Authors: Evelyn Adams
She rocked her hips, dragging her aching clit against his pubic bone while his cock scraped the delicious swollen walls of her cunt. In moments, she was tightening around him, her body coiling as the pleasure wound whip tight. He rolled his hips, hitting the spot deep inside her, and pleasure washed over her, threatening to swamp her, overwhelming her with her release. Her body spasmed around his cock, and his breathing went ragged.
“God, I need you, cher.” He pressed her back into the sofa, looming over her. Driving into her with punishing force, he found his own release, his jaw tightening and neck flexing, all male animal in the moment before she felt his cock swell and pulse, filling her with jet after jet of his hot seed.
“I love you,” she whispered when she could breathe again.
“I love you, too,” he said. “God help me but I love you.”
“EVERYTHING IS IN PLACE,” SAID Jackson. “We’re ready, Miss Blake.”
Julie swallowed hard and nodded. “Okay,” she said, zipping her jacket and reaching for her keys.
“Just do what we talked about. Drive to the parking garage, make the exchange and come back here. My people are crawling all over the place. We’ll be able to hear what you say through the wire, and I’ll have eyes on you the entire time. There is a tracking device on your car and another on the case with the money. I will not let anything happen to you,” said Jackson.
Julie glanced from the man to Eric, standing by the door with his jaw clenched so tight it looked like his teeth might crack.
“You are sure?” asked Eric. “Absolutely sure?”
She went to him, slipping into his arms, and he held her so tight she could barely breathe.
“Yes, sir,” said security head. “I don’t leave any room for error. After Miss Blake makes the exchange, we’ll remove the threat so neither of you have to think of it again.”
Eric nodded against her hair, and she squirmed a little, trying to draw a deep breath.
“It will be okay,” she said, tipping her head up to kiss his locked jaw. “I promise. I’ll be okay.”
“I know,” he said, loosening his grip. “I wouldn’t let you go if I wasn’t sure. But Julie, I’m pulling the plug at the first sign of trouble. We’ll find another way to get Caleb back. Understand?”
She nodded, and he released her, picking up a black leather case from the floor and handing it to her.
“Go, before I change my mind and lock you in my bedroom.”
Smiling, she stood on her toes and brushed a kiss across his lips. His hand cupped the back of her neck, and he kissed her back, teasing her lips with his tongue until they parted on a sigh.
“Let me go, so I can come back to you,” said Julie.
Julie pulled out of Eric’s building and made the turn toward Harris Court and the parking garage where she would get her brother. She be lying if she said she wasn’t scared, but underneath the fear was a sense of hopefulness. Today she’d get Caleb back. Jackson would eliminate the threat from the animals who took him, and she’d go home to Eric and spend the rest of her life showing him exactly how much she loved and trusted him. She’d sleep in his arms tonight and wake up in them in the morning.
She’d just made the turn onto Hamilton, two blocks from the garage when her cell phone rang in its holder on the dashboard. The now familiar number made the hair on the back of her neck raise. What if they changed the drop point? Maybe she should keep going and not answer it. What would they do if she didn’t answer? Fear that they’d take it out on Caleb had her pressing the button on the hands free to answer the call.
“You lied to me, Miss Blake,” said the unremarkable voice. “I do not like being lied to.”
Julie heard the slap of what sounded like something hitting flesh followed by a scream that turned her blood to ice.
“Don’t hurt him! I didn’t lie. I didn’t.”
“It’s much too late for that, you stupid whore. I’ve already hurt him. The question now is whether I let him live. Did you really think I wouldn’t find out that you were fucking Eric Auxtres? What kind of fool do you think I am?”
Said in a completely civilized tone, the ugly words seemed even more evil. How could they have known about Eric? Julie gripped the wheel to keep her hands from trembling.
“I’m sorry. I wasn’t trying to lie to you.” Another tortured scream ripped through the phone, and Julie fought back a sob. Falling apart wasn’t going to help anyone. “Please. You don’t have to do this. I have your money. Please.”
“Don’t insult me. The price has gone up. Way up. Now, do exactly what I say and I may let your brother live. But I’m warning you, bitch, disobey me and I’ll kill him and work my way through everyone you care about, starting with your father and ending with that chef you’re fucking.”
“Get her out of there! God damn it, Jackson! Now. Get her out of that car now. And figure out where the bastards have her brother. Fuck, fuck, fuck!” Eric scrubbed his hand through his hair.
He hadn’t stopped moving since Julie answered the call and the wire transmitted the conversation to his living room. He should never have let her do this. What the fuck was he thinking letting her handle the exchange? He’d heard the screams, presumably from her brother and the desperation in her voice as she pleaded for his life. Knowing that she was alone in the car dealing with it by herself – God, it was killing him.
And it was his fucking fault. If the kidnappers hadn’t found out he was involved, this would probably be over. Or she would be in deeper. A hundred grand wasn’t anything to him but he knew Julie couldn’t come up with that kind of money on her own.
“I’ve got my men closing in on her now,” said Jackson, hard lines etching his face. “We’ll get her.”
He’d heard the fucking animal tell Julie to follow the car in front of her. He warned her that if she talked Caleb would pay. She hadn’t said a word since, but Eric heard her crying. Every few moments a sob would escape, and it felt like his heart was being ripped from his body. If Jackson’s men didn’t get to her soon, he was going to fucking lose it.
Eric held his head in his hands, squeezing his temples, feeling desperate and impotent. How had he put himself in a position where he couldn’t help her? Where all he could do was wait? He felt Luke move to stand beside him, but there wasn’t any comfort his friend could offer. Not until he had Julie home safe and in his arms.
“No no no,” said Jackson, shouting into the headset he wore hooked over his ear. “Move around them. I don’t care what you have to do. Don’t lose sight of that car. Fuck! McMillian get someone on the bikes. The rest of you find a side street. Intercept that God damn car before it turns. And get me the numbers on the fucking plates.”
“What is it? What the fuck happened?” demanded Eric. “You said you had this under control.” His jaw was going to crack with the stress of not killing the man who’d assured him Julie would be safe.
“They were ready for us,” said Jackson. “I had one of my men in a car following her. Just as a precaution in case they changed their plans. He was keeping her in sight, but I wanted him back far enough that he wouldn’t get made if the kidnappers were watching her. When she hit Piedmont, two SUV’s pulled in behind her, blocking both lanes and keeping my man from following. They stopped, holding him at the light, and by the time they started moving again, Miss Blake’s car was out of sight. I’ve got men coming up fast on motorcycles and more men checking the side streets. We will find her.”
“Fuck!” Eric punched Julie’s number into his phone for the sixth or seventh time since the kidnapper’s call came through. It rang once and went straight to voicemail. The sound of her voice, sweet and light on the other end of the line, made his heart clench.
“I’ll find you, cher. Don’t worry I will find you.” He prayed she’d hear the message and prayed even harder that he could make good on his word.
Eric heard a car door open and some shuffling coming from the radio in front of Jackson and then it went quiet.
“What happened? What’s going on now?”
Jackson ignored him, intent on giving his team instructions instead. “They’re moving her. McMillian where are you? They’ve got her out of the car. It’s stopped on West Piedmont. We’ve lost tracking on her but the money is still moving. Straight on Piedmont.” He listened to the response in his headset and nodded. “Send Cooper and Sanders to find her car. The rest of you stay on the money. Figure out what they’re driving but stay out of sight. Let me know the second you have eyes on the target.”
Jackson made some notes on the map in front of him, and then turned his attention to Eric. “We will find her. The tracking device on the money is still working, and my men are closing in on it. I have to wait until we have more information on what they’re transporting her in and how many of them there are. I don’t want to risk this turning into a hostage situation. But we will find her and we will get her back.”
Eric didn’t speak. There wasn’t anything to say. Cursing at Jackson wasn’t going to get him any closer to getting Julie home. He sank down onto the sofa where just hours earlier they’d made love and settled in to wait.
SHE WAS LEAVING HIM AGAIN. She’d promised herself and him that she wouldn’t do it again and here she was keeping her lips pressed tight while some thug wearing sunglasses and what looked like a fake mustache shoved his hand down the front of her shirt and ripped off the wire. She bit her lip to keep from giving him the satisfaction of crying out when he tore the tape free and tasted blood when he cupped her breast and pinched her nipple, planting a wet kiss on her mouth.
“Not here,” growled a second man in glasses and a ball cap.
He reached for her, ushering her to the back of a floral van. She didn’t fight him. She had to get to Caleb and do whatever it took to make sure her dad was safe. Jackson said he had security on her dad’s place, but what if the kidnappers managed to get to him anyway. She couldn’t risk it. And she wouldn’t risk Eric’s safety – not when she was the one who dragged him into this mess. When the back door opened, she dropped the tiny jeweled fish on the pavement before she climbed inside. Eric would look for her. She knew he would, and she’d do her best to help him.
Before they closed the door on her, she watched horrified as they dumped the cash into a black duffle. But the thing that made her blood run cold was when mustache guy tossed the empty case into the back of a passing truck. Jackson would be tracking the wrong vehicle, assuming she was in the truck instead of the van.
Julie sank to the dirty floor of the van, terrified for Caleb, worried about what Eric must be going through and scared for herself. The van pulled out into traffic and made two quick lefts. Julie couldn’t see much from the back so she concentrated hard on counting turns and lights, trying to keep track of where they were going.
Mustache guy climbed around the gear shift and into the back with her. He had a gun in one hand and grubby bandana and plastic zip ties in the other. Julie watched him stumble, trying to keep his balance in the rocking van.
“Keep it fucking steady. I wouldn’t want to shoot her by accident,” he said with a grin that made Julie’s stomach tighten.
“Just get her tied and blindfolded, fuckwit. Follow the fucking orders,” said the driver.
“You heard the man, sugar. Put your wrists out so I can get theses on.” He shook the hand holding the ties. “Or if you want, you could try to fight me. I’d really like it if you did that.” Opening his arms, he pointed the gun to the side and rocked back on his heels. “Come on. Charge me.”
Julie froze, fighting against the tears stinging her eyes. She wouldn’t give the bastard the satisfaction of seeing her cry – not unless she gained something from it. And she sure as hell wasn’t going to start a fight she couldn’t win. She’d wait, let them get used to her compliance and bide her time until fighting would do some good. Not bothering to hide the way her hands shook, she put out her wrists and waited.
“That’s what I thought,” said mustache. “But I am a little disappointed.” He traced a rough finger down her cheek, and she flinched away from his touch. Laughing to himself, he slipped the tie around her wrists, cinching it tight until she felt the bite of the plastic on her skin. “Arms up, princess.”
Julie didn’t move fast enough to suit him, and he grabbed her hands, yanking them above her head. With one quick twist, he had her wrists hooked to the bar welded to the side of the van. The position stretched her arms painfully above her head, and she scramble to get her feet under her to relieve some of the pressure on her wrists.
Mustache sat back, grinning as she struggled. “Isn’t that pretty,” he said.
At first Julie thought he meant seeing her bound, and her stomach turned. But when he reached for her it was to run his finger over her bracelet. She sucked in a breath, hiding a sob. She didn’t want to let him see how much the little fish meant to her, but tied up in the back of a van going God knew where, it was the only connection she had left to Eric. She didn’t want to lose it.
“Pity it’s broken,” he said touching the place on the chain where the fish were missing. “I would have thought a rich man’s whore would have had much better jewelry. Maybe you aren’t as valuable as the boss thinks.” His fingers fumbled for the clasp, and Julie fought to hide her reaction. It was just jewelry even if it felt like more. It wasn’t Eric.
“You idiot,” said the driver. “Don’t you watch cop shows? Don’t take a trophy. That’s how they always get you. Stop fucking around and get the blindfold on.”
Mustache shot the driver a look but he left the bracelet on her wrist and wrapped the filthy bandana around her head, covering her eyes. She smelled the stench of stale cigarettes on him as he came in close to tie the blindfold, pulling her hair hard enough to make tears spring into her eyes.
Not being able to see what was coming was so much worse than she’d imagined it would be. She could tell he hadn’t moved away. She smelled him and sensed him, crouching in front of her. She wasn’t surprised when she felt his fingers toying with the neckline of her Henley, but that didn’t make it any less repulsive.
“I’ve never eaten at Comme Ci. That’s the name of your boyfriend’s restaurant?” asked mustache.
He didn’t wait for an answer, and when she felt him popping the tiny buttons on her shirt, her throat tightened so much she couldn’t have given one. His rough hand shoved beneath the lace cup of her bra, squeezing hard enough to bruise, and she whimpered. God, what had she done? She’d let them tie her up in the back of a van, speeding away from Eric and safety. What made her think that she could handle any of this? That she’d be able to keep her brother and father and even Eric safe. Tears spilled from her eyes, soaking into the cotton bandana.
“But I bet his leftovers are tasty,” he said, his foul breath hot on her cheek. He squeezed and pinched her breast so hard it hurt, but it was knowing he could do whatever he wanted to her and she couldn’t stop him that had the sob catching in her chest.
“Get the fuck up here,” called the driver. “The boss said no marks.”
“Shoving my cock down her throat won’t leave a mark. Probably not,” he said with laugh, but Julie felt him moving away and heard him slide back into the passenger’s seat.
“Dumb shit,” said the driver.
“Just playing. She knows I’m playing. Don’t you, sugar?”
God, she hated him and his stupid laugh. If Eric and Jackson – when Eric and Jackson caught them, something particularly nasty was going to happen to mustache. She’d make sure of it.
They drove on for what could have been fifteen minutes or an hour. Julie lost track, trying to keep her feet under her to take some of the pressure off of her wrists. Thankfully, the guys in the front of the van seemed to have lost interest in her. She managed to wriggle the bandana up just enough to give her a glimpse of the floor.
The van hit a pothole, and she struggled to keep from falling. When she steadied herself, she felt the bracelet rub against her wrist. She had no idea how Jackson was going to be able to track them, but she may as well leave as many breadcrumbs as she could. Wriggling her wrists, she managed to hook one of her almost numb fingers under the bracelet and catch one of the swinging fish.
She worried at the jump ring until it felt like the plastic tie had imbedded itself in her wrists. Finally the metal gave and the jeweled fish fell free. Julie leaned forward as far as the ties would allow and dropped the fish behind her, praying it would get caught at the edge of the van and go unnoticed by mustache and his friend.
She’d just managed to get herself settled against the wall of the van again when it jerked and swung her, the ties biting into her wrist. They made a sharp left, dipping down and slowing before finally coming to a stop. Julie sucked in a breath, steeling herself for whatever came next and waited for the door to open.
Eric watched the footage on the laptop in front of Jackson and clenched his fists so tight his nails dug into his palms. On the screen a man slid into the passenger seat next to Julie and shoved his hand down the front of her shirt, copping a feel before he pulled off the wire. Julie stayed frozen as the man leaned in and kissed her or said something in her ear. The angle of the camera made it hard to tell. A few seconds later, another man opened the driver’s side door and led her to the back of a panel van. Julie climbed in, the man shut the door and then they were gone, pulling out into traffic and disappearing from view.
“I don’t understand,” said Eric. “What did you want me to see aside from the fuckers who need to die for taking Julie?”
Jackson and Luke glanced from each other back to Eric, and Claire stepped closer to him. She insisted on coming over when Luke told her Julie was missing. She hadn’t said much – what could she say – but her quiet, constant presence was some comfort.
“I’ve looked at the video several times,” said Jackson. “Forgive me for saying this, but it doesn’t look like Miss Blake was really being coerced.”
The growl ripped from Eric’s throat, and Claire laid her hand on his shoulder.
“Just hear me out.” The security head held a hand up in front of him like he was trying to gentle an angry bull. “There is no sign of a gun, and Miss Blake got out of the car and into the back of the van without a struggle. I didn’t tell her I’d put the camera in the car so she had no idea we’d be watching this. There seemed to be a certain level of intimacy with the first man to get it the car.”
“That wasn’t intimacy,” snapped Eric. “That fucker violated her. I want you to find him and then I want to make him pay.”
Thinking of the other man touching Julie threatened to drive him over the edge. He couldn’t stand to think what might be happening to her now, and there wasn’t a God damn thing he could do about it. They were sitting in his penthouse watching a video while she was out there somewhere in the hands of those animals.
Jackson tipped his head to the side, glancing at Luke before he opened his mouth.
“Don’t keep looking at him for approval,” said Eric, interrupting him. “If you have something to say just say. Stop dancing around so we can concentrate on finding her before the bastards do something worse to her.” He’d kill them, each and every one of them with his bare hands if they hurt Julie.
“I think we have to consider that Miss Blake might have gone with those men willingly,” said Jackson.
Before he realized he’d moved, Eric smacked the laptop, sending it flying across the table to the floor. Jumping to his feet, he paced the perimeter of the room like an animal in a cage, testing the boundaries, looking for a weakness.
“Listen man,” said Luke. “I know you don’t want to think it. I don’t want to think anything bad about Julie. I liked her, but really, how well do you know her?”
“Pretty fucking well,” said Eric, not pausing in his circuit of the room. “I fell in love with her ten years ago when we were just kids.”
“What happened?” said Claire, sounding genuinely interested.
“I went to Paris, and she went to college.” He wasn’t about to tell them that he came home for Christmas break expecting to spend the holiday with her only to find she’d vanished without a trace.
Claire looked at him, waiting for him to say more. “When did you get back together?” she asked when he didn’t offer more information.
“Christmas Eve,” he said. “She showed up at Comme Ci for dinner.”
“And that is the first contact you’ve had with her since the summer ten years ago?” asked Jackson, clearly suspicious.
“Yes,” said Eric. “She showed up for dinner. Her brother’s client expected to share more than food with her. I showed him to the door and we spent some time catching up.”
“Did she talk much about her brother, Caleb?” asked Jackson.
“That night? No. She told me about her dad selling the farm because Caleb didn’t want to run it and about the business her brother started with the proceeds.”
“Blake Enterprises? It’s a tech security firm. Miss Blake works for him?”
“Yes. I don’t understand how you and I playing twenty questions is getting us any closer to getting Julie back.” Eric was so frustrated; he wanted to break something. Each moment that went by was another moment that Julie was alone with those animals.
“Bear with me,” said Jackson. “Every piece of information helps me build a picture of what really happened.”
“What fucking happened is that you promised you could keep her safe, and you let them take her. If it wasn’t for me, she wouldn’t be in this situation, and if you’d done your fucking job, she’d be home safe tonight. And you and I wouldn’t be having this conversation.”
Eric could tell it was costing him, but Jackson didn’t respond. It was Luke who picked up the questioning.
“So you and Julie spent Christmas together and then she got the call about her brother. She said it came in the middle of the night, right? Did you get up with her?”
“No,” said Eric, every muscle in his body going tight. “She wrote me a note and left.”
Luke looked over at Jackson, and Claire looked Eric, something that looked a lot like pity shining in her eyes.
“Can we please go find her now?” he said, fighting the sliver of doubt that was worming its way into his brain.