Hidden away, p.31
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       Hidden Away, p.31

         Part #3 of KGI series by Maya Banks
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Page 31


  “I could use some help with Charlotte,” Marlene called to Rusty.

  Rusty moved forward, looking a little hesitantly at the baby in Marlene’s arms. “You want me to take her?” She glanced over at Sophie and then back at Marlene.

  Marlene arranged the baby in Rusty’s arms, gave her the necessary instructions about supporting the head and then shooed her toward the house. Rusty had a mixture of terror and wonder in her eyes as she slowly turned away and went up the steps into the house.

  Marlene shook her head as she went to the back to help Rachel and Sophie with their things. “I swear, you give a teenage girl a baby to hold and it’s like an exorcism. ”

  Sophie and Rachel both burst into laughter.

  “There now, that’s better,” Marlene said, offering a squeeze to both their arms. “We look like we’re heading to a wake. ”

  As they started to the house, Frank appeared on the porch. He simply held out his arms to Rachel and Sophie and pulled them both to his chest in a tight hug. “How are my girls?”

  “Better,” Rachel said softly.

  Frank kissed her cheek. “Well, good. I’m going to fire up the grill later. Thought we’d have steaks for supper. ”

  “That sounds wonderful,” Sophie said.

  “And you,” Frank said to Sophie. “You’re going to get some rest, young lady. You look tired. That granddaughter of mine is cute as a button, but she’s got her days and nights mixed up from the look of you. ”

  Sophie gave him a wry smile. “I’m afraid you’re right. ”

  “Leave your bags on the porch. I’ll get them in a minute,” he said. And with that, he turned, still holding both of the women to his side and pulled them into the house.

  Marlene stood for a moment simply watching her family do what they did best. Then she turned her eyes heavenward. “Take care of my boys,” she whispered. “Bring them home to us. This family isn’t whole without them. ”


  SARAH sat on the floor beside the mattress, knees drawn to her chest as Garrett dozed beside her. She didn’t want to be scared, but the truth was she was terrified. She didn’t want to not believe that she and Garrett would be rescued, but despite her efforts, doubt crept insidiously into her mind.

  He’d been right so far, though. Throughout the long day, their captors had left them alone in the dark and silence. No sounds could be heard through the door. No food. No water. The food didn’t bother her yet, but she was thirsty.

  Thoroughly humiliated by the fact that there was no place to relieve herself, she’d waited until Garrett had nodded off before crouching in the corner. She’d die if he’d been awake to witness her mortification.

  She put her head down on her knees and rocked back and forth, trying to keep her focus, trying not to let panic overwhelm her. Garrett needed her strong, not helpless.

  Not knowing the extent of his injuries worried the hell out of her. Every so often, she leaned over him to hear the reassuring sounds of his breathing. And then she resumed her vigil, sitting and waiting. Watching over Garrett as he’d watched over her.

  Garrett stirred and she picked up her head to see him raising his head to look around. His gaze found hers, and he reached for her hand as if to reassure himself she was there and safe. She took it and squeezed.

  “How are you?” she whispered.

  “I’m good. Don’t worry. Just sore. I don’t think it’s as bad as it felt like at the time. ”

  The cheer he forced into his voice melted her heart. He was doing everything he could to keep her spirits up and keep her optimistic.

  “So you’re ready to go kick some ass then,” she teased.

  “What are you waiting for? I’m sure between us we can break the door down. ”

  “Maybe not that chipper yet,” he said dryly. “Can you help me sit up? I want to test the ribs out. ”

  She got to her knees and looped his arm around her shoulders. “Ready?”

  “Ready. ”

  He grunted once as he pushed to a sitting position.

  “Are you okay?” she asked anxiously.

  He sat there for a moment catching his breath and then rubbed his hand over his midsection. “I’m good. Just bruised, I think. They seemed pretty careful to rough me up without breaking anything. Nothing feels broken anyway. Just stiff and sore. ”

  She kept his arm over her shoulders and leaned into his side. She wrapped her arms around his waist and laid her head against him.

  “I know you’re scared, Sarah. But we’ll get through this. I promise. My team will come. ”

  She pressed her lips together for a short moment and then asked the question plaguing her since the night before when he’d told her the same thing. “How will they know? I mean, how will they know where to find us?”

  He turned his face into her head and pressed his lips to her temple. “Tracking device. Our SOS system, so to speak. I activated it when we hit the roadblock and tossed it under the front seat of the SUV. ”

  “So you knew,” she murmured.

  “That we were in bad shape? Yeah. And if it had turned into a false alarm, I could have always checked in, but nothing about that situation looked anything but fucked-up. ”

  She laughed softly. “Anybody ever tell you that you have a way with words?”

  “All the time,” he drawled.

  He reached under her chin and nudged upward. “Come here,” he said as he lowered his mouth.

  She went willingly, fusing her lips to his. Before she’d been achingly gentle with him, not wanting to hurt him. She’d wanted to offer comfort—and her love. Now, she kissed him desperately, wanting and needing his warmth and comfort.

  He let his hand slid up to cup her face, and he held her there as he fed from her mouth. He was every bit as impatient as she felt, hungry and a little wild. He took her breath—returned it—then took it again, the exchange of hot, moist air elevating the itchy desire that grew with every moment she spent with him.

  He drew away and stared down at her, stroking her cheek. “I hope to hell this isn’t one of those situations where you go a little crazy because we’re in a bad situation and you don’t think we’re going to get out so you do stuff you’d never dream of otherwise. Because baby, when we get out of here, I’m going to spend two days doing nothing but make love to you. And it won’t have a damn thing to do with anything but the fact that I want to be inside of you more than I want to breathe. ”

  Her breath hiccupped and stuttered. Her chest grew tight and she swallowed under the intensity of his gaze. Then she reached up to touch his face, allowing her fingertips to trace the strong lines of his jaw.

  “I kissed you because I wanted to. That won’t change tomorrow. ”

  “It’s a good damn thing,” he growled.

  He leaned in to kiss her again when a noise outside the door made him go rigid.

  “Get behind me,” he ordered. “Do it now. Don’t make a goddamn sound. Don’t talk. Don’t react. You pretend you’re invisible. You got it?”

  Every single part of her wanted to argue like hell, but she did what he asked and scrambled behind him and made herself as small as she could against the wall.

  The door burst open bringing with it a blinding flood of light. Garrett bolted to his feet, and she didn’t know how he’d done it so fast and with such ease. It had to have been excruciating.

  He stood, in an almost a casual pose, but his hands were fisted at his sides. A stream of Spanish erupted from the doorway and two of the men came into the room and took Garrett by the arms.

  Fight, she silently willed him. Don’t take it. But oh God, he went willingly and she knew why. She closed her eyes as the door shut and rage billowed inside her. He didn’t want to do anything that would draw their attention to her. He didn’t defy them, because he feared they’d retaliate by hurting her.

  She rammed her fist into her mouth to stifle the sob that swelled like a
malignant growth. She wouldn’t cry. She wouldn’t give in to the despair. Garrett would need her. Strong and steady. Like him. She wouldn’t fail him. Not when he was sacrificing so much for her.

  Bolting to her feet, she ran to the door and pressed her ear against it, straining to hear. She had to know. She didn’t want to, but she owed that much to Garrett, to know what was being done to him.

  The murmur of voices continued forever. They were questioning him in broken English and his answers were clipped, noncommittal, the subtle version of go fuck yourself. After each negative response he gave, she tensed, expecting to hear the sound of them beating him.

  But the questioning continued. She sagged against the door for what seemed like hours. Her legs were numb, her knees shaky and her entire body was bathed in perspiration.

  And then it started. She flinched when the first sound of violence reached her. She held her breath until she was lightheaded. More questions. Another strike. They were slower and seemingly more measured this time.

  Through it all Garrett remained silent, and she didn’t know how. How could a person’s will be so strong that they could suffer such pain and not give in to the urge to scream? When finally she heard the scrape of chairs and the sound of footsteps approaching the door, she flew back to the far wall, there next to the pallet. And she waited.

  The door flew open, but this time, there was only one man and no sign of Garrett. He stared at her for a long moment and then crossed the room. He spit out a stream of Spanish and she never looked up, refusing to meet his gaze or to let him see how terrified she was.

  He reached down and grabbed her hair with one hand and circled her arm with the other. He hauled her to her feet and shoved her toward the door, his grip never easing. The light blinded her and she closed her eyes and then blinked rapidly, trying to adjust as he forced her into the room.

  She stumbled forward and gasped when she got her first good look of Garrett. He was tied to a chair, arms behind his back, completely vulnerable. Blood streamed from his nose and mouth. He looked tired and haggard, but the moment he looked up and saw her, something deadly entered his eyes.

  They sharpened and where before he looked half unconscious, he was now fully alert, tense, his gaze taking in every detail.

  The man standing to the side of Garrett put down the piece of wood in his hand and approached Sarah, his face expressionless. She looked past him, meeting Garrett’s gaze, trying to infuse every ounce of her strength to him. She allowed no fear to show and it was the hardest thing she’d ever done. And she pleaded with him silently not to do anything crazy. Not to draw their wrath. He couldn’t take much more.

  The man circled her like a cat stalking his prey. He glanced up and down her body in a clear, suggestive manner and then he moved in close, his hand touching her cheek. She didn’t flinch away, but neither did she look at him.

  He turned then to Garrett all the while keeping his hand on her face, stroking up and down her cheekbone.

  “My men are very eager to have your woman,” the man said. “You’ve given me no reason to deny them. ”

  This one spoke nearly perfect English, his accent light. It was clear he was the authority figure here. It was also clear that he was the one who’d inflicted the most damage to Garrett. It was all she could do not to ram her knee into his nuts.

  But she stood there, stoic and unmoving, all the while staring at Garrett, telling him she was okay.

  “Tell me what I want to know or I leave her to them. ”

  Garrett’s nostrils flared. His gaze was so deadly that she shivered under the impact.

  “I’ll tell you,” he finally said. “Leave her alone. You’ll never get what you want from her. It’s me who can provide the ransom. ”

  The man smiled, his eyes gleaming with triumph. “I had a feeling you’d see it my way. ” He turned and snapped his fingers at one of his men, who immediately came forward. The other man grabbed Sarah’s arm and dragged her back toward the room. She turned her head, her gaze finding Garrett’s one last time. To her astonishment, he winked at her. She almost missed the gesture, it was done so quickly. And just as fast, Garrett’s focus was back on his captor.

  Sarah found herself shoved once more into the dark room and the door shut behind her. She stumbled back over to the wall and this time, she lay on the mattress and curled into a tight ball. Something inside her had broken at the sight of Garrett. Nausea rose in her stomach and she scrambled to the corner as she heaved and gagged. There was nothing to come up, but her stomach still revolted. Dry heaves racked her body and she took in deep breaths, but the cloying smell of urine and sweat only made her sicker.

  When she was finally able to gain control and stop the horrible twisting in her gut, she crawled back to the pallet and collapsed, weak and shaky—ashamed.

  She had to get it together before they returned with Garrett—if they returned. These weren’t men of honor. How was she to know they wouldn’t kill him after he gave them what they wanted?

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