“Yes…of course, have him reach out to us to verify,” she replied, not certain whether or not to believe me.

I followed Samantha behind the counter and around to the private entrance again. She watched me unlock the gate for the elevator with a satisfactory nod before returning to her post.


After pressing the right button, I had to wait a while for the elevator to appear – which told me that Cole was already back. Well…maybe he’ll be a little more pleasant this time; I smiled eagerly to myself as I set my bags down on the tile. Holding my heel down, I tapped my shoe against the tile as I waited for the elevator to make the long trip down to my level.

I couldn’t wait to see the look on his face when I presented my finds –Would he be impressed? Furious? It was hard to tell.

The doors finally opened, and I stepped into the private elevator. Setting the heavy bags back down, I watched the floors pass until the city appeared again, spreading out in every direction as I ascended towards the penthouse.


The elevator ride was excruciatingly slow without anyone to talk to. I wondered to myself how Cole did it. No surprise that he spent so much time away from his home, if he had to endure this every time that he wasn’t descending via helicopter. Then again, I thought to myself, that view is something else.

Finally, after enough boring time had slipped past, the elevator came to a stop, and the doors opened. Letting myself into the apartment, I glanced at the large windowpanes that dominated the entrance hallway. My heels clicked against the penthouse tiling as the bags crinkled and shuffled with my brisk steps…they were so loud in these acoustics.

Something started to nag on me, but I pushed it out of my head. I’d find him asleep, maybe, curled up in his bed. Maybe I’d leave him to it, or maybe I’d just stir him awake and make him cook me dinner. After all, I’d completely forgotten about dinner when it came to sharing drinks with my best friend.

Something’s not right.

It struck me as a peculiar feeling, but I knew it was true. Glancing around as I entered the den from the side, I realized that it really was excessively quiet…an unnatural sort of quiet. I bit my bottom lip in fear.

Why am I on edge like this? Everything’s fine…

I walked around to the side when I shrieked, dropping my bags. Cole’s twisted form lay silent and motionless on the beautifully expensive floor.

Chapter 22

Kiona

Dead or unconscious, Cole wasn’t responding to me.

He was sprawled out lifelessly, lying on his stomach. All the anger and bitterness slipped off of me in an immediate wave as I frantically dropped to my knees beside him. Flipping him onto his back slowly, I desperately pressed my ear to his chest – he was breathing, but slowly, and his lungs sounded incredibly raspy…

He was moving now, murmuring in a pained voice. I dove for my purse, whipping out my phone to call 911 when I realized that I didn’t know how they would reach him here. The only way down was a locked elevator…surely the staff can get them up here, there’s NO WAY that they don’t have some sort of backup for times like this…

“S…stop…” Cole murmured. “No…ambulance…”

“We’ve got to get you to a hospital!”

“No…don’t…”

“No, Cole, you fucking listen to me right now,” I demanded, kneeling next to him again. “This isn’t normal for you. You’re young and healthy. I don’t care that you’re some big-shot billionaire, or that you’re afraid what the tabloids will say…you’re in danger. We’re going to get you some professional fucking help right this second.”

Cole’s hand lunged out, grabbing me tightly by the wrist.

“Cole, you’re…you’re hurting me…” I pleaded.

“No…ambulances,” he repeated, but this time his voice wasn’t weak. The shakes were gone – the tone of his words commanded me now, issuing a directive so firm that I knew better than to disobey him.

“Fine, no ambulances, just let go of my wrist,” I told him.

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