I watch her until they’re gone, and then return to the Jag to grab a black jacket, sliding it over my shoulders. My gaze lingers on the “Red Heaven” sign once more before I start walking. Entering the building, I stop at the hostess station, aware of the rows of booths and the long wooden bar with televisions overhead, but in my mind I see my home. I see walls and couches and the kitchen table where Amy and I talked on the night of the fire. I see stairs where there are none, and flames.

I walk to the bathroom and put on the wire, exiting to claim a booth. I go so far as to order a burger and fries, buying time for my presence here to be the bait for the enemy I’m seeking.

And just that easily, faster than expected, even, I hook my fish. Rollin sits down in front of me, thinking he’s throwing me off my game, when this is my game.

He arches an arrogant dark brow. “Imagine meeting you here, like this.”

“Imagine,” I say, my tone sardonic, my fingers twitching to be around his throat. I want to kill him.

“Needed a walk down memory lane before the big meeting?” he asks, sounding amused, his voice a bit raspier now. His skin is more tanned. The wrinkles around his black, soulless eyes are deeper.

I mentally talk myself down, sticking to my plan when I walked in this door. “Nice suit, Rollin,” I say, noting the expensive fabric. “Guess you aren’t out of that money I gave you quite yet. You were disinherited, and needed the cash.”

He smiles, and it’s evil, a wicked twist of his thin lips. “It was a good gift you gave me that day. My father didn’t even know about the meeting, but he would have kept coming at you. He would have figured out you gave me the cash.”

“So you killed my family.” Somehow my tone is flat, unemotional, but the knife on the place setting is far too near my hand considering how much I burn to kill him.

“I do what I must.”

I want to kill him. I want to be that Grim Reaper. But Chen made it clear that if I act on my own, he pulls out. I inhale and let it out, asking, “And Gia’s father? Was he on your ‘must’ list?”

“He was on my father’s ‘must’ list, and killed too soon. My father thought Rex had what we wanted. Turned out you got there too quickly. So,” he says, tapping the table, “we’re here. It’s warm inside. Let’s just do the exchange. I have the cash in the car.”

I lean forward. “I came here to say good-bye to my parents. I wasn’t foolish enough to bring the cylinder. It’s being delivered to the drop site.”

“Well then, I guess we’ll have to drive there together.” One of his suited goons stops beside the table, shoving back his jacket to flash a gun. “Let’s go, shall we?”

“Not yet. I haven’t had my burger, and you aren’t going to shoot me without that cylinder.”

“Okay. You eat, and we’ll shoot the next customer that walks in the door.”

I throw my hands up. “Fine. But the cylinder won’t be there until the set time.” I push myself out of the seat and Rollin’s goon shoves me toward the back door.

My lips twist at the predictability. This is what I want, what Chen wanted when we set this trap. I walk down the hallway, toward what I know is a deserted, graveled back lot, with little to no lighting. I step outside and into the headlights of a car, shoved and forced to right my footing. Straightening, I find three men forming a line in front of me, and when I see Jared is one of them, my blood boils.

His eyes meet mine, and he doesn’t blink or look away. He is just here. With Rollin. Without remorse for his actions. “You fucking traitor,” I spit.

“It was time for this to be over,” Jared calls out.

“It’s time for you to be over,” I say, launching myself at him, only to have the two men beside him draw their guns.

“Careful,” Rollin says, moving to stand in front of me. “We don’t need to get bloody when we’re playing nice.”

“If he stays, there is no deal.”

“Five hundred million says you can tolerate him,” Rollin says, and he’s barely spoken the words when engines roar in the near distance, and we are suddenly swarmed with motorcycles manned by men in ski masks. There is a crazy rush of activity, and then everyone in Rollin’s group has a gun at his head and is being shoved into a car.

One of them grabs Jared, and I shout, “Wait!” crossing to stand in front of him.

“Why? Why did you do it?” I demand.

“I didn’t want to, man. It was a bad hack, and I ended up in trouble.”

“With Rollin?”

“No. It was a setup and they held me captive.”

“You let them.”

“I tried to set you free by just giving them what they wanted.”

“You believe that, don’t you?”

“I was protecting you.”

“Oh, really? Well, I’m not protecting you.” I wave to the man holding him and turn away, walking toward another man waiting for me at the door.

“Documents,” he says.

I reach in my jacket and hand them to him. “What’s going to happen to them?”

“Whatever we want to happen to them.”

I inhale and let it out, not sure why I care what happens to Jared. But I do. I open the door and walk inside Red Heaven.

Gia and Coco walk in, having been alerted by the Chinese when it was safe.

Gia rushes to me and hugs me, and I hug her back. “Is it over? Is it really over?”

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