“Toward the side door where you parked,” Tellar calls out. “She should have made it to the vehicle.”

That burn in my gut is now on fire. My voice mail finally beeps and I punch the button, holding my breath as Jared’s voice plays. Where are you? There are men following us. I’m going into the subway to try to ditch them. If I can’t find you . . . It breaks off in static and comes back in: coffee shop . . . we’ll go to the apartment. More static and then nothing.

I end the recording and for a moment, I am frozen in hell, living the fear that my best friend and a woman who has quickly come to matter to me could be lost. Throwing caution out the window, I grab the driver’s seat and lean forward to talk to Tellar. “Do you know where the Two57 Tower is? Jared said that they were being followed and he’d go there.”

Tellar eyes Liam in the rearview mirror and I curse, leaning back in the seat to replay the message on speaker. About halfway through it, Amy covers her mouth, and the unreadable Liam Stone hears it out before ordering, “Two57 Tower, Tellar. Now.” Tellar cuts left on the next street and Liam glances in my direction. “Who is Gia? Is she a potential target?”

“She’s a chemist who worked on a top secret project for Sheridan. She found out I was being held captive and risked her life to save me. Now she knows things he doesn’t want known, and he will come after her.”

“Like he has us,” Amy says, her voice low, gravelly.

Drawing her hand into mine, I know now isn’t the right time for explanations, but more and more it feels like tomorrow isn’t a guarantee. “I started working for a group of treasure hunters—”

“The Underground,” she supplies. “We know. Jared told us. What does Sheridan want from you?”

“Knowing what it is puts you at risk.”

“Are you kidding me, Chad? You’re actually going to try to keep this a secret? I’ve lived six years in hiding. I deserve to know why.”

“I know that, little sis, and I’m not unwilling to share the details you want, but you have to understand that while you trust Liam and Tellar, I don’t. I can’t imagine you did at first, either.” We stop in what looks like a traffic jam and my mind races with worry over Amy, and absolute fear for Gia and Jared. I look at Liam’s hand on Amy’s leg and my mind is made up. “I believe that Sheridan wants you alive. But I’m not confident he won’t kill Gia and Jared to punish me. I have to get to them before it’s too late.”

She grabs my arm. “No. Please. No, you can’t leave.”

“I have to do this, Amy. Give me your phone so I can input my number.”

She twists around trying to find her phone. “Oh no. I left everything at the table in the coffee shop because Liam was watching it.”

Liam hands me his phone. “We’ll meet you at the building. Call us if you need us to meet you someplace else.”

I key in my number and dial it to log his number in my call log, handing it back to him. “Protect her or I kill you.”

“Losing her would kill me,” he replies, and when I look into his eyes, I think I might just believe him. I pray I’m right.

Grabbing Amy’s hand, I kiss it and promise, “We’re connected. We’re always connected.” I let go of her and reach for the door, her sob following me as I exit onto the street and force myself to shut the door. Digging my phone out of my pocket, I try to call Jared and then Gia, both calls going to voice mail. Street by street, I redial them both, and each time I hear a voice mail pick up, my insides twist a little more.

Ten blocks pass and I reach the door of the apartment, thankful to see the doorman I met on arrival present. “Did my fiancée arrive yet?”

“Not yet, sir. Do you want me to buzz you when she arrives?”

“Are you sure? Could you have missed her?”

“Impossible. I’ve been in this spot and supervising the rest of our team.”

My jaw sets and I walk past him, my destination the security desk, where I have the attendant check the logs to ensure Jared and Gia haven’t signed in. The answer is the same. They aren’t here.

My cell phone rings and I look down at Jared’s number. “Where the hell are you?”

“He’s occupied at the moment,” comes an unfamiliar voice that sends a chill rushing over my body.

“Where’s Jared?”

“Occupied, as is the quite lovely Gia. Or is it Ashley now, as her identification states?”

My gut clenches. He has her purse, and Jared’s phone. “Where are they?”

“The coffee shop, of course.”

“I just left the coffee shop and they weren’t there.”

“They aren’t there, actually. She is. I just left her there.”

The line goes dead and acid burns through my veins the way Sheridan has burned through years of my life. Aware I could be watched, somehow I walk, not run, toward the building’s exit, redialing Jared’s number as I do. It goes straight to voice mail. Heavy-footed now, I burst through the exit of the tower to find Liam, Amy, and Tellar standing with the doorman.

“I got a call from Jared’s phone,” I announce, focusing on Liam. “They have him, and they say they just left Gia at the coffee shop. Get Amy someplace safe now. I’ll call when I can.” I don’t wait for an answer, certain that seconds wasted could cost Gia her life.

Launching into a run, I dodge random people on the busy sidewalks, quickly crossing intersection after busy intersection, until Tellar appears by my side, announcing, “This is a trap. You know it’s a trap.”

Tags: Lisa Renee Jones The Secret Life of Amy Bensen Romance
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