He didn’t mind killing in general, and in fact planned to eliminate the local private investigator he was using—no loose ends—but he wasn’t in the mood to deal with a mess tonight. He just wanted the chip from the GPS in Mara Caldwell’s car. If he could track where she’d been, it would help him a hell of a lot more than any private investigator could. He might have her address, but that told him nothing. He wanted to know her schedule, what her habits were, who her friends were.
There was a chill in the air as he stepped from the vehicle. A few cars were parked along the curb of the quiet street with closed commercial buildings. He’d worn darker clothing and dark trainers in an effort to blend in and keep quiet. Years ago he would have never taken on such a task by himself. He would have hired someone to do this kind of thing. Unfortunately, it was necessary for him to deal with such a menial task.
His shoes were quiet against the asphalt as he strolled across the street. The shop had four bays, and all the roll-up doors were down and likely locked for the night. He didn’t bother trying any of them and instead headed around the side of the building in between the auto shop and a pet store. There wasn’t much light in the alley, giving him more cover. As he reached the end of the alley, he slowed and listened for any movement.
All was quiet.
Peering around the corner, he saw the roll-up doors for the four bays, a big metal trash container, and a back door to the building. After assessing the lock he was surprised by the cheap quality. Using skills he’d gained as a boy, he quickly picked the lock and slipped inside the darkened interior of what appeared to be an office of sorts.
There was a carburetor, dirty rags and some folders on a bookshelf shoved into a corner. Next to it was a cheap looking desk with an older model computer on it and a metal chair shoved underneath. He moved through the office to another entryway without making a sound.
As he stepped into the dimly lit garage, the buzzing of a light bulb cut through the quiet open space. Neville ignored it and hurried to the farthest bay where Mara’s red, four-door car sat. Two dim bulbs barely illuminated the garage, but it gave him enough light to do what he needed. He checked the glove box to see if her address information matched up with the file the PI had sent him, but it had been completely cleaned out. Which made sense.
He hadn’t been sure Mara would even have a navigation system, but her vehicle was a new model and they were often built in now. It seemed luck was with him. Smiling to himself, he quietly worked to take the black in-dash box apart, then removed the computer chip. He wasn’t exceptionally skilled with computers, but one of his former employees had utilized this technique when he’d suspected a prime female from one of his escort businesses was stepping out and making cash on the side. And he’d been right about the little whore, but that wasn’t important now.
Without bothering to put it back together, he pocketed the chip then hurried back the way he’d come in. The moment he stepped back outside into the chilled air, he froze.
A man wearing coveralls rolled up to his elbows and smoking a cigarette was stepping out from a muscle car parked in the back of the shop. The burly man with the beard flicked his cigarette down as he saw Neville, his expression deadly.
“What the fuck are you doing in my shop?” he snarled.
Neville knew his strengths, and trying to take this guy one-on-one would be stupid. While he hated running from anyone, he sprinted toward the end of the building. His trainers pounded the pavement as he rounded the corner and dashed into the alley. With his heart pumping overtime, he forced himself to ignore the shouts of the man behind him. The yelling grew fainter the farther he ran through neighborhoods, but he memorized his path so he wouldn’t get lost. Eventually he would loop back and snag the minivan, but for now he needed to put distance between himself and that giant.
His patience was the reason he would succeed in bringing down that manipulative cunt, Mara. The others involved in the operation that had brought down his lucrative business had deserved to die, but those kills hadn’t been personal. Mara would be personal. She’d not only ripped apart the operation that had been thriving for a decade, Mara had taken Danika from him.
She’d turned his lover against him. Something he would never forget.
He still couldn’t believe the woman he’d brought up from the gutter, the woman he’d clothed, fed and given extravagant gifts to had testified against him at his trial. She’d told everyone he’d kept her a prisoner, treated her like a whore. Neville saw red for a moment and forced those thoughts away. Danika had disappeared after the trial and other than Mara she was the only one he hadn’t been able to find. But he didn’t include her in his targets. He would forgive her for her lies and take her back once he found her. And he would never let her go again. He’d made her and he owned her. She might have forgotten that but he never would.
First, he must find Mara. He’d fuck her until she bled and screamed. Then he’d sell her into slavery. Despite her age of thirty-three, she was a beautiful woman. Flawless skin, perfect bone structure, icy eyes…yes, he would make a nice profit off the whore. She would be his first sale as he returned to his former business. That was the most fitting way to make her pay for taking away the only woman he’d ever loved.
* * * * *
Mara was emotionally and physically exhausted by the time she and Harrison made it back home. She’d seen one security person lurking in the shadows outside but knew there would be at least three more surrounding the house. Harrison had called one of the guys and told them to clear out of their home by the time they returned, but to remain posted outside.
She was surprised he’d told his men to leave and wondered what it meant. As the garage shut behind them, Harrison turned to face her. Blood rushed in her ears from sheer nervousness. It was so loud she wouldn’t be surprised if he could hear it.
“Did you target me because of who I work for now or who I used to work for?” Harrison asked angrily, his jaw rigid and his body pulled bowstring tight.
She blinked, not following for a moment. Hurt erupted inside her as his meaning set in. “What? I didn’t even know you’d worked for the CIA before we met and if you remember correctly, you’re the one who pursued me. I didn’t even want to go out with you.” Well, that wasn’t true. She’d wanted to, but she’d been fresh off her last assignment, living in a new country far away from everything she’d known for so long and still trying to settle into her new life.
He snorted, as if he didn’t believe her, which only infuriated her. She snatched her purse from the floorboards.
“I’m supposed to believe it’s a coincidence that we’re both former spies that ended up together?” There was so much pain and anger in his voice, but she focused on the anger because it spurred her own.
She might have held back some things about her past but she wasn’t so mercenary as to target a man and actually marry him for her own purposes. It turned her stomach that he might think she was capable of it. “Is it really a surprise? We’re both so similar it’s scary. When you told me you used to work for the CIA I was shocked at first, but it made sense. You speak multiple languages just like me, you have a serious aptitude for weapons and—whatever, I’m not getting into this. No, I didn’t fucking target you! I actually wondered if you’d targeted me.” She let out a harsh laugh as she remembered how she’d been floored at his revelation of his former profession.
“Then why didn’t you tell me about your past before we got married? Or hell, at all? Instead of trying to run away you could have come to me about this guy. I have a lot of resources, something you know.” Even though they were parked, his fingers clenched tightly around the wheel. The anger rolling off him was palpable.
“It’s hard for me to trust,” she whispered. It sounded lame, but it was true. Her throat tightened as she struggled to continue, to explain to him her reasoning, but he slid from the vehicle and slammed the door.
She jumped at the sound before heading inside. When she didn’t find him in their bedroom or his home office, she realized he’d gone to their gym. Desperate to talk things out and explain herself more, she followed him and couldn’t believe it when the door was locked. They never locked each other out. She knocked once but he didn’t open up.
His message was clear enough. He needed time to cool down so she showered, changed into one of his oversized T-shirts and headed to his office. After emailing Lizzy a picture of Neville Perdue with a request for her to text her or call Harrison if he was the man who had followed her, she powered down her laptop and made her way to one of the guestrooms. But not before grabbing a pistol from their safe. There was no way Perdue would be breaking into her home, but she felt better having a weapon within arm’s reach.
It was strange sleeping in another room, but clearly Harrison didn’t want to see or speak to her and she wasn’t going to force him.
As she lay against the soft pillow and closed her eyes, she knew she wasn’t going to sleep well. She had no doubt Neville Perdue was in Miami and her gut told her that Lizzy would soon confirm it. She needed to call her contact with MI6 to let him know she was staying in Miami instead of heading to the Keys, but she didn’t have the energy tonight. Hell, if Neville knew who Lizzy was then he probably knew where she and Harrison lived anyway. Not that she was worried about him breaching the house, but she didn’t like the thought of him knowing anything about her life. At least Porter and Lizzy knew about the possible threat and Harrison had also contacted Grant and Belle. Mara knew they would all be vigilant in protecting themselves. It was the only thing that gave her a tiny bit of peace.
She twisted, trying to get comfortable, but stilled when she heard the soft snick of the door opening. For a moment she tensed until she saw Harrison’s broad outline. He paused in the doorway, the light from the hallway illuminating his form. She couldn’t see his face clearly, but he stood there for a long moment watching her before he turned away and shut the door behind him.