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The lovers surrender no.., p.7
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       The Lover's Surrender (No Exceptions), p.7

           J. C. Reed
 
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  “That’s so shallow.” I shook my head, laughing. “If it’s a girl, I hope she has your green eyes, not mine, because they’re beautiful.”

  “And you call me shallow? Just saying.” He laughed a deep and rich, infectious sound, and for a moment, I was reminded why I loved him so much.

  Loved his voice.

  Loved his body.

  Loved everything about him.

  My gaze brushed over his lips, engrossed by the way they moved, rendering me unable to hear a word he was saying. All I could think of was what I wanted to do to him in bed.

  “Brooke, are you listening to me?” Jett asked, pulling me out of my reverie.

  “Huh?” I blinked. “Yes, obviously.”

  “No, you weren’t.”

  “I was.” I nodded eagerly. His grin turned knowing. “Okay, I wasn’t. What were you saying?”

  A knock rapped at the door, disrupting our conversation, and I made a mental note to resume the conversation later.

  “Am I interrupting?” Sam asked from the doorway, his head barely peeking in, as if Jett and I might be busy undressing or having sex. When Jett motioned him in, Sam entered and closed the door behind him. “So, have you guys decided?”

  “We want to know, but before you tell us the gender, do you mind answering one very important question?” Jett paused for effect.

  Sam nodded. “Sure. Why not?”

  Jett shifted until his knees touched mine. “What about sexual activity? And I’m talking about the whole menu. Is there some kind of rule? Restrictions?”

  My head snapped in Jett’s direction, and my mouth dropped open.

  Holy cow.

  Talk about being direct.

  “Jett!” I slapped his arm playfully. “You can’t ask him about that.”

  “You should encounter no problems in that regard,” Sam replied. “Sexual activity is actually very healthy, so I strongly recommend it.”

  Of course he did. He was a guy after all.

  “So, the more the better, right?” Jett nudged my shoulder, insinuation dripping from his tone.

  Earth, please, swallow me whole.

  A warm blush crept up my cheeks as I stared at Sam, ignoring the sudden urge to walk out. I stifled the urge. As usual, my treacherous body responded. Feeling Jett next to me, and thinking of our bet, made my heart race, and something warm and fuzzy spilled and traveled through my abdomen.

  “At least every day.” Sam’s lips twitched. “Any other questions?”

  Neither of us spoke.

  “I’ll take it that’s a ‘no,’” Sam said as he turned to us. “Your little one’s a girl.”

  I stared at him, then at Jett, hope breaking wide open inside me.

  “It’s a girl,” I whispered, my throat choking up.

  Sam nodded.

  Under Sam’s curious and somewhat strange glance, Jett leaned forward, his warm breath tickling my ear. “I can’t wait to claim my prize, baby. You better make it good. After days of not having sex, not counting my morning quickie, I want to devour you whole, at least twice.”

  As soon as Sam had communicated the results, he cast one more of his strange glances at Jett and me before closing the door behind him and leaving us alone in the room. My cheeks glowed and my heart raced with joy as I turned to Jett, taking in his soft features. He leaned against the wall in a casual stance, his hands buried in his pockets, as he smiled at me, our initial playfulness replaced by seriousness…and astonishment.

  Neither of us dared to break the silence, that special moment of ours that belonged to just us.

  The moment of beginnings I never thought I’d get to see ever again.

  Maybe all the bad things that had happened in our relationship had brought us closer together. They sure had made me appreciate what we had more. Even though the good news was unexpected, more surprising was the fact that Jett wanted to have more than one child with me.

  Maybe he even wanted a family and we’d live together.

  “So…” I started, unsure but barely able to contain my smile.

  “So…” he replied.

  “So…” I repeated as I watched him inch closer.

  He stopped in front of me, grinning. “So…”

  I let out a laugh. “Stop it. If you say ‘so’ one more time I’ll—”

  He leaned forward and kissed me on my mouth, cutting off my words. His tongue was warm, welcoming, sending a whiplash of new feelings through me. Something deep inside me roused, and a shudder spread through my body.

  I wrapped my arms around him and let him suck my lower lip deeper into his mouth, my heart racing while my knees turned all mushy.

  When he pulled back, I almost wanted to hold him, never let him go.

  If only I weren’t so stunned about the news.

  “This is amazing. We’re going to have a girl in as little as four months,” I whispered.

  Even speaking it out aloud felt special.

  Having Jett’s baby was no longer just a speck of hope. Or just a wish.

  We knew for certain now.

  A simple truth: Jett and I were going to have a girl.

  “The best news in days,” he agreed. His voice was soft, full of trepidation as he pulled me up from the chair. “Come on. Get dressed. I’m taking you out.”

  “Where?” I asked, raising my eyebrows.

  “Somewhere special. We need to celebrate, of course. We deserve a real treat. Just the two of us. With no one else around.”

  “I hope we’re not going back to the Trio hotel.” The words were out before I could stop them. Gazing up at him, I felt my cheeks blushing. “I mean, it’s great. It’s just—”

  “It was a mistake, Brooke.” He looked at me, his handsome face ridden with guilt. “I would never take you there again. Trust me, I learned that lesson the hard way.”

  His words lingered in the air. I let out the breath I was holding.

  “Thank you,” I whispered.

  “For what?”

  I shrugged. “For everything.”

  “Don’t thank me, Brooke. If a guy kissed you like Tiffany did me, trust me, I would have punched the hell out of him.” He leaned over, his arm brushing me as he pinned me against the wall. “I’m far more jealous than you are, sweetheart. I won’t let anyone touch you. Ever. And if someone actually tried that, I can’t guarantee that I wouldn’t do things I might come to regret later.”

  I had no idea what to say. My thoughts scattered, and I swallowed the lump in my throat.

  “I’m against any form of violence, you know that,” I whispered.

  “Me too, but sometimes you have to solve problems fists on.”

  He retrieved his phone from his pocket, then pointed to the ‘NO PHONES. Please take your calls outside’ sign on the wall. “I need to make a reservation for us. They’re serving coffee and smoothies outside. Can I bring you something on my way back?”

  “Coffee would be great. Thanks,” I said, squeezing into my jeans.

  “All right.” Jett closed the curtains to give me privacy. “I’ll be right back.”

  Something in his voice made me look up. Or maybe it was the fact that he didn’t kiss me on his way out, which he never missed, even if it was just a five-minute trip. But I didn’t press the issue. I finished dressing and grabbed my shoulder bag from a nearby chair to make my way out to the private hospital restroom to apply some lipstick and retouch my makeup. But then I stopped. My hand hovered over the handle as I tuned in to Jett’s familiar voice carrying over from outside the door.

  “You’re sure this isn’t a mistake?” Jett asked.

  I stared at the door.

  Hundreds of thoughts raced through my mind, and once more I was reminded of the strange look Sam had shot Jett before he left. It dawned on me that his look hadn’t been meaningless. It was a clue he wanted to speak with him alone. As was Jett’s excuse to make a reservation. Maybe not an excuse, but he sure had wanted to leave the room.

  I pressed my ear again
st the door as unease washed over me.

  Were they talking about me?

  I had to know, so I held my breath and listened.

  “I did the blood test twice to check Brooke’s story,” a male voice said. Even though the words were slightly muffled, I recognized Sam’s grave tone. “I can confirm that there were traces of drugs found in her system.”

  A light pause before Jett’s voice cut through the silence. “Drugs? I thought there was just one substance.”

  Someone, probably Sam, cleared his throat. Then the answer came, “No, we found traces of two.”

  I stared at the door, suddenly faint. My heart felt as though it might jump out of my chest and hide from me. Someone cursed—I assumed Jett—his voice incoherent.

  More out of need than want, my hand grabbed the handle, and as quietly as I could, I opened the door and peeked out. Jett was standing with Sam at the end of the private hall, a few feet away from me.

  Both their backs were turned to me, their body postures rigid, betraying their worry. Engrossed in their conversation as they were, they didn’t notice me, and I couldn’t blame them. I was as shocked as Jett to hear about the test results.

  “Which drugs were found?” Jett asked, his voice clear now that the door was open.

  “One is known as a date rape substance,” Sam said. “The other was the same high-quality drug Brooke was injected with during her abduction. But in a lower quantity. Whoever tried to drug her wanted to make sure she was unable to defend herself and had no recollection.”

  My heart skipped a beat. I bit my lip hard until I drew blood.

  “They used the same drug?” Jett asked hesitantly.

  “I think so, yes.” Sam’s voice carried over in his usual calm and measured tone, as if he was used to giving people bad news. “I’m sorry. I would even go so far as to say it’s identical—the same manufacturer. Again, I can only say she’s lucky she didn’t drink much of it. The combination of alcohol with twice the amount of the drug previously given to her could have killed her this time. She’s lucky you were with her. From what you told me, if Brooke had drunk the rest, she might not be where she is now.”

  “Fuck.” Jett raked a hand through his hair, his shoulders slumped, angry. His hand punched the wall before he let out another set of swear words. I flinched. Sam looked at him, unimpressed.

  “How come Brooke’s drink was spiked?” Sam asked after a small pause.

  “She went out.”

  “Where?”

  “To some place called the Hush Hush club. It’s a night club.”

  “She was at the Hush Hush?” Sam sounded surprised. “Are you serious, man? When did that happen?”

  “Recently,” Jett said. “Why are you asking?”

  “There was an incident there.”

  My breath stalled. Coldness crept into my bones as I gripped the door harder.

  “What incident?” Jett asked, repeating the burning question in my head.

  Yes, what incident?

  “Haven’t you read today’s news?”

  “No.” There was a pause. “Should I have?”

  “You tell me.” Sam’s voice dropped to a whisper, low enough for me to have to strain my ears to make out the words. Holding my breath, I stared at them. I could tell from his body language that it had to be important before he even opened his mouth.

  “A dead girl was found there,” Sam said. “It’s good that Brooke wasn’t around when it happened.”

  My body turned cold, and a shiver ran down my spine.

  What girl?

  I wished I could walk over and question Sam myself.

  “Are you saying a girl was found dead last night?” Jett repeated, the incredulousness replaced with weariness.

  “Yes.”

  “Did she happen to have red hair, and was her name Gina?”

  “Not sure about the hair color, but the name’s correct.” The answer came slower than expected. Sam sent Jett a long look. “So you’ve heard the news?”

  “No.”

  “If you didn’t read or hear the news, how do you know about it?”

  Jett took his time with his reply. Eventually, he said, “It’s a long story.”

  “One I should know of?”

  “It depends.” Jett sighed. I watched him take a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Did the girl die behind the night club?”

  I held my breath as I watched Sam, who seemed to study Jett for a moment.

  My heart pounded hard as I waited for his reaction, confirmation or denial.

  Anything.

  My chest started to hurt from all the pressure, but worst of all, my mind was spinning from all the new facts.

  Finally, Sam exhaled sharply and shook his head. “No, her body was dumped near the club,” he said. “By the time the police arrived, she was long dead.”

  “How do you know?” Jett asked.

  “A friend of mine is the medical examiner who’s performing the autopsy on her. He’s always short staffed, so he called to ask for help. We talked about an hour ago,” Sam explained. He clasped his hands behind his back, his thumbs fiddling. It was the only sign that Sam was nervous.

  “What else did he say?” Jett demanded.

  “Not much. Only that it’d been a long time since he’d seen a case as bad as hers. She suffered for a few hours before she died.”

  “Suffered how?”

  “Multiple stab wounds.”

  “Raped?”

  “Yes, that too,” Sam said. “What I’m telling you is unofficial and confidential information because the autopsy’s just begun.” Sam waited until Jett nodded his consent before continuing, “According to the news, she was last seen leaving the club with a man Monday at two a.m. My friend put the time of death as three p.m. Her body was dumped out of a car roughly twelve hours later, twenty-four hours after her disappearance.”

  My heart skipped a beat.

  Oh, my god.

  I had met the detective at seven p.m. He interrogated me and showed me pictures of Gina while she had been lying dead somewhere—still undiscovered.

  I clenched my hands into fists as cold shudders rocketed through me.

  God only knew what horrible things Gina had suffered in those twenty-four hours.

  “Wait a sec,” Jett said, mirroring my own thoughts. “Are you saying the girl was abducted, tortured at some place, and was already dead for several hours before her body was dumped at the club?”

  Sam nodded. “Yes.”

  “What the fuck?” Jett’s shoulders slumped, and he raked his fingers through his already disheveled hair.

  “What’s going on?” Sam asked.

  “You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”

  “Try me,” Sam said calmly. “Does it involve Brooke?”

  “Yeah.” Jett nodded, the notion carrying as much graveness as his tone. “And me. I’m getting framed.”

  “By whom?” Sam asked.

  “I don’t know.”

  “How could they possibly link you to this girl’s death?”

  Jett laughed darkly. “You’d be surprised.”

  Sam let out a sharp breath. “Jesus, dude. Does Brian know?”

  “Not yet. I found out this morning. Brooke told me she was friends with the girl.” Jett folded his arms across his chest and leaned against the wall. “Is there a way I can get a hold of the video?”

  “We don’t have it. It was just mentioned in the news,” Sam said. “But it shouldn’t be hard to get it. Brian could help out, or do you intend to keep it from him?” The slightest hint of reproach came through in his voice. Apparently, Brian had to be kept updated. That Jett hadn’t done so that didn’t seem to bode well with Sam.

  “I might tell him.” Jett drew a long breath. “It’d be interesting to know if any more dead girls were found recently.”

  The sudden pause signaled they were about to draw their conversation to an end. Afraid that Jett would notice me, I closed the door quietly, but that didn
t stop me from cupping my ear to the door again.

  For another minute or two, the conversation continued, too muffled to make out more than a fragment. Soon, footsteps thudded down the hall. They seemed to come closer, but I didn’t move away. If someone entered, I could always pretend I was on my way out because Jett was taking too long.

  “Do you think you can do me a favor?” I heard Jett’s voice again.

  “Consider it done.”

  “I need a copy of the autopsy report.”

  “What exactly are you looking for?”

  “I don’t know, maybe the presence of the same drug Brooke had in her system. I want to find out if the girl was drugged,” Jett said. “Can you get it?”

  “You’ll have it by tomorrow.”

  “I need it today.”

  “Sure. No problem. I’ll call when I have it,” Sam replied in the same calm tone. “Anything else I can do for you?”

  “As a matter of fact, yes.”

  The steps came to a halt in front of the door. I expected the door to burst open, but it didn’t. Reckoning I had heard enough, I retreated to the examination area and held my breath, waiting for the push of the door handle.

  It didn’t come.

  Waiting and not being able to hear what they were saying felt like an eternity. After a while, a door opened and closed nearby, and the next thing I knew the muffled voices were gone.

  Not my thoughts though.

  I leaned back, taking deep breaths, unable to shake the nausea building up. My sin felt hot, but inside, a cluster of ice-cold cramps seized my stomach.

  Gina had been raped. She had been drugged. And she suffered.

  Just like one of the victims I had met during my captivity—Liz.

  My throat burned as various emotions crawled up my spine. I tried to stop the memories flooding my mind, the dark times I had tried to forget but never could. My stomach clenched. I rushed to the bathroom and dropped to my knees just in time, before everything I’d eaten that day came up fast, until I was sure my stomach was empty and there was nothing left inside me.

  Shivering, I leaned my throbbing head against the cold surface, praying that the pain would stop.

 
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