More questions. So many questions. So many I had already answered. The officers questioned me until my voice was hoarse, and Brad held up a hand, giving them one hard look that ended all questions. Then they took a turn, speaking instead of interrogating, updating me on everything that had happened in the last twelve hours.
I didn’t know what my kidnappers had planned, but my escape certainly put a kink in their plans. An hour after I returned home, police raided the showroom, finding nothing helpful in their search of the downstairs. The gurney I had laid on? Almost been raped on? Gone. That room had been empty, the smell of bleach strong. The electronics room, which held the security system was also clean, all footage gone, the system’s history wiped. The police tracked down the owner of the building at 3:15 a.m. and questioned him. He said the downstairs of the building was leased, and provided, bleary-eyed and irritated, copies of a lease agreement. The police looked up the renter, which turned out to be a bogus corporation with no ties to anything. Dead ends leading to dead ends.
I told the police everything. That I choked him until he passed out, then pushed him off me and ran. I had been unnecessarily prepped by Brad and performed well, his head imperceptibly nodding as I ran through the liability-safe lines of our script.
I was exhausted by the time they left, and sat in Brad’s lap on the sofa in the den, the memory of two weeks ago, our f**k on this couch, seeming light years away. “I want to turn the theatre room back into a theatre,” I said, my voice muffled slightly by his neck.
“You don’t want to train with Ben anymore?” he asked, surprise in his tone. “I thought, with everything that happened ...”
“I just want things to go back to normal. In a few months I might start training again. It’s too soon right now. I want to go back to using that room for mindless entertainment.”
He nodded. “On that note, I have a suggestion.”
“About the theatre room?”
“No. About something else entirely.”
I turned in his lap, facing him head on, and raised an eyebrow questioningly, his eyes glued to mine as he started to speak.
Two days later, we wed in a small ceremony in our backyard. It happened at dusk, the pool littered with small flowers and candles, the glow reflecting in delicate patterns off our skin. We were a party of few, the invitees kept to my parents, Martha, and our close friends. Rebecca handled the details, and Martha fed us like kings at the conclusion of the nuptials. I would never forget the look in Brad’s eyes, love shining unabashed as he spoke words that have tied together souls for centuries. His love was terrifying in its entirety, an uncontrollable wave that fiercely dominated normal levels of emotion. I worried I was unable to compete, my own love inferior in its selfish humanity.
“You won’t understand,” he whispered later that night. “Unless you come close to losing me, you will never understand the black hole that my soul became when I thought you were gone. I hope you never understand the depth of love you have for me, I hope your heart is never pushed off that cliff. Just know that I am forever yours. You may crush my heart, and I will ask you for more. I just need to know you are happy and safe. Nothing else will ever matter to me.”
He moved above me, his mouth coursing over mine, soft kisses gently caressing my soul, kisses that traveled, down my neck, his body sliding lower, his fingers unbuttoning my nightshirt as my legs wrapped around him. Then, he was at the top of my panties, his bare mouth skimming the line of skin before satin, his kisses continuing lower, until I felt the heat of his mouth through the fabric, teasing my skin, his tongue swiping over my silk-covered sex. I moaned, arching into his mouth, his hands moving underneath me until they gripped the muscles of my ass, lifting me fully into his mouth, the hot air of his breath tickling my inner thighs. The barrier of my panties stretched out my buildup, my frustration growing along with my orgasm, heightening the arc when it came, a quivering explosion of pleasure, his audible moan of arousal incredibly hot to my ears.
Then we christened a bed that we had christened a hundred times before, but this time, as husband and wife, the f**king sweeter, the kisses slower, the look of love in his eyes more intense.
I fell asleep wrapped in his arms, a strong frame of protection that I never wanted to leave. “I’m so sorry,” he whispered into my neck, my eyes already heavy with the edges of sleep.
“For what?” I said groggily.
“For not finding you. For not being there. I should have rescued you.”
I smiled, my words finding surface before I was captured by the pull of sleep. “You rescued me the moment I met you. My life began on that day.”
He pulled me tighter to him, and I fell. The final step. I fell into sleep, into life, into love. It felt as if I had finished a journey, grown and changed by the experience. I had arrived to the place where I was, where I was born to be who I was born to be, with whom I was born for. No matter what the future brought, whether it was danger, or sexual heat that burned me alive, or a weary game of checkers in a nursing home, I wanted it, with every inch of my body. I embraced our future and our ability to spend every last minute of it next to this man. My husband. My mate. My soul’s recognition in another.
I am fairly certain it was my father. My own flesh and blood who put her life in danger. I had my suspicions before, and have dug since. Dug as far as I can dig considering I can’t use any of my family’s connections. There is no real way for me to communicate how I feel about his possible involvement. About the idea that he would destroy my life for ... f**k ... I don’t even know why. A personal vendetta? For some f**ked up version of pride? What kind of father puts a hit out on his son’s fiancée? It might not have started as a hit, but he knew what would happen. He saw her strength at Maria’s house. He knew when he ordered her taken that it would mean her killed.
If it was him. If it wasn’t him ... well, that is the small possibility that walks with such large steps.
I know my family has no connection to the warehouse—that the men in our organization who would handle this were otherwise occupied, their alibis verified in undisputable ways. But my father is too smart for that. He would have set up a wall of separation for a task such as this, would have covered his ass six ways to Sunday.
I have no choice. Damn the chances of his innocence. There is no good reason for him to be in my life anyway. I don’t need family. I have her. And now she is my wife. Protected. I have amped up security, and we are looking at a new house, one with a private gate and enough protection for the Queen of England. But I will never stop worrying. I have seen a glimpse of life without her, and it is hell.