

  He looked at her lips. “If I didn’t find you…” He was a lion for her, fierce in his devotion.

  “You always will.” She hugged him tight.

  He kissed the top of her head as she reached into his briefs. She loved his groan as she touched him, hot and velvet. She felt his long ridges and twirled her finger at the very top. He grabbed her face and kissed her, slipping his tongue in her mouth like when they were first dating. When he picked her up, she wrapped her legs around him. She could feel the muscles in his back flexing as he walked her to their bed.

  He put her down and smiled. “You okay? Anything hurting?”

  She shook her head no before Blake began. He kissed her shoulders, her breasts, and worked his way lower. He was gentle at first, but responded more vigorously when her groans demanded it. He knew her body so well. After all these years, he could be terribly wicked between her legs. She finally pulled him up and pushed him onto the bed.

  He tried to pull away but she refused. He would receive as well. Livia twisted her hair and tucked it to one side as she decided where to start. Little licks teased the length of him. She put her hands all over him, pressing his favorite parts and stroking him slowly. She was not in a rush at all. She took a moment to watch him watch her. His smile was carnal and possessive.

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