“If you were betrayed, Chad, Sheridan could know where Amy is. Please tell me your plan isn’t just to barge in and grab her. They could be waiting to grab you and her together.”
“If Sheridan knew she was here, he’d already have her.”
“You don’t know that. Maybe she was a backup plan. We’re both too tired to think through this clearly.”
“There is no ‘we.’ ”
“There is a ‘we.’ I’m here, and believe it or not, I put my life on the line for all of this.”
I pull up in front of the Inn at Cherry Creek. “If he hasn’t found her yet, I’m not wasting a moment that might let him. Grab your bag.” I pop the door open and the doorman greets me, as does one on Gia’s side. I give the man a nod, snag my duffel, and unzip it, palming him a large bill as I quietly say, “Keep my vehicle at the side of the building with the keys inside.” He gives the tip a glance and his agreement is adamant and instant.
Gia rounds the hood of the vehicle and I lace my fingers with hers, leading her forward. “Chad—” she begins urgently.
“Kevin, while we’re here,” I tell her softly. “And you’re Ashley, but I’d prefer you just not speak.”
I don’t have to turn to look at her as we enter the elegant boutique hotel’s lobby to feel her glower. She steps in front of me, her palm flattening on my chest, and damn it, my skin burns beneath her touch. “What about a trap?”
I cover her hand with mine. “You’re asking for attention we don’t need. We’ll talk upstairs.”
Her expression tightens, but she steps to my side and we walk to the high marble counter.
“Good evening,” the sixtysomething, gray-haired attendant offers.
Giving the man a nod, I pull my wallet from my jeans pocket, sliding a credit card and a fake ID onto the counter. “We’ll be staying two nights.”
“All we have available is the executive suite.”
“Is fine.” I look him straight in the eye, letting him see the various bumps and bruises on my face. “And yes to everything you’re going to offer. We had a car accident two days ago, and my wife is feeling under the weather. I’m eager to get her to a room, where she can rest.”
The man’s eyes widen and flicker to Gia. “I’m sorry, ma’am. We’ll get you checked in quickly. I’m glad you’re both okay.”
“Thank you,” Gia says, going along with the story. “I—we—do appreciate that.”
I grimace at the jab but say nothing, and true to his word, in all of five minutes, the man has us on an elevator. Gia turns to me, and I to her.
I stare down at her, this woman, this stranger who could be an enemy, and while I do not want to be a fool, I don’t believe that to be true anymore. And there is something about her and us I don’t understand. I only know that whatever it is she stirs in me, it is raw and ripe with some kind of deep, cutting hurt, and yet somehow sweet, when I’d thought nothing could ever be sweet again. She is also the only reason I detoured to a hotel before going to my sister’s apartment.
“Kevin,” I remind her, lacing my fingers into her hair, and without conscious thought, I am pressing my mouth to hers, and for a moment there is just her, us, and a caress of lips that could so easily, too easily, turn to white-hot passion.
The elevator dings softly, destroying those few seconds of peace I’d found in Gia, and that I’d needed more than I’d realized. I lean back, refusing to look at her, refocusing on what is important, on why I needed that moment of peace, on the possibility that I may soon discover my sister isn’t here.
Lacing my fingers with Gia’s, I lead her with determined steps to the end of the hallway and open our door. The executive suite contains a living area with a flat-screen TV above a fireplace and a bedroom on either side.
“What is the plan?” Gia asks. “What are we doing?”
“We aren’t doing anything. And you know the plan. I’m here to get my sister.”
“Now? Where? How?”
“You know I’m not telling you that.”
She makes a sound of frustration. “You have to have a plan that doesn’t include charging in and grabbing her.”
“I’m not grabbing her. I’m taking her to safety.”
“Oh, God. You don’t have a plan. I’m repeating myself here, but they could grab you and her together. Maybe that’s the idea. Maybe they didn’t have her, and they want her. Maybe they’re following us.”
“The only way that would happen is if you’re involved, and I’m hoping like hell that’s not true.”
“I’m not involved, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t watching her. Maybe they left her free in case you escaped, or they planned to show you pictures or videos of her to threaten you, but you escaped before they could. Please, Chad. Think about this. Don’t go and get killed.”
“Because I’m all that’s keeping you alive, right?”
She flinches. “Asshole. For your information, right now I feel like I’m the only thing keeping you alive.”
I shrug and turn. “I’ll be back.”
“I’m going with you.”
“Not a chance in hell.”