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Bound by him, p.10
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       Bound by Him, p.10

           Red Garnier
 
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  “Damn.” Andrew rubbed his temple as he circled his office, talking to Graves on his cellular phone. “I’d really hoped for something more.”

  “I know, man, I’m sorry I couldn’t help.”

  “Sir,” his assistant interrupted through the phone’s speaker. “There’s someone calling from Whitney’s phone. But it’s not . . . her.”

  “Shit, Graves, hang on.” Andrew set down his cell phone and picked up, his heart already kicking like a mad dog. “Yeah?”

  “Do you want her back?”

  The hairs on the back of his head rose in alarm at the sound of the muffled voice, speaking possibly through a fabric. His system seized in fear, pain. “Yeah,” he said, his knuckles turning white as he held the phone in a hand that trembled in growing rage. “I want her back. And if you hurt a hair on her head . . .”

  A laugh.

  Mocking.

  Fucking infuriating.

  “All I offer is her life, but I don’t guarantee the rest. And my five million has just become ten. Midnight. In cash. Leave it in a tagged car with the keys at the Navy Pier parking lot.”

  “It’s fucking Saturday. I can’t produce ten million in cash—”

  “You all should have gone to the bank yesterday and you’d have five already.”

  He hung up.

  Andrew swung around and crashed his computer to the floor. He slammed the phone down, then grabbed his cell phone for Graves, his lungs straining for air. “They’ve got her. Son of a fucking bitch, they’ve got her. Shit, they called my landline! I couldn’t activate the damn shit!”

  “That doesn’t sound right.”

  “What doesn’t?”

  “You sure he’s got her? Chloe’s supposed to be with her right now.”

  A silence stretched bleakly. Then Graves cried, “Fuuuuuck me!”

  Graves cut out, and Andrew clicked his cell phone and redialed Whitney’s number, his systems buzzed and going haywire. Answer, answer.

  Fuckingfuckingdogpissshitgoddammitmotherfuckinsonofa . . .

  “Shouldn’t you be counting bills already?” the muffled voice asked.

  Andrew could’ve sworn there was fire coming out of his fucking nose. He was going to kill this motherfucker when he found him and he didn’t give a fucking shit how many years he went to prison for it! “I want to talk to her,” he said in an eerily calm voice that belied every hot roiling sensation inside him.

  “Very well.”

  Andrew could hear shuffling, and then, her sweet voice on the other end, sounding like she was more than a little scared, and more than a little determined not to show it.

  “I’m all right, I’m all right!”

  Andrew was sure the cracking sound in his chest was his heart. Before he could even tell her to hang on tight, to please hang the fuck tight he was going to do anything to get to her, the sound of exchanging phones came back. “There. Satisfied?”

  Slowly seething in rage, Andrew pressed the star and the zero with his thumbs, holding them for five seconds, and in a low, bitter voice said, “You’ll rue the day you set a hand on her.”

  ***

  Darkness. That was all she could see, through the blindfold covering her eyes. She couldn’t see her captor, but the hairs on the back of her neck were raised in alarm, and she felt him near. Heard his footsteps. Circling her. His voice dangerously velvety.

  “I know what you did, cousin.”

  She wished she’d been able to hear Andrew’s voice on the other end, before this bastard took the phone away from her. She didn’t remember ever being so cold and so scared in five years.

  “And I know what your boyfriend did, too,” he sneered.

  She sucked in a bunch of air, her mind spinning darkly as she wondered if Andrew had been able to activate the bomb. Her hands were bound in front of her, her feet tied at the ankles, and he’d forced her down onto a squeaky chair but thank God hadn’t tied her to it. So she had some mobility, but not a lot.

  “I want to talk to my boyfriend again,” she said, all her hopes right now resting on that little bomb.

  Her cousin laughed. “I don’t think so, Whitney. Tell me. Why didn’t you go to the bank when you got my note? Hmm? Why the fuck did you go to Andrew Fairchild and have him call a bunch of people? Huh? Huh? Now you see what you’ve made me do! I don’t have time to play your fucking games. I’ve been waiting five fucking years to get the fucking proof I needed to blackmail you!”

  The force of his tirade sent an icy wave of fear crashing through her. Her breath rasped in her throat as she struggled against her binds until the rope bit like a saw into her wrists.

  “Tell me now. Were you not planning to pay my money? I’ve been watching you and you haven’t done shit to acquire the funds in cash. As punishment, the amount has just doubled for your man, do you do realize? You cost him money. Time.”

  She sputtered in fear when he touched something cold and damp along her jaw, and she thought it was his thumb. Bile rose up in her throat, and suddenly she could feel other hands. Grabbing her, and pinning her down. Awful hands. An awful man.

  The fear spread like a black cloud over her, tempting her to zone out. Find that spot. Where dark-haired Andrew Fairchild would smile at her like she was pretty and precious. No, no. She couldn’t zone out, couldn’t find her nook in her mind. She needed to stay here. Anxious and afraid. Waiting for the bomb to go off.

  Chilled to her bones, she touched the lapel of her shirt with clammy fingers, and she wanted to vomit as his thumb once again grazed her jaw, then ran across her lips.

  “Such a lovely girl,” he cooed. “I can see why he’d do time for you.”

  “My binds are too tight, could you please loosen them a little for me?” Breathing slowly, she used one trembling hand to unhook the spider from her lapel, trying not to draw attention to her hands. But bound as she was, how was she going to get the spider’s belly on him?

  “Why would I care about your fucking comfort when you killed my father, you cock-sucking whore?” He spat nearby, and she winced in terror as his footsteps echoed around the room. They became more distant first, and then returned, stopping ominously close.

  “I didn't kill him,” Whitney fiercely whispered when he stopped close enough for her to smell him.

  “Oh, I know all about it. Your bloodied dress. You left the scene so your boyfriend could take the blame for you. You planned to murder him all along. You lured him into your house and you were ready to kill him, strip him of his money—strip me of my money! And then your fucking boyfriend makes his little deal with the government and nobody’s the wiser.”

  Denial flew through her. “He died in my house, yes, but it was an accident!”

  He struck her. One second she was speaking, the next something cold and hard plowed into her jaw and swung her head around with jolting force. Stars sputtered in the back of her eyelids, and for a second, her lungs turned to rocks.

  Icy fear paralyzed her as she fought to straighten herself back in the chair, and all she could do was focus on breathing. This was too unreal. Too familiar. This helplessness. This awful, soul-sucking dread.

  “I’ve wanted to punish you all these years. All. These. Years. Cousin . . .”

  Panting, she licked her lower lip and tasted her own blood, thick and metallic, seeping out of the corner of her mouth.

  “Donahue’s should be mine, too. Not just yours. My father was to have a part, for guarding you. Your boyfriend took care of stripping that from us, too. I had to wait for that asshole to return so I could get the fucking proof of what you did, and now I’m going to drain him out of every last drop!”

  “We didn’t do anything!”

  “Why then . . . did he go and serve three years’ time . . . hmm? If it not because either you . . . or he . . . killed him?”

  Confusion warred inside her.

  Her pulse beat erratically, her vision blurred from the force of his hit. Her panic was filtering into every cell of her body, deep into her
voice. “Your father died in an accident. An accident happened that day.”

  “No! It was no accident. I compensated your loyal little driver very generously to keep me informed. He gives me details. Lots of details. I only intended for you to pay me some money . . . Whitney. What I deserve. But you anger me, Whitney. Ignoring my note. He’s going to pay me cash now, and you’re going to pay me with every bit of that body. My father had it bad for you, didn't he? Did you enjoy it when he visited your room?”

  A suffocating sensation tightened her throat as he grabbed her breast and squeezed, and a cry of real fear tore out of her as he abruptly pulled off the blindfold. She stared into his eyes. Identical to his father’s. A green that was almost yellow. Mean, awful eyes she never, ever, in her life, wanted to see.

  “Deny that you killed my father to my face, little cousin.”

  Whitney wanted to kick and scream and claw, her muscles clenching as she fought her binds. She kept telling herself she was not a victim anymore. Not a victim anymore, not a victim anymore.

  Not a victim anymore.

  She had the spider in her hand but had no way of gaining access.

  “I. Didn’t. Kill him.”

  He smiled cruelly. “Then why was your man in prison for three years? Hmm?”

  “He wasn’t in prison.”

  He slapped her. “Liar! I talked to the air marshal! I pretended I knew what the hell I was talking about and he couldn’t stop talking about the big goddamned fifty-million-dollar jet he has! He. Was. In. Prison. For murdering my father! Because of you! I know it was you because Jerry told me. He told me you couldn’t stop chattering in the car, saying, ‘He was dead, he was dead, it was an accident, the knife just went in.’ How can a fucking knife just go in? Huh?”

  Whitney blinked.

  She trembled. Cold. Hot. Her teeth chattered as the possibility of his words hit her. She wasn’t thinking of being taken away from the scene of the crime in the back of Andrew’s Bentley. No. She’d stopped really hearing when he claimed Andrew had been in prison.

  Andrew.

  In prison.

  For her.

  When Andrew had left for the “Middle East,” the only reason Whitney had been so determined to grow strong, on her own, was the thought of him coming home. Waiting for one more letter . . . the wait for that day when he walked through their door . . .

  When he came back, he was changed. Darker. A little angry. And desperate for her.

  Oh. My. God.

  “Stop chattering, ‘I’m not a murderer.’” His laugh was choked. Awful. “But I can definitely sample you. Hmm? So that when I’m in the Cayman Islands, spending you and your sweetheart’s millions, he will live with the torture that I had you, while you wore his tattoo.” Leaning over until his chubby face was close enough to wreak his breath all over her, he stroked her jaw with both his thumbs. “Hmm.” He reached down and parted her shirt, and she felt the cool air on her skin, slowly revealing her.

  Knocking her forehead into his, she leapt to her feet and threw her entire weight onto him, taking him down. She sprawled over him and screamed as she pressed both buttons of the spider against his neck.

  A bolt hit him, and convulsions and strange sounds erupted from his chest.

  Then a dead weight on the floor underneath her sprawled body.

  She blinked in disbelief. It worked?

  Move, move, move, she thought.

  She needed to act.

  She had twenty minutes.

  But as far as she knew this guy wasn't even human and would rise in two!

  Adrenaline pushed her to her feet.

  “Omigod omigod.” Wide-eyed, she awkwardly hopped across the wide basement and frantically searched for the door, when up above at street level, a window crashed open.

  Glass rained a couple of feet away. Then a dark figure dropped from above and landed stealthily on two feet, while Whitney stood paralyzed, gaping.

  It could’ve been a movie, it was so surreal. Even as she watched Andrew unhook the rope that had lowered him, she couldn’t believe how expertly he moved. As if he’d been trained to do this.

  He spotted her.

  And Whitney could hardly see him through the wetness in her eyes.

  “My God, baby, you have to stop doing this to me,” he said.

  Choking between laughter and tears, she didn’t know if she hopped over or if he came to her, she only knew the second his arms wrapped around her that they felt like vises, and every emotion inside her burst forth and she was overtaken by the compulsive sobs that shook her.

  “You’re here,” she gasped, fisting her bound hands at the front of his shirt.

  Engulfing her in his strong arms, Andrew clenched her so tight he almost hurt her bones. His voice was thick with tears. “I’ll always be here, darling—always. Did he hurt you?”

  “Ohmigod no . . .” She gulped hard and peered up at him, hot tears slipping down her cheeks. “But I know. He told me. He told me. Where you where. Because of me.” Flooded with pain, she waited for him to deny it, but his hands ran down her hair as he scented her and nuzzled her.

  “It’s all right. It’s all right now. I’m home.”

  She could feel her throat closing up again, her eyes stinging as he unbound her, then he bent to free her legs. Impulsively she kissed the tattoo of his name still imprinted on her wrists and watched as he headed over to the limp figure on the cement floor.

  “You won’t mind if I got you a new phone, would you?” Andrew asked as he grabbed the device from her cousin’s pocket.

  Whitney shook her head with a tremulous smile, busily drying her face as Andrew tied up Joe with the same rope Whitney had worn.

  He moved like a pro, easily and quickly, and when she spotted the Celtic vines at his wrists peeking from underneath his shirt, her heart soared. Whitney’s name. On his thick, tanned wrists. Joy rushed through her at the reminder that she still wore his name, when she’d been so close to removing him.

  “Have a good life in hell,” Andrew murmured to the unconscious man.

  He ushered her out into his car, telling her the police would arrive there any minute, and as he drove, she curled into the front passenger seat and listened to his lulling voice as he talked to a police officer. Apparently his driver, Jerry, was also being apprehended for aiding in the kidnapping and blackmail.

  When he hung up, she covered his hand on the gear shift, and the ache in her chest which had throbbed for years during his absence was now replaced with a feeling of love and safety that flooded every corner of her being.. “What did I do to deserve you?” she whispered.

  He looked down at her with those liquid coal eyes. “You were born.”

  ***

  Andrew spent the day at the Chicago Police Department, wrapping things up with the officer in charge of the investigation. Jerry easily confessed that he’d been keeping Joe informed because of the money, while Joe kept telling the police that Whitney had murdered his father, and the police, thank goodness, laughed and dismissed the charge.

  Andrew knew that with him as a secret confessed “murderer,” she could never be charged.

  He also met with Graves so he could deactivate her phone.

  When he got home, he showered, waiting for Whitney to return. Chloe had come to pick her up while he was with the police, because Whitney wanted to bring her things back over.

  His heart pounded in anticipation of seeing her. Talking to her and holding her.

  When he emerged from his shower, he was struck with déjà vu, and suddenly it was their first night together, all over again.

  Whitney stood naked at his bedroom door, red hair tumbling from her shoulders, perfect curves and puckered breasts.

  Adrenaline rushed through him as their gazes met.

  Primal red-hot possessiveness rippled off him in waves, and he needed her. He’d been scared. And so had she. And she knew the truth now. And he had to mate with her. Now.

  There were no more lies between them
.

  She wanted to show him she was independent and he knew. But he still needed her. And she still needed him.

  And they were bound.

  His heart pounded. “They’re both going to be locked up for a long, long time,” he said softly, as he approached.

  “What I want to know,” she said, pressing her body to his as she softly kissed his chest, then his collarbone, then his Adam’s apple, “is why you didn’t tell me where you were?”

  “You suffered enough.” He engulfed her jaw with one hand and tipped her head back to his. “I don’t ever want you feeling guilty about it. I did it because I wanted to. I was fed well. I had a couple of hours outside. The worst was having no contact with you. That’s what was hell. I swear I could’ve lived in a palace, but it would be hell being apart from you.”

  The pain in her eyes warmed him, if only because he knew she cared. “Did you have friends, Andy?”

  “A couple.”

  “Did you have problems with any? Did you suffer from . . .”

  He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and drank in her face, and the fact that there was no more reproach in her gaze. Only love. Love for him. His chest swelled with gratitude. “No, there were no problems. It’s very secure. The men locked in there are powerful businessmen and politicians, well guarded and protected.” He surveyed her reaction, then he added, “Prostitutes were brought in once a month, and that’s how I could send letters. I’d have them bring me some paper and a pen and they’d post them for me. But the guards stopped sending them my way when they realized I wasn’t fucking them.”

  He slowly let loose his towel and then pulled her toward him, his eyes holding hers as he sat her at the edge of the bed and drew her down to his lap. They stared at each other, and a tear streamed down her cheek.

  “I understand if you did,” she said in a choked whisper.”If you had to…be with someone.”

  “Baby, I didn’t. I kissed my wrist and took care of it, thinking of you.”

  More tears streamed down her face, and somehow, they cleansed him. He felt free, now that she knew. Open to her. One with her again. He caught the moisture of her tears with his thumb, then he bent and lapped them with his tongue. Framing her face, he licked up all that salty wetness and then took her lips, kissing her mouth with a painstaking gentleness that stemmed from a need she’d never be able to imagine.

 
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