Then it dawned on her. The place was dark for another reason. Her lights weren’t on.

“You disappointment me,” said a man stepping out of the shadows.

The voice echoed in the unguarded chambers of her soul. She froze.

“You broke your vows, wife .”

Oh, God . She couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe.

“I warned you not to do that.”

A slip of air wheezed from her lungs. “Trevor.”

Forcing herself to turn, she didn’t dare leave her back to him. He stood several yards away, dressed in black. The brim of his baseball cap cast the top half of his face in shadow, but nothing muted the razor-sharp glint in his dark eyes. Those malevolent orbs had haunted her through countless nightmares. He hadn’t changed.

Strong jaw cleanly shaven, narrow chin, harsh cheekbones, even harsher eyes. No trace of a smile. It had always shocked her, once she learned the type of man he really was, that other women found him handsome. Then again, so had she, once. He might’ve been any intriguing guy a girl ran into at a bar. Five-foot-nine, cloaked in an edgy aura, hips slanted in an arrogant stance. He could outmuscle most guys in a room, and wore tight shirts to display it. But then, given time, the packaging fell away to reveal a mind fractured and demented by too much violence, too much blood, too much hate. A soulless need to dominate. And a heart cold enough to freeze hell.

She shivered uncontrollably.

“Did you expect me to stand here with open arms?” he snarled. “Beg for you?”

“No,” she croaked.

“You owe me.” He thumped his chest. “You’re the one who should be on your knees, praying I take you back.” He shook his head. “After all the chances I’ve given you.”

Always, he turned it back on her. “I left you, Trevor.”

“You weren’t thinking straight.”

“I’ve had more clarity in the four years without you than the four we were together.”

“Liar.” The hateful bark made her flinch. “I told you never to lie to me. That was always your worst flaw. You underestimate my training. I know when people speak the truth. I should’ve done to you what I do to those who double-cross me.”

“I’m not crossing you. You’re the one who stalked me .” Anger tangled with terror inside.

His eyes narrowed to knife-slits. “You are my wife. I have every right to you.”

“Wrong.” The vehemence in her tone seemed to shock him. But these words had been building up for too long, a suppressed volcano ready to spew molten wrath. “I am not a paper doll you cut away until I fit your sick mold. I think for myself. I make my own choices. I don’t need you for anything.”

She watched his rage build like a Jenga game, piece layering upon piece until the structure teetered at the edge of destruction. Once, she would’ve stumbled on her words, cowering before him, ready to do anything to subdue his rage. Now, she was a match for him, in every way except physically.

“You’ve changed.” He cocked his head, as if recalculating a complex equation.

“This is who I was meant to be, Trevor. I’m free of your screwed up ideal of what I’m supposed to do to make you happy. You have no claim to me. You never will.”

His features contorted with disgust. “Is this some twisted game? You know I hate games, Allie.”

“Don’t call me that. This is not a game. It’s my life. I don’t care what you think or believe. You can’t control me.”

“No?” His hands flexed, knuckles cracking.

Old instincts battered her defenses, begging her to curl up in a ball and plead for mercy. She refused.

Her glance darted to the nearest security camera, barely within range. She backed toward the closest pool of fluorescent light. Would someone see them? Hundreds of cameras spanned the Stone Security building and exterior. Logan’s staff couldn’t monitor every single one every second. The bleak thought induced panic. Would anyone know she was in danger?

Trevor laughed, a low raking sound. He advanced as she retreated. “You think your lover will save you?”

“Yes, he would. But I don’t need him to. I can save myself.”

“He’s not the man you need.”

“He’s the man I want. That’s all that matters.”

“I’ll remind you what matters.”

Quick as a lightning strike, he was on her. His hand clutched her throat. She choked, spluttered. Maternal instinct raged through her flailing body. She fought him like a wildcat. Clawing, shrieking, desperate to protect and defend her baby.

Then Trevor gripped the back of her neck, a move he’d used before from his Black Ops training. He inflicted pressure just right to send shooting pain down her spinal cord.

“Stop,” she cried. “Trevor, stop!” She twitched, limp, in agony.

“Give me one good reason.” Spit flew from his curled lips.

“Baby,” she gasped. “Don’t hurt my baby.”

“What?” he roared. He released her with a shove as if she’d infected him with an incurable disease. “What the hell did you say?”

Wheezing, she stumbled back. “I’m pregnant.”

If she had any hope of unearthing an ounce of compassion in Trevor, it dissolved in the next instant. His fist was the last thing she saw before her skull exploded. A sickening crunch was her arm shielding her abdomen as she hit the ground. She cried out in pain.

The stench of oil-stained concrete made her sick. Black unconsciousness pulled her down like a tidal undertow she fought with all her might. Her lungs refused to take in air.

“You stupid whore.” Trevor railed above her. “That baby should be mine.”

The bang of a door echoed through the cement cavern. A gun cocked. A shot fired. Then car tires squealed. A white blur sped away. Burning rubber singed her nostrils. She dry-heaved.

An unfamiliar face bent over her. “You’re okay, Allison.” The man picked her up and carried her toward the building. “Stay with me,” he instructed. “Breathe. Slow, easy. In and out. The worst is over.”

“Who—?” She chocked on a fit of coughing.

“I’m your bodyguard when Logan isn’t around. If anything happens to you, the boss will kill me,” he muttered. “But I know you’re strong. Everything’s fine now… You’re safe…”

His soothing voice faded to muted tones. She stopped fighting and surrendered to the darkness.

Tags: Vanessa Waltz Billionaire Bodyguard Suspense