“If I were going to do that, I would have done it six years ago.”

“Did he think you sold it to someone else? Is that why he killed your family?”

“I told him I couldn’t find it, but he said that someone inside The Underground—the group of treasure hunters I worked with, men who were supposed to be like blood family—had betrayed me and told him I had it.”

“Do you?”

“You’ve asked that over and over, and each time, I don’t answer. Let’s break the perpetual cycle. Right now, we need to deal with your hand, and Jared has information on my sister that I need.”

“I can wrap my hand,” she insists, and I should let her, but I’m already leading her to the bathroom, and for reasons I can’t explain, I need more from her. Something. Anything. Just . . . more.

We enter a room where steel sinks and a sunken tub are enclosed by brick. Everything about this place is a modern money tank that is part of a massive portfolio I’ve stockpiled.

“Chad—”

I cut her off by turning her to face the counter, cranking the water and unwrapping my shirt from her hand to stick it under the flow. I’m aware of my body wrapped around hers, of how small and feminine she is. When our eyes meet in the mirror, the connection I feel jolts me beyond reason. I don’t know what it is about this woman. Maybe it’s timing, maybe it’s some good in her that I sense when I’m simply so damn bad, but she gets to me in every possible way.

“I need to know,” she whispers.

“You don’t need to know,” I insist, turning off the water.

She grabs a washcloth and turns to face me, her uninjured hand branding my chest. “I . . . do . . . I . . .”

Her objective is lost as somehow my wet hands settle on her waist and our mouths are far too close. The air thickens around her, the heat between us burning with demand. I want to kiss her, to strip her naked and escape this hell, if only for a few minutes. But I fight the urge, trying not to muddy the waters that are already thick with sludge. This can’t happen. We can’t happen.

“No,” I say, to this, to us, and to her need for answers I won’t give her.

“Just no? That’s not a good enough answer.”

“It’s the only one you’re getting.” I step away from her, feeling the ache of not touching her far too deeply, and reach inside a steel cabinet, setting a medicine kit in front of her before moving to the sink beside her to clean up my bloodied chest.

Silent seconds tick by, and I am far too aware of the intimacy of our sharing the bathroom, quickly wiping down my skin and walking to the closet to grab one of the T-shirts I have hanging inside. I return to the bathroom, still pulling it over my head, to find Gia standing in my path, arms folded in front of her.

“We aren’t staying here,” I announce. “My sister’s in New York.”

“That’s good, right? She’s safe?”

“Depends on how you define good. In the short time I’ve been away, she’s managed to get engaged to some billionaire architect.”

“Do you think he’s a setup by Sheridan?”

“I’m sure he is. That’s why we aren’t staying. I’m going after her.”

“Am I going with you?”

“Yes.”

“And the man downstairs?”

“Jared,” I say. “Yes. He’s going with us.”

“Who is he to you?”

“He looked after Amy while I was gone. He’s also probably one of the top twenty hackers in the world, and the entire reason we were able to manipulate death certificates and records to disappear six years ago. He’s been close to Amy and her fiancé the past few months, and at this point, she doesn’t even know I’m alive.”

She blanches, holding up her hands. “Wait. Your sister thinks you’re dead? Why would you let her suffer that way?”

“Because Sheridan will use her against me if he gets the chance, and together we’re a bigger target. It had to be this way.”

“Are you going to tell her now?”

“I’m going to do whatever I think keeps her safe. Right now, we’re going downstairs to connect a few dots with Jared and make plans. Don’t tell him about the cylinder. I’ll tell him when I’m ready.”

“How can he not know about it if he helped you hide Amy?”

“I had no reason to tell him why we were in trouble. Amy and I were dead to Sheridan. He was out of this and safe, just monitoring pings with certain keywords for me from a distance. I’m going to have to tell him the truth, but right now I want him focused on Amy, not on a million questions about the cylinder. I’ll tell him the truth before he has time to hack your personnel file.”

She studies me a moment. “What happens when you get your sister back? Does he make everyone disappear again until Sheridan finds one of us and kills us? Because Sheridan will keep coming for us—and now that he knows you’re alive, it won’t take six years for him to find you, or us, this time.”

I grab her and pull her to me. “I told you. No one else dies because of me. He’s not going to have time to hunt me down. I’m hunting him down this time, and I won’t settle for anything less than his total annihilation.”

“If that’s a promise, I’ll take it.”

“It’s a promise, sweetheart.” And before I can stop myself, I seal it with the intense kiss I’d denied us both only minutes before, tasting her deeply, passionately, and telling myself it will be our last. Finally, I force myself to set her aside before I make that one last time really damn unforgettable. “Jared is waiting on us downstairs.”

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