“He’s a greedy monster.”
“We both know it’s more than that, and you’re going to tell me the what, when, where, all of it. But right now, I want in and out of here in fifteen minutes.”
“You keep threatening me. What if I try to escape?”
“Run if you want to. Die by Sheridan’s hand. Feel free.” I turn us to the building and head for the automatic doors, stopping just inside the entryway to scan the store, counting not more than two handfuls of shoppers and staff combined.
“Are you at least going to tell me where we’re going?” she asks as I take her uninjured hand in mine and direct us toward the pharmacy.
“You can’t repeat what you don’t know.”
“Kind of like you not being afraid of the lie detector test?” she asks.
“Bait is for stupid fish, sweetheart,” I say, stopping at the aisle of first aid supplies. “I’m not one of them.” I release her and grab a basket from the end of the aisle, filling it with items she needs to doctor her hand that I hope like hell doesn’t become an issue.
“I need to know this is all for something,” she argues. “I need to know I’m protecting something.”
“You proclaimed your hatred of Sheridan,” I say, sticking the basket in her uninjured hand. “Destroying him will have to be enough.” I glance at her feet and back up. “What size shoe do you wear?”
“Six. Wait. Are you shopping for me?”
My answer is to point to the bathroom sign in the corner. “Go clean up. We’ll pay for your supplies when we leave.”
“What if they think we’re stealing them?”
“We’ll risk it.” I turn her in the direction she needs to go, my hands on her shoulders as I lean in close, wishing like hell she didn’t still smell so damn good. “Five of the fifteen minutes I’m willing to spend in here are gone. Go now. I’ll be right here waiting on you.”
Fortunately, she doesn’t argue, and I watch her until she disappears into the small hallway beneath the sign. Scanning the store, I flag down a store employee, a redheaded kid not more than seventeen who quickly joins me.
“Yes, sir, can I help you?”
“Long story short, my wife and I missed a flight and the airline lost our luggage. I have to make it to Austin in two hours or they’re giving away our tickets on another flight. Can I give you a hundred bucks to gather some supplies for me while we freshen up and use the bathrooms?”
The kid’s eyes light up and he pulls a small pad and pen out of his pocket, and I write down a list for him. “Have it all at a register in ten minutes and there’s an extra fifty in it for you.”
“Yes, sir. Absolutely.”
He rushes away and I do another quick scan of the visible areas of the store before following Gia’s trail and entering the women’s bathroom. Rounding the corner of a short hallway, I find her alone at one of two sinks, washing her hand, with three open stalls to her left.
She whirls around to face me, her hand dripping water and blood to the floor. “You scared the crap out of me. What are you doing in here?” She grabs paper towels to dry her hand. “Is something wrong?”
“Just making sure you’re safe,” I say, moving to inspect the rest of the room.
“You can’t keep coming into the ladies’ room,” she insists, following me into the last of the three stalls, this one the larger, wheelchair-ready handicapped space, where I give her my back and unzip my pants.
I glance at her over my shoulder. “It’s called seizing the moment, sweetheart. Go finish playing doctor so I don’t have to.”
She makes a sound of frustration, her heels clicking as she departs, my lips curving with the silent admission that I enjoy the hell out of aggravating this woman. Finishing my business, I join her at the sink, where she’s struggling to get the bandage wrapped around her palm. I wash my hands, then grab her hand and take over and our eyes lock and collide, the air instantly thick with a huge dose of lust-filled distrust.
“You’re going to get caught in here,” she warns softly, as if she can’t quite find her voice.
“It’s a Walmart in Texas,” I tell her. “They’re happy if you manage to show up with pants on.”
She laughs despite an effort to stop herself. “I suppose so. I’m just nervous about getting attention we don’t need.”
“We’re fine.” I fit some tape over the bandage on her hand and dump the supplies back inside the basket sitting on the counter.
“Right,” she agrees. “I know we are.”
She doesn’t sound convinced, and I can’t seem to quell my need to convince her otherwise. “Don’t let my getting captured fool you. It took him years to find me. I’m good at what I do. He won’t find me again. That means he won’t find you.”
“Until you’re done with me,” she murmurs, cutting her gaze away from me, and for the first time since that bedroom in East Austin, fear radiates off her. I tell myself to let it go, that she could be working me over, but I can’t seem to care.
I slip a finger under her chin and force her gaze to mine. “No matter what your intentions were when this started tonight, if you help me, really help me, I’ll make sure you stay protected.”