And he was pointing a gun right at her.

It was as if all the air in the small room was sucked out. For a moment all she could do was stare at the weapon and him. “Wh…” She cleared her throat, trying to find her voice. “What are you doing?”

His dark eyes narrowed, his face twisted into an expression of rage she’d never seen on anyone. “You’re coming with me, slut.”

That word was like a slap to her senses. “What?”

“You heard me,” he growled, though he hadn’t made a move closer yet. And his gun hand never wavered. Which told her he was pretty damn comfortable holding the thing.

Her insides quaked as she watched him, but she forced herself to remain outwardly calm. After working at one of the most stressful, busiest restaurants in the city, she was used to working under pressure. Of course her only pressure there was the fear of getting fired. Not losing her life. “Why are you pointing that at me? I thought we were friends. And how did you know I’d be here?” She remembered that he was the one who’d told her Hayden had a date.

He rolled his eyes and took a step closer. “I tracked you using your phone. Had to duck in here so your giant shadow wouldn’t see me. Didn’t know you’d come in here,” he muttered. Before she could respond, he covered the few feet between them and grabbed her arm in a vise like grip as he shoved the gun into her side. She let out a tiny yelp of pain as his fingers dug into her skin.

An icy chill snaked through her veins, her entire body growing clammy. Even with the material of her summer dress as a barrier, the feel of the gun against her was surreal.

“You’re coming with me.” He pressed the gun deeper into her ribs, but she bit back a cry, not wanting him to accidentally shoot her. He pulled open the door and peered into the quiet hallway.

She couldn’t see anything because of the angle he was holding her at, but the hall must have been clear because he let out a sigh of relief.

Sierra found her voice. “I’m not going anywhere with you.” She was glad her voice didn’t shake. She sounded a lot braver than she actually felt. Marty was clearly unstable, but if he’d been smart and determined enough to track her, he wasn’t going to just shoot her in a public place. And there was no way in hell she was leaving this building with him.

He turned to look at her then, that look of rage so crystal clear it made her shiver. This was a man very capable of violence. It stunned her. How had she never noticed it before? “Unless you want me to fill you with bullets, you’ll do exactly what I say.”

Chapter 7

Hayden stood at the end of the aisle of feminine products as he waited for Sierra, his phone against his ear. There was a security mirror angled on the far wall so he had a perfect view of the hallway without letting her or anyone else see him. He didn’t want her to feel smothered by his presence but he still wasn’t letting her out of his sight.

He understood that she wanted to get back to normal and that was why he’d been okay with bringing her to the doctor and now to the pharmacy. Maybe ‘okay’ was a bit of a stretch, but she couldn’t stop living because of one lone maniac.

Or at least that’s what he’d thought until what Iris had just said to him over the phone. “Both you and the police are sure Marty is behind this?” he asked. The thought of someone Hayden had actually worked with being involved made him see red.

“Unfortunately yes. He didn’t come into work this morning and the outside team I’ve got combing through his online tracks all point in his direction. Thanks to a weakness in the system he was behind the glitches in the security. Luckily we’ve been able to create a new patch to prevent this issue from happening again.”

That was good, but Hayden was more concerned about what was being done to find this maniac. Slamming Sierra’s head into a car could have caused serious damage, potentially even killed her. “What about Vegas PD?”

There was a short silence then Iris cleared her throat. “They’ve searched his place and…you’re not gonna like it, but they found a creepy shrine to Sierra. He’s clearly obsessed with her.”

Hayden scrubbed a hand over his face. A stalker type. Fucking great. “He wasn’t working alone.” Marty had been in the security room when the attack had gone down and he’d been the one to cause the glitch. He’d probably expected to be able to cover his tracks immediately. Maybe he and whoever he’d been working with had wanted to abduct Sierra and no one would have been the wiser if not for Jay being there to stop the attack. That seemed more likely if the guy was obsessed.

“Yeah, too bad there’s no trace of a partner at his home. The cops are tearing his place apart as we speak, trying to find—”

“Shit,” Hayden muttered. All the air rushed from his lungs as he watched Marty step out of the bathroom holding Sierra close. Hayden instinctively stepped back and crouched behind the nearest aisle. He felt as if he’d just been punched in the stomach, but managed to keep his initial spike of fear in check.

“What?” she demanded, her tone sharp.

“Marty just walked out of the bathroom with Sierra. I can’t see a weapon but he’s got to have one.” How the hell had he tracked her without Hayden noticing? Sierra was stiff, her back ramrod straight as Marty dragged her down the hall to where Hayden knew was an exit.

Hayden couldn’t see her expression because of the way she was being propelled along, clearly against her will. The man was about five feet ten. With Sierra’s petite frame, he towered over her and would easily be able to manhandle her. The guy had to have a weapon. No way would Sierra be walking out with him otherwise.

Hayden was armed and ready. He rarely left home without a gun on his person, but with what had happened with Sierra, he’d made sure he was prepared for anything. “Call the cops. Give them my location.” He rattled off the name of the store and major cross-streets before he ended the call and slipped it into his pocket. There wasn’t much time to formulate a plan. He had to act now or risk losing the woman he loved.

Marty hurriedly looked over his shoulder, but didn’t even glance upward in the direction of the mirror as he headed for the back door. Since he couldn’t see anyone he assumed he was safe.

That bastard was about to find out the hard way he was far from it. And if he hurt Sierra, he would pay.

Even though everything inside Hayden was urging him to race after them, he knew he had to play it smart and head out the front, then circle back. If Marty had a partner it was possible the guy was waiting outside and armed as well. Hell, probably.

Hayden rushed out of the front door, quickly scanned the parking lot for another threat then immediately headed west to the quietest side of the building. They’d be in the back by now and he had only seconds to get to her. On the east side there was a pet store. Peering around the corner of the building, he could see the back half of a black SUV peeking out. Behind him there were the normal sounds of the street; cars, people walking their dogs and talking on their phones but all of that faded into the background as he zeroed in on his target.

Calling on all his strength, he sprinted down the side of the building, his legs quickly eating up the distance. Weapon drawn from his ankle holster, he paused at the very end of the building.

“You can shoot me because I’m not getting in there!” Sierra’s terrified voice rolled over him.

Peering around the corner, he saw Marty trying to drag Sierra to the back passenger door of the idling SUV. The windows were tinted too dark—illegally so—to see if anyone was inside but Hayden didn’t doubt he had someone else behind the wheel.

Only ten feet away and hidden, it was still too far for comfort. Hayden’s blood rushed in his ears as he mentally prepared himself for what he had to do. The moment Marty took his gun off Sierra, Hayden was making his move.

He’d killed in the line of duty before and right now, he knew nothing was more important than protecting this woman. His woman.

Marty held a gun pressed to Sierra’s ribs but she was still struggling. She dug her feet in, trying to pull away from him. When the back door opened, without loosening his grip Marty moved his gun hand to grab for the handle.

Stepping out from around the corner, he raised his SIG. “Drop your weapon!” Hayden shouted.

Marty’s gaze snapped to his, the intent clear in his eyes as he started to raise his weapon.

Hayden took the only opening he might have. No way was he letting anyone take Sierra or use her as a hostage. He fired at Marty. His training kicked in as he aimed and shot right at the man’s chest. Three shots right in the center.

He was aware of Sierra throwing herself to the ground as Marty dropped like a stone. Unlike bullshit Hollywood movies, he didn’t fly back through the air, just died where he stood. Immediately Hayden turned his weapon in the direction of the vehicle.

A man wearing a black T-shirt and black cargo pants had his hands raised in the air as he fell out of the side door he’d been attempting to open from the inside. He stumbled and landed on his knees. “Don’t shoot! I’m unarmed! I’m unarmed!”

He would believe that after he’d checked the guy himself. “Sierra, kick Marty’s weapon away.” Hayden was almost positive the man was down, but he wouldn’t take any chances.

He couldn’t see her expression because his attention was on the second man, but Hayden watched out of the corner of his eye as she picked up the gun.

The back of the building was clear except for a large green Dumpster. “Keep your hands on your head,” he ordered the man as he approached, weapon still trained on him. With Sierra safe and unharmed, all his focus was on this remaining threat. The guy was on his knees and trembling as if he might piss himself. In the distance, Hayden heard sirens as he patted down the unknown man.

When he was sure the man had no weapons, Hayden ordered him to lay face down on the concrete and keep his hands stretched out so they were visible. Keeping an eye on the guy, his weapon still trained on him, he stepped sideways in Sierra’s direction. He risked a quick glance at Marty’s prone body. Chest wasn’t moving and blood was pooling all around him.