Wise words, and since Julian was always in the habit of following words of wisdom, he took his leave.
He was only a short distance away from the hotel when his phone rang. “Cass?”
“Where are you? I need you to come!”
Unbidden, the memory of Jose’s words came to him.
She will be demanding that you drop everything for her…
Julian shook the thought away. No. He refused to believe Cass would be so manipulative. Jose simply didn’t know her. He would change his mind once he did. “I’m still at work,” he lied, wanting to surprise Cass. “I’ll be there in an hour—-”
But in an hour, she might not be alive anymore.
The terrifying thought had Cass gripping the phone’s receiver hard. “Listen to me, Julian. I don’t know h-how to tell you this. The man who killed my parents. He’s coming for me.” Sucking her breath, she whispered, “It’s your cousin, Jose.”
And in his mind, he heard Jose’s words.
She would be poisoning you against everyone you used to trust.
Julian’s hand curled into a fist as a cold sense of betrayal pierced his heart. “This feels like a case of déjà vu, sweetheart.” It was a struggle to keep his voice light. “You’re either crazy or on drugs. Which one is it?”
“No! I’m not. I swear!” She started to sob. “Please, Julian, please believe me—-”
“How can you fucking think I’m going to believe you?” Julian grated out. “You must be insane—-”
It was starting to get dark.
Mr. Darkness was coming.
She started to cry harder. “Please, Julian, please, I’m not lying. You must believe me. You know me—-”
Julian snapped, “Do I? Because Jose’s the one I’ve known for years. I’ve grown up with him. While you…” He managed not to say the words, knowing it would hurt her. But then, he didn’t have to. For even though they were separated physically, their connection was strong enough for Cass to read his mind.
While you are only someone I fuck.
Cass cried out, unable to believe Julian could think something so vile.
The sound Cass made told Julian that she knew what he had almost said. Fuck! “Cass—-”
The rest of what he had to say was drowned by her scream.
Cass couldn’t stop screaming.
She screamed as she heard necks snapping outside her door.
She screamed as she saw the darkness growing.
And she could not stop screaming when Mr. Darkness came knocking.
There was no escape now.
Not when Julian didn’t believe her.
Not when Julian was not the prince who was meant to rescue her.
She was all alone.
Always had been.
“CASS?” THE SOUND OF her scream made Julian pale. He had heard screams like that before, and they had come from soldiers who were about to die.
Panic immobilized him at the realization. “Cass! What’s happening?”
But all she did was scream and scream.
There was no way for her to fake the sound.
Literally no way, Julian realized with a frantic leap of his heartbeat a second later, because he had forgotten one thing.
His Cass could not lie.
His Cass could not fucking lie to save her life. Hadn’t he thought of that very thing in the past?
Terror clamped around his heart.
Cass could not lie, and it only meant two things.
Jose was the one who killed his parents – and now he was after Cass.
Julian leaned forward and told his driver to drive like the devil was after them…because it was true.
As his driver started overtaking other vehicles, Julian clutched the phone, desperate to hear anything to let him know that Cass was still alive. She was no longer screaming, but he could hear her breathing hard. His heartbeat raced, his chest filled with helpless rage and self-loathing. He wanted to call out her name but feared it would give her away. Cass might be hiding from Jose, and one word from him might mean her death.
When the limousine screeched to a stop in front of the hotel’s main doors, Julian tersely demanded for his driver to give him his gun before scrambling out. Temporarily covering the mouthpiece of his phone as he headed to the elevator, he shouted at the employees to call for the police and for security to get to the penthouse.
The elevator ride only took seconds, but it felt like an eternity. He couldn’t believe Jose would do something as stupid as attacking Cass in such a public setting, but killers also tended to have a superiority complex. They believed they could get away with anything, and most of the time boldness alone ensured it was so.
But not this time.
Not his Cass.
Fear had him in a chokehold when he reached the penthouse floor and saw the corpses of his guards on the floor. Quietly, he made his way inside the suite, his every instinct as a soldier coming to life like it had only been yesterday he had come home from battle.
In that moment, he knew.