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He turned to Elizabeth. “I need you to be my lookout. If you hear or see anything suspicious, run and don’t look back. Then find a pay phone and call Harrison or Grant.”

She grabbed his arm, fingers curling into his flesh. “What are you going to do?”

“I’m finding us a car.”

“Okay.” Her voice wobbled, but she crouched down against the corner of the wall.

Keeping his gun low, he stepped out from their hiding place and visually scanned the rest of the neighborhood.

Two houses down, he spotted an old Volkswagen Beetle. Easy to hotwire. He motioned to Lizzy to follow him. Hotwiring was a skill he’d picked up as a teenager. Not something he’d ever been proud of, but now he was damn thankful for the ability. In less than thirty seconds, he’d hotwired the white car and they were heading deeper into the heart of Miami.

* * * * *

Lizzy’s heart pounded wildly in her chest as she sank down onto the closed toilet seat of the cheap motel room Porter had checked them into—after paying with cash. Her legs trembled and she could barely stand as it was. She couldn’t believe what had just happened. Terrified didn’t even begin to cover what she was feeling.

Someone had blown up Porter’s SUV with a freaking rocket launcher or something. And they could have been in it when it happened. If it hadn’t been for Porter dragging her out of it she’d be dead. Another shudder snaked through her.

Porter was on the phone with Harrison in the adjoining bedroom letting him know they wouldn’t be coming to the engagement party tonight so she’d taken the chance to escape for some privacy. No need to let Porter see what a mess she was. This whole situation was her fault. Or, more specifically, her brother’s fault. She might want to keep him out of trouble but whatever Benny had gotten himself into was big and really bad. She didn’t want to think the worst of him, but other people she cared about had almost been killed because of their involvement with her. First her best friend, and now Porter. Not to mention innocent bystanders.

She attempted to take a deep breath but her lungs felt too small. Her entire body shook and it was taking what little grasp on self-control she had left not to break down into a puddle of tears.

Porter was so efficient and was handling everything so she didn’t want to appear weak, especially when this was her mess. Not his. If not for her he’d never have gotten dragged into this. Still…hot tears burned her eyes and began to spill over, carving a hot path down her cheeks.


She couldn’t cry. Not now. If she started, she’d never stop. Her tears, however, didn’t listen to her command. To her horror, more pooled in her eyes and they just kept flowing.

A soft knock on the bathroom door jerked her head in that direction.

“Lizzy?” Porter called softly.

He was using her nickname. Just great. She couldn’t handle gentleness right now. If he was aloof maybe it would snap her out of this pseudo-breakdown.

“Lizzy?” He said her name again, this time louder and there was no mistaking the concern in that deep voice.

She opened her mouth but only a squeak came out. Mortification welled up inside her. She cleared her throat and tried again. “I’m fine,” she rasped out, ignoring how watery and pathetic she sounded.

When he didn’t respond she figured he’d give her some space. Leaning forward, she spread her knees and put her head between them. Somehow she had to get control. As she took a deep breath, the bathroom door swung open.

Porter stood in the doorway, his jacket off, his tie loosened and concern on every inch of his face. He swore softly and before she could react he was kneeling in front of her. “Are you all right?”

How could he be so calm? They’d almost been killed. “I’m fine. Sorry you have to see me like this.” She batted away some of her tears and for the moment they abated.

Frowning, he cupped her face with one hand and gently wiped her cheek with the pad of his thumb. “You don’t have anything to apologize for,” he murmured.

The feel of his callused hand on her skin quickly dried the rest of her tears. In a split second her emotions jumped from still-terrified to turned-on and getting hotter. Good Lord, what was wrong with her?

As she blinked away the blurriness her leftover tears caused, the heat in Porter’s blue eyes seemed to glow in the small, dimly lit room. “Don’t I?” The question came out as a whisper.

He growled something low in his throat. She couldn’t understand what he said—if he’d said anything at all.

Still staring at her, he slid his hand back farther until he cupped her head. His grip was dominating but not too tight. Her lips parted as she gazed at him. Anything that happened between them now would likely be a mistake. It was so hard to care though when she craved a release. Anything to take off the edge of the fear crawling around inside her like angry spiders.

Porter was everything she needed and wanted.



Pure, masculine power.

Lord, the power that emanated from him was enthralling. A shiver rolled over her that had nothing to do with the temperature of the room and everything to do with the man in front of her.

He swallowed once, hard, as he stared at her. “You kill all my good intentions.” His voice sounded as unsteady as her quaking insides felt.

“Right back at ya,” she murmured.

Porter wanted to kiss her. She could see it in his eyes. He was definitely contemplating it but he was also torn. Probably held some honorable thought that right now she was vulnerable and he didn’t want to capitalize on it.

That honor was one of the things that had originally drawn her to him. But it didn’t change the fact that she would never stop loving her brother and Porter would never understand the bond she and Benny had. It would always lie between them and she couldn’t let herself fall for a man when she knew she’d always feel guilty for running to help her brother. It would create resentment for both of them.

Instead of doing the one thing she desperately wanted—throwing her arms around Porter’s neck and kissing him until they were both breathless and stripping their clothes off in a mad frenzy—she cleared her throat and averted her gaze from his spell binding one.

The moment she did, Porter dropped his hand.

A sigh of relief she hadn’t realized she was holding escaped loud enough for him to hear. Guilt jumped inside her at the almost hurt look he gave her but it was gone so fast she wondered if she’d imagined it.

As he stood, she did too. At least she now had a lid snapped shut on her emotions. Instead of looking in the mirror and seeing what a mess she had to be, she followed him to the other room and perched on the edge of the queen sized bed. “So what’s going on?”

“I spoke to Harrison and Grant.” Instead of joining her on the bed he paced at the end of it, looking like an animal trapped in a cage. He hated being trapped here, feeling useless. She understood because she felt the same way.


“Harrison definitely understands why we won’t be at the party tonight but he wants us to go to one of Red Stone’s safe houses.”

But Porter didn’t. He’d already told her as much and she agreed with his reasoning. On the off chance Orlando had somehow found a mole within Red Stone and knew about the locations of their safe houses around the city, Lizzy had no problem hunkering down in a pay-by-the-hour motel. As crappy as the place was, discomfort was an easy trade-off for staying alive. “What about Grant?”

“He’s ah…not happy with me. He had already heard about the blown up SUV before I called—didn’t know it was one of Red Stone’s of course, but it’s not every day something like this happens in Miami. He wants to bring us in to make a statement and put us both under protective custody.”

Lizzy tensed at his words. If they were in custody she couldn’t check out what that key opened up. And more importantly, she couldn’t protect her brother. He’d obviously gotten in over his head and she didn’t want to be somewhere with no way to help him. “I’m not—”

“We’re not going anywhere. The plan is still the same. Tomorrow we go to the bank—hopefully it’s even the right one—and see if you have authorization to that safe deposit box. He might not like it, but Grant isn’t going to tell anyone we were driving that SUV.”

She inwardly sighed in relief. Porter obviously had a different reason for not wanting to go into custody and it had nothing to do with keeping her brother out of trouble. Whatever Porter’s reasons were, she didn’t care as long as they were both on the same page. “Then what?”

“That depends on what’s in the box.”

Wasn’t that the truth? So much depended on what her brother had left for her. If only she could get hold of him. But of course he’d disappeared again. She stifled a yawn and looked at the bed she sat on.

Despite the grungy motel room the sheets held the faint scent of fresh detergent and there weren’t any visible stains on the covers. Not that she really cared at the moment. Her eyes felt as if sandbags weighed on them. There was nothing else they could do tonight and she was starting to crash. It was like she’d been on a rollercoaster and was in an utter freefall. She’d been so high on adrenaline barely an hour before and now all she wanted to do was sleep and block out the rest of the world.

“If you want to take the bed I’ll take the chair,” Porter said, motioning to where he’d draped his jacket earlier. The cheap wooden chair that sat next to the equally cheap table.

She supposed it was meant to be a breakfast nook of some sort but both pieces of furniture looked as if they might fall apart from a soft breeze. Not to mention he’d already risked so much for her. She wouldn’t make him sleep like that. “We’re both adults. We can share this bed, but…” She glanced down at her rumpled, torn and dirty dress. While she didn’t want to sleep in it, it was better than sleeping in only her panties. Especially when the only thing that would be separating them was a flimsy white sheet.