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The fact that they were taking him in for questioning meant they had dirt on him. There was no way in hell he’d be brought in without absolute proof. Even though he knew the other man wasn’t helping him out of the goodness of his heart, he managed to force out, “Thanks.”

“No problem… Oh, don’t go home either. They’ll be waiting for you there too.”

He gritted his teeth at the revelation. After disconnecting, he dialed Foster, who was already in the Outer Banks.

“What’s up, man?” Foster asked.

Davis cringed. God, he hated the slang of this generation’s youth. “Looks like I’ll be joining you.”


“You still there?”

“I’m here. What’s going on? I don’t require any backup for this.” His arrogant tone was another sign of his adolescent attitude.

“I’m not sure what’s going on, but it sounds like the DEA has been making a case against me, and Hunter Cassidy is giving them all the evidence they dreamed of.” He’d hoped his other source would have gotten to Hunter before that happened, but it looked like it wasn’t meant to be.

“You should have let me kill that son of a bitch in Panama,” Foster growled.

Davis held his tongue. Foster never had a chance to kill Hunter, though the other man was convinced he could have taken him out in the jungle. If Foster had tried, he probably wouldn’t be talking to him today.

Foster continued, “Is my name mentioned in this supposed case?”

“I’m not positive one way or another. But you can guarantee once Hunter gives them what they’re after, they’ll come looking for you too.”

“Maybe we should disappear.”

“No. I’m taking out Hunter first. Even if he does hand everything over to those bastards, we’re eliminating him.”

“Can you call him?” His inflection made it clear who he was asking about.

“No. Not this time.” He and the president went way back. All the way back to their college days. Over the past six years, he’d called in one too many favors. After the last one, he’d been told in so many words that if he bothered the president again, he’d become expendable. Hell, if he was honest with himself, he was a little surprised he was still alive. Guess there was a lot to be said for being in the same fraternity. Whatever sort of loyalty the man felt for him, it was over. And it was time to walk away from the table.

Chapter 10

Alexis looked at Hunter questioningly as he finally hung up the phone for the twentieth time. After that first call, Hunter and Connor had been calling back and forth and talking nonstop practically all day. It was nearing dusk and Alexis was about to go stir-crazy. “Well?”

“Connor and his men will be here in less than ten minutes. We’re officially under their protective custody, but he liked the idea of staying at Michael’s house instead of finding a new place.”

“Yeah, because we’re the bait, not him,” she muttered. With Tom Davis now missing, they didn’t have a lot of options left. Hunter seemed to think Davis would come after him before leaving the country and Carl Connor agreed. So now they were back at Michael’s house. Right back where they’d started. And little more than bait.

She just wanted her life back. And to feel some sense of balance or normalcy. Being around Hunter all the time wasn’t helping, knowing their time was short-lived.

“I think it’s time we talked to Jonathan about what’s going on,” Hunter said quietly.

She was surprised he’d taken the initiative but she nodded and swallowed. This was what she’d been dreading more than anything. Simultaneously, they both turned to look across the kitchen entryway into the living room. Jonathan had given up reading, and now he was building some sort of structure with blocks next to the couch.

“You don’t let him watch much television, huh?” Hunter glanced at her.

She shook her head. “No. We don’t even have cable so there’s never much on for him anyway.”

“Hmm.” He nodded and started for the other room.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Trailing after him, she felt her heart rate increase, but she kept her voice low. The rooms were separated, but there wasn’t a door.

“What? Oh, I didn’t mean anything. I think it’s great.” He frowned for a moment. “Did you think I was attacking your parenting skills?”

“No.” That was sort of what she’d thought, but she wasn’t going to voice it. Too many times she’d gotten looks from other mothers at Jonathan’s school, looking down on her. Judging her. Like she asked to be a single parent. Besides a widowed, single father at the private school, she was the only other single parent at the exclusive institution. Many inhabitants of Hurley Beach were old money and archaic in terms of progression. There were a lot of younger married couples moving into the area and the town was growing rapidly, but she often felt like an outsider. She wasn’t from there, and if it wasn’t for Gwen she’d have moved years ago.

“You all right?” Hunter asked.

“Yes.” He didn’t need to know about her insecurities. Stepping into the living room, she schooled her features. “How about some hot cocoa?”

“Yeah!” Jonathan jumped up and scattered blocks everywhere before rolling back onto the floor and flinging his socks in the air. She wasn’t sure what had gotten into him, but suddenly he started tearing around like he’d taken a double shot of espresso.

She rubbed a hand over her face and stared at the mess of coloring books, crayons and other toys strewn around the room.

Hunter stepped around her and pointed at the mess. “Clean up your toys first,” he ordered. His voice was gentle, but something about the way he spoke held a note of command.

“Oh yeah.” Plopping back down on the carpet, Jonathan started stacking his books together in a neat pile.

She glanced at Hunter who looked momentarily surprised, maybe at himself.

“I’ll start the cocoa and meet you back here in five minutes?”

He nodded and scooped Jonathan off the ground.

Hunter tossed another log into the fireplace while Jonathan pulled out DVDs, scattering them across the carpet. He didn’t know what this kind of knowledge would do to the kid and it scared him. Jonathan was only five so Hunter didn’t expect him to fully understand everything they told him. Still, he’d have a fairly good comprehension of things when men with guns showed up at the house.

Wind whistled outside, rattling the windows and mirroring what his insides felt like. He shoved extra paper and kindling under the logs and lit a match.

“Do you think Mom will let me watch this?” Jonathan held up one of the newer action movies.

“Not a chance.” He shook his head and took a seat on the couch.

“Would you let me watch it?” Jonathan pushed.

Oh, the kid was smart. Hunter bit back a smile at the not-so-subtle attempt at manipulation. Not that he could completely blame him. He probably would have done the same thing at that age. “No way. And if your mom says no, whatever it is, it doesn’t matter, I’ll say no too.”

“Aww, man.” He tossed the DVD aside and picked up one with animated penguins on the cover. “How ’bout this one?”

“I think that’ll be fine, but we need to talk to you first so no television until then.” Despite the warmth spreading through the room, he wiped clammy palms on his jeans. Jonathan’s reaction to all this meant more to him than he could have imagined.

“Are you two getting married or something?” Still clutching the movie in his hand, Jonathan stared at him with wide eyes.

An unexpected rush of heat flooded his veins at the thought of getting married. Not that he hadn’t contemplated that very idea years ago—more than once—but where had Jonathan come up with the question? “What makes you ask that?”

He shrugged and looked down at his hands. “I dunno. Mom wasn’t in her bed this morning.”

“How could you possibly know that?” He wanted to take the question back as soon as it was out of his mouth. That was just as good as admitting it.

Jonathan rolled his eyes, as if the answer should be obvious. “Duh. When we came down for breakfast this morning, her room was empty.”

Damn, he was observant. And he was so young. Hunter might try to deny it, but Jonathan reminded him so much of himself it warmed his heart. Unexpected paternal pride swelled, but he suppressed a smile.

Before he could think of a response, Jonathan continued, “So, are you guys getting married?”

“Ah…” A hot, awful heat—like the kind from food poisoning—snaked through him. Now was his chance to tell Jonathan that after this he’d be leaving. That later when he was older he could contact him, but his life would be so much better off without Hunter in it. But how did he tell a five-year-old that? A five-year-old with deep brown eyes that made him want to stay, that made him want to be selfish and inject himself right into their lives no matter what the consequences.

Alexis walked in carrying a tray of three steaming mugs and a little baggie of marshmallows. “What are you two talking about?” she asked as she placed the tray on the coffee table.

“About you and Hunter getting married.” Jonathan jumped up from the floor and dug into the marshmallows.

Hunter was sure that if she hadn’t already set the drinks down, she’d have dropped everything.

Her bright eyes widened. “Wha—”

“No, he, uh… We’ll talk about that later.” He shook his head.

She took a seat next to him and focused on Jonathan. “Sweetie, Hunter and I need to talk to you about something very important.”

“Are you having a baby?” He pulled more marshmallows from the bag, scattering them across the wooden table and onto the floor.

“No!” she practically shouted, her back going ramrod straight.