“I can’t hole her up in a closet, Savage. How do we keep that from happening again?”
“I’m at the door. My recommendation is not one I plan to make over the phone.”
“Emma’s still asleep.”
“I’ll be as quiet as a church mouse hunting cheese.”
I disconnect the line and walk to the door to find him right smack in front of me. “Jesus, Savage,” I murmur. “In the dining room. We can talk freely there.” I back up and lead him there.
I pass through the living room and turn down a hallway opposite the bedroom, passing a bathroom to enter a room with a long conference-style dining table. I step to the window, staring out at the picturesque of hills, ocean and rooftops, with Emma, not the view, on my mind. Savage stalks into the room wearing black fatigues and a black T-shirt, like I need a reminder that we’re in a damn warzone. He holds up an envelope. “I shoved a wad of cash at the kid that brought this to save Emma from the knock on the door.”
I take it from him. “This will be from Chance. It’s supposed to be the data to back up everything he told us today.” I toss it on the table. “What’s the plan to deal with York?”
“He’s a piece of shit. Give him too much to worry about to care about her.”
“Why don’t you just tell me to do it and let me handle it?”
My gaze rakes over the scar down his cheek that says he’s been in the trenches; he’s been in battle. And he lived. I’m an honorable man. I try to be the man my father would want me to be, but right now, I need to be the man who protects Emma. “Do it.”
“That was easier than expected.”
“What if it’s not him?”
“Eliminating him is step one.” He motions to the folder on the desk. “Deciding who else is a problem comes next.”
The two of us sit down at the table across from each other, and I open the thick envelope, pulling out a stack of files and several journals. On top of it all is a card with Emma’s name on it. I hand Savage half the stack of files and then go back to that card, staring down at it. When I found Emma again, she was all that was on my mind. Now, I’m thinking about her brother. I know he loves her. I believe he told us the truth, but how he handled the situation with the castle doesn’t sit well.
At Emma’s voice, I look up to find her in the doorway, her long brown hair a silky mussed up mess around her face and shoulders. Her cheeks warm with pink. She’s so damn beautiful, she’s sunshine that lights an otherwise barren and dark sky. She sure as hell lights my black soul, and that’s exactly where I was when I met her. A black soul headed to hell and dragged to heaven.
“Hi,” she says, those pale green eyes falling on me.
I smile and set the card down next to me. “Hi.”
“Hiya, Em,” Savage calls over his shoulder. “What’s cookin’, good lookin’?”
She laughs, a fluttery sweet laugh. “You’re insane, Savage.”
“I like that about me,” he replies.
“Me, too, actually,” she says, walking up behind him to punch his shoulder.
“Ow!” Savage growls, while Emma laughs again, and I stand and pull a chair out for her.
She meets me at the end of the table where I fold her into me and kiss her. “How do you feel?”
“Much better and like I could eat all that food we just ate all over again.”
“Room service it is,” I say. “Your brother made good on his word. He delivered all the documents he promised. We’re just digging into the files. Want to help?”
“Absolutely.” She kisses my cheek, and damn, she is just so sweet, the kind of sweet that gets me wicked hot and hard from nothing but that random act of affection. She blows up my emotions when there was a time when feelings were the devil.
She settles into her seat, and I claim mine next to her. “What’s this?” she asks, picking up the card and glancing at me.
“It was inside the delivery from your brother.”
“Oh.” She stares down at it, the pink in her cheeks fading to pale. “I should—” She glances at me. “I should open it.” She gives a shaky laugh. “I’m so uncomfortable with my brother right now. It’s rather disconcerting. I ah—I think I’ll go in the other room and open it.”
I catch her hand and kiss it. “I’ll be right here if you need me.”
Her eyes fill with tenderness, and she lifts my hand this time and kisses it, her eyes warm with emotion before she stands and walks away.
I suck in a sharp-edged breath and look skyward, the need to protect her so damn intense that it skirts around inside me like a live charged wire. I lost my mother. I lost my father. I lost Hunter. Brody is in rehab. To lose those we love is devasting, which is why I cannot allow Emma to lose her own brother if it can be avoided. But she’s been through hell, and I will not let him put her through more. If Chance hurts her, I will hurt him.