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“Lizzy?” Her brother’s voice made her throat tighten.

“I’m here. Are you okay? Has he hurt you?”

He laughed though it came out harsh and strained. “I’m fine. Don’t give that bastard anything.”

“Don’t worry about what I’m doing, I just need to know you’re okay.”

“I’m fine, I promise.” His voice sounded a little stronger, but she worried he was lying.

Lizzy looked over at Porter. His knuckles were white as he gripped the steering wheel and his jaw was clenched tight as he watched the road. Having him next to her, supporting her, made even more tears well up. Thankfully they didn’t spill over.

“You’ve heard your brother’s voice. Now, we are going to make a trade and you are going to give me exactly what I want. You brother tells me you have nothing, but he’s a sniveling little liar. Or is he? Maybe you have nothing and I should just do away with my problem right now.”

Another punch of anger surged through her. Anything was better than fear. She laughed wryly. “Yes, I have what you want. Want me to start reading entries to you?” She flipped the notebook open. “How about I start with one from…five years ago. Looks like Wendell Crane took a payoff from your father in the amount of—”

Orlando cursed so loudly Porter could hear him as she held the phone away from her ear. When Orlando was through with his tirade she put the phone back to her ear. “I’m not meeting you today. I’m too far away. Benny wasn’t stupid, he hid it somewhere you’d never find.”

“If you’re trying to stall that makes you a very stupid little puta, risking your brother’s life like that.” His voice dripped with venom.

“I would never risk my brother’s life. I don’t give a shit about your stupid book. I just want Benny back.” She hoped she’d injected enough fear into her voice to be believable—which the fear wasn’t exactly a lie anyway. Before he could speak she continued. “We’ll meet early tomorrow morning somewhere of my choosing. And you’re going to text me a picture of my brother ten minutes before we meet with a newspaper from tomorrow and you will also let me speak to him. And I swear if Benny is injured, you’ll never see your book. I’ll post this on the Internet, mail it out to your competitors, let the whole world know about it.”

Porter’s eyebrows raised as he pulled up to another stop. For a moment she thought she’d gone too far but he just grinned. She just hoped her demand would keep her brother unharmed.

She snapped her mouth shut as Orlando let out another litany of curses, but eventually the shouts stopped so she said, “I’ll call you as soon as I’m in the city.” Then she hung up.

Feeling nauseous, she let out a long breath and leaned forward, placing her head between her legs. “I think I’m going to puke,” she muttered.

“You were fucking amazing.”

Her head snapped in Porter’s direction at the surprising curse word. “Really?”

He nodded, something in his pale eyes she couldn’t quite define. “Impressive actually.”

She felt her cheeks heat up at the unexpected compliment. If she could keep it together long enough to save Benny, everything would be fine.

Now they just had to find a meeting place where they could ambush Orlando. Unfortunately Porter would want to involve Grant and the local police. Something she knew they had to do, but it didn’t mean she had to like it.

Chapter 12

Lizzy stared at the ceiling, hating this waiting game. Porter was right. She knew that. Waiting to call Orlando was the smart thing to do. She had to play her part if she wanted to keep Benny alive. Rolling on her side she continued blindly staring. This time out the window of the bedroom she was in.

Their security firm had a place in Coconut Grove that was part of their safe houses but rarely used. It was surrounded by trees and other underbrush, not even visible from the cul-de-sac street. In an upper middle class area but very low key, there shouldn’t be anyone here who knew Orlando Salas.

Not that anyone had seen either her or Porter to report them in the first place. They’d driven straight into the garage then shut the door before getting out of the vehicle. Now four men Porter said he trusted implicitly were silently patrolling the grounds.

And she and Porter were freaking waiting.

Frustrated, she shoved up from her position and slid off the bed. Porter still hadn’t answered all her questions about what their plan was and she needed to talk. He’d told her Grant would be there in a couple hours once he got off work but hadn’t said much more than that.

Peeking out in to the hallway, she breathed a sigh of relief to find it empty. Not that she’d really been worried someone was waiting to ambush her, but her nerves were rattled and she figured anything was possible after the last couple days she’d had.

As she went to knock on Porter’s door—whose room was right next to hers—she realized it was open a crack. Nudging it with her toe, she called his name. No response. The house seemed eerily quiet, making the tiny hairs on the back of her neck stand on end.

Wrapping her arms around herself she took a cautious step inside. This time she didn’t say his name. Fear sank its claws into her chest, sharp and deadly, as she tried to take a calming breath. What if something had happened to Porter?

At a slight squeaking sound she swiveled to find Porter half naked with just a towel around his waist, rivulets of water streaking his very naked chest, and a gun in his hand. “Christ, Lizzy, you scared the shit out of me.” He stepped fully out of the bathroom doorway and placed the gun on the five drawer dresser next to it. “Is everything okay?” he asked as he strode to the bed where he’d laid out a pair of jeans and a dark blue polo shirt. He was so…ripped. She’d seen him with his shirt off, but now she felt like she was getting a much better show with just a towel hanging from his waist. Her breath caught in her throat.

She didn’t care how good he looked.

Yeah right. She almost snorted at herself. The towel around Porter could only cover so much. It was damp and molded to all those muscles, outlining the straining bulge of his thigh muscles and…other stuff.

Something she shouldn’t be noticing. Not right now. Not when she wanted to talk to him about something. “When will your brother get here?” she managed to rasp out.

He glanced up at her as he picked up his shirt. “About an hour. Maybe a little longer. Why?” he asked as he turned to fully face her.

She swallowed hard, trying not to watch the way the muscles in his forearms moved as he tossed the shirt over one arm. Her gaze traveled across the broad expanse of his chest, noting more than a handful of scars, including one that webbed out in a sunburst of almost invisible white lines. Against his tan skin the markings were stark against his ribcage. Without thinking, she covered the short distance and placed a hand over the old scar. “What happened here?”

When Porter sucked in a deep breath, her gaze snapped up to meet his. Raw hunger glittered back at her in those pale depths. “Shot. Years ago.” His voice was strained.

Instead of pulling away, she lightly rubbed her fingers over the old wound. She hated that he’d ever been in a position to get shot, though she couldn’t help but feel incredibly proud of him for all his years in the military.

He made a strangled sound but didn’t pull away. Reaching out, he cupped her cheek gently even though she could feel the power practically humming through his fingertips. “You need to leave now or I’ll lose all my good intentions.” His deep voice rolled through her, waking up the most feminine part of her. Her nipples strained against her top. The man had the ability to turn her into mush without even trying.

She’d come in here only to complain about having to wait to make that call. A call she absolutely couldn’t make right now. The next time she called Orlando it would be to set up a meeting place and they didn’t have one yet.

Now she just wanted to be with Porter while they had a few precious moments alone. And he was worried about good intentions?

Screw good intentions. She desperately needed to lose herself. To forget about everything going on around them.

Lizzy blindly reached out for his towel and tugged on it. Unable to stop herself, her gaze dipped southward as the piece of cloth fell free.

She swallowed convulsively, unable to tear her gaze away from his hard length. Heat pooled low in her belly, traveling straight to the juncture between her thighs. What she wouldn’t give to wrap her hand around him…her mouth around him. She groaned thinking about taking him that way. Seeing the look of pleasure on his face.

“Damn, don’t look at me like that.” Porter’s voice snapped her out of her trance.

As she looked up to meet his gaze, his mouth covered hers, hot and hungry. His fingers threaded through her hair, tightening on her head in a completely dominating grip that made her toes tingle.

She was vaguely aware of the towel falling from her hand, of Porter moving them so that the backs of her knees hit the bed. As her back collided with the soft, fluffy mattress, Porter’s rock hard body covered hers.

Still wearing jeans and a T-shirt, she felt overdressed but didn’t care as long as she got to touch him. Her hands smoothed over his naked shoulders, down his chest and as she reached between their bodies, he shuddered and pulled back.

“No way,” he murmured against her mouth.

Lizzy’s eyes flew open as he moved, shimmying down her body. “What are you doing?” After everything they’d been through, she wanted this release with him. Wanted to feel Porter’s hands and mouth all over her body. When reality crashed in on her, as she knew it inevitably would, she wanted this memory with Porter. They’d been so damn restrained when they’d been dating and she hadn’t been able to get him out of her head since they’d broken up. If she was honest, she didn’t want to. She wanted everything he had to offer and only now was she able to fully admit it to herself.

Instead of answering, Porter grasped the button on her jeans. He kept his eyes on her body, watching as he unbuttoned, then unzipped her pants.