Hidden away, p.30
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       Hidden Away, p.30

         Part #3 of KGI series by Maya Banks
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Page 30


  It was always the cake jobs that went all to shit.

  GARRETT lay with Sarah in his arms listening to the quiet rhythm of her sleep. He’d shamelessly lied to her about the condition he was in. Not that he was ready for a pine box, but his ribs hurt like a bitch, and he hadn’t been able to sleep for the discomfort.

  But he hadn’t wanted to scare her any more than she already was. He was damn proud of her for not losing it completely. She was scared witless, but she was also one pissed-off woman. It was the pissed-off part that worried him.

  Pissed-off women were unpredictable.

  He’d lost sense of time but he figured it ought to be daylight soon. Sarah had slipped into an uneasy sleep during the night and when she stirred, he’d soothed and quieted her as much for her peace of mind as to prevent her from moving too much against his ribs.

  He hoped to hell he’d told her the truth about what their captors would do. Again there was that whole predictability factor at work. And while it made sense that they’d leave them to worry and wonder over their fate, wear them down, they’d already proved what stupid sons of bitches they were. He didn’t have a whole lot of faith in their intelligence.

  He hadn’t fought them, which rankled. He’d meekly gone along, like some lamb to a slaughter, because he hadn’t wanted to risk anything happening to Sarah. If it had been him alone, he would have kicked some serious ass and enjoyed every minute of it. But Sarah was with him, and he’d die before allowing any harm to come to her.

  His growing discomfort signaled a need to shift positions, but he didn’t want to wake Sarah. She’d finally settled into a more peaceful rhythm and he liked the sensation of her warm breath on his neck.

  She’d kissed him the night before. The first time she’d initiated any intimacy between them. It was soft and so damn sweet he’d been able to forget the pain for that barest moment when her mouth had met his.

  When he could stand the position no longer, he tried to edge to the side so he could turn more fully onto his back. She came awake instantly, her head shooting off his shoulder. She leaned over him, her hair falling onto his chest as she stared down at him, concern blazing in her eyes.

  “Are you okay? Are you hurting?”

  “I didn’t mean to wake you. I just need to turn onto my back for a while. ”

  Her hands ran lightly over his chest as she helped him roll the quarter turn onto his back. He felt an instant relief as some of the pressure on his ribs subsided. His breaths came easier and he took in several deep ones.


  “Better,” he said. “Now come back here. I like you close to me. ”

  She settled into the crook of his arm and laid her head on his shoulder. Her hand ventured lightly over his chest and down toward his ribs. It was cool against the heat of his pain. A soothing balm; he closed his eyes at the sheer pleasure of her touch.

  “Am I hurting you?” she asked.

  “No, don’t stop. It feels damn good. I like you touching me. ” He felt her smile against his shoulder.

  Carefully she skimmed over his shirt, her touch so light it was almost not there. She rubbed a path to his belly and then back up again, taking care around his rib cage. Then she settled her palm against his chest, right over his heart as if reassuring herself that he was there and alive with her.

  After a moment, she retraced her path downward again. He could stand it no longer. The damn shirt was in the way and he wanted to feel her hands on his bare skin like he wanted nothing else.

  “Push up my shirt,” he said. “Touch me, not my shirt. ”

  He waited to see if she’d balk, but she lifted the end and slowly pushed upward until his shirt was bunched under his arms. Then she put her palm on his bare chest and he almost groaned from the sheer pleasure of it.

  Such gentleness in the face of such violence and pain. So warm and sweet. He drank it up greedily, wanting to be soothed by her fingers.

  When she ventured lower, down to the band of his pants, his body reacted. His dick surged to life and swelled, begging to be included in her tender ministrations.

  Hell, the last thing he wanted was to frighten her or put her off.

  “Watch your hand,” he said hoarsely. “I seem to have this problem around you. ”

  She chuckled softly and raised her head up again. “I wouldn’t have imagined, I mean not now. You have to be hurting so much. ”

  “I’m not dead,” he muttered. “And my dick isn’t particularly concerned with what the rest of my body’s feeling. ”

  To his further surprise, she leaned down and pressed her lips to his chest. She kissed him softly and then moved down an inch and kissed him again. All the while her palm smoothed over the skin of his belly awfully damn close to his waistband. The discomfort in his groin was fast overtaking the pain in his ribs.

  “I don’t want to hurt you,” she whispered. “Tell me to stop if I do. ”

  Like that was ever going to happen. He could be missing a leg and he’d be damned if he called a halt to her sweet seduction. An angel in hell. That’s the only descriptor he could come up with. His sweet angel.

  “I can guarantee that I’m not going to tell you to stop,” he groaned. “I only wish to hell I could make love to you. I want to touch you, damn it. ”

  Again her husky laughter washed over him like a healing wind.

  She lovingly kissed and caressed every part of him that hurt. Every bruise. Every cut. Her soft mouth moved over his flesh as if she were absorbing the pain. She placed one hand on the other side of him and pushed herself up and over him until her hair fell down around his face. Then she lowered her lips tentatively to his.

  The first brush tasted like ambrosia. Sweet. So damn sweet. Fire raced through his veins when the tip of her tongue rubbed shyly over his mouth. Her hand left the mattress and cupped his cheek. Her fingers stroked gently over his jaw, feathering up to his temple as she kissed around the cut at the corner of his mouth.

  He’d give anything to be able to turn her over, hold her tight and slide between her legs. It certainly gave him incentive to get the fuck out of this hellhole, because when they did, he was going to do everything to her that he was currently fantasizing about.

  She continued her gentle ministrations, touching, petting lightly and following her caresses with her lips. No part of his battered face and abdomen was left out of her sweet lovemaking. She soothed his aches and pushed away his pain, replacing it with warm pleasure.

  Finally she lay her head on his chest and slid her hand over his belly in a light, comforting pattern. He raised his hand and thrust his fingers into her hair, enjoying something so simple as touching her.

  He couldn’t think. He could only feel. Mellow and content, his woman lying on his chest snuggled into his body. He covered her hand with his other one and squeezed, unable to voice all that he felt. She squeezed back as if understanding his silence.

  They rested there, their fingers laced together, and forgotten for the barest moment, was the hell that waited.


  MARLENE pulled into Sam’s drive and hurried toward the front door. She didn’t bother to knock but simply pushed in and called Sophie’s name.

  Sophie rounded the corner, Charlotte bundled in her arms, and Marlene saw the worry reflected in her daughter-in-law’s eyes. She held out her arms and went to pull both mother and child into her embrace.

  “How are you doing?” she asked Sophie.

  Sophie posted a brave smile. “The question is, how are you? I can’t imagine how you do this so often with all your sons gone and not knowing if they’re safe. ” A quick shudder rolled over her shoulders and Marlene reached to take Charlotte from her.

  “Oh, I’m okay. Worried, of course, but you get used to it. ” She smiled down at her granddaughter. Love, so strong, rushed like a flood through her heart. “She’s so beautiful, Sophie. ”

  Sophie smiled, but it was a t
ired smile laced with the strain Marlene knew she felt. Marlene squared her shoulders and eyed her daughter-in-law. “I want you to pack what you need for several days. Then you and I are going to go get Rachel, and we’re going to hole up at the Kelly headquarters, as I like to call it. Oh, I know Sam has his war room here but honestly, my house has and always will be Kelly central. At a time like this, family has to stick together. ”

  Relief shone bright in Sophie’s eyes and her shoulders sagged just a bit. “That sounds wonderful, Marlene. Being alone right now . . . well, it sucks. ”

  Marlene laughed. “Well, of course it does. You have a new baby. You’re tired. And your husband is gone to rescue that fool son of mine who doesn’t think he needs anyone. Get your things. It’ll be one big sleepover. We’ll drive Frank out of his mind. He’ll likely flee the premises before it’s over with. ”

  Sophie smiled, lighting up her entire face. “Give me just a few minutes to get what I need for Charlotte. ”

  While Sophie went off to pack, Marlene settled on the couch and gazed down at her sleeping granddaughter. She was more concerned about Rachel, truth be told, which is why she had no intention of letting either of her daughters-in-law weather the next few days alone. Ethan still stuck close to Rachel most days, and when he did go off on assignment, Marlene made sure she wasn’t alone. The entire family checked in on her, Garrett especially.

  Rachel and Garrett shared a special bond, and with Garrett MIA and Ethan going into an unknown situation, Marlene didn’t like to think about how upset Rachel would be.

  And what she didn’t want either Rachel or Sophie to know was how worried she was. Oh, she gave Sophie that song and dance about being used to it, but did a mother ever get used to saying good-bye to her sons and not knowing if they’d come back? It was a worry she lived with every day.

  Garrett was the loner and self-sufficient. He was the steadfast one. He could always be counted on when the chips were down. But now he was the one in need, and Marlene couldn’t get rid of the sick feeling in her stomach.

  Sophie returned carrying a huge baby bag slung over her shoulder and an additional bag with her things in her other hand. “I’m ready. ”

  Marlene rose. “We’ll take my van. I had Frank install a car seat for Charlotte so she’s all set. ”

  The women hustled from the house and Marlene settled Charlotte into her seat in the back. They tossed Sophie’s bags in the rear compartment and Marlene started for the driver’s side. To her surprise, Sophie stopped her and pulled her into a huge hug.

  “Thank you,” Sophie whispered. “I told Sam to go. I wanted him to go. But after he left, all I could think was that I didn’t want to stay in that house alone, worried out of my mind that something horrible has happened. ”

  Marlene squeezed her back. “You’re welcome, honey. That’s what family is for. ”

  When she pulled away, tears shimmered in Sophie’s eyes. Then she smiled. “You know, I’m getting used to it. I never had a real family. It feels . . . nice. ”

  “Well come on then. Let’s stop with all the emotional girly stuff and go get Rachel. ”

  Fifteen minutes later, Marlene pulled into the driveway of Ethan and Rachel’s house. Before she could get out, Rachel came out onto the front porch, her face pale and her eyes troubled.

  “You stay here with Charlotte,” Marlene said to Sophie. “I’ll leave the van running. We won’t be but a minute. ”

  She hurried out and Rachel met her at the bottom of the steps.

  “Have you heard anything? What’s wrong?”

  Marlene took both of her hands in hers and wished like anything she could get rid of the shadows that still lurked in Rachel’s eyes. “Nothing’s wrong, baby. Nothing at all. I just decided that at times like these, family should stick together. I’ve come to collect my daughters and we’re going to drive Frank out of house and home for the next few days. Now go pack a bag. You’re coming with me. None of us should be alone right now. ”

  The relief was staggering in Rachel’s eyes. It was as if she was prepared to hear the very worst.

  “I’m so worried about Garrett. And now Ethan. God, Marlene, what could have happened? I hate not knowing. ”

  Marlene pulled Rachel’s hands together and squeezed a little harder. “They’re coming home to us, Rachel. Just like you did. My boys are fighters. They fought for you. They fight for others. They damn well will fight for each other. Now go get your things. Sophie and the baby are waiting for us in the van. ”

  Without another word, Rachel turned and hurried up the steps. Marlene sighed, pulled herself together and turned back to the van to wait. A few minutes later, Rachel came running out and climbed into the middle seat beside Charlotte’s carrier.

  Marlene glanced over at Sophie and then over her shoulder to Rachel. “Okay, girls. Let’s go home. ”

  Both women smiled and Marlene drove out of the driveway and turned toward home.

  When they pulled up to Marlene’s house, to her surprise, Rusty was sitting on the front steps. She rose when the van came to a stop but remained where she was as she watched the women get out and get their bags.

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