He stumbles backward, clutching the spot. “Bitch!”
I don’t hesitate. I just run. I find the staircase and—still battling grogginess—I scale it as fast as possible, clinging to the railing, the walls moving in and out like an accordion. I can already hear Winston’s pounding footsteps behind me, his slurred cursing. But I throw myself into a sprint, carrying myself through a long room lined with paintings, gold statues winking at me in the dimness. This feels like a nightmare, running through a maze, no idea where I am. Only that I need to escape.
I skid into a room and make a little yelp noise in my throat.
A dozen men, staring back at me. Drinks in hand.
Blatant lust in their eyes.
Winston enters the room behind me and I’m caught in the middle, the crowd of men on one side, a seething Winston on the other. There’s nowhere to go. No exits. They’re closing in.
Frantically, I search for a weapon.
“Accept it, Miss Whitaker,” says Winston, holding a throw pillow against his bleeding head. “Play nice and be grateful. After all, we’re going to make you a very wealthy little whore. Twenty percent, remember?”
“We watched the way you rode him,” says one of the men. “Wild for cock.”
“We’ve got plenty of those right here.”
“It won’t be like that,” I choke out, fear fluttering in my throat. “Not with anyone but Jack.”
“You better make sure it is,” Winston grits out, lunging for me.
I feint sideways and avoid him, but my distraction gives the other men a chance to reach out, grab me with greedy hands. I’m caught. They’re dragging me toward the back of the house, the room with the red light. I try to dig my heels in, but there are too many of them. I throw back my head and scream—
Glass shatters to my right.
Three men in black vests crash into the room, decked out in helmets, goggles, semi-automatic weapons in their hands. They shout at everyone to get down on the floor with such authority that I obey without thinking, along with the stupefied group of men, folding my hands on the back of my head. When I peek up at the action, I notice another dozen armed men filling the room from the opposite end, Jack at the had of the pack with a crazed expression—and I slump in relief, sobs hiccupping their way into my mouth.
“What the fuck is she doing on the floor?” I’m picked up, cradled to Jack’s chest possessively and it feels so good, so perfect, that tears clog my throat and burst out of me in a torrent. “Oh, Maisy. Baby, I’m here now. You’re okay. You’re safe. I’m never going to let anyone touch you. Ever again. Are you hurt? Are you fucking hurt?” He makes a hoarse sound, his eyes scanning me anxiously. “I’m so sorry, angel.”
“I’m okay,” I hiccup, clutching the front of his shirt. “I’m not hurt.”
Holding me tightly, he takes two steps and slams his foot down between Winston Creed’s eyes. “You’re lucky I called the police and didn’t kill you myself, motherfucker,” Jack seethes, his powerful frame shaking with rage, his unsteady hand stroking my hair in an unconscious gesture. “Come near her again, breathe in her direction again and I won’t think twice. Do you fucking hear me? I will end you.”
It seems Jack is going to do just that, perhaps changing his mind about going the legal route, when a man in a suit steps between us and Winston. “No one is killing anyone today.”
“This is outrageous!” Winston screams from the floor, spittle flying from his mouth. “You have no right to be on my property, Commissioner. This is trespassing.”
“Actually,” drawls the man in the suit—no, the police commissioner. I recognize him now from press conferences on television. “We’ve been watching you and this club for months, Creed. Financial records to prove money exchanged hands for sexual services. Had more than enough evidence for a judge to sign off on an emergency warrant. Now we can add kidnapping to the list of charges against you.”
Winston sputters. “She’s here of her own free will.”
Jack growls through his teeth. “Bullshit. And my security footage says different.”
“He’s a member of this club!” Winston pipes up with frantic satisfaction, pointing a finger at Jack. “If you’re going to arrest us, you better cuff him, too.”
A line forms between the commissioner’s gray eyebrows. “That true, Lincoln?”
“He only joined last Friday night to save me,” I say in a clear voice, my anxiety over Jack getting in trouble cutting through my residual terror. “He wasn’t going to make me…participate. But we didn’t have a choice. They were holding us at gunpoint.” I look into Jack’s adoring eyes and emotion impacts me in the chest. “Please. He’s the father of my child.”
Jack’s throat works, his mouth coming down to rest on my forehead. Kissing me hard. “I’m taking her home now. Where she belongs.”