“Are you okay?” He assessed Alexis from head to foot. No wounds, no bruises, but she held a hand to the back of her head and winced.

“Fine, I guess.” Her voice shook.

“Alexis, I’m…sorry.” Again, he hated that he’d brought this to her. Hated himself.

Ignoring the searing pain in his shoulder and the massive guilt he felt that she was with him, he shoved open his door and jumped out. As soon as he hit the dirt, he drew his gun and chambered a round.

Thirty yards away, there were still no signs of life from the other vehicle. Could be a trap. Gun drawn, he crouched and rushed toward it.

A small fire blazed in the underbelly. Inching closer, he covered his mouth to block out the fumes and smoke.

Even if the driver was dead, Hunter needed to get some identification or something from this guy. The fire was spreading, though, and limited his options.

Through the windshield, he saw only one man behind the wheel. He fired a few shots at the glass, but it was a useless effort. The glass was bullet-resistant. If he shot it enough times and weakened it, he’d eventually do enough damage to kick or punch his way through, but he didn’t have time for that. A small pop from underneath the hood propelled him backward and into action.

He didn’t feel like getting barbequed for a man who’d just tried to kill him. He might not know who the guy was, but he knew damn sure who’d sent him.

Hobbling back to his vehicle, he surveyed his surroundings. The oversized vacation homes stretching down the road showed no signs of life. Other than the distant sound of the ocean, it was eerily quiet.

The wind whistled, but there were no birds in the cloudless sky. Like nothing had ever happened.

As he slid into the front seat, he couldn’t believe the engine hadn’t died yet. “Thank God for British engineering,” he muttered as he kicked it into Drive.

It made wheezing, gasping sounds but at least the thing worked.

Alexis grasped his arm as he steered back onto the road. “There’s something I haven’t told you. I have a son and we’ve got to pick him up from Gwen’s house. I called when you were…disposing of that body. He’s safe, but—”

“How the hell did you call?” The question came out harsher than he’d intended.

Her cheeks tinged pink as she nodded at the buttons on the rearview mirror. “I used your OnStar system.”

He knew he should be angry but he was more impressed than anything. Talk about resourceful. Then another thought occurred to him. “Did you call the cops?”

She shook her head and he narrowed his eyes, not sure he believed her.

“I didn’t. I swear.”

“Why not?”

“I…I don’t know, all right? I just couldn’t bring myself to call them when you saved my life. We need to get my son.”

“We’ll make a quick stop at your house, grab your suitcases, then pick him up on the way out of town.” Two people had already tried to kill them. Hunter knew how the men after him operated. There wouldn’t be a third sent after them. Not yet anyway.

“This is insane.” It sounded more like she was talking to herself than him. She let out a shaky laugh and raked a hand through her jet-black hair.

Hair he’d run his hands through too many times to count. There were a lot of things he’d done with her, but now wasn’t the time for a trip down memory lane. “He’s safe then?”

“He’s with Gwen and I told her not to let him out of her sight. At the center, we teach women to be aware of their surroundings and to trust their instincts. I trust Gwen to keep him safe more than anyone.”

As he steered down her street, he slowed and surveyed the neighborhood. Nothing looked out of the ordinary. Alexis’s hand was already on the door handle before he’d pulled into the garage. She unstrapped her seat belt and jumped from the vehicle the instant he put it into Park.

He closed the garage and followed her inside to the kitchen. “Listen, Alexis—”

She ignored him and grabbed a rag. After wetting it down, she handed it to him.

“What’s this for?”

“Thought you might want to…clean up or something. I can grab a first aid kit. Are you sure you’re okay?” Her eyes narrowed as she assessed his body.

He’d seen himself in the rearview mirror. Covered in shallow scratches, he’d certainly seen better days, but a few minor cuts were the least of his worries. At least she hadn’t been injured. Reaching out, he picked a shard of glass from her hair. When his hand grazed her cheek, it was as if time froze. He could feel himself being transported back six years when everything had seemed so simple. When they’d spent hours between the sheets making love and talking about their future. A future he’d never have with her.

The ding of the doorbell sliced through the air and she jumped back and away from him.

“Are you expecting company?”

She cleared her throat and a pinkish tinge spread across her exotic cheekbones. “That’s probably Michael, my fiancé. I told Gwen to call him.”

“Shit.” He rubbed a hand over his face.

“Whatever’s going on, he can help us.”

“Right.” He snorted. Like some civilian could keep her safer than Hunter could.

She held up a hand. “After six years of nothing, you show up the same day someone tries to kill me, then you practically kidnap me and drag me with you to dispose of a body. After what just happened I totally get it, but you still don’t get an opinion. He’s here—so deal with it. And you’re going to answer all my questions.”

She tried to brush past him, but he stopped her.

He placed a light hand on her arm and ignored the jolt of awareness it sent coursing through his body. “He doesn’t have a key?”

Immediately, she shook off his arm and left the room. She also didn’t answer the question. The fiancé didn’t have a key. Interesting. Hell, she’d given him a key three weeks after they’d started dating. Considering they had no future together, Hunter knew he shouldn’t care about Alexis and her fiancé’s relationship, but a primitive part of him roared in satisfaction.

When he heard the front door close and a male voice, he left the kitchen and followed after her. In the foyer, the same man he’d seen with her earlier had his hands settled on her hips, holding her much too close for comfort. They spoke too low for him to hear so he hung back, watching their interaction. Hunter dug his fingers into his palms until he was more aware of the pain than the sight in front of him. He had to remind himself that he had no claim on this woman. Not anymore. And even if she was free, he’d have no business with her anyway.

Unable to stand the sight any longer, he cleared his throat and Alexis instantly stepped out of the man’s embrace. The other man narrowed his eyes at Hunter and though he didn’t speak, he looked as if he was restraining himself from attacking him.

Hunter didn’t have time to worry about him. They needed to get the hell out of town. “We need to leave, Alexis.”

“Not until you answer some questions.” Michael protectively threw his arm around Alexis’s waist.

The thought of anyone else touching her had haunted Hunter for the past six years. When he’d closed his eyes at night, the visions had been the worst. Actually seeing it was worse than his imagination. He should get a medal for not choking the smug bastard.

“Why didn’t you call the police when you killed that man? And what about the man who was following you? From what Alexis told me, it was self-defense.” Michael spoke again.

“If they’d run either of their prints through the system, it would have sent up an immediate red flag.”

“What do you mean?” Alexis asked.

“The man who sent them will be watching for any unusual activity. If he realizes they’re dead, then he knows you’re not and I got to you first. We need to get out of town before he realizes these guys failed their mission.”

“What mission? Who are they?” She clasped her hands in front of her so tight her knuckles turned white.

He ignored her question. “Did the man here say anything to you?”

She shot Michael a nervous glance.

“What is it?” Michael prodded.

“He asked where Jonathan was. At first I thought it was because he wanted to make sure he wasn’t here so he could…” She pressed a hand to her stomach and Hunter wished he could kill the dead guy all over again. “It’s not like I had time to question him, but I got the feeling that he wanted Jonathan for something. Why did he care about my son?” Her eyes filled with silent accusation.

Hunter had never wanted to put her on the spot like this. It appeared he had no choice. “He’s my son too, isn’t he?”

Her face paled, but she nodded. She opened her mouth once, and let out a strangled “yes.”

His gut clenched. Guilt assailed him at the obvious pain he was causing her, but at the same time, a surge of parental protectiveness rolled over him like a tidal wave. That surprised him. He had no place in the kid’s life, but he would protect him with everything he had. They needed to be gone ten minutes ago and all this talking was a waste of time. But she deserved answers.

“That’s why they need him, to get to me. You were probably just a bonus.” Using Alexis to bargain was one thing, but using his son, a son he never knew he had, would guarantee Hunter would do anything they asked. The man who’d come after her would have killed her—and worse—then kidnapped his son. And those monsters were definitely dirty enough to use a kid.

“Who exactly is after you?” Michael interjected.

He played a few scenarios in his head, but decided on the truth. “Dirty CIA agents.” It was only a couple of bad agents, but he didn’t have time to explain everything to them. He’d explain everything to Alexis, but not in front of this guy. And not until they were somewhere safe.

He doubted Davis had sent three assassins, but Hunter also hadn’t expected the second guy to show up. The only reason they were even standing there was because he was banking on the fact that they’d have a little time to get out of town before Davis sent in backup.