Before he completely stepped back he got a glimpse of a petite blond woman and froze. Ice chilled his veins as he stared at the profile of the woman who looked eerily like Cait Chilcott, aka Mara Caldwell. Her arms were wrapped around her slight body as she talked to a woman in a police uniform. The hair was shorter, paler, and she was slightly curvier. No, not curvier, just…not as lean. When he’d known her before she’d been honed. Like a beautiful blade.
But it was definitely her. And the softness surprisingly suited her.
He tried to tear his gaze away, but it was impossible. She scrubbed a hand over her face then sharply turned to her left as if someone had called for her. A giant of a man was barreling toward her, his expression grim. He pulled Cait into a tight hug, lifting her off the ground. She wrapped her arms around the man, embracing him fully.
The man was broad-shouldered, well-muscled, tan and his dark hair was military short. He wore an expensive looking suit and after speaking a few words to the police officer, the woman nodded and stepped back. That was interesting.
With most of his funds still tied up until he could personally get to them, Neville hadn’t been able to buy all the information he’d needed. So far he had a name and a city. If this was Cait—now calling herself Mara Caldwell—he guessed this man was someone important to her considering the way he’d hugged her. Since she’d taken away Neville’s business, his money, his pride, he couldn’t fight the elation that surged through him at finding her like this.
He would take away everything from her and more. She was nobody yet she’d managed to infiltrate his organization and bring him down.
When she started to turn in his direction, he slid seamlessly back into the group of people. He didn’t have far to go and he didn’t want her to see him. Not with so many police around. Anything could go wrong and he planned to take her when she was weak and broken.
Then he’d make her pay.
* * * * *
Harrison felt as if he’d lost a decade of his life. He’d received a call from a friend in the Miami PD that Mara had been involved in a car accident. All he’d heard were those two words. Car accident. Then everything else had funneled out.
Eventually he’d realized his friend was still talking and Mara hadn’t been injured. Some jackass had hit her, but she’d walked away from the accident. That knowledge hadn’t eased the panic still humming through him. It was like someone had given him a shot of adrenaline and he couldn’t get his body under control no matter how hard he tried. All his military training and subsequent training with the CIA didn’t matter. Nothing could prepare him for the thought of his wife hurt.
Holding onto her waist, all he could do was stare into his wife’s green eyes. Her small hands were on his forearms.
“Why didn’t you call?” he demanded before she could speak, then wanted to kick himself for being so harsh. Before she could answer, he spoke again, asking the question he most cared about. “Are you sure you’re okay?”
She nodded, her grip tightening. “One of the EMTs checked me out. They wanted me to go to the hospital but I’m fine. I don’t have a concussion and I’m just sore. There’s nothing a doctor can do for me except give me something to take the edge off and I’m not taking drugs.” There was a bite of annoyance in her words.
His wife rarely had more than two glasses of wine on the occasion that she did drink so he wasn’t surprised. But he was worried. “You need to go to the hospital.”
Her jaw clenched and he knew it wasn’t happening. “I’m not going. Besides…” She trailed off, her expression darkening. She swallowed hard, looking away. “I need to tell you something.”
Whatever she was going to say, he knew from her tone that he was going to hate it. His stomach balled up with dread, the knot tightening and twisting into a painful mess. Maybe it would finally clue him in on what the hell was going on with her lately. And why she was keeping so many secrets from him—especially about those weapons. He’d wanted to confront her about the guns yesterday but had decided to hold off in an effort to see if she came to him—though he planned to find out why she’d taken them one way or another. “What?”
She leaned in closer, wrapping her arms around his waist and he savored the closeness even as he cursed himself for his body’s reaction. “I have weapons stashed in my trunk. They’re hidden but I can’t have some unknown company towing my car. We have to get them out before they take my car or we need to follow the tow truck.” He could barely hear her whispered words.
She must have retrieved them this morning from the storage place he’d followed her to yesterday. This confirmed what the pawn shop owner had told his brother, but it didn’t explain anything. Looked like now he got to confront her whether he wanted to or not. “Why do you have weapons?” he hissed out, barely containing his anger.
She swallowed hard enough for him to hear. “It’s not important.”
His grip around her tightened and he inhaled her exotic, tropical scent. Though he loved her, nothing could distract him from his anger. “It’s important if you want my help,” he said darkly.
Her head snapped back and she stared at him in shock. “Are you saying you won’t help me?”
Keeping his expression blank, he shrugged. “Tell me why you have them. If not, you’re on your own.” He punched back the emotions that bubbled up at the hurt expression on her face. He’d put it there and yeah, it was harsh, but he wanted fucking answers. No, he needed them. He couldn’t live like this anymore. Last night she’d slept curled up in his arms and he’d known he didn’t really have all of her yet. Would he ever? He’d given her his all. He wanted the same in return. That was what marriage was supposed to be about. “While you’re at it, why don’t you tell me why there’s a fucking suitcase in the backseat of your car?”
The idea that she would just walk away without even trying to talk to him and work out their problems burned like acid in his heart. Maybe she thought that whatever was going on in her life would make him turn his back on her. Or maybe she regretted marrying him in the first place. The possibility made him feel sick.
She paled and he felt as if someone had kicked him in the teeth. Even though he’d seen the suitcase as he’d been hurrying to see her, he’d wanted to deny it. He’d tried to tell himself that she was taking it to the shelter, but she wasn’t scheduled to work today. Now he could see the truth in her eyes. She didn’t respond, just stared at him like a deer caught in headlights.
“Are you leaving me?” he growled, resisting the urge to shout.
“Yes, but it’s not what you think.” Her voice was a whisper.
For a moment it was as if the ground shifted beneath him. His whole world was about to crumble. His wife meant everything to him. How could she not feel the same way about him? “Mara, you have no idea what I’m thinking right now.” He dropped his hands from around her, unable to touch her at the moment. It was too damn painful. The woman he loved might as well be a stranger.
She wrapped her arms around herself and he hated how damn vulnerable she looked. Okay, he hated that he still wanted to pull her into his arms and comfort her.
She seemed to gather herself a moment before speaking, and when she did her voice was unsteady. “I…used to be MI6. Someone I put away is out of prison and he’s coming for me. I need to leave to protect you and your family.”
Harrison blinked, then glanced around, trying to process her words. She’d spoken so softly but he wanted to make sure no one was within earshot. They weren’t. He stared at Mara, feeling as if he was seeing her for the first time. “MI6?” he hissed. There was no way. No way that was possible without him knowing about it.
But Mara nodded, her eyes sincere.
Holy fucking shit.
Mara perched on the edge of the loveseat in her living room. She was battling her flight response. The one telling her to run like hell. And not because of Neville Perdue, but because of her husband.
Once she’d told Harrison the truth about her background, he’d completely shut down on her. It was scary as hell. She wasn’t scared he’d hurt her or anything, but she hated being on the receiving end of such a cold, indifferent man. A man who’d seen her at her most vulnerable, who she’d let tie her up and pleasure her in countless ways.
Wrapping her arms around herself, she leaned back and tucked her legs underneath her. She might as well get comfortable. After she’d answered more questions, filled out a police report and talked to her insurance company, Harrison had bundled her into one of his work SUVs and they’d followed the tow truck he’d hired to take her car to an auto shop he used for his work vehicles. Then he’d retrieved the weapons himself.
And he hadn’t said one damn word to her the entire time. Every time she thought he might, his jaw clenched and he just growled at her. Whenever he looked at her, his dark eyes were shuttered and unreadable.
“Is she all right?” Harrison’s deep voice was soft, worried as he strode into the living room talking on his cell phone. He’d taken off his suit jacket and tie. Now all he wore were black slacks and his light blue button-down dress shirt was rolled up at the sleeves, showcasing his muscular forearms.
Swallowing hard, she looked away from his body and focused on his face. He was staring right at her, his dark eyes penetrating with just a hint of the anger she knew was most definitely simmering right under the surface. And it was all directed at her. He paused, as whoever was on the phone spoke. Then, “I’m on my way.”
Harrison ended the call then turned from her, as if he couldn’t stand to look at her. When it was clear he was leaving the room without speaking to her, she jumped up.
“Damn it, Harrison. Talk to me, please.” She couldn’t hide the note of desperation in her voice. Even if she deserved it, having him shut her out like this was too much to bear.