At that point, I’d assumed Mike was driving, and I’d been grateful for it. The quaver in Leighton’s voice sounded like she was on the verge of losing it.

“I want you to head straight for my office,” I’d instructed. “I’m texting you the address now. You’re not far from there. Some of my teammates will be outside waiting for you. Don’t worry about parking. Just pull up on the street, get out of the car, and head in. They’ll handle everything else.”

“Oh, God,” she’d moaned, and I’d known she was playing out what that scenario might look like. If they were being followed, would there be a mad dash indoors through a hail of bullets as the mobsters drove by?

I’d sure as fuck prayed not, but we’d be ready.

“I’m heading out now,” I told her. “I’ll meet you at Jameson.”

“No,” she’d screeched. “Don’t leave Sam. You need to get him out of here. Now. Take him and run.”

“Leighton,” I’d murmured, lowering my voice to a gentle hum to try to bring her down. “You said they’re not following you, right? They were surprised to see you. It doesn’t sound like they know your identities. I believe Sam is probably safest at my house, but I’m going to have some guys come over and stay here with him, okay? Just until we can sort this out and come up with a game plan.”

She hadn’t been convinced. I could hear it in her voice—she didn’t have an ounce of trust in what I’d told her. At that moment, fear and the need to run had taken over her, but fuck if I’d let that happen until I was absolutely sure there was a monster to run from.

Rachel moves closer, arms crossing over her chest. I want to blow by her, find Leighton, and… what?

Christ… I just want to hug her. Promise to protect her. To never let anything happen to her, Sam, or Mike. My immediate need right now isn’t to solve this dilemma—it’s just to embrace her.

I force myself to settle, plant my feet, and give Rachel my attention.

“I called Kynan. He has somebody at DOJ checking into this. We’ll be hearing something back soon, I hope. Until then, it doesn’t appear they were followed here, but there’s always the possibility those men made Leighton’s car.”

“It’s registered to their address in Denver,” I muse. “But it’s easy enough to take that address and learn Mike’s new name.”

She nods somberly. “If that’s the case, then their covers could be completely compromised.”

“Which would include Sam’s,” I sat, following through to that conclusion.

“Well, we won’t know for sure until the DOJ can listen in on the phones they have tapped and talk to some informants. Could be a few days.”

I shrug, considering best and worst-case scenarios. Worst is they manage to figure out Mike’s real identity and have the means to track his credit card purchases. It could potentially put them close to my house if he’d bought something near my neighborhood. Still, there’s nothing putting him specifically at my house. Nothing they could dig up quickly that could tie me to the family.

“Fuck,” I mutter, scrubbing a hand along my jaw in irritation. It was bad enough Leighton and I seem to be at a crossroads, and now… we may actually be forced to go in opposite directions.

“Where are they?” I ask again.

She gestures over her shoulder. “Conference room three.”

I find Leighton and her dad sitting beside each other, heads bent in close and holding hands. I can’t imagine what they’re feeling now, but if it’s anything close to what they were feeling when they first had to flee a decade ago, I bet they’re hatching plans.

Despite my desire to put a stop to that right now—any thought of a scenario that would take Leighton and Sam from me—I give in to a deep emotional need right now.

I move around the conference room table, Leighton following my progress as I advance toward her. Putting my hand to her arm, I pull her up out of the chair, breaking her contact with her father.

Then I yank her into me, so she’s pressed into my chest, and band my arms around her. She goes taut, momentarily doesn’t react, and then… yeah, right there… she melts and actually snuggles into me.

Not for long, though. She gives in just briefly before she’s pulling away. A quick peek at Mike tells me I’ve shocked him with my spontaneous act of affection toward his daughter.

Leighton sinks down in her chair, immediately worrying at her lip with her teeth. “Sam’s okay?” she asks.

I nod. “Got two men there on the outside, armed and watching. My parents are keeping him entertained. He has no clue what’s going on.”

Leighton sighs with relief, but then asks the tough question. “What are we going to do?”

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