“Damn it,” he muttered to himself. Telling his brother was going to be a pain in the ass.

“Bad time?” A voice caused him to jerk upright.

“Detective Dennis.” He nodded at the man and stood.

“Call me Jack, please.”

“You here to see Toby?”

He shook his head. “You and your girlfriend actually. I think we might have made a break in the case and I just wanted to make sure she was doing all right.”

They both started to walk toward the entrance when the unmistakable sound of gunfire filled the air. And it was followed by a blood-curdling scream.


Chapter Eleven

Toby’s office door was open and he was typing on his computer. Izzy knocked as she stepped inside.

“Hey Toby.”

He glanced up. “Just the woman I wanted to see.”

“Uh oh.”

He grinned and pushed the keyboard away from him. “Nothing bad I promise. I just wanted to let you know that Jack—Detective Dennis—is on his way down here. He wanted to thank you again for the sketch and I think he’s going to be hanging around here for an hour or two.”

She frowned. Had something else happened?


“He’s coming down here to keep an eye on things for a couple hours.”

“You mean he’s keeping an eye on me?”

He lifted his shoulders apologetically. “Pretty much.”

“I guess that’s a good thing. Well, relatively speaking.” She wrapped her arms around herself and shivered.

“I can’t tell you how sorry I am this is happening. I can’t even imagine what Adam’s going through.”

“Adam?” She tilted her head to the side.

“Oh come on, I’m not blind. Anyone can see you two are together.”

She could feel warmth spreading up her neck and cheeks. She was not having this conversation with her boss. And she needed to talk to him about something else anyway. “Listen, I know this is probably a crappy time, but I have to put in my two weeks’ notice.”

His head fell back against his chair. “Is this about the attacks?”

“Not exactly. I’m moving home.”

“Damn, girl. You know we’ll miss you but there are four servers already lined up wanting to bartend.” He smiled slightly and any guilt she’d felt disappeared. They would definitely live without her.

“I’m going back up front to relieve Adam. If your cousin shows up I’ll buzz you. Unless you want me to send him straight to your office?”

“Send him here.”

Back up front, Adam wasn’t there. She ducked under the bar and placed two fresh beers in front of the patrons. They were so engrossed with the television, she didn’t bother asking them where he’d gone. She opened the front door and peered outside. When she didn’t see him, she hurried back through the restaurant and into the kitchen again.

“Have you seen Adam?” she asked Bryan, the only cook behind the grilling area.

He glanced over his shoulder as he dropped chicken wings into a fry basket. “No, but I haven’t been paying attention.”

She chewed on her bottom lip. Raw panic started to rise inside her. It was stupid because she knew Adam could protect himself but the thought of something happening to him made her sick.

“Do you have a second to spare? I just want to check out back, but with everything going on I don’t want to go alone.” Everyone in the restaurant knew there was a criminal on the loose.

“Sure.” He wiped his hands on his dingy white apron.

As they walked past Toby’s office he didn’t glance up from his phone conversation. She pushed open the heavy metal door and stepped out back. With one of the two floodlights not working, half the area was dark. Directly behind the restaurant was a small parking lot reserved for the employees—one she never used—and two large dumpsters. Immediately the smell of rotting food accosted her. She held a hand over her mouth. “Gross.”

“Tell me about it,” Bryan said.

“Adam? You back here?” she called out.

A beer bottle rolled out from behind one of the dumpsters and a strange feeling filled Izzy’s belly.

“Damn cats,” Bryan said.

Instinctively, Izzy reached out and grabbed his arm. “Let’s go back inside.”

Before he could respond, a man wearing a baseball cap stepped out from behind the dumpster. And he was pointing a gun directly at them.

“What the hell?” Bryan immediately stepped in front of her, shielding her from the other man.

Without warning, the other man shot Bryan in the chest. It was like everything happened in slow motion. The sound of the gun was surprisingly loud. Not like what she’d seen on television.

Bryan flew backward and landed in a puddle of water, his body making a sickening thump against the pavement. She wanted to go to him, but couldn’t.

From somewhere deep inside her, a scream erupted with shattering intensity. She knew it might be the only chance she had to alert anyone to her situation. The back door was too far to run.

He’d shoot her in the back if she tried.

He didn’t want her dead. At least not yet. That much she was sure of. And that might be her only advantage.

The man wearing the hat moved toward her and she automatically took a step back. “Try and run and I’ll empty this into your back.” His words were monotone, dead, and they stopped her in her tracks.

“Izzy.” She turned at the sound of her name.

Adam and Detective Dennis appeared from around the side of the restaurant. The detective had his gun drawn. Unfortunately she now stood in between them and her would-be attacker. They both jerked to a halt when they saw her. Shuffling sounded behind her.

She started to turn when an arm circled around her neck and steel pressed into her lower back.

Despite her desire to stay calm, heat and cold rushed through her entire body as raw fear threatened to overtake her. She prayed she wouldn’t start hyperventilating.

“Move and I’ll shoot her. I might not kill her, but she’ll be paralyzed from the waist down,” the man gripping her shouted into her ear.

He took a few steps back, dragging her with him. Her heart pounded erratically against her ribcage, but she kept her eyes on Adam.

Adam looked positively feral. Possessed almost. As if he could literally rip out the man’s throat. Adam took a step forward and the man’s grip around her neck tightened.

“Take another step and I’ll blow her away. I mean it!” he screamed in her ear.

“Come on, Phillip. We know who you are. I talked to your old boss and step-brother today.

You don’t want to do this,” Detective Dennis spoke, his words provokingly calm.

“You don’t know shit.” He took another step back, farther away from them.

The detective lowered his gun but didn’t sheath it. “We can talk about this. So far you haven’t killed anyone so you’re not in that much trouble.”

Izzy’s gaze fell to where Bryan was barely breathing. He wasn’t dead yet, but if they didn’t call an ambulance soon, he would be. Out of the corner of her eye she saw the back door creak open, then close. Good, that meant someone was calling the cops.

“Don’t talk to me like I’m a child.” He took another step back and Izzy’s heart rate increased so fast she could barely hear anything above the blood rushing in her ears. Unless she wanted a bullet in her back, she had no choice but to move with him.

Her breathing became shallower, unsteady. She couldn’t go anywhere with him. It meant certain death. She knew it and by Adam’s heated gaze, he knew it too. The detective kept talking and her attacker kept pulling her back farther but she kept her eyes on the man she loved.

Life sure had a messed up sense of humor. She finally found the right man and she might not ever get to tell him how she felt. There were a whole mess of other things she should be worrying about right now, but all she cared about was staying alive so she could tell Adam she loved him.

Adam’s green eyes practically glowed under the moonlight. Like a wolf ready to attack. Then he did something surprising. He took a step back.

It was small and she might not have noticed if she hadn’t been staring right at him. Unfortunately, the man with the gun noticed it too.

He withdrew his gun from her back and aimed at both of them. “Don’t make a move.”

Sirens sounded in the distance.

That bastard was pointing a gun at Adam so when he moved back another step she decided to take a chance. If she didn’t, she was sure to end up on the eleven o’clock news. She elbowed him in the ribcage using all the force she could muster under the circumstances. He grunted and stumbled, but didn’t lose his grip around her neck.

The sirens grew even louder. Damn it, why didn’t they turn them off? The loud announcement of their arrival might be her death warrant.

Before she had time to contemplate anything else, the man started firing at Adam and Detective Dennis. Loud pops sounded in her ear, then everything around her muted. She shook her head and tried to fight back as he dragged her along the pavement, but all her movements were slow, sluggish.

What the hell had he done to her? She tried to think when something slammed against her head.

A sharp pain was followed by absolute numbness.

Even though her brain was screaming in panic to stay awake, she slumped against him as darkness swallowed her whole.

Adam dove behind a dumpster. Jack followed a second later. Pings ricocheted off their metal protection. A few more shots fired, then silence.

Adam watched as Jack pulled out his radio.

“Dispatch, this is Delta 20. Officer needs assistance. I repeat, officer needs assistance.”

Static rustled. “Delta 20, this is dispatch. What is your location?”

“220 South Street.”

“Officer and ambulance already on their way.

We received a distress call five minutes ago.”

That’s all Adam needed to hear. He peeked around the dumpster. “Shit!” They were gone.